It's Semifinal Time
May 15 2017
The 'league' season now being done and dusted Chiefs have the daunting task of a semifinal against Sarries who will be super confident following their retention of the European Cup. Indeed Chiefs haven't beaten Sarries since season 2014/15 when they completed the double over them. This season saw an early loss to Sarries at Sandy Park and a draw at the Allianz.
Chiewfs v Sarries SF17
It's going to be interesting to see the side Rob Baxter selects as there are going to be a few notable absentees withe the likes of Dave Ewers and Henry Slade being injured. There is a possiblity that we'll see the return of Mitch Lees and that would be very welcome to countereact the drive from Billy and Mako Vunipola. Hopefully Doma Armand and Julian Salvi will be fit as Sarries are ruthless when it comes to the breakdown. We could also see the return of Thomas The Tank to carry the game to Sarries.
Rob Baxter has stated that we haven't really played our best rugby yet this season and maybe Saturday will see us really turn it on (I really hope so).
Whatever side Rob puts out I'm sure will be ready for the task in hand and The Tribe will be there in full mvoice to roar them on.
Come On You Chiefs....Chiefs....Chiefs....
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I'm certain that whoever is availabe fully fit and selected to play will put their heart and soul into the game on Saturday. We know how much it means to each and everyone of the guys and passion and devotion to the joint cause should never be underestimated.
Saracens are a phenomenal team and play a good game, but I feel our desire to play rugby our way and win will be the deciding factor and if the boys play with passion and we show our support on the day we could all be smiling at the final whistle
My team for Sarries is below:
1. Rimmer - Very dynamic, makes a real impact in the loose
2. Cowan-Dickie - His hard carrying and breakdown work will be essential against Sarries huge pack
3. Williams - Should give Mako a hard time, 70+ minute game the other week shows his drive
4. Lees - Engine room, a brick wall as well as a battering ram
5. Parling - Brings lineout and general nous needed especially against Kruitoje
6. Armand - Defensive lineouts, defending mauls, always where they don't want him, we need to be streetwise
7. Salvi - Key defender, can turn the tide with breakdown ability
8. Waldrom - With the punch and power he, and the rest of this pack, brings we can play a power game that most sides wouldn't even bother against Saracens
9. Maunder - Mr. Consistent yet unpredictable for defenses, Townsend very bright future but peaks and troughs too much at the moment
10. Slade - There seem to be two distinct camps here and I know a lot of stick will be coming for this one, so I'll write properly. I know many of you will say we need Steeno at 10 for his experience and game management, but I have to disagree. With all due respect to him, I think his form has dropped this year and although he is a great player and leader, I think his strengths do not allay his weaknesses. I think we have played our best rugby with Slade at 10 and in a game like this, we can't afford to keep shipping our playmaker to the wing because he is a weak defender. The Slade v Steenson debate has gone round and round and I'm sure it will continue, but for me, Slade should start at 10 for this one.
11. Woodburn - A workhorse and speed merchant, breaks through farmer tight defences, Short is a brilliant finisher but his defensive positioning is poor and would be exploited. Any risk of seeing Ashton doing his flop is not a risk worth taking
12. Devoto - Has the makings of the perfect 12, second playmaker, carries hard, has vision and a tidy boot, a real foil for Slade
13. Hill - His most suited position in my opinion, he has the pace and defensive ability as well as his obvious power, real quality that we need to utilise more
14. Nowell - His future may be 15 but not just now
15. Turner - Under utilised, another something out of nothing player as well as being a hard defender, huge boot as well
16. Malton - Good all rounder, works hard, solid
17. Moon - Good in the loose, scrum penalties move him to bench
18. Francis - Hard call with Holmes but Tomas has been putting himself about more with some carries, need to see more
19. Dennis - Hard done by to be benching, come into his own in second row, for me he is a 4 that can cover 6
20. Simmonds - Pace and power when things loosen up, good rugby brain
21. Chudley - Made a difference in last match, glad to have him back
22. Steenson - Still hell of a player, if gameplan needs changing or Slade injured/has shocker, don't consider Devoto 10 cover
23. Short - Again, pace and power when things break up, could have fun against tired defenders from his old club, Whitten unlucky but centres well covered
Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 2017:05:16:22:05:27 by barnychief.
FWIW I would have Steeno at 10, Henry at 12 and Whitten at 13 with Sam Hill on the bench. I'm not a Devoto fan yet.
15. Lachie TURNER - Has been a real threat in recent games and is assured under the high ball. We will need his more specialist full back skills to field and return the expected aerial bombardment.
14. Jack NOWELL - A key player. Has to be at his maurauding best to pose Sarries lots of questions.
13. Ian WHITTEN - With Campo out then Whitten has to keep his shirt. Better at 12 IMHO, he is important in both defence with his hard tacking and in attack as a heavy carrier in the back line. We can't expect the pack to do it on their own and will need to vary our attack.
12. Henry SLADE - Steeno has to start 10 but we might well need the skills of Henry to unlock the Sarries defence. Him and Whitten could easily interchange also giving us plenty of options.
11. Olly WOODBURN - Player of the season says it all. Short very unlucky to miss out and we may indeed miss hi space to turn the half chance into a try. But who would you leave out for him.
10. Gareth STEENSON (c) - The team seem more assured and composed when he is on the pitch. Is captain and we will need to take every opportunity to score points.
9. Will CHUDLEY - I have to admit that I'm a bigger fan of Townsend and Maunder. The speed and accuracy of ball from Townsend in recent weeks has been really impressive. However Chudley has looked sharp and hungry since his return and his big game experience might be very handy.
1. Carl RIMMER - Our best loosehead this season. Has been solid in the scrum and is showing a bit more in the way of carrying in the loose than others.
2. Luke COWAN-DICKIE - Luke has to have a big game if we stand a chance of winning. Without the sheer physicality and brute force of Ewers LCD will need to carry us to victory.
3. Harry WILLIAMS - Like Rimmer has been solid in the scrum and becoming more of a presence in the loose. This front row is one that should be able to compete with Sarries.
4. Mitch LEES - Has had another superb season and without Ewers we will need his physicality and brute strength to muscle up to the Sarries pack.
5. Geoff PARLING - A standout player in recent weeks. His lineout nous and experience vital to nullify Krutoje. He has also offered in the lot of the way of carrying recently which will be so important if we want to make the hard yards (and they will be hard earned against this Sarries pack).
6. Don ARMAND - We are simply a better team with him in the side. A complete back row who will need to be firing on all cyclinders.
7. Kai HORSTMANN - When others have been out injured he has stepped up to lead the team to victory. Salvi is sheer class but I wonder whether we might need his extra carrying ability.
8. Thomas WALDROM - Doesn't make the same dents he used to but we will need his work rate and might well need to call upon him to bundle his way over the line.
16. Jack YEANDLE - Club captain and has regained his form towards the end of the season. Will need to make a big impact with ball in hand when he comes on.
17. Ben MOON - Rimmer shades it for me but will have an important role to play when he comes on.
18. Tomas FRANCIS - Very close call between him and Williams but I wonder whether he might be a useful weapon to deploy off the bench. We might see some scrum ascendency when Sarries loosehead comes on, while he also adds considerably to the power of our driving maul, which against a tiring team could become a weapon.
19. Dave DENNIS - Unlucky not to start, such as has been his form since switching to lock (clearly his best position and one he should play next season). But Lees needs to start.
20. Sam SIMMONDS - Hard on Salvi but for me Simmonds offers greater impact. With his speed and foot work he could make things happen/ keep Sarries honest as players tire.
21. Jack MAUNDER - Seriously tough call between him and Townsend but hoping that we have the lead come the last quarter Maunder is the safer pair of hands. Huge responsibility to close out a game but has a good head on young shoulders.
22. Sam HILL - Really tough on Devoto, who im a fan of and had his best game for us against Glos (he's looking like he could become the centre that has everything) but regardless of whether we are behind or in front we will need impact off the bench which Hill has in spades, and has shown in recent weeks.
23. James SHORT - He scores tries. Simple. He has to be in the squad somewhere. Could make the difffence off the bench to speed past tired legs.
In a game that we only have to win by 1 point you have to have your best kicker on the pitch so Steeno I think will surely start.
I have know idea regarding centres, what a hard choice.
It is going to be tough and all things need to go our way including the interpretation from the man with the whistle- after all it's 15 against 15 so bring it on us fans will do our bit to create the extra man - please no silly 7 point presents early doors. LCD the key for me as IMO he is the best hooker in the prem by a country mile.
If lees is back, then Dennis to 6, but agree he should be starting somewhere as he has been fantastic these last few months.
I wouldn't start chudley. Both stu and jack have a better kicking game for me. Stu would be my choice, but either of the youngsters deserves the start.
Hopeful a number of our injured players should be back in contention, even if it is just to the bench. Equally, a number of the Sarries cup final team could well miss out as that was such a hugely physical game. Barritt in particular looked wrecked.
First half will be crucial, as we have a habit of giving up soft points, and Sarries the opposite. If it is close with 15 mins to go, I actually fancy our chances, but I don't want to be chasing the game from early on.
Could also do with the weather picking up, as we won't win an arm wrestle.
Steeno, Whitten, Woodburn, Yeandle, Parling, Turner & Kai should all Start!
Did Henry not have a cast/support on his arm last week?
And I honestly don't think that Jack Nowell has been on top form recently?...so would probably start with Short if he's fit.
Be sure to treat every day on this earth as if it were your last...one day you will be right. (Jethro)
Obviously it would be a very brave call from them but they have a deep squad and I don't think they made any substitutions last week until 70 minutes so they may freshen up the team?
We are very capable of winning when on top form and I think their hard game last week COULD take the edge off them so I am very hopeful rather than expectant.
Your league position and recent form, even without some of your top players, shows you truly deserve to be at the top with great all round squad depth of talent, and, I believe if you start well and score early, you can beat Saracens.
You must not sit back, because they will just kick and chase, put you under pressure all the time, and squeeze the life out of you. You must ask questions of their defense, as good as it is, get behind them and quickly go wide away from their big pack, like Clermont showed could be done with Abendonan's try last week. They are vulnerable to sides who can step and like to run with the ball, and you have the game to do it.
If you are either slightly ahead or very close on the scoreboard, your extra fitness and running game in the last 15 minutes could be decisive. You must take points when on offer, make your first time tackles and kick with depth and accuracy from hand, not letting Goode and Ashton run ball back.
Wayne Barnes generally is strict but will let a game flow, and should be to your advantage. Sarries love to maul, and go into physical confrontations which you should try to avoid. Apart from the scrummage that is. Clermont showed that the Saracens eight were not the best, and Billy V often was seen clearing up retreating ball. Ascendancy in the tight could put big pressure on them, and I believe Mako is not the best at scrum time, and hopefully Harry Williams will start and test him.
Best of luck, you can do it and I have a final ticket wanting to see you and Wasps go head to head.
Seriously though I really like the look of our bench and if it's tight in the last 20 that bench gives us a real chance.