Another Kiwi derby fixture highlights this weeks match of the round.
The Battle of the Bombays brings together two sides with contrasting records. The Chiefs have made a habit of getting positive results in unspectacular fashion, a real plus considering the men from Mooloo country are still down on quality cattle.
In comparison, the Aucklanders enter this match under woeful circumstances. With only one win they are now in crisis mode, no doubt about it. And a loss in Waikato on Saturday could spell curtains to their playoff hopes, leaving the franchise pondering the future path of the side.
On a mission
The Chiefs have shown a real grit and determination to get the job done this year. Led by instrumental All Blacks Sam Cane and Brodie Rettalick they have found a way to claw themselves out of difficult scenarios. They are showing the mental fortitude of a champion outfit and they will want to build their game against a floundering Blues team.
With so many first-choice players out with injury, Colin Cooper will be highly satisfied with being able to blood the inexperienced members of his squad, while being able to maintain high performance. Gaining that experience now will prepare those men when the heat goes on throughout the playoffs.
The Blues are facing one of their worst starts to a season in their 23-year history. Saturday’s capitulation against the Sharks outlines their lack of mental toughness and if they having any desire of returning to the top, they need to turn things around quick-fast. Culture is instrumental towards any successful entity and those higher than Tana Umaga need to take some accountability for their poor run.
From a tactical perspective, the Blues firstly need to make their tackles if they want to win on Saturday night. The systems are obviously in place and the talent is there, the problem lies in attitude and the player’s mental approach towards their defensive patterns. If they can provide some sting in contact and create opportunities from turnover ball, then they can very quickly turnaround that poor record. The question is… is it already too late?
Player to watch (Chiefs): Solomon Alaimalo
Solomon Alaimalo has made a spectacular start to the season for the Chiefs. Comparisons have been made with Australian superstar Israel Folau both in looks and playing ability and it’s easy to see why. Big wraps considering Folau has dominated ever since code hopping from the AFL. Alaimalo has the ability to do the same for the Chiefs and his versatility across multiple positions could make him a real asset moving forward. Expect him to continue that great start when he runs out on Saturday.
Source: Ultimate Tributes – YouTube
Player to watch (Blues): Rieko Ioane
Tana needs to find the best position for star winger Rieko Ioane. Many believe he is a long-term option at centre. However, right now I feel he needs to be on the wing. Get this guy in space and he is almost guaranteed to finish. If the Blues have any chance in this match Rieko needs the ball in his hands and as a result, those around him will flourish.
Source: SuperRugby – YouTube
Source: All Blacks – YouTube
The Blues should improve but the valiant Chiefs have been impressive this year and I am picking them to once again get the job done on their home turf. Chiefs by 10.
Author: Simon van Ryn
I am a sports mad fanatic who loves watching drama filled code. Growing up in Wellington I have been fortunate enough to witness some great sporting moments at the Cake Tin – non more satisfying than seeing my beloved Hurricanes finally lift that trophy after 21 years of hurt.