The Chiefs will be keen to continue with their impressive form when they host a rejuvenated Sharks side in New Plymouth on Friday.
The home side are the form team in the competition and showed in their 28-27 victory over the Hurricanes last weekend that it will take a special effort to beat them.
Their attacking play has been superb throughout the campaign and despite losing experienced campaigners like Sonny Bill Williams and Liam Messam to the All Blacks Sevens side they have found capable replacements in players like Seta Tamanivalu and Taleni Seu, who have come to the fore with some superb performances.
Another player, who has played phenomenally well is full-back Damian McKenzie. The 21-year-old has an excellent skill-set and is one of the tournament’s leading goal-kickers.
But despite, the emergence of up-and-coming stars like the above mentioned trio, it’s experienced campaigners like co-captains Sam Cane and Aaron Cruden, who have been at the forefront of the Chiefs’ superb form.
Despite being burdened with their captaincy roles, both players are in excellent form and will look to continue where they left off against the Hurricanes in this fixture.
The Sharks claimed a valuable 15-14 victory over the Highlanders in Dunedin but despite that result, they have received plenty of criticism for their dour style of ply which has seen them scoring just 14 tries in eight matches.
By contrast, the Chiefs have scored a whopping 43 tries after the same number of matches. The Sharks’ defence has been impressive this season but one feels that that won’t be enough to be victorious against the attacking prowess of this Chiefs side, who are particularly lethal in counter-attacking situations.
Friday’s match is particularly special for two Chiefs players. 27-year-old Tasman prop Kane Hames is set to make his first appearance in a Chiefs jersey, while 21-year-old Taranaki loose forward Lachlan Boshier is in line to make his Super Rugby debut should he come off the bench.
2015: Sharks won 12-11 in Durban
2013: Chiefs won 37-29 in Hamilton
2012: Chiefs won 37- 6 in Hamilton
2012: Chiefs won 18-12 in Durban
2011: Chiefs won 15-9 in Hamilton
2010: Chiefs won 19-18 in Durban
Chiefs: 15 Damian McKenzie, 14 Toni Pulu, 13 Seta Tamanivalu, 12 Anton Lienert-Brown, 11 Sam McNicol, 10 Aaron Cruden (cc), 9 Brad Weber, 8 Michael Leitch, 7 Sam Cane (cc), 6 Taleni Seu, 5 Brodie Retallick, 4 Dominic Bird, 3 Hiroshi Yamashita, 2 Hika Elliot, 1 Mitchell Graham
Replacements: 16 Nathan Harris, 17 Siate Tokolahi, 18 Kane Hames, 19 James Tucker, 20 Lachlan Boshier, 21 Kayne Hammington, 22 Andrew Horrell, 23 Shaun Stevenson
Sharks: 15 Willie Le Roux, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Paul Jordaan, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Garth April, 9 Michael Claassens, 8 Daniel du Preez, 7 Jean-Luc du Preez, 6 Keegan Daniel (c), 5 Stephan Lewies, 4 Etienne Oosthuizen, 3 Lourens Adriaanse, 2 Kyle Cooper, 1 Dale Chadwick
Replacements: 16 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 17 Thomas du Toit, 18 Coenie Oosthuizen, 19 Hyron Andrews, 20 Jean Deysel, 21 Stefan Ungerer, 22 Joe Pietersen, 23 Odwa Ndungane
Date: Friday, 29 April
Venue: Yarrow Stadium, New Plymouth
Kick-off: 19:35 (07:35 GMT)
Referee: Chris Pollock
Assistant Referees: Jamie Nutbrown, Angus Mabey
TMO: Glenn Newman