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Super Rugby: Chiefs v Stormers preview
The Chiefs put their unbeaten record on the line on Friday as the Stormers visit the Waikato Stadium as round five of the Super Ruby season gets under way.
Back-to-back champions Chiefs have started their 2014 campaign with successive victories over the Crusaders and Highlanders.
The Cape Town-based Stormers lost their opening encounter to the Lions before two nail-biting encounters; beating the Hurricanes by a solitary point before losing by the same margin to the Crusaders last weekend.
In their only meeting last term, Joe Pietersen kicked 21 points as the Stormers edged their way to a 36-34 victory, with two Gio Aplon tries before Nic Groom also crossed the line.
The Stormers have only conceded four tries in their games and Chiefs head coach Dave Rennie said: "Over the last couple of years the Stormers have had the best defensive record in the competition and you saw why against the Crusaders.
"They obviously have a lot of character in their group and they are going to be a tough defensive unit to crack."
A spate of injuries has forced Chiefs head coach Dave Rennie to ring the changes in both his starting line-up and bench selections.
Jamie Mackintosh returns to the front row, while Brodie Retallick has been cleared to play and is joined at lock by Matt Symons and flanker Liam Squire takes the No 8 jersey having impressed from the bench last week.
James Lowe gets his first start on the wing and Tom Marshall makes his Chiefs debut at second five-eighth, while there is an eagerly-anticipated return for full-back Gareth Anscombe, who will make his first appearance of the season.
Pauliasi Manu, Michael Fitzgerald, Robbie Fruean and Asaeli Tikoirotuma all move to the bench.
Meanwhile, Allister Coetzee has also been forced to make three changes to the Stormers squad which narrowly lost out to the Crusaders last weekend.
Ruan Botha starts at lock in place of the injured Michael Rhodes, whilst the experienced duo of Tiaan Liebenberg and Brok Harris come into the front row as replacements for Scarra Ntubeni and Frans Malherbe, respectively.
Malherbe, despite suffering a toe injury last week, drops down to the bench and loose forward Siya Kolisi is back in the 23 after being rested last weekend.
Friday's showdown will see Stormers captain Jean de Villiers make his 100th Super Rugby appearance, while Chiefs flanker Tanerau Latimer also becomes a centurion.
Chiefs: 15 Anscombe, 14 Nanai-Williams, 13 Ngatai, 12 T Marshall, 11 Lowe, 10 Cruden, 9 Kerr-Barlow, 1 Mackintosh, 2 Schwalger, 3 Tameifuna, 4 Symons, 5 Retallick, 6 Messam (capt), 7 Latimer, 8 Squire
Replacements: 16 R Marshall, 17 Manu, 18 Hohneck, 19 Fitzgerald, 20 Koloamatangi, 21 Webber, 22 Fruean, 23 Tikoirotuma
Stormers: 15 Taute, 14 Van Wyk, 13 De Villiers (capt), 12 De Allende, 11 Aplon, 10 Catrakilis, 9 Groom, 1 Kitshoff, 2 Liebenberg, 3 Harris, 4 Botha, 5 Steenkamp, 6 Fourie, 7 Burger, 8 Vermeulen
Replacements: 16 Coetzee, 17 Kebble, 18 Malherbe, 19 Kolisi, 20 Carr, 21 Schreuder, 22 Grant, 23 Tagicakibau
You can see all the action from the Waikato Stadium as the Chiefs take on the Stormers live on Sky Sports 4 from 06:35am on Friday.
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|Friday 13th February|
|06:35||Crusaders vs Melbourne Rebels|
|08:40||Brumbies vs Reds|
|17:10||Lions vs Hurricanes|
|Saturday 14th February|
|06:35||Blues vs Chiefs|
|15:05||Sharks vs Cheetahs|
|17:05||Bulls vs Stormers|
|Sunday 15th February|
|06:05||Waratahs vs Western Force|
|Friday 20th February|
|06:35||Chiefs vs Brumbies|
|08:40||Melbourne Rebels vs Waratahs|
|17:10||Bulls vs Hurricanes|
|Saturday 21st February|
|06:35||Highlanders vs Crusaders|
|08:40||Reds vs Western Force|
|15:05||Stormers vs Blues|
|17:10||Sharks vs Lions|
|Friday 27th February|
|06:35||Highlanders vs Reds|
|11:00||Western Force vs Hurricanes|
|17:10||Cheetahs vs Blues|
|Saturday 28th February|
|06:35||Chiefs vs Crusaders|
|08:40||Melbourne Rebels vs Brumbies|
|15:05||Bulls vs Sharks|
|17:10||Lions vs Stormers|
|Friday 6th March|
|06:35||Chiefs vs Highlanders|
|08:40||Brumbies vs Western Force|
|Saturday 7th March|
|06:35||Blues vs Lions|
|08:40||Reds vs Waratahs|
Read the thoughts and opinions of Phil Edwards with skysports.com