Preview: Hurricanes v Sharks - Green and Gold Rugby
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Preview: Hurricanes v Sharks

Preview: Hurricanes v Sharks

Last week any of four Kiwi teams were a possibility of finishing the season in the top spot. Surely though, not many thought the mathematical possibility in front of the Hurricanes was realistic. They now sit with guaranteed home games through the finals – all they have to do is keep winning. Easy!

The Sharks are the only team in the finals race guaranteed to play away for as long as they stay in the battle.

Home or away it’s knock out rugby and anything can happen.

THE FORM

All up in Wellington the Hurricanes have beaten the Sharks five times, drawn once and lost four. Since 2011 the game has always gone to the home team.

The Sharks have performed well when away from home in finals. In 2012 they travelled to Queensland to beat the Reds (ouch!). Then they travelled to Cape Town and beat the Stormers. Finally the flights caught up and they succumbed to the Chiefs in Hamilton.

The Hurricanes have a strong taste for finals football having made it through to the Final in 2015.

The two teams have met just once so far in 2016 in Durban. The Hurricanes had just come off an impressive win away against the Lions and let themselves relax on the next game. The Sharks punished their hubris with a 32 to 15 victory.

The Hurricanes have not lost since!

Importantly the Hurricanes Defense Coach, John Plumtree was previously Head Coach at the Sharks and has been reminding the team about their last performance.

Last week the Sharks defeated the Sunwolves with a B squad rotational policy. They won but it was less than convincing. The Hurricanes flattened the Crusaders with a convincing domination and are coming into the finals with a wet sail.

Momentum lies with the Hurricanes.

TEAM NEWS

Springbok Pat Lambie has had a difficult year ending with a concussion in the last test against Ireland. SANZAAR refused an appeal to allow him to play in the finals as he has not played enough games for the Sharks this season. Director of Rugby Gary Gold has returned to his A squad which was arranged hastily into a travel group. Flights took time to arrange and they did not arrive in Wellington until midnight on Wednesday.

It’s a sobering thought but the Hurricanes were not at full strength last week. Proctor returns and the midfield is unshuffled – we can expect the ‘canes will be attacking a little wider. Loni Uhila replaces Reggie Goodes at LHP, necessitated by a concussion.

In the mean-time Hurricanes Go! has erupted on the streets of Wellington. It’s a location based augmented reality game where fans have been seen chasing down ‘canes players to receive family passes to the quarter final.

KEY MATCH UPS

Fly Half: Pat Lambie is deemed ineligible. Garth April in his first Super Rugby season made the Springbok ‘A’ team this year. He matches up to the experienced All Black, Beauden Barrett who is in scintillating form. The Hurricanes game plan should be better directed.

No 7: Ardie Savea has been groomed, spent time in 7’s in 2015, and was capped for the All Blacks this year. The workmanlike Tera Mtembu will need to be on his game.

Back Three: Willie le Roux rejoins JP Pietersen and Lwazi Mvovo to take on James Marshall, Corey Jane and Jonathon Woodward. Both sides feature genuine threats from the back three.

GAME PLANS

The Hurricanes last loss in Durban is suggestive. The Sharks built on a “in-your-face” gritty defence that controlled the pace of the game by slowing down the Hurricane ball. The Sharks took four line outs against the throw and turned the ball over on seven more occasions than the Hurricanes. They conceded four less penalties. Another performance like that will result in a much tighter game than most are predicting.

 

The Hurricanes are on a roll with typically Kiwi play. Determined flat defence. Ability to break the line at first phase. And subsequent phases. Then intelligent kicking depending on where the opportunity is. They keep the opposition on their toes. Then back to the determined defence. As a proud Aussie it chokes me to admit that it is very attractive and effective rugby.

PREDICTION

Sharks have it all to do and while they are always capable of an upset, this one is an uphill battle – Hurricanes Go! has at least another week to play. In fact, unless they defeat themselves I’d suggest that Hurricanes Go! will be around a little while yet.

Hurricanes by 15.

TEAMS:

Hurricanes: 15 James Marshall, 14 Cory Jane, 13 Matt Proctor, 12 Willis Halaholo, 11 Jason Woodward, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Victor Vito, 7 Ardie Savea, 6 Brad Shields, 5 Michael Fatialofa, 4 Vaea Fifita, 3 Ben May, 2 Dane Coles (c), 1 Loni Uhila . Replacements: 16 Ricky Riccitelli, 17 Chris Eves, 18 Mike Kainga, 19 Mark Abbott, 20 Callum Gibbins, 21 Jamison Gibson-Park, 22 Vince Aso, 23 Julian Savea

Sharks: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Paul Jordaan, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Garth April, 9 Michael Claasens, 8 Philip van der Walt, 7 Jean-luc du Preez, 6 Keegan Daniel, 5 Stefan Lewies, 4 Etienne Oosthuizen, 3 Coenie Oosthuizen, 2 Franco Marais, 1 Tendai Mtawarira. Replacements: 16 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 17 Dale Chadwick, 18 Thomas du Toit, 19 Hyron Andrews, 20 Tera Mtembu, 21 Stefan Ungerer, 22 Curwin Bosch, 23 Odwa Ndungane

Match: Hurricanes v Sharks @ Westpac Stadium, Wellington
Date: Saturday 23rd July 2016
Kick-Off: 19:35 Local 17:35 AEST 9:35 SAST
Referee: Glen Jackson
Assistant Ref 1: Nick Briant
Assistant Ref 2: Paul Williams
TMO : Glenn Newman

  • MST

    Great preview dru

  • Grant Spork

    “Any one of 4 Kiwi teams could finish in the top spot!” Translated 1,2,3,4? Something is wrong with Australian sides, and we are not competitive. There were a few Reds supporters in their last games, the Ref and ball boys. Rugby in Australia needs much more free to air and live television if it is to grow and pay the huge cost of all the players salaries. Quade may be back next season to spark some magic at the Reds. As for this season of Kiwi triumph, well congratulations, they are unassailable.

  • Kiwi rugby lover

    As a completely biased Hurricane supporter I agree with everything. Great write up mate

  • Tomthusiasm

    Looking forward to seeing how Jonathon Woodward goes.

  • Owen McCaffrey

    I think we will see teams step up a notch for the play-offs. I also think the sharks have it all to do in Wellington but they are a proven finals team and this season have scratched out some tough wins. We cannot discount the weight of the Sharks convincing four tries to two 32-15 victory over the Hurricanes on May 7. Finals footy – anything can happen!

Rugby

Too small for the pack too slow for the backs - the exception that makes the rule that rugby is a game for all sizes. Qld bred rugby fan with an eye on South Africa.

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