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Super Rugby: Defending champions Chiefs take on Crusaders in semi-final
Defending Super Rugby champions Chiefs take on the Crusaders in a New Zealand derby semi-final clash in Hamilton on Saturday.
With both sides vying to secure themselves a place in the final, the game - being shown live on Sky Sports 4 HD from 8am - will be an intense, physical and passionate battle.
The Crusaders have previously met the Chiefs on 21 occasions, with the Canterbury franchise winning two-thirds of these encounters and scoring on average nine points more a game than their Waikato counterparts.
However, the Chiefs have won three out of their last four encounters and came out on top when it counted, in last year's semi-final.
This season, the two sides have come out level pegging with a win a piece and last met in round 19 of the competition when the Crusaders came away with emphatic 43-15 win.
In team news, the Chiefs have made wholesale changes to their side, with seven alterations being made to the 22.
Andrew Horrell and Charlie Ngatai are the new starting midfield pair and are joined by Asaeli Tikoirotuma on the wing and Gareth Anscombe at full-back.
Flank Sam Cane has been kept on the bench, where he is joined by Rhys Marshall, who replaces the injured Mahonri Schwalger (knee), Ben Afeaki, Bundee Aki and Robbie Robinson.
Opponents Crusaders have stuck with the same matchday 22 that powered past the Reds in last Saturday's 38-9 win.
Matt Todd keeps his place on the openside flank alongside George Whitelock and Kieran Read, with Richie McCaw on the bench.
Backline quartet Andy Ellis, Dan Carter, Ryan Crotty and Tom Marshall will look to carry their recent excellent form into Hamilton.
Chiefs: 15 Gareth Anscombe, 14 Lelia Masaga, 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, 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.
Crusaders: 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Tom Marshall, 13 Ryan Crotty, 12 Tom Taylor, 11 Zac Guildford, 10 Dan Carter, 9 Andy Ellis, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Matt Todd, 6 George Whitelock, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Luke Romano, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Corey Flynn, 1 Wyatt Crockett.
Replacements: 16 Ben Funnell, 17 Joe Moody, 18 Luke Whitelock, 19 Richie McCaw, 20 Willi Heinz, 21 Tyler Bleyendaal, 22 Adam Whitelock.
What they said...
Chiefs coach Dave Rennie
"We had an enormous amount of injuries in the first half of the campaign. So to win our conference and finish top seed speaks volumes for the culture and depth of our squad. But at this stage of the season, seeding's and previous results count for little. Success for us comes down to a willingness to scrap hard for each other for 80 minutes. The reward, a home final and a shot at another title."
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