Chiefs pack parity could allow for surprises

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James Mortimer     28 Jul 2012     Getty Images

Of course this is one of the great clichés of rugby, but it was proven in classic style when the Crusaders pack starting getting testy ahead of their second clash of the season, annoyed that their Chiefs cousins had been on top in their round three fixture in Napier back in March.

A huge part of the Chiefs resurgence this year has been a constant disproving of the theory that they may be vulnerable up front, and this dramatic upward curve has seen the likes of Ben Tameifuna, Brodie Retallick and Sam Cane called up to the All Blacks.

But while the Chiefs forwards were laying a steady platform all season, the Crusaders decided to take out their frustration at being set upon earlier this month, with an All Black-laden forward outfit getting on top of the Waikato based pack in front of the Hamilton.

The comfort for the Chiefs is that they contributed to their woes with arguably their poorest lineout performance of the season against the Crusaders, and that despite being on the back foot up front, still managed to finish within seven points.

Chiefs coach Dave Rennie said to the Waikato Times that the lack of launching platforms such as the scrum and lineout inhibited his troops normally free flowing game, and due to this believed there were aspects of the New Zealand Conference champions attack the Crusaders might not be prepared for.

"Hopefully we'll be throwing some things at them that they haven't seen and we've had the advantage of having a couple of weeks off, too," Rennie said.

"But those things are all a little bit of icing on the top as opposed to the real things we need to get right in the game."

The Crusaders played a very simple game to shut down the Chiefs in round 17, so the catch cry from the home team this week has been to get the basics right.

All season the Chiefs have been one of the form teams with their work at the scrum, lineout and collision areas, but after back-to-back losses, they will need to get all of their first phases right against a clinical Crusaders team.