Preview - Force v Hurricanes - Green and Gold Rugby
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Preview – Force v Hurricanes

Preview – Force v Hurricanes

After beating the Bulls in Johannesburg last week, the Hurricanes’ whistle-stop tour of the Southern Hemisphere takes them to Perth this week to face a Force outfit coming off an away win of their own against the Reds.

The Big Picture

The Force currently have 17 table points, 11 adrift of the Conference-topping Brumbies but only two off the second-placed Waratahs. It’s extremely unlikely they can win the Conference, but finishing second would be an admirable achievement considering the off-field dramas they’ve had to contend with these past two months or so.

Similarly the Hurricanes on 45 probably cannot win the New Zealand Conference, but finishing runner-up would almost certainly earn them an away quarter-final against the winner of the Australian Conference.

Given the results of recent of trans-Tasman matches some might see that as almost a guarantee of making the semis.

Force win !!

Double victories against the Reds were two of the Force’s four wins

The Form

The Hurricanes have won ten of their twelve matches to date, losing only to the Chiefs in Round 3 and Crusaders in Round 12, both away. A staggering points differential of 296 has been amassed from racking up 40 points or more in six matches with 12 against the Crusaders being their lowest.

The Force have four wins and have cracked 40 only twice. They show a points differential of -107 and have conceded 40 on three occasions (albeit winning one of those).

Their other losses have mostly been by not much, but too much to earn a losing bonus point.

Dane Haylett-Petty in typical pose before he had to retire injured

Dane Haylett-Petty – back from injury

Team News

Force
After a horror run of injuries the Force will be bolstered by the return of fullback Dane Hayley-Petty (hamstring), having welcomed back flanker and captain Matt Hodgson (ankle), winger Luke Morahan (fractured cheekbone), hooker Tatafu Polata-Nau (rested), prop Jermaine Ainsley (dislocated elbow), lock Matt Philip (foot), and halfback Michael Ruru (ankle) in the last two weeks.

Hurricanes
Reserve wing Nehe Milner-Skudder will make his long-awaited return from a foot injury, while first-five Beauden Barrett, lock Mark Abbott and flanker Ardie Savea have all shaken off concussion symptoms to take their places in the 23.

Not so hooker Dane Coles who hasn’t played since 18 March.

Nehe Milner-Skudder – will make his long-awaited return from the bench

Key players

So much of what the Hurricanes do is based around the brilliance of Beauden Barrett. A late scratching in Pretoria after complaining of a headache, he’s back this week and is reportedly fizzing after his enforced rest.

His opposite Peter Grant is a former Springbok and it shows. Not flashy but does the basics well and steers his team around the field. He was impressive against the Reds and has been in good form most of the season.

For all that people (rightly) laud the Hurricanes attack, it shouldn’t be overlooked that they’re a fearsome defensive side, too. They’ve conceded just one try off turnover ball and much of that is down to No. 8 Brad Shields and new recruit Reed Princep at 6.

Brad Shields

Brad Shields – key player for Hurricanes

The Force’s loose trio of Isireli Naisarani, Matt Hodgson and Ross Haylett-Petty is industrious and will provide the ‘canes with a good contest, Hodgson in particular epitomising the Force’s doggedness.

Hurricanes halfback and captain TJ Perenara has copped some flak for calling the novice referee “bro” last week and generally showing him little of the respect expected of a captain.

One assumes Rohan Hoffman won’t be putting up with a repeat of that this week. Up against Perenara is the promising Michael Ruru, another to impress in Brisbane last week.

Prediction

Hurricanes by 25


Force

1. Francois van Wyk
2. Heath Tessman
3. Jermaine Ainsley
4. Matt Philip
5. Adam Coleman
6. Ross Haylett-Petty
7. Matt Hodgson (c)
8. Isi Naisarani


9. Michael Ruru
10. Peter Grant
11. Alex Newsome
12. Bill Meakes
13. Curtis Rona
14. James Verity-Amm
15. Dane Haylett-Petty


Reserves:
16. Tatafu Polota-Nau
17. Pek Cowan
18. Tetera Faulkner
19. Richie Arnold
20. Richard Hardwick
21. Mitchell Short
22. Luke Burton
23. Marcel Brache

Hurricanes

1. Loni Uhila
2. Ricky Riccitelli
3. Ben May
4. Sam Louisi
5. Vaea Fifita
6. Reed Prinsep
7. Calum Gibbins
8. Brad Shields


9. TJ Perenara (c)
10. Beaudan Barrett
11. Ben Lam
12. Ngani Laumape
13. Vince Aso
14. Corey Jane
15. Jordie Barrett


Reserves:
16. Leni Apisai
17. Chris Eves
18. Jeffery Toomaga-Allen
19. Mark Abbott
20. Ardie Savea
21. Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi
22. Otere Black
23. Nehe Milner-Skudder

Match Details

Date: Saturday, 3 June 2017

Venue: nib Stadium, Perth

Kick-off: 7:55 pm AWST, 9:55 pm AEST

Referee: Rohan Hofmann (Aus)

Assistant referees:
Graham Cooper (Aus), Jordan Way (Aus)

TMO: Damien Mitchelmore (Aus)

Data used courtesy of Opta Sports

Photos courtesy of Getty Images (where indicated)

  • Tomthusiasm

    Probably unlikely but if the Crusaders lose their final two games to the Highlanders and Canes, while the Canes also beat the Force and Chiefs then the Canes will grab top spot in the NZ conference. The Canes are actually on 48 points, Lions have 56 with one game in hand, so could get as much as 61. The Canes would have to win all three remaining games with at least one bonus point, while hoping the Highlanders can do them a favour, to guarantee top spot. Unlikely but not impossible.

    • Tomthusiasm

      Ok, now impossible.

  • ForceFan

    Matt Hodgson was not injured to the extent that it was preventing him playing at his normal/consistent level.

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