Preview: Blues v Chiefs
Sportal.co.nz 11 Jul 2013 Getty Images
LAST TIME: Chiefs 23 def Blues 16, Round 7, 2013 at Bay Park
MISSING IN ACTION: Sir John Kirwan welcomes the return of halfback Piri Weepu and first-five Chris Noakes for the final game of his first season in charge at Eden Park.
Chiefs co-captain Liam Messam is set to return the blindside after missing last week with a back injury. Charlie Ngatai is awaiting scans on his foot while Sam Cane is being monitored for a head knock.
FORM: The Blues started the season with bang but a five-game losing streak threatens to become six as they approach a wounded Chiefs side looking to make a statement before entering the playoffs.
Blues captain Ali Williams, who recently signed with Toulon, will certainly want to depart his beloved franchise on a positive note, as will the Montpelier-bound Rene Ranger.
The form of Dave Rennie's Chiefs took a steep dive as they fumbled their way through 80 error-riddled minutes against the Crusaders in Christchurch.
Last year they suffered a loss in the same fixture, and the following week, before going on to claim their inaugural Investec Super Rugby title. However, errors and penalties are continually becoming an issue.
WE THINK: Last week the Chiefs were out-muscled and turned up without the hunger that has seen them set the benchmark all year.
The Blues would be wise to take a leaf out of the Crusaders book if they are to give their fans something to cheer about.
However, it will be interesting to see whether the Blues have anything left in the tank after a tough South African safari.
Aaron Cruden may have failed to make his usual impact in his last outing but he is desperate to hit his straps and send out a warning to other playoff contenders.
Look for him to lead from the front and put the Blues under pressure with a sound kicking game before introducing the exciting backs around him close to the line. Chiefs by 12.
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