Round 8 Preview: Gallagher Chiefs v Crusaders (2021)

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Match details: Chiefs v Crusaders, Saturday 17 April, 7.05pm, FMG Stadium Waikato

Played: 39

Won: Chiefs 15, Crusaders 24

Referee: Mike Fraser

Last time: Crusaders 39, Chiefs 17 (13 March 2021)



Both teams showed they had ice in their veins last week by picking up golden point victories. For the Chiefs, it was fullback Damian McKenzie who slotted a penalty in golden point time while David Havili was the hero for the Crusaders with a well-taken drop goal against the Hurricanes.


Crusaders coach Scott Robertson has changed his complete forward pack with only Scott Barrett, who has moved to the blindside flank, starting from the side that played the Hurricanes on Sunday. There have been several changes in the backline also with the biggest coming at centre. Leicester Fainga’anuku gets his first start in the 13 jersey with Jack Goodhue out injured for the remainder of the season. "He loves the ball in his hands and he's building his skillset along the way. It was a plan to give him an opportunity [at centre] this season, but probably just not in these circumstances,” Robertson said.


While there are plenty of attacking threats sprinkled throughout both teams, it is on defence where success is truly built. The Crusaders (88%) and Chiefs (86%) have the highest tackle-success rates of any teams in 2021 so far. Crusaders hooker Codie Taylor sits at the top of the log for total tackles made this season with 74 while Luke Jacobsen, Mitchell Brown, Naitoa Ah Kuoi and the injured Sam Cane all sit in the top 15 for the Chiefs.



Regular Chiefs fullback Damian McKenzie has been named at first five-eighth in a bold move by coach Clayton McMillan. The switch sets up a mouth-watering head-to-head clash between McKenzie and Crusaders playmaker Richie Mo’unga. McMillan said McKenzie has performed well late in the game when being moved to first five-eighth and deserves the chance to start in the position. "He's been outstanding and back to his best and confident in what he's doing. But I think what he's demonstrated most, is that he's bringing accuracy, and a bit of maturity, to his game.  Historically he's been a little bit of a maverick. He's toned that down and the team, and himself, are reaping the rewards,” McMillan said.






15: Chase Tiatia 14: Jonah Lowe 13: Anton Lienert-Brown 12: Alex Nankivell 11: Etene Nanai-Seturo 10: Damian McKenzie 9: Brad Weber (c) 8: Luke Jacobson 7: Lachlan Boshier 6: Mitchell Brown 5: Naitoa Ah Kuoi 4: Tupou Vaa’I 3: Angus Ta’avao 2: Samisoni Taukei’aho 1: Aidan Ross


Reserves: Nathan Harris, Ollie Norris, Sione Mafileo, Pita Gus Sowakula, Kaylum Boshier, Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, Bryn Gatland, Sean Wainui


15: Will Jordan 14: Sevu Reece 13: Leicester Fainga'anuku 12: David Havili (VC) 11: George Bridge 10: Richie Mo’unga 9: Mitchell Drummond 8: Ethan Blackadder 7: Tom Sanders 6: Scott Barrett (C) 5: Quinten Strange 4: Mitchell Dunshea 3: Michael Alaalatoa 2: Brodie McAlister 1: George Bower


Reserves: Codie Taylor, Isieli Tu’ungafasi, Oliver Jager, Luke Romano, Sione Havili Talitui, Bryn Hall, Dallas McLeod, Manasa Mataele


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