Chiefs tackle 'Canes in top of the table clash
May 7, 2009
Piri Weepu returns for the Hurricanes against the Chiefs © Getty Images
Our game of the week is the top-of-the-table clash in Hamilton on Saturday between the Chiefs and the Hurricanes.
The game is likely to be a sell-out and comes just days after the Chiefs returned from their bruising tour of South Africa but buoyed by their bonus point win over the Stormers in Cape Town last week.
They've been boosted by the return to the starting line-up of wings Sitiveni Sivivatu and Lelia Masaga but Brendon Leonard has not recovered in time to take his place behind the scrum.
Speaking shortly before leaving Cape Town for New Zealand coach Ian Foster said that his team were looking forward to the challenge.
"In some ways you have got to run on adrenalin in these sort of weeks."
"If you look at the Hurricanes, they played on Friday, probably had a nice weekend away, and they've got a nice full week to prepare for us.
"Whereas we've got a completely different week, but we've just got to deal with it in different ways, but I think we've been managing ourselves very well physically through this campaign."
Part of that was three changes to the starting forward pack for the Stormers match, both to help get the win and to maintain energy levels for the remaining weeks of the Super 14.
"Winning breeds confidence and we're happy with the way we're playing, but we'll have to wait and see about the guys who are back home, although they are all tracking well," Foster said.
Foster is excited about the prospect of returning to Hamilton for such a big New Zealand derby on home turf.
"I think it's going to be good to watch. (The Hurricanes) have obviously hit their straps in the last few weeks and played great rugby.
"They've certainly gone into this campaign as probably the favourite team along with the Sharks and I think they're hitting their straps at the right time, but the nice thing is ... we're pretty happy with our form too.
It's going to be a nice little local derby."
For the visiting Hurricanes side, they're boosted by the return of Piri Weepu who starts at scrum-half. He replaces Alby Mathewson for his first start since round seven of the competition.
One other confirmed change to the Hurricanes team that beat the Blues 45-27 in Wellington last Friday night sees Cory Jane return from a calf injury to fullback.
Jane comes in at the back for the versatile Tamati Ellison, who is bracketed with Zac Guildford on the right wing pending a late fitness test on the head knock he sustained against the Blues.
The Hurricanes have won eight from 11 matches so far, while the Chiefs have won seven.
Since returning from South Africa, the Hurricanes have won four consecutive matches and will be looking to maintain that record in what promises to be a spicy local derby.
Chiefs: Muliaina (captain), Masaga, Kahui, Bruce, Sivivatu, Donald, Morland, Taumalolo, de Malmanche, May, Clarke, O'Neill, Messam, Latimer, Lauaki
Replacements: Elliot, McGougan, Lynn, Lilo, Bason, Delany, Anesi.
Hurricanes: Jane, T.Ellison/ Guildford, Smith, Nonu, Smith, Ripia, Weepu, Schwalger, Hore, Tialata, Thrush, Eaton, Vito, Waldrom, So'oialo (captain)
Replacements:Robinson, J.Ellison, Evans, Levave, Mathewson, Kawau, Guildford/ Fruean
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