Chiefs 'ready' to halt crusade
July 25, 2013
Ben Tameifuna expects to start despite reporting back pain © Getty Images
The Chiefs' recent Super Rugby belting by the Crusaders in Christchurch is providing plenty of motivation for an angry group of forwards who have failed since May to display the urgency and precision that has become a trademark of the Waikato franchise.
The Crusaders forwards roughed up their counterparts in Christchurch, and the Chiefs departed AMI Stadium shaken and with pride dented having been punished with five tries. Now three weeks after their humbling trip to the "Garden City", Dave Rennie is trying urgently to awaken the mongrel in his pack before it's too late. "If you don't bring the same sort of intensity [as the Crusaders] you're going to be under a bit of pressure, and we didn't have that with or without the ball," the Chiefs coach said. "Any repeat of that and the season is over, so I'm pretty confident you won't see any of that."
Rennie kept spectators guessing about the make-up of his side, to be finalised on Thursday, by constantly altering his line-up at training on Tuesday. Gareth Anscombe may be a surprise inclusion at fullback, at the expense of Robbie Robinson, but Rennie is likely to maintain faith in the pack that faced the Blues at Eden Park two weeks ago.
Props Ben Afeaki and Ben Tameifuna have complained of back pain but should be available for the match at Waikato Stadium in Hamilton, and lock Brodie Retallick has shown great intent at training after sustaining an ankle injury against the Blues.
Retallick expects a brutal battle between the forwards after watching the Crusaders pack boasting 184 All Blacks caps and Richie McCaw on the bench rip through 11 turnovers at the breakdown to lay a concrete platform for Dan Carter and the backs to pick apart Queensland Reds piece by piece in the Super Rugby qualifier at AMI Stadium last weekend.
"I guess that set the benchmark of where we need to be and how they're going to play," Retallick said. "We need to be dominant up front so our backs can play, and we're pretty confident that we can get the job done and do a job on them."
The Chiefs know exactly what is required to defeat the seven-time Super Rugby champions, having won three of the past four fixtures between the teams - including the three-point victory at Waikato Stadum in the 2012 semi-final. The Chiefs won in round 15 after Aaron Cruden masterminded one of the club's finest tactical performances coupled with a sublime defensive effort that saw the Crusaders held inches short of the line on numerous occasions.
"When we've had success against them in the past it's because [the breakdown] has been really strong, and it's no secret that that's where we've got to be strong," Chiefs captain Craig Clarke said, nothing forwards coach Tom Coventry had reminded the squad they "got their arses handed to them" in an attempt to spark the aggression needed after straying in recent weeks from the simple formula required.
Rennie accepted the Chiefs' decreased performances in recent weeks were a result of attitude, but he felt confident they had rectified the issue, saying "we'll be ready".
Follow live text commentary of the Super Rugby semi-final between the Chiefs and the Crusaders on Saturday, July 27, from 7pm (NZT), 5pm (EST), 7am (GMT)
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