Hurricanes eye three-peat of wins over Chiefs to make final

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Both earlier games in the regular season were thrilling contests, with the Hurricanes getting home courtesy of a late penalty goal in their last outing in Hamilton.

But Hurricanes coach Clark Laidlaw said the Chiefs would be okay with playing in Wellington. The two earlier games between the two were tight, and the Hurricanes enjoyed some luck. It would be another tight tussle on Saturday.

Both sides have similar strengths.

"They're [the Chiefs] a very aggressive, high-tempo team when they get on the front foot with the breakdown and forwards, so they can punish you. They're a fit side; they're coached well, have been here before, and can stay intense through the whole game.

"We've got a lot of respect and admiration for the way they play the game. If we weren't playing them, I'd probably quite like to watch the way they play."

Starting well and getting on top early has been part and parcel of the Hurricanes this year, and he would like to see that continue. But if the Chiefs get the better start, the Hurricanes would have to look to swing the game around at other stages.

"The game will be a lot about momentum shifts."

He confirmed that prop Xavier Numia is out, but that was countered by Tyrell Lomax returning, albeit on the opposite side of the front row.

"It would be nice to have both of them. They have both played well, but injuries are part of the game.

"We feel grateful and fortunate that we've got some strength and depth, and as much as we were disappointed that Xavier is not playing, we're excited about the guys who are stripping."

Pouri Rakete-Stones has been impressive, and the game is an opportunity for him.

"He's worked hard to transfer his strength in the gym onto the field. He's the strongest player in our team."

The younger players will have their first experience playing in front of such a large home crowd, so it was important to ensure they stayed calm and consistent.

"They've done all the hard work, they're ready to play. It's about keeping a lid on it and keeping the excitement until the weekend and not playing the game too early."

Laidlaw said that while they had younger players, they also had two who have won a Super Rugby title: Brad Shields and TJ Perenara.

"We've got people here who know what it takes to win. We've used their experience and lent on it.

"We're well aware of all the external stuff, but as a team, we've prepared really well. We want to play our style of rugby and if it's good enough to win then awesome."

Centre Billy Proctor said while the Chiefs had a physical forward pack, their backline was highly effective.

"Both their wings, their midfielders, they've all played at the top level, and they pose a big threat; we're well aware of that.

"Last time we had an awesome first half against them, were on top and then they came out firing in the second half and it was a battles until the end, until we won it. They came at us physically and we expect the same thing this week."


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