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Super Rugby: Chiefs aim to extend perfect record

The Chiefs have enjoyed a flawless Super Rugby season to date, winning all ten of their games, and they will look to make it 11 out of 11 against the Reds.

The Hamilton-based franchise last claimed the Super Rugby title a decade ago, but will be full of confidence that they can go all the way this season, having lost out 20-7 to the Crusaders in the semi-finals last term.

WhatChiefs v Reds
WhereYarrow Stadium, New Plymouth
When17:05 (AEST), Friday 12th May 2023
How to watchStan Sport
OddsChiefs 1.062, Reds 8.50

Chiefs just keep rolling on

Head coach Clayton McMillan could not have asked for a better start to the campaign, with a 52-28 victory at the Highlanders last Friday extending their winning run to ten games.

That is a new mark for the Chiefs, who recorded nine in a row when were crowned champions back in 2012.

They have also become the sixth team to register ten or more wins on the trot and have set themselves up to be prime challengers for the title again - they currently head the standings by nine points from the Brumbies.

However, captain Brad Weber was taking nothing for granted following the victory in Dunedin last time out, being well aware that his side had been heavily pressured by the Highlanders before their expertise on the counter-attack allowed them to win by what looked to be a comfortable margin.

He told reporters: "We had to work very, very hard for it. Most of our tries came from counter-attack.

"We've certainly got a plan with our counterattack, but also with the back three we've got…you want them to express themselves when the situation allows it."

Key duo driving Chiefs forward

Coach McMillan is fortunate to have at his disposal two of the leading performers in Super Rugby, in the shape of flyhalf Damian McKenzie and fullback Shaun Stevenson.

McKenzie reached 1000 points in Super Rugby in the win over the Highlanders, converting all seven tries and adding a penalty for good measure to take his match tally to 17 points.

Overall McKenzie has 122 points to his name this season, the highest tally of any player in the competition.

Meanwhile, Stevenson heads the try-scoring charts, having crossed the line ten times in ten games, and he is second for line breaks (15) behind Blues’ star Caleb Clark on 18.

With those weapons at their disposal, it is no surprise to see the Chiefs at 1.42 to score first against the Reds.

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Reds record offers little comfort

The Reds will know that they face a mammoth task in trying to down the Chiefs on their own patch and their record in this fixture in recent times does not offer too much comfort.

The Chiefs have tasted victory in six of the last seven meetings of these two sides, while the Reds have won only one of their last 14 clashes against teams from New Zealand.

Positives for the visitors come with the knowledge that have the most successful lineout in the competition and back-row forward Harry Wilson has crossed the gainline most often of any player in Super Rugby this season - an average of 11 times per 80 minutes.

Another potential positive is that McMillan has opted to make no fewer than ten changes to his starting XV for the game in Taranaki, meaning that the Chiefs might take some time to get going as they adjust to those alterations.

However, those positives are possibly outweighed by the fact that Reds head coach Brad Thorn has made seven changes to his line-up.

And that includes placing Wilson on the bench after starting every game so far this season.

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