S15 Preview: Brumbies v Chiefs
Darryn Pollock previews the first of Super Rugby's play-off matches, a replay of last year's Final - the Brumbies against the Chiefs.
It is a replay of last year's Final and while there might not be the silverware to play for this time round, there will a chance at glory up for grabs for these two pedigree teams.
The two 2013 finalists have already played each other in the regular season, unlike last year, with the Brumbies exacting some degree of revenge for last year's loss in the grand finale - with a 41-23 victory in Canberra.
It is a Brumbies side that is in good shape, with Matt Toomua in tremendous form after picking up a hat-trick in last weekend's win over the Force.
This impressive victory over the Force can largely be put down to them looking stronger in personnel compared with the team that got smashed a fortnight earlier by the Waratahs.
It's also a much different Chiefs line-up to the one beaten in Canberra - with Aaron Cruden and Tawera Kerr-Barlow pairing up at halfback again. The two-time champions are coming off a hard-fought victory over the Blues in Auckland – a win that secured their place in the play-offs.
All Black Lock Brodie Retallick is in sublime form, while the backline boasts plenty of pace and skill - particularly with Tim Nanai-Williams and Asaeli Tikoirotuma included in the team.
The Brumbies have the fire power in their team, they also have the advantage of a home game with the Canberra crowd sure to add some additional motivation.
The Chiefs have been erratic for most of the season - with the Brumbies also stumbling on occasion, but a touch more consistent. The Canberra team also seem to be hitting their straps at just the right time with their settled squad.
The Brumbies have brought back one of their top try scorers in Robbie Coleman and he is raring to go in this must win match.
"It was tough watching the boys play so well last week and not being a part of it," Coleman said.
"I thought they were outstanding in pretty much everything they did. I'll be looking to build on that momentum this week. I want to be able to add to that performance.
"The last few weeks I've had some issues with my quad and as a result my speed probably hasn't been where it needs to be. That's all resolved now though and I'm looking forward to taking on the Chiefs."
The Chiefs co captain and All Black flank Liam Messam knows the importance of this game and the extra pressure that sits on his team as double defending champions.
"This is do or die time for us. We have a lot of belief in our group and now we need to convert that into our performance on the field on Saturday," Messam said.
Players to watch:
For The Brumbies: Toomua is looking threatening after a good outing with the Wallabies, and a recent hat-trick to his name. Jesse Mogg can be a game winner when he is in the mood, he looked deadly in the first half of the season but went off the boil a bit - this could be his chance to shine again.
For the Chiefs: Their bullocking forwards are always destructive, with the likes of Brodie Retallick, Ben Tameifuna and Liam Messam all in good touch. The Chiefs backs also offer plenty of fire power with All Black incumbent flyhalf Aaron Cruden running things from pivot.
Head to Head: Sam Carter up against Brodie Retallick will be an interesting one with both of them having break out season. Back after an ankle injury suffered on his Test debut, Carter turned in a powerful 80-minute effort that feature 12 tackles, six runs for 55 metres, two tackles busts and a line break. Retallick meanwhile was Herculean in his defensive work with an amazing 21 tackles against the Blues – a work rate that coach Rennie believes makes him the game's finest lock.
2014: Brumbies won 41-23, Canberra
2013: Chiefs won 27-22, Hamilton
2012: Chiefs won 29-22, Hamilton
2011: Brumbies won 28-20, Canberra
2010: Brumbies won 30-23, Canberra
2009: Chiefs won 10-7, Hamilton
2008: Chiefs won 42-28, Canberra
2007: Brumbies won 21-15, Hamilton
2006: Brumbies won 28-26, Canberra
2005: Chiefs drew 28-28, Canberra
Prediction: The Brumbies and Chiefs both squeaked into the play-offs after they looked like championship sides at some stage through the tournament. Over all the Chiefs have looked far more erratic, with some bizarre results (including two draws in South Africa). The Brumbies stumbled towards the final third of the tournament but are looking far stronger with their most settled team decided. Home advantage has played a big part this year, and you can expect that to be the case again as the Brumbies take it by less than five.
Brumbies: 15 Jesse Mogg, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Christian Lealiifano, 11 Robbie Coleman, 10 Matt Toomua, 9 Nic White, 8 Ben Mowen (captain), 7 Jarrad Butler, 6 Scott Fardy, 5 Leon Power, 4 Sam Carter, 3 Ben Alexander, 2 Josh Mann-Rea, 1 Scott Sio.
Replacements: 16 Ruaidhri Murphy, 17 Ruan Smith, 18 Allan Alaalatoa, 19 Fotu Auelua, 20 Tom McVerry, 21 Michael Dowsett, 22 Joe Tomane, 23 Pat McCabe.
Chiefs: 15 Dwayne Sweeney, 14 Asaeli Tikoirotuma, 13 Tim Nanai-Williams, 12 Bundee Aki, 11 James Lowe, 10 Aaron Cruden (captain), 9 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 8 Liam Squire, 7 Tanerau Latimer, 6 Liam Messam, 5 Brodie Retallick, 4 Mike Fitzgerald, 3 Ben Tameifuna, 2 Mahonri Schwalger, 1 Jamie Mackintosh.
Replacements: 16 Nathan Harris, 17 Pauliasi Manu, 18 Nick Barrett, 19 Matt Symons, 20 Tevita Koloamatangi, 21 Augustine Pulu, 22 Gareth Anscombe, 23 Tom Marshall.
Date: Saturday, July 19
Venue: GIO Stadium, Canberra
Kick-off: 19.40 (21.40 NZST, 11.40 SAST, 09.40 GMT)
Expected weather: Fresh day, starting with frost in the morning and then clear. Only a five percent chance of rain. High of 12°C and a low of -1°C
Referee: Craig Joubert (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Rohan Hoffmann (Australia), James Leckie (Australia)
TMO: George Ayoub (Australia)
By Darryn Pollock