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Chiefs expect intense Crusaders battle

Friday, April 18, 2014

Update: 2:14PM Chiefs assistant coach Wayne Smith expects near Test-match intensity when the Super Rugby champions host the Crusaders in Hamilton on Saturday night.

The previous two years produced some blockbuster encounters between the teams, with the Chiefs claiming two narrow semi-final victories on their way to their back-to-back titles.

In February, a tremendous defensive effort in the second half resulted in the Chiefs holding on for an 18-10 win in Christchurch.

"This game has grown into a pretty important derby, hasn't it," Smith said.

"The Crusaders often have 14 All Blacks on the field and we've got a few ourselves.

"They're used to playing at that international level and you often see that in those games. We're expecting the same this week."

The Chiefs have been boosted by All Blacks lock Brodie Retallick being given a clean bill of health after a knock to the head.

"He's massive for us," Smith said.

"He's got a big engine. He's a big game player. We've got a couple of pretty significant boys out at the moment so guys like Brodie are like gold for us."

Retallick resumes his place in the second row alongside Mike Fitzgerald, while Liam Messam, Tanerau Latimer - in his 100th game for the Chiefs - and Liam Squire form a new-look loose trio.

The Chiefs are leading the New Zealand conference but have yet to put an 80-minute performance together.

Smith said doing that would be crucial against a rejuvenated Crusaders side who claimed successive victories against the Lions and Cheetahs in South Africa.

The former All Blacks coach also felt getting at least parity with the Crusaders pack would be vital.

"If they get easy ball then you know you're in for a pretty tough day," he said.

"You've also got to try and limit the amount of turnover ball they get. I think they scored four tries off Cheetahs errors so we're looking to be a lot more clinical than we've been."

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