Preview: Chiefs v Western Force - Green and Gold Rugby
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Preview: Chiefs v Western Force

Preview: Chiefs v Western Force

The tenth meeting of these two sides will see the Chiefs start as strong favourites but it should be remembered that the boys from Perth have beaten them twice before.

The Force will be desperate to get back on track after an error-ridden performance against the Hurricanes and will be hoping to find that the Chiefs are vulnerable after the travel  and injuries they have endured over the last two rounds.

Teams

At the time of writing, there are several Chiefs players under an injury cloud.  Prop Pauliasi Manu ruptured an achilles at training and is out for the season, whilst lock Brodie Retallick and halves Augustin Pulu and Tawera Kerr-Barlow are also out.  The Chiefs have twelve players unavailable for this fixture.

The Force have also made a few changes – notably Heath Tessmann comes in to start at hooker.  It will be interesting to see just when coach Michael Foley will choose to bring on significant linebending power in the form of Steve Mafi and Ben McCalman.

Brodie Retallick – injured

Chiefs

1. Mitchell Graham (15)
2. Hika Elliot (90)
3. Siate Tokolahi (21)
4. Michael Allardice (11)
5. Taleni Seu (5)
6. Tom Sanders (3)
7. Sam Cane (69) (cc)
8. Michael Leitch (16)

9. Brad Weber (28)
10. Aaron Cruden (60) (cc)
11.James Lowe (25)
12.Charlie Ngatai (35)
13. Seta Tamanivalu (10)
14. Sam McNicol (2)
15. Damian McKenzie (20)

Reserves:
16. Rhys Marshall (26)
17. Atu Moli (1)
18. Siegfried Fisi’ihoi**
19. James Tucker (1)
20. Sam Henwood**
21. Kayne Hammington**
22. Stephen Donald (85)
23. Toni Pulu**

( ) = Chiefs caps in brackets
** SR Debut

Force

1. Pekahou Cowan
2. Heath Tessmann
3. Tetera Faulkner
4. Ross Haylett-Petty
5. Adam Coleman
6. Brynard Stander
7. Matt Hodgson (c)
8. Angus Cottrell

9. Alby Mathewson
10. Peter Grant
11. Semisi Masirewa
12. Solomoni (Junior) Rasolea
13. Ben Tapuai
14. Marcel Brache
15. Dane Haylett-Petty

Reserves:
16. Chris Heiberg
17. Nathan Charles
18. Jermaine Ainsley
19. Sitiveni (Stevie) Mafi
20. Ben McCalman
21. Ryan Louwrens
22. Ian Prior
23. Albert Nikoro

 Matt Hodgson – perpetual efficiency

Key match-ups

The perpetual efficiency of Matt Hodgson combined with the graft of Angus Cottrell and Brynard Stander will allow the Force to build multiple phases on the primary possession obtained by Adam Coleman and Ross Haylett-Petty.

But the Chiefs are a patient side in defence and pick which breakdowns to attack. I expect Sam Cane to shade Hodgson in pilfering but Hodgson is a wily fox and this particular match-up will be intriguing to watch.

Importantly, it is here in the transition from attack to defence that the Force will struggle to react to the fast decision making of the Chiefs playmakers.

The strikepower of the dual pivots Aaron Cruden and Damian McKenzie should prove almost impossible for the Force to cover for the entire match – if the Force concentrate too much on stopping the dynamic duo, nippy halfback Brad Weber will surely re-focus the field of vision of the inside defenders.

Damian McKenzie – has the strike power

Why should I bother?

Whilst their table position might indicate the Force are hopeless, there is no doubt they have a few players who are on Cheika’s radar including lock Adam Coleman and fullback Dane Haylett-Petty  who will see 2016 as “their year” to get their numbers on Cheika’s mobile.

In full cry, the Chiefs play exciting expansive rugby, frequently scoring from long distance. On the other hand, the Force have struggled to cross the line this year. Statistically, matches between these sides are closer than one might imagine but the try drought being endured by the 2016 Force team is evidence of a side lacking imagination and daring. The adage that fortune favours the bold will be reinforced this week.

Prediction

The Force forwards will compete manfully for the first hour but their backs will struggle to capitalise, lacking penetration and guile. The Chiefs certainly don’t lack any guile and will pull away in the final twenty minutes.

Chiefs by 13

Chiefs v Western Force – Chiefs by 13

  • ForceFan

    Pleasing to see Michael Foley rewarding good contributions off the bench. McCalman struggling with no pre-season and the pace of SR. Charles needs to lift his work rate.

  • Bobas

    Ian Prior as back up 10. I’m a fan of Prior, just like I am of
    Frisby. Coming off the bench out of position is a hard
    thing to do well.

  • Bobas

    The stephen donald is in the cheifs team.

    • SuckerForRed

      isn’t that “THE Stephen Donald….” ;-)

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