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The Sunwolves have the unenviable task of hosting the in-form Chiefs in a Saturday arvo Super Rugby clash. Join The Roar for live scores from 2:45pm (AEDT).
The Chiefs were superb last week in their home win over the defending champions, the Crusaders. Warren Gatland’s men put in an impenetrable second-half performance to secure a memorable come-from-behind victory.
Damian McKenzie looked far sharper than you’d expect from someone who hadn’t played at the highest level in about ten months, while Aaron Cruden both directed the attack well and was admirable in defence.
The Sunwolves, coming off the bye, at least won’t have to worry about Cruden today. He’s been rested for the trip to Tokyo, with Kaleb Trask taking over chief playmaking duties and the no.10 jersey.
McKenzie will be an ever-present threat, though, having been named at fullback for his second match of the year. He’ll likely handle goalkicking duties with Cruden out of the side.
The home team are undefeated so far this season, having sprung a shock win over the Melbourne Rebels in Round 1 before getting a week off. With that form under their belts, and with their last meeting with today’s opponents ending in one of the boilovers of last season, the Sunwolves will be hoping to conjure another surprise win.
Ben Te’o’s performance will be crucial if that is to eventuate. The former England international is the one player who can properly match the Chiefs’ class, and could cause some damage in midfield with Anton Lienert-Brown, like Cruden, getting a week off.
As good as it was to see the Sunwolves start their final Super Rugby season with a win, repeating the dose this week will be too tough an ask. The Chiefs are a classy side, and will deal with their Japanese opponents without much trouble.
Chiefs by plenty.
Kick-off: 2:45pm (AEDT)
Venue: Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium, Tokyo
TV: Fox Sports
Live stream: Kayo Sports, Foxtel
Odds: Sunwolves $9.30, Chiefs $1.06
15. James Dargaville, 14. Siosaia Fifita, 13. Keisuke Moriya, 12. Ben Te’o, 11. Tautalatasi Tasi, 10. Garth April, 9. Naoto Saito, 8. Jake Schatz, 7. Mitch Jacobson, 6. Shunsuke Nunomaki, 5. Kotaro Yatabe, 4. Michael Stolberg, 3. Conraad van Vuuren, 2. Jaba Bregvadze, 1. Jarred Adams
16. Efi Ma’afu, 17. Chris Eves, 18. Hencus van Wyk, 19. Justin Downey, 20. Tevita Tupou, 21. Takahiro Kimura, 22. Shogo Nakano, 23. JJ Engelbrecht
1. Aidan Ross, 2. Bradley Slater, 3. Atu Moli, 4. Tyler Ardron, 5. Michael Allardice, 6. Adam Thomson, 7. Lachlan Boshier, 8. Dylan Nel, 9. Brad Weber, 10. Kaleb Trask, 11. Solomon Alaimalo, 12. Alex Nankivell, 13. Quinn Tupaea, 14. Shaun Stevenson, 15. Damian McKenzie
16. Samisoni Taukei’aho, 17. Ross Geldenhuys, 18. Reuben O’Neill, 19. Naitoa Ah Kuoi, 20. Mitchell Brown, 21. Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, 22. Tiaan Falcon, 23. Orbyn Leger