Super Rugby predictions: Chiefs v Hurricanes
ROUND SEVEN: The Chiefs, buoyed by their second-half shut-out of the Waratahs last week, will look to put their stake down in one of two crucial conference matches at the weekend.
The Chiefs, at home to the Hurricanes on Friday, could go a long way to decide the final pecking order in the New Zealand conference.
The other ‘decider’ will take place a day later in South Africa – when the Sharks host the Stormers in Durban.
However, for now, we will concern ourselves with the Hamilton face-off.
The Chiefs, second behind the table-topping Sharks, could take pole position with a win over the Hurricanes.
And they will look to kick on from last week’s second-half showing – when the one-point (13-14) half-time deficit against the Waratahs turned into a 51-14 rout.
(Continue reading below…)
Coach Warren Gatland said his team wants to continue to build on their 38-second-half shut-out in Wollongong.
“Last week we started well and that provided us with a solid platform for the second half,” Gatland said.
“Again, this week, we will be challenged to do the same.
“Any New Zealand derby is going to be a tough battle. The Hurricanes will be hurting from their [15-24] loss [to the Blues] last weekend and will be hungry to rectify that.
“We need to remain focused on being disciplined, utilise our opportunities and deliver a performance that our members and supporters can be proud of,” added Gatland.
Hurricanes coach Jason Holland said the team has been focusing on accuracy ahead of what will be another tough derby.
“We weren’t accurate enough to take opportunities and territory we were gaining in first 30-minutes against the Blues,” Holland said.
“We’re working hard at fixing that this week, especially as this Chiefs side will be looking to capitalise on that.”
Head to head
Prediction: The Hurricanes have lost only one of their last five Super Rugby games against the Chiefs and will be looking earn to back-to-back wins against them for the first time since 2015. Three of the five New Zealand derbies thus far in the 2020 Super Rugby season have been won by the away team on the day. This occurred a total of just five times through the entire 2019 campaign. The Chiefs have won their last three home games on the bounce against fellow New Zealand opposition in Super Rugby, despite having trailed at halftime in each of the last two games in that span. The Hurricanes have conceded a total of five cards this Super Rugby season (four yellow, one red), more than any other team in the competition. They’ve lost three of their last four games when they’ve received a card of any denomination. The Chiefs’ Lachlan Boshier (16) and Hurricanes’ Du’Plessis Kirifi (11) have won more turnovers than any other players this Super Rugby campaign; indeed, no other player has won more than seven. At home and based on form, the Chiefs should edge this one – by a converted try.
Chiefs: 15 Damian McKenzie, 14 Shaun Stevenson, 13 Tumua Manu, 12 Anton Lienert-Brown, 11 Solomon Alaimalo, 10 Aaron Cruden, 9 Brad Weber, 8 Pita Gus Sowakula, 7 Sam Cane (captain), 6 Lachlan Boshier, 5 Mitchell Brown, 4 Michael Allardice, 3 Ross Geldenhuys, 2 Samisoni Taukei’aho, 1 Aidan Ross.
Replacements: 16 Bradley Slater, 17 Atu Moli, 18 Reuben O’Neill 19 Naitoa Ah Kuoi, 20 Mitchell Karpik, 21 Lisati Milo-Harris, 22 Kaleb Trask, 23 Alex Nankivell.
Hurricanes: 15 Jordie Barrett, 14 Kobus Van Wyk, 13 Vince Aso, 12 Ngani Laumape, 11 Ben Lam, 10 Fletcher Smith, 9 Thomas Perenara (co-captain), 8 Gareth Evans, 7 Du’Plessis Kirifi, 6 Devan Flanders, 5 Isaia Walker-Leawere, 4 James Blackwell, 3 Ben May, 2 Dane Coles (co-captain), 1 Fraser Armstrong.
Replacements: 16 Asafo Aumua, 17 Pouri Rakete-Stones, 18 Alex Fidow 19 Scott Scrafton, 20 Vaea Fifita, 21 Jamie Booth, 22 Billy Proctor, 23 Wes Goosen.
Date: Friday, March 13
Venue: Waikato Stadium, Hamilton
Kick-off: 19.05 (06.05 GMT)
Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Marius van der Westhuizen (South Africa), Ben O’Keeffe (New Zealand)
TMO: Aaron Peterson (New Zealand)
Compiled by Jan de Koning
* Stats provided by Opta Sports