The Waratahs and Chiefs will duke it out in a top of the conferences battle tonight, with the Tahs’ finals hopes on the line. Follow all the thrilling live highlights and action from 7:40pm (AEST) on The Roar.
The Waratahs are just a single point above the Brumbies in the Australian conference while the Chiefs similarly sit just a solitary point above the Crusaders in the New Zealand standings.
With such a dominance over the competition by the Kiwis this year, the chances of a second Australian team picking up a wildcard entry to the finals is all but gone, meaning top spot in the Aussie conference will be the only ticket through.
Coming off a loss to the Crusaders last week in Christchurch, the Waratahs are sitting dangerously on the edge of the finals equation, and with a tough draw in the final weeks, are at risk of slipping off and letting the Brumbies slide through.
The Chiefs, on the other hand, have been the form side of the competition this year, leading a dominant New Zealand conference for the majority of the season.
With the ever-present Crusaders nipping at their heels though, the Hamilton outfit will be looking to cement their top spot with a show of force on the road.
Surprisingly, the Waratahs have won five of their last six against the Chiefs, and hold a seven wins to two losses record when playing at home.
The Chiefs can take solace in being the only team undefeated on the road this year though, winning all five games away from home.
Sticking with the stats, the Chiefs have proven all year their attacking prowess, sitting top of the table for tries (nearly five per game) and points for the season. However, they are also in the top four for conceding the most turnovers.
Rob Horne will run on for his 100th Super Rugby cap tonight for the Waratahs, shuffling into inside centre as one of a few changes made my coach Daryl Gibson.
Former Hurricane, Crusader and All Black Zac Guildford has been moved into the starting XV after a solid performance off the bench last week against his old side. He’ll bump Reece Robinson out of a run-on spot.
Wycliff Palu will slot into Number 8 after a shoulder injury (or re-injury, to be correct) to Jed Holloway ruled him out.
Matt Carraro jumps on the right wing to compensate for the aforementioned Horne movement, while Jack Dempsey comes back into the squad after a shoulder injury of his own, sitting in the reserves.
For the Chiefs, coach Dave Rennie has been fortunate enough to have a great unit to work with all year, and his only change for this week has been forced by injury.
27-year old Michael Leitch has been ruled out for up to three months with a dislocated thumb that required surgery. Tom Sanders have been called in as a replacement.
It’s a mouthwatering clash this one, with two teams on top of their conferences and a very nervous encounter for the Waratahs fans who know a slip-up could be season-ending.
Although the Chiefs have had a rough time against the Waratahs in recent years, the men in blue have been far too inconsistent for my liking this season, and a rampaging Chiefs side could be too much for them
Chiefs by 8.
Can the Waratahs knock off the competition favourites and breakaway from the Brumbies breathing down their neck? Or will the Chiefs continue their record on the road with an emphatic win? Catch all the live highlights and action on The Roar from 7:40pm (AEST).