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PREVIEW: Hurricanes v Brumbies

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Thursday, April 20, 2017    allblacks.com    Getty Images

ROUND 9: Hurricanes v Brumbies, 7.35pm Friday 21 April, McLean Park, Napier

FORM
Although the Brumbies lead the Australian Conference and the Hurricanes are third in the NZ Conference, the New Zealand side have been more consistent in 2017. The Hurricanes have dropped just one match from seven played while the Brumbies have won three and lost four. But what is most impressive about the Hurricanes has been the manner of their victories with an average of seven tries racked up per game. 

QUICK TAP: HURRICANES SEEK BETTER FORWARD EFFORT AGAINST BRUMBIES

CANBERRA REDEMPTION
Memories will still be fresh of the seven-try thumping the Brumbies handed to the Hurricanes when these sides last met in round one last year. The Hurricanes were labelled ‘unfit’ during the 52-10 thumping in Canberra but quickly turned things around to lift their inaugural Investec Super Rugby title later in the season. The Hurricanes will want to erase all memories of that night in Canberra by inflicting a convincing victory on the Brumbies in Napier.

SPEIGHT v SAVEA

It doesn’t get much more exciting than two of the world’s best wings going head-to-head. Henry Speight has been a constant danger with ball in hand for the Brumbies this year and has backed that up with six tries. Savea has been building back to top form and has crossed for five tries of his own to show that he has lost none of his try-scoring touch. With a dry track expected at McLean Park, expect plenty of running from these two speedsters out wide.

CANES BOLSTERED
Despite losing lock Michael Fatialofa to a minor injury and the continued absence of James Broadhurst, the Hurricanes have been bolstered by the return from injury of Vaea Fifita at lock and Blade Thomson at No.8. Both players are skilled at lineout time and offer plenty of grunt with ball in hand. Add in the strong form of local star Mark Abbott and the Hurricanes forward pack is shaping as a tough proposition for the Brumbies.
FAST FACT
The Brumbies have won five of their last six matches against the Hurricanes.

THE SCOOP
The Hurricanes have averaged 20 points per game more than the Brumbies so far this season and that divide should continue in Napier. The Brumbies boast attacking armoury and will test the Hurricanes at times, but the Chris Boyd-coached side is a relentless outfit and should walk away with the spoils.

TEAMS
Hurricanes:
Jordie Barrett, Cory Jane, Vince Aso, Ngani Laumape, Julian Savea, Beauden Barrett, Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi; Blade Thomson, Ardie Savea, Brad Shields (c), Vaea Fifita, Mark Abbott, Jeffery To'omaga-Allen, Ricky Riccitelli, Ben May.
Reserves: Leni Apisai, Chris Eves, Mike Kainga, James Blackwell, Callum Gibbins, TJ Perenara, Otere Black, Ben Lam.

Brumbies: Aidan Toua, Henry Speight, Tevita Kuridrani, Andrew Smith, James Dargaville, Wharenui Hawera, Joe Powell, Jarrad Butler, Chris Alcock, Scott Fardy, Sam Carter ©, Rory Arnold, Allan Alaalatoa, Josh Mann-Rea, Scott Sio.
Reserves: Robbie Abel, Nic Mayhew, Ben Alexander, Black Enever, Lolo Fakaosilea, De Wet Roos, Jordan Jackson-Hope, Nigel Ah Wong