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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 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|
|15:05||Cheetahs vs Bulls|
|17:10||Stormers vs Sharks|
|Friday 13th March|
|06:35||Hurricanes vs Blues|
|11:00||Western Force vs Melbourne Rebels|
|Saturday 14th March|
|03:30||Crusaders vs Lions|
|06:35||Highlanders vs Waratahs|
|08:40||Reds vs Brumbies|
|13:00||Stormers vs Chiefs|
|15:05||Cheetahs vs Sharks|
|Friday 20th March|
|06:35||Highlanders vs Hurricanes|
|08:40||Melbourne Rebels vs Lions|
|Saturday 21st March|
|06:35||Crusaders vs Cheetahs|
|15:05||Bulls vs Western Force|
|17:10||Sharks vs Chiefs|
|Sunday 22nd March|
|05:05||Waratahs vs Brumbies|
|Friday 27th March|
|06:35||Hurricanes vs Melbourne Rebels|
|09:00||Reds vs Lions|
|Saturday 28th March|
|05:30||Chiefs vs Cheetahs|
|06:35||Highlanders vs Stormers|
|08:40||Waratahs vs Blues|
|15:05||Sharks vs Western Force|
|Saturday 28th February|
|Lions 19 - 22 Stormers|
|Bulls 43 - 35 Sharks|
|Melbourne Rebels 15 - 20 Brumbies|
|Chiefs 40 - 16 Crusaders|
|Friday 27th February|
|Cheetahs 25 - 24 Blues|
|Western Force 13 - 42 Hurricanes|
|Highlanders 20 - 13 Reds|
|Saturday 21st February|
|Sharks 29 - 12 Lions|
|Stormers 27 - 16 Blues|
|Reds 18 - 6 Western Force|
|Highlanders 20 - 26 Crusaders|
|Friday 20th February|
|Bulls 13 - 17 Hurricanes|
|Melbourne Rebels 28 - 38 Waratahs|
|Chiefs 19 - 17 Brumbies|
|Sunday 15th February|
|Waratahs 13 - 25 Western Force|
|Saturday 14th February|
|Bulls 17 - 29 Stormers|
|Sharks 29 - 35 Cheetahs|
|Blues 18 - 23 Chiefs|
|Friday 13th February|
|Lions 8 - 22 Hurricanes|
|Brumbies 47 - 3 Reds|
|Crusaders 10 - 20 Melbourne Rebels|
Read the thoughts and opinions of Phil Edwards with skysports.com