Chiefs face grueling run of season-defining derbies
The two-time Super Rugby champions put a franchise record score on the hapless Sunwolves in Tokyo, running out 61-10 winners, their largest margin of victory ever. However, there will be no complacency following the 9-try romp as the Chiefs return home to face a season-defining stretch of inter-conference derbies.
The Chiefs host a Highlanders side looking to rebound on Friday night in Hamilton, followed by a rematch with the Blues who will be looking to avenge a 27-21 loss from Week 3 and finally an away trip to play the Hurricanes.
The grueling run of conference derbies will make-or-break the 2018 season that has already been hampered by injuries. With three wins in a row since their opening round loss to the Crusaders, the Chiefs have climbed to third in the conference just two points shy of the conference-leading Crusaders.
Despite starting the season undefeated, the Highlanders sit in fourth place on equal competition points to the Chiefs and will be eager to bounce back from their first loss of the season. Chiefs coach Colin Cooper has indicated he won’t hold back from this Friday night’s clash, saying they’ll be ‘putting on a menu’ for the Highlanders.
“We tried a lot of things that we’ll put in the bank or we’ll be bringing it for next week,” he said. “There were a lot of plays – Tabai’s and Straws’ strikes – and we’ll be putting a menu on for what we do when we play the Highlanders, which will be a huge game.”
“I think the good thing about what we’ve been doing is we’ve been trusting the people that we’ve been giving opportunity to, no-one has let us down and we’ve still been able to create a bit of competition also,” Cooper said.
The Chiefs have received another blow with All Black lock Dominic Bird required to undertake season-ending surgery on his shoulder. He becomes the fifth player on the Chiefs ‘out-for-season’ injury list.
The team could receive a boost in the return of co-captain Charlie Ngatai from an MCL injury, with Cooper indicating that he is not far away.
“Charlie could be this week, he could be next week, we’re just going to see how he progresses during the week,” Cooper said.
Ngatai advised that he is itching to get back on the field in his last season before heading to France.
“It does make you motivated, you come to training every day and you see the boys training the house down, and you just want to be involved as much as you can,” he said.
The Chiefs match on Friday night against the Highlanders will be the 100th Super Rugby cap for All Black flanker Sam Cane, and the side wants to lift for the occasion.
“It’s a special moment, so certainly there’ll be no excuses for us,” Cooper said. “I’m looking forward to the week, and how we build for what will be a huge game for us.”
ROUND 6 HIGHLIGHTS: Sunwolves v Chiefs
Chiefs Rugby proved unstoppable as Damian McKenzie scores 26 points in bonus point win over the Sunwolves.MATCH REPORT: http://bit.ly/2HZzqRV#SUNvCHI #DontMissAThing
Posted by Investec Super Rugby on Saturday, 24 March 2018
Join free and tell us what you really think!Join Free
I'm sure that I'd hate him if I didn't support the Hurricanes and All Blacks but as it is I love that man to death.Go to comments
The hard work and commitment may not have led to an AB jersey. There's a big queue in his position all fighting for the same thing. However it has led to a whole new set of experiences including travel, history, cultures he may never otherwise have been exposed to. And all of that while still being able to ply his trade he loves and get paid for it! How could anyone say anything other than "Go with my blessing! You deserve it."Go to comments