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  • Messam,
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  • Super Rugby
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  • 11th Jul 2014
  • KO 08:35
  • Ground: Eden Park, Auckland

Super Rugby: Blues host Chiefs at Eden Park

Last updated: 9th July 2014  


Bundee Aki: Comes in for the Chiefs

Benji Marshall L of the Blues and Blues head coach Sir John Kirwan cross paths

Sir John Kirwan: Retains belief

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The Blues face a daunting challenge when they take on the Chiefs in the final regular Super Rugby round of the season at Eden Park on Friday.

Sir John Kirwan's side have to beat the back-to-back champions by 38 points whilst also denying them a bonus point to give themselves a fighting chance of making the top six and a play-off place.

But Kirwan is optimistic about his team's chances heading into Friday's clash.

"I think we've improved as a rugby team this year," he said. "We're getting that consistency and we're still learning what it takes to be a winning franchise. If there's one team in this competition that can do it on Friday night it's us.

"We scored five tries in 25 minutes against the Lions and if things bounce our way we can score points like no other football team and when we're confident we're really scary.

"We got our bonus point after 18 minutes against the Force. Obviously this is a different football team we're coming up against on Friday but there's a lot for us to play for.

"The boys are very disappointed that we're not in the play-offs automatically, we're one point away from just having to just win the football game but we're up for the challenge."

Team news

The Blues will be without veteran All Blacks prop Tony Woodcock and captain Luke Braid for the game.

Woodcock suffered a shoulder injury during last weekend's loss to the Crusaders and with a six-day turnaround Kirwan felt he would not be fully fit and it was not worth risking him.

Sam Prattley will replace Woodcock at loosehead prop while Brendon O'Connor comes in for openside flanker Braid, who has been carrying a shoulder injury all season and will undergo surgery on Wednesday.

Charles Piutau returns to his favoured position of full-back in a reshuffled Blues back-line, with Tevita Li coming onto the left wing in place of George Moala while Lolagi Visinia is hoping to overcome a haematoma to his quad and is currently bracketed with Moala.

Francis Saili also comes in at centre for Pita Ahki who has joined the New Zealand Sevens team ahead of the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow later this month.

Chiefs boss Dave Rennie has made only one change to his starting line-up as the defending champions look to sneak into the play-offs.

The Chiefs are currently in eighth but level on points with the Brumbies and the Force, while the Hurricanes are just a point ahead of them and the Highlanders two points in front.

With the Brumbies facing the Force, the Hurricanes having completed their fixtures and the Highlanders facing second-placed Crusaders, the door remains ajar for the Waikato-based franchise.

Bundee Aki comes in at inside centre for the clash, replacing Charlie Ngatai who is out with a shoulder injury. 

Hooker Nathan Harris starts on the bench, where he is joined by Dwayne Sweeney in the only other change to the reserves.

Blues: 15 Piutau, 14 Visinia/Moala, 13 Saili, 12 Nonu, 11 Li, 10 West, 9 Hall; 1 Prattley, 2 Mealamu (c), 3 Faumuina, 4 Tuipulotu, 5 Donnelly, 6 Luatua, 7 O'Connor, 8 Kaino.
Replacements: 16 Parsons, 17 Tu'ungafasi, 18 Ta'avao, 19 Triggs, 20 Saili, 21 Gibson-Park, 22 Willison, 23 Moala/Nikoro.

Chiefs: 15 Marshall, 14 Tikoirotuma, 13 Nanai-Williams, 12 Aki, 11 Lowe, 10 Cruden (c), 9 Kerr-Barlow; 1 Mackintosh, 2 Schwalger, 3 Tameifuna, 4 Fitzgerald, 5 Retallick, 6 Messam, 7 Latimer, 8 Squire.
Replacements: 16 Harris, 17 Manu, 18 Barrett, 19 Symons, 20 Koloamatangi, 21 Pulu, 22 Anscombe, 23 Sweeney.

Watch Blues v Chiefs live from 8:35am on Sky Sports 3HD

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Friday 13th February
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06:35Crusaders vs Melbourne Rebels
08:40Brumbies vs Reds
17:10Lions vs Hurricanes
Saturday 14th February
06:35Blues vs Chiefs
15:05Sharks vs Cheetahs
17:05Bulls vs Stormers
Sunday 15th February
06:05Waratahs vs Western Force
Friday 20th February
06:35Chiefs vs Brumbies
08:40Melbourne Rebels vs Waratahs
17:10Bulls vs Hurricanes
Saturday 21st February
06:35Highlanders vs Crusaders
08:40Reds vs Western Force
15:05Stormers vs Blues
17:10Sharks vs Lions
Friday 27th February
06:35Highlanders vs Reds
11:00Western Force vs Hurricanes
17:10Cheetahs vs Blues
Saturday 28th February
06:35Chiefs vs Crusaders
08:40Melbourne Rebels vs Brumbies
15:05Bulls vs Sharks
17:10Lions vs Stormers
Friday 6th March
06:35Chiefs vs Highlanders
08:40Brumbies vs Western Force
Saturday 7th March
06:35Blues vs Lions
08:40Reds vs Waratahs

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