Super Rugby 2017: Hurricanes v Chiefs Preview

Super-Rugby-2017-Round-15-Hurricanes-v-Chiefs-preview

Our in-house scribe previews the final Super Rugby game before the break for the June Internationals, which sees the Hurricanes host the Chiefs. 

What better way to go into a Super Rugby sabbatical than with a clash between two of New Zealand’s finest! There’s a hell of a lot on the line at the Westpac this Friday with only four points separating the Hurricanes (53) and the Chiefs (49) in the race to claim second spot on the Australasian Conference.

So which of these side’s will move closer towards a home semi-final? Let’s see if we can find out.

Hurricanes v Chiefs | Friday 9 June | Westpac Stadium | 09:35

To Win (80 Mins)
Hurricanes 7/20 | Draw 25/1 | Chiefs 2/1
Handicap
Hurricanes (-7.5) 9/10 | Chiefs (+7.5) 9/10

Hurricanes
They were by no means at their best but Chris Boyd’s men still managed to run out 12-34 victors against the Western Force last Saturday. A lot of gloss was added to that score line in the final 20 minutes when Ardie Save and Nehe Milner-Skudder came on. The former took the game by the scruff of the neck, making an absolute menace of himself at the breakdown. The later also terrorised the opposition, although it was his electric feet that did the damage rather than the brutish crash and bash approach employed by Savea.

I would be rather worried by the return of Milner-Skudder if I were one of the Chiefs backs. I mean, taking on a back three featuring Julian Savea and Jordie Barrett is scary enough, but to have to take on one that also features the little dynamo is bordering on torture. Yes, the Chiefs have a hot-stepper of their own in Damien McKenzie, but I’d be willing to wager that the diminutive fullback would not be left grinning if he had to take on Milner-Skudder in a dance off.

On paper, the ‘Canes have a much better backline so the visitors would have wanted to assert themselves at the set piece. Unfortunately, their main man Brodie Rettalick will miss out due to the concussion protocols, which will have a significant effect on the Chiefs lineout.

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Chiefs
The Chiefs also blew away Australia opposition last weekend as they ran out 46-31 victors against the Waratahs. While the Chiefs will be mightily pleased with how well their attack functions, they will also be rather worried about the defensive side of their game.

As I touched on before, the absence of Brodie Retallick is a massive blow to the Chiefs chances. While his replacement Michael Allardice is a solid lineout option, he doesn’t have the same work ethic as Rettalick. There is some good news for the men from Waikato with All Black midfielder Charlie Ngati making a return to the starting XV. The burly centre has been struggling to overcome a concussion he sustained last year and it will be great to see him back in action.

Ngati’s return couldn’t have come at a better time either, as the Chiefs are squaring off against the most prolific centre pairing in the tournament. The final change to the Chiefs starting XV sees young gun Solomon Alaimalo get a start on the wing.

Verdict: Hurricanes (-7.5) 9/10
This Hurricanes backline looks frighteningly good. I can see the Barrett brothers, the Saveas and the Nehe Milner-Skudder having an absolute field day against a Chiefs side that has dropped off defensively over the past few months.

Written by Darry Worthington for @Hollywoodbets.net!

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