Super Rugby Final preview: Chiefs v Brumbies
The Chiefs are sweating on the fitness of winger Lelia Masaga for Saturday's Super 15 final against the Brumbies.
Last Updated: 03/08/13 10:24am
The nature of the Super Rugby draw has kept the teams apart thus far, meaning the Waikato showdown will be their first meeting of the 2013 campaign, with the defending champions avoiding fixtures against both the Australian and South African conference winners.
Despite the tournament's fixture compilation, the Chiefs have scored 458 points and 50 tries, more than any other side in the regular season.
While the hosts top the majority of statistics, the Brumbies do hold a superior penalty conversion rate, which could prove vital in the final. Furthermore, victory for the Canberra-based franchise would create history, making them the first side to win the competition having faced every team since the conference system was introduced in 2011.
After clinching top spot in the Super Rugby conference, the Chiefs went on to beat compatriots the Crusaders in last weekend's semi-final to ensure the grand final was contested on home soil. Meanwhile the Brumbies cross the Indian Ocean for a second time in as many weeks following their three-point victory over the Bulls in Pretoria last time out.
Both coaches have placed faith in the men who reached the final with Dave Rennie and Jake White naming unchanged starting line-ups.
The Chiefs are however left sweating on the fitness of winger Lelia Masaga who sustained an ankle injury after scoring during his side's narrow semi-final victory.
Robbie Robinson has been listed as cover should the 26-year-old fail a late fitness test but coach Rennie remains confident Masaga will take to field.
Meanwhile Brumbies coach Jake White heads into the final with a fully fit squad meaning Wallabies Jesse Mogg, Christian Leali'ifano, Ben Mowen and George Smith all feature from the start.
The teams have met six times since 2007 with honours even, while the Brumbies have not won at the Waikato Stadium in their previous two attempts.
Chiefs: 15 Gareth Anscombe, 14 Lelia Masaga/Robbie Robinson, 13 Charlie Ngatai, 12 Andrew Horrell, 11 Asaeli Tikoirotuma, 10 Aaron Cruden, 9 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 8 Matt Vant Leven, 7 Tanerau Latimer, 6 Liam Messam, 5 Brodie Retallick, 4 Craig Clarke (capt), 3 Ben Tameifuna, 2 Hika Elliot, 1 Toby Smith.
Replacements: 16 Rhys Marshall, 17 Ben Afeaki, 18 Michael Fitzgerald, 19 Sam Cane, 20 Augustine Pulu, 21 Bundee Aki, 22 Robbie Robinson/Patrick Osborne.
Brumbies:15 Jesse Mogg, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Christian Lealiifano, 11 Clyde Rathbone, 10 Matt Toomua, 9 Nic White, 8 Ben Mowen (capt), 7 George Smith, 6 Peter Kimlin, 5 Sam Carter, 4 Scott Fardy, 3 Ben Alexander, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 Scott Sio.
Replacements: 16 Siliva Siliva, 17 Ruan Smith, 18 Fotu Auelua, 19 Colby Faingaa, 20 Ian Prior, 21 Andrew Smith, 22 Joe Tomane.
What they said...
Chiefs head coach Dave Rennie
"There has been an enormous amount of hard work to get us into this position and we are excited to be playing in front of the people who mean the most to us."
Brumbies head coach Jake White
"They are the Champions, they have been here before and are playing at home so for our guys to beat the Chiefs will take a huge effort.
"Our players have worked hard to get to this Final and I can assure you they are not thinking of leaving here without another Brumbies championship."