Preview: Chiefs v Brumbies – 15/07/2017

The Chiefs clash with the Brumbies in their final regular season home game of the season at FMG Stadium, Hamilton on Saturday.

The significance of this contest will only truly be realised retrospectively. It could be the last time Dave Rennie leads his team into battle in Waikato and the last performance at home for a very special group of long-serving players that includes Aaron Cruden, Tawera Kerr-Barlow and James Lowe.

Chiefs co-captain Cane said: “As far as special games go, our match on Saturday afternoon against the Brumbies is right up there.

“It’s our final guaranteed game at home this season and I’d love for thousands of our loyal fans to join me in the stands to honour Rens, Aaron and the boys who are leaving at the end of this season.

“Let’s give them a turnout befitting the massive contribution they’ve made to our club.”

The result of Saturday’s game will also ultimately decide the Chiefs quarter-final opponent. Currently there are two scenarios; the preference sees the Chiefs pack their bags next Wednesday for Canberra to take on Australia’s best Super Rugby side, the Brumbies. The appeal of this scenario is solely due to the reduced travel time.

To secure this, the Chiefs must defeat the Brumbies this weekend and in the later game, the Crusaders must draw with or beat the Hurricanes. The second scenario sees the Chiefs depart for Cape Town a mere seven hours after their match this Saturday to play the Stormers.

The Chiefs have opted to rest the All Blacks trio of Brodie Retallick, Cane and Anton Lienert-Brown but they should still be considered favourites, having enjoyed a far better season than the Brumbies.

It is true that Cane seems to galvanise them, but they have the equally talismanic Liam Messam in his place.

The Chiefs have won four of their last six games against the Brumbies, and will be looking for three victories in a row against the team from the Australian capital for the first time in Super Rugby history.

They have won each of their last four games when hosting the Brumbies, though they’ve allowed them a losing bonus point on each occasion.

Furthermore, the Chiefs have won nine of their last 10 games against Australian opposition, and haven’t lost to an Australian team when playing at home since 2014.

Meanwhile, the Brumbies have secured a home quarter-final (possibly against the Chiefs) by virtue of already having topped the Australian Conference.

But in truth the Canberra-based side have been far from convincing this season and have qualified for the play-offs at such an early stage not so much due to their quality but due to the poor displays of the other Australian sides.

The Brumbies have lost on their last eight visits to New Zealand by an average margin of 15 points, last winning in Round 4, 2014 against the Hurricanes.

The Canberra squad have been kept tryless in the opening half of three of their last six games, scoring only five tries in total across that span.

But attack is the least of their worries as defensively they will need to be on top of their game if they are to nullify the many attacking threats the Chiefs possess.

Previous results:

2016: Chiefs won 48-23 in Canberra
2015: Chiefs won 19-17 in Hamilton
2014: Brumbies won 32-30 in Canberra
2014: Brumbies won 41-23 in Canberra
2013: Chiefs won 27-22 in Hamilton
2012: Chiefs won 29-22 in Hamilton
2011: Brumbies won 28-20 in Canberra
2010: Brumbies won 30-23 in Canberra

The teams:

Chiefs: 15 Damian McKenzie, 14 Solomon Alaimalo, 13 Alex Nankivell, 12 Charlie Ngatai, 11 James Lowe, 10 Aaron Cruden (c), 9 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 8 Michael Leitch, 7 Lachlan Boshier, 6 Liam Messam, 5 Mitchell Brown, 4 Michael Allardice, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Nathan Harris, 1 Kane Hames
Replacements: 16 Liam Polwart, 17 Aidan Ross, 18 Atu Moli, 19 Tom Sanders, 20 Mitchell Karpik, 21 Finlay Christie, 22 Stephen Donald, 23 Shaun Stevenson

Brumbies: 15 Jordan Jackson-Hope, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Nigel Ah Wong, 12 Andrew Smith, 11 James Dargaville, 10 Wharenui Hawera, 9 Tomas Cubelli, 8 Lolo Fakaosilea, 7 Jarrad Butler, 6 Scott Fardy (c), 5 Blake Enever, 4 Tom Staniforth, 3 Leslie Leulua’iali’i-Makin, 2 Robbie Abel, 1 Nic Mayhew
Replacements: 16 Josh Mann-Rea, 17 Scott Sio, 18 Ben Alexander, 19 Ben Hyne, 20 Tom Cusack, 21 Jordan Smiler, 22 Ryan Lonergan, 23 Tom Banks

Date: Saturday. July 15
Venue: FMG Stadium, Hamilton
Kick-Off: 17:15 local (05:15 GMT)
Referee: Ben O’Keeffe
Assistant Referees: Richard Kelly, Cam Stone
TMO: Ben Skeen


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