Match details: Saturday 20 June, 7.05pm, FMG Stadium Waikato
Referee: Ben O’Keeffe
Won: Chiefs 21, Blues 11, Drawn 1
Last match: Blues 29, Chiefs 37 (31 January 2020)
The Blues were comfortable in victory against the Hurricanes last week and have appeared to get over the problem of defeating fellow New Zealand teams which has plagued them in recent seasons. Although the Blues have not recorded a victory against the Chiefs in Hamilton since 2011, they will sense a big opportunity on Saturday. The Chiefs were edged late last week by a Bryn Gatland drop goal and know there is plenty to improve on when they run out in front of their home fans.
Losing two loose forwards to injury would be a critical blow for most teams. For the Blues though, it appears to be an opportunity to showcase their incredible depth. With Blake Gibson and Tom Robinson out through injury, Head Coach Leon MacDonald has called up All Blacks Dalton Papalii and Akira Ioane to the starting line-up. When adding in barn-storming No.8 Hoskins Sotutu, the Blues boast a potent loose forward trio with the ability to bust the game open from anywhere on the field.
CLASS 10/15 COMBOS
One of the features of this match will be the clash between the 10/15 combos in each team. For the Blues, Otere Black and Beauden Barrett worked beautifully in tandem last week. This week they come up against an all-star combination in the form of Aaron Cruden and Damian McKenzie. Fans on the Investec Super Rugby twitter page tend to think the Blues have the edge with 60% of voters saying Black and Barrett will have the edge over Cruden and McKenzie. All will be revealed on Saturday night.
Chiefs coach Warren Gatland said his side were not clinical enough against the Highlanders last week and has demanded improvement against the Blues.
“The Blues have some great playmakers and will be a dangerous team. They performed well last week against the Hurricanes and will be hoping to back it up again. The guys are excited to run out to the field in front of what is expected to be a near-capacity crowd. It is now up to us to deliver for them and show our thanks for their support,” said Gatland.
The Blues have won their last four away games in Investec Super Rugby. A fifth consecutive win on the road would set a new club record for the Blues.
FMG Stadium Waikato is expected to be near capacity for the Saturday 7.05pm clash. Grab your tickets HERE.
15: Damian McKenzie 14: Shaun Stevenson 13: Quinn Tupaea 12: Anton Lienert-Brown 11: Sean Wainui 10: Aaron Cruden 9: Brad Weber © 8: Pita Gus Sowakula 7: Lachlan Boshier 6: Luke Jacobson 5: Naitoa Ah Kuoi 4: Tupou Vaa’I 3: Nepo Laulala 2: Samisoni Taukei’aho 1: Aidan Ross
Reserves: Bradley Slater, Reuben O’Neill, Ross Geldenhuys, Adam Thomson, Dylan Nel, Lisati Milo-Harris, Kaleb Trask, Solomon Alaimalo
15 Beauden Barrett, 14 Mark Telea, 13 Rieko Ioane, 12 TJ Faiane, 11 Caleb Clarke, 10 Otere Black, 9 Sam Nock; 8 Hoskins Sotutu, 7 Dalton Papalii, 6 Akira Ioane, 5 Josh Goodhue, 4 Patrick Tuipulotu ©, 3 Ofa Tuungafasi, 2 James Parsons, 1 Alex Hodgman.
Reserves: 16 Kurt Eklund, 17 Marcel Renata, 18 Sione Mafileo, 19 Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 20 Tony Lamborn, 21 Finlay Christie, 22 Harry Plummer, 23 Matt Duffie.