Unbeaten Chiefs primed for Blues showdown

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While the Blues took an ugly win from the Force in round five, they missed their All Blacks taking their required rest breaks, and how they do after a week's break will go a long way towards deciding how this game goes.

Both sides like to attack, with Chiefs utility back Shaun Stevenson providing plenty to talk about as he has claimed the top of the try-scoring leaderboard for himself this year.

However, the Blues have their attacking options, with wings Caleb Clarke and Mark Telea open to looking for work, while centre Rieko Ioane is always a threat to make a breakthrough with ball in hand.

The clash between the respective first five-eighths, Damian McKenzie and Beauden Barrett, has plenty to savour.

That's not to forget the forward packs. Tradition demands this will be one of the more physically demanding games of the season, and the Blues know they face challenges both in the loose and in the lineout play – an area they still haven't commanded this season.

The game shapes as a classic clash of styles. The Chiefs have been an average of 31 defenders per game this season, the most effective rate in the competition, while the Blues have 30 equal second.

The Chiefs have been deadly in defence, missing only 16 tackles per game, five fewer than any other side.

The Blues have carried for 625 metres per game, the best in the competition, while the Chiefs have made 515 metres, the third-highest of all sides.

The Blues have also found blindside alley an effective attacking option, having used it 56 times this season, more than any other side, while only the Highlanders (24) have used it less than the Chiefs (26).

Wing Mark Telea has made 440 metres during the season, the most of any player, while No8 Hoskins Sotutu, on 385, sits third. Chiefs fullback/wing Shaun Stevenson is fourth with 378 metres made.

An incentive for the Blues is to extend their recent record over the Chiefs. In their last six outings, they have won five, and a fourth consecutive win on Saturday would equal their best against the Chiefs, recorded in the first four years of Super Rugby.

But the Chiefs also have form, having won nine of their last 10 Super Rugby Pacific games, including their last five consecutively.

For a team that a few years back suffered so often at the hands of the Chiefs, and in many other games away from their Eden Park fortress, they have now won their last 11 games as the away side.

Elsewhere in round six, Moana Pasifika will be hoping to get their first win of 2023 when they host the Highlanders in the opening game of the round at Mt Smart Stadium on Friday night. The match-up promises to be a doozy with the Highlanders gunning for three wins in a row. Get your TICKETS HERE.

The Crusaders are also in action on Friday night at Suncorp Stadium against Brad Thorn’s Reds. Tune into the action on Sky Sport NZ at 9.35pm.

Saturday kicks off with an intriguing clash in Suva between the Fijian Drua and the Rebels at 4.35pm. A win will see either team move comfortably into the top eight, while the loser will sit in the bottom four.

Following the Chiefs v Blues blockbuster at 7.05pm at FMG Stadium (get your TICKETS HERE), the Brumbies face a desperate Waratahs side in an intriguing grudge match in Canberra. Watch live on Sky Sport at 9.35pm.

Palmerston North plays host to the final game of the round at 3.35pm on Sunday afternoon when the Hurricanes take on the Western Force. Get you TICKETS HERE.

Dependent on the result of the Chiefs v Blues game, a big Hurricanes victory could see the side move into first place on the ladder.


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