Super Rugby: Blues v Chiefs Preview


The Blues and Chiefs lock horns in the first of Friday's two Round 14 Super Rugby derbies.

The Blues of Auckland will want to put last week’s disappointing 30-22 loss to the Stormers at Newlands behind them when they front up against the Chiefs on Friday. The Chiefs will equally be looking to overcome the heartbreak of their 24-31 home loss to the Crusaders, and keep the pressure on the log-leaders until the end of round-robin play.

Blues v Chiefs | Friday 26 May | Eden Park | 09:35

To Win (80 Mins)
Blues 15/10 | Draw 22/1 | Chiefs 5/10
Blues (+5.5) 9/10 | Chiefs (-5.5) 9/10

The Blues’ will be disappointed that they couldn’t grind out a victory in Cape Town. They were the better side for the majority of the contest, but ill-discipline and inaccuracy ultimately cost them. Their campaign doesn’t get any easier, as they return home this week to face a Chiefs outfit that will be hurting after their narrow loss to the ‘Saders last week.

Charlie Faumuina certainly did not deserve to be on the losing side last week, with the tighthead (-cum-flyhalf!) showcasing some deft touches during the eighty; two of which resulted in tries for his teammates. He is proving to be a real handful for opposition teams in what is his final year playing in New Zealand, and the 30-year-old may well have a very important role to play for his national side against the British & Irish Lions in June.

Since we’re on the topic of the Lions series; a certain Mr Sonny-Bill Williams still has a lot to do to prove he’s worthy of a start in the All Black midfield. He seemed a lot more like his old self against the Stormers; even setting up a try with one of his trademark offloads, but he definitely doesn’t warrant a spot ahead of Ryan Crotty at present. What better way to remind Steve Hansen of his talents than with a big showing against his former employers this weekend?

Dave Rennie and his team are not used to losing - and they certainly aren’t fond of it either. They will be kicking themselves for not putting away the Crusaders last week, especially since it would have narrowed the gap between them and the NZ Conference trend-setters. Nevertheless, this week offers them a shot at putting one over Tana Umaga’s rather inconsistent Blues bunch – something that will have them watering at the mouth.

Aaron Cruden was in fine form against the ‘Saders, and gave a timely reminder that, should injury befall Beauden Barrett, the Kiwis will still be well off in June. His game-management was top-drawer, and his uncanny eye for the gap has not deserted him yet. I expect him to put the Blues to the sword this Friday – his expert decision-making and accuracy will put the Aucklanders under immense pressure throughout the hour-and-twenty. With the dynamism of James Lowe and Damian McKenzie to call on from the back, as well as the likes of Brodie Retallick and Sam Cane providing the link from forwards to backs, the Chiefs should take run in a good few five-pointers, against a Blues defence that has looked shaky at times this season.

Verdict: Chiefs (-5.5) 9/10
The Blues will battle to match the class of the Chiefs in most departments on Friday, and Aaron Cruden could prove the difference for the away side. He will make sure the pace of the game is to his liking, and that his Waikato men issue wave-after-wave of attacking assaults on their hosts. The Blues will manage a try or two (being a New Zealand side), but expect the Chiefs to overwhelm and outthink their opponents on matchday, not unlike they did to the same opposition in March (when they came out victorious, 41-26).

Written by Shaun Goosen for!

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