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Preview: Chiefs v Reds

12th April 2013 07:03

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Richard Kahui sliding over for Chiefs

In the centre: Richard Kahui

One of the standout fixtures of the Super Rugby round comes from Waikato where the Chiefs host the Reds possibly eyeing revenge for May, 2012.

Depending on Friday's result in Dunedin, the Reds could find themselves top of both the Australian conference and the overall standings after this one. To explain, if the Brumbies lose to the Highlanders then that would open the door to the Reds claiming top spot. If they do, they will have earned it.

The Chiefs have been very good so far in the defence of their title as players like Gareth Anscombe, Tim Nanai-Williams, Liam Messam and Sam Cane shine. Factor in the seamless return of All Black Richard Kahui and things look rosy in Waikato at a team that combines the grunt with enterprising back play.

Dave Rennie's side have terrorised the Highlanders (twice), Cheetahs, Kings and Blues, with their only defeat coming against the Stormers at Newlands. They will have not forgotten the last time they faced the Reds though in that 42-27 loss at Suncorp Stadium so revenge may be on their mind this week.

"The Reds are a high quality side that has got some world class players," said Rennie ahead of facing the 2011 Super Rugby winners at Waikato Stadium.

"I have been impressed by what I saw of them against the Highlanders.

"We got toweled up against them last year so it is going to be a hell of a challenge."

Nanai-Williams returns this week on the wing, taking the place of Lelia Masaga while their strong back-row once again rotates with Sam Cane returning.

The Reds meanwhile will hope Quade Cooper puts his snub from the Wallabies preparation camp to good use and responds in the best possible way for them. He lines up alongside his international team-mate Will Genia while Rod Davies is on the left wing, going up against the aforementioned Nanai-Williams.

Both these franchises are coming off a bye week and will be fresh so one hopes for another high-scoring 80 minutes to kick off Saturday's Super Rugby action.

Prediction: The hosts should have too much here on home soil. Chiefs by 8!

The teams:

Chiefs: 15 Gareth Anscombe, 14 Tim Nanai Williams, 13 Richard Kahui, 12 Bundee Aki, 11 Asaeli Tikoirotuma, 10 Aaron Cruden, 9 August Pulu, 8 Liam Messam (c), 7 Sam Cane, 6 Tanerau Latimer, 5 Brodie Retallick, 4 Michael Fitzgerald, 3 Ben Tameifuna, 2 Hika Elliot, 1 Toby Smith.
Replacements: 16 Rhys Marshall, 17 Michael Kainga, 18 Nick Crosswell, 19 Fritz Lee, 20 Brendon Leonard, 21 Andrew Horrell, 22 Patrick Osborne.

Reds: 15 Jono Lance, 14 Dom Shipperley, 13 Anthony Faingaa, 12 Ben Tapuai, 11 Rod Davies, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Will Genia, 8 Jake Schatz, 7 Liam Gill, 6 Eddie Quirk, 5 James Horwill (c), 4 Rob Simmons, 3 James Slipper, 2 James Hanson, 1 Greg Holmes.
Replacements: 16 Albert Anae, 17 Ben Daley, 18 Ed O'Donoghue, 19 Jarrad Butler, 20 Ben Lucas, 21 Chris Feauai-Sautia, 22 Aidan Toua.

Date: Saturday, April 13
Kick-off: 16:35 local (05:35 BST, 04:35 GMT)
Venue: Waikato Stadium, Hamilton
Referee: Steve Walsh (Australia)

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Super Rugby Table
PosTeamPPts
1Sharks727
2Brumbies825
3Chiefs724
4Western Force722
5Waratahs720
6Highlanders719
7Crusaders718
8Bulls818
9Lions816
10Hurricanes716
11Blues716
12Reds816
13Melbourne Rebels712
14Cheetahs89
15Stormers76