Preview: Hurricanes v Waratahs

Friday, May 4, 2007

The biggest thing about this game is that it marks Tana Umaga's farewell from Super rugby after a massive career of 122 matches and 47 tries (so far).

To view the live scoring for this game Click here

VENUE & TIME: Westpac Stadium, Wellington, Saturday May 5, 19:35 NZT.

HEAD TO HEAD: Played 12 – Hurricanes 8, Waratahs 4.

LAST TIME: May 19, 2006 (Wellington) – Hurricanes 16-14 Waratahs (semi-final).

WALKING WOUNDED: Colin Cooper must be reluctant to start anyone at No 6 this week after Jerry Collins suffered a neck injury at Christchurch and Jason Eaton lasted five minutes last week before suffering a knee injury that will end his 2007 season. Collins has been desperate to play in Umaga's farewell match and gets his wish, as medical staff have cleared him to start. Hosea Gear injured an eye last week and his place is taken by David Smith. The Waratahs get Phil Waugh back after he has been out since round three with ankle problems and both halfbacks, Brett Sheehan and Josh Valentine, are fit again after spending some time in the stands.

FORM: Neither side has had a satisfactory season in 2007 and, for semi-finalists in each of the past two years, they have fallen hard. Injuries have played a part but there has been an alarming lack of consistency and an inability to finish off winnable matches. Both teams have played the odd good match against contenders; the Hurricanes beat both the Blues and Brumbies while the Waratahs gave the Crusaders an almighty scare, but in general they have been off the pace and their standings are a fair reflection of the way they have played over the entire competition.

WHO'S HOT: Jimmy Gopperth had a quality outing in his first start for three weeks, looking dangerous and creative as he consistently challenged the Highlanders defence. Rodney So'oialo and Piri Weepu were steady and the lineout was solid, but the Hurricanes owed more to honest endeavour that to flair and outstanding personal displays. The same could be said of the Waratahs; Lachlan Turner continues to menace defences and scored a remarkable try while Rocky Elsom and Sam Norton-Knight headed a hard-working supporting cast. Peter Hewat, who also plays what is likely to be his last Super rugby match this week, passed 500 career points with a perfect five-from-five night.

WE THINK: We think the teams will be separated by the Hurricanes' desire to give Umaga a fitting send-off, which at least gives them something to play for. However, we'd be surprised if the 'Canes ran riot and we pick a margin of 10 points in a tough match.


Hurricanes: 1 – John Schwalger, 2 – Andrew Hore, 3 – Neemia Tialata, 4 – Paul Tito, 5 – Bernie Upton, 6 – Jerry Collins, 7 – Chris Masoe, 8 – Rodney So'oialo (captain), 9 – Piri Weepu, 10 – Jimmy Gopperth, 11 – David Smith, 12 – Ma'a Nonu, 13 – Tana Umaga, 14 – Shannon Paku, 15 – Cory Jane.

Reserves: 16 – Mahonri Schwalger, 17 – Anthony Perenise, 18 – Luke Andrews, 19 – Serge Lilo, 20 – Alby Mathewson, 21 – Tamati Ellison, 22 – Lome Fa’atau.

Waratahs: 1 – Benn Robinson, 2 – Adam Freier, 3 – Al Baxter, 4 – Dean Mumm, 5 – Will Caldwell, 6 – Rocky Elsom, 7 – Phil Waugh (captain), 8 – Wycliff Palu, 9 – Josh Valentine, 10 – Sam Norton-Knight, 11 – Lote Tuqiri, 12 – Sam Harris, 13 – Ben Jacobs, 14 – Lachlan Turner, 15 – Peter Hewat.

Reserves: 16 – Tatafu Polota-Nau, 17 – Matt Dunning, 18 – Tim Davidson, 19 – David Lyons, 20 – Brett Sheehan, 21 – Daniel Halangahu, 22 – Chris Siale.

REFEREE: J C Fortuin