Super Rugby: Chiefs v Highlanders Preview



After copping their first loss to the Hurricanes in Wellington a week ago, the Highlanders will look to get back to winning ways when they travel to Chiefs country on Friday. 



Chiefs v Highlanders
30 March 08h35
FMG Stadium 

To Win (80 Mins)
Chiefs 7/10
Draw 22/1
Highlanders 5/4


Handicap
Chiefs (-3.5) 9/10
Highlanders (+3.5) 9/10


With just two points separating fourth from first in the New Zealand Conference neither team can afford to lose more ground in the hunt for pole playoff positions.

Chiefs

Despite their Round One loss to the Crusaders having been followed up by consecutive wins over the Blues, Bulls, and Sunwolves, not many people are speaking about the two-time winners in the same bracket as the likes of the Hurricanes and Crusaders. This may be partly due to the transitioning phase the franchise is going through after the departure of Dave Rennie, but the fact remains that this is one quality footy side. They should not be written off.

If Damian McKenzie can again provide the spark for the hosts at first-five eighth then they will gain the upper hand on Friday. The Highlanders were starved of possession by the Canes last week and if the Chiefs can similarly hold onto the majority of the ball, young McKenzie will have the time and space to find gaps in the midfield.

Brodie Retallick seems to be getting back to his very best following an extended period out of the game last year, which, quite frankly, is a seriously scary prospect for oppositional sides. If the second-rower can continue his upward spiral this Friday then the Highlanders will be in serious trouble. His work rate is second-to-none while his knack for popping up in the right place at the right time is uncanny. He’s definitely one to watch.

Highlanders

With their unbeaten run now at an end, a sense of sobriety would have settled into the Highlanders camp. In truth, their usually dependable pack of forwards were muscled off the ball a week ago and they will need to rekindle their mojo if they are to add more wins to their playing column.

Their pack will be hurting after the beating they took in Round Six and will look to this weekend’s encounter as a way of getting back on the horse. The Chiefs have never been renown for having a strong scrummaging unit and this is surely an area the men from Dunedin will look to exploit on Friday.

Getting on the front foot will allow for Aaron Smith and Lima Sopoaga to pose questions of their own amongst the backs, something I’m expecting them to do come matchday.

Verdict: Highlanders 5/4
Another risky call considering the form of Retallick and McKenzie, but I feel as though the Highlanders pack will have a point to prove this weekend. I’m tipping them to end the Chiefs’ three-game winning run.


Written by Shaun Goosen for @Hollywoodbets.net

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