Preview: Reds v Hurricanes
Friday, March 1, 2013 Sportal.co.nz Getty Images
VENUE & TIME: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane, Friday March 1 @ 2320 (NZT), 2120 (AEDT)
HEAD TO HEAD: Played 16 – Hurricanes 11, Reds 5
LAST TIME: April 30, 2011 (Wellington) – Hurricanes 28-26 Reds (round 11)
WALKING WOUNDED: The Reds have made two changes with Aidan Toua replacing Mike Harris (dropped) at full-back and cult hero Radike Samo recalled to the bench for Jarrad Butler (shoulder). Skipper James Horwill (ankle) and centre Anthony Faingaa (hand) will miss again, while half-back Will Genia (knee) could be back in three to four weeks. The Hurricanes have made three changes to the squad that lost to the Blues. Jeffery Toomaga-Allen will start at tighthead prop, hooker Motu Matu'u returns from a pectoral injury via the bench while James Broadhurst has also been added to the reserves for Mark Reddish (hamstring). Skipper Conrad Smith has been cleared of concussion and will play. Jack Lam (knee), Eric Sione (shoulder) and Blade Thomson (ankle) are unavailable.
FORM: The Reds bounced back from their disappointing opening loss against the Brumbies with a 25-17 victory over arch rivals the Waratahs. The opportunistic Queenslanders leapt out to a 17-3 lead but let the 'Tahs back into the contest at 17-17 on the hour. The 2011 champs rallied with a late try to Ben Tapuai to seal a vital victory in front of a big crowd at Suncorp Stadium. The Hurricanes led the Blues 13-11 at half-time but were blown away in the second half en route to a 34-20 loss that would have been worse had Piri Weepu kicked straight for the Blues.
WHO'S HOT: The Reds had plenty of strong performers against the Waratahs but Eddie Quirk was the standout. The mullet-sporting 21-year-old out-performed an all-Wallabies back-row in the best showing of his young career. Ben Tapuai scored two tries and was dangerous throughout. Hurricanes winger Julian Savea was the pick of a rusty bunch against the Blues.
WE THINK: Your guess is as good as ours. The Reds were pretty good last week while the Hurricanes were ordinary. Queensland have won 22 of their past 25 matches at Suncorp Stadium and it's more than foolish to tip against them at home. However, the Hurricanes have owned the Reds for the best part of a decade, winning nine of the past 10 meetings including four-of-seven in Brisbane. This one really is a flip of the coin but we'll tentatively back the Reds to continue their strong form at home and score their first win over the Hurricanes since 2007. Reds by seven.
Reds 1. Greg Holmes, 2. Saia Faingaa, 3. James Slipper (c), 4. Ed O'Donoghue, 5. Rob Simmons, 6. Eddie Quirk, 7. Liam Gill, 8. Jake Schatz, 9. Ben Lucas, 10. Quade Cooper, 11. Digby Ioane, 12. Ben Tapuai, 13. Chris Feauai-Sautia, 14. Dom Shipperley, 15. Aidan Toua
Reserves: 16. James Hanson, 17. Albert Anae, 18. Adam Wallace-Harrison, 19. Radike Samo, 20. Nick Frisby, 21. Mike Harris, 22. Luke Morahan.
Hurricanes 1. Ben Franks, 2. Dane Coles, 3. Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, 4. Jeremy Thrush, 5. Jason Eaton, 6. Victor Vito, 7. Karl Lowe, 8. Brad Shields, 9. TJ Perenara, 10. Beauden Barrett, 11. Julian Savea, 12. Tim Bateman, 13. Conrad Smith (c), 14. Alapati Leiua, 15. Andre Taylor
Reserves: 16. Motu Matu'u, 17. Reggie Goodes, 18. James Broadhurst, 19. Faifili Levave, 20. Chris Smylie, 21. James Marshall, 22. Reynold Lee-Lo
REFEREE: Steve Walsh