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Preview: Waratahs v Chiefs

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Sportal.co.nz     19 Apr 2013     Getty Images

HEAD TO HEAD: Played: 16, Waratahs 10, Chiefs 6.
LAST TIME: Chiefs 30 def Waratahs 13, Round 6, 2012 at Waikato Stadium.

WALKING WOUNDED:
Waratahs enforcers Tatafu Polota-Nau and Wycliff Palu both return to the starting line-up after overcoming hamstring and ankle injuries respectively.

The Chiefs have made six changes after Saturday's shock loss to the Reds. Lelia Masaga returns from a back injury on the right wing replacing Tim Nanai-Williams. Inside-centre Bundee Aki is suspended, forcing Richard Kahui to shift one position closer to the action at number 12 while Charlie Ngatai gets a start at outside centre.

FORM:
The Waratahs finished on the wrong end of a 41-29 loss to the Hurricanes in Wellington a fortnight ago. Their fourth loss in seven games this season snapped a two-match winning run after narrow home victories over the Force and Blues. NSW have shown signs of turning the corner under new coach Michael Cheika, however lapses in concentration and basic skill errors at crucial times continue to hold them back. The Waratahs are running third on the Australia Conference ladder, 12 points back from the Brumbies and 10th overall.

The Chiefs conceded four tries to two against the Reds to suffer just their second defeat of the season and first loss at home in Hamilton. It wasn't that they played terribly in the defeat, they were just slightly off and the Reds were excellent. Despite the loss they still remain on top of the New Zealand conference and second overall behind the Brumbies.

WE THINK: The Waratahs arguably have a better roster than the Chiefs on paper, but the reigning champs are the stronger team in reality. The visitors will be stinging from their upset loss to the Reds at home and will be looking to take their frustrations out on Cheika's men who are also coming off a loss. If the unpredictable Waratahs play to their potential and keep their brain snaps to a minimum they are capable of beating the Chiefs. But we'll stick with the more consistent Chiefs to return to the winners' circle in a high-scoring contest at Allianz Stadium on Friday night. Chiefs by eight.