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Preview: Sharks v Hurricanes

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Thursday, February 20, 2014    Sportal.co.nz    Getty Images

HEAD TO HEAD: Played: 17, Sharks 9, Hurricanes 0, Drawn 1

LAST TIME: Sharks 18 lost to Hurricanes 42, April 6, 2012, New Plymouth

WALKING WOUNDED:
The Hurricanes are without key loose forwards Victor Vito and Brad Shields who are injured while ace flanker Ardie Savea has been overlooked for the game. For the Sharks Keegan Daniel is ready to resume after recovering from injury but can't find a place in an unchanged squad from the first round against the Bulls.

FORM: The Hurricanes opened their preparations with a win over the Blues but then suffered losses to the Rebels and the Crusaders. The Sharks won their opening game by downing the Bulls in impressive fashion last week, on the back of a warm-up thrashing of the Lions. The Sharks have been emphasizing the point that while they had a winning start they still had plenty to work on before achieving their potential.

WE THINK: Durban's heat is going to make it very tough for the visitors. Conrad Smith said he has never experienced anything like it. And if the humidity is up that traditionally makes ball handling difficult. The advantage the home side enjoy is immense. Not only are they more familiar with the conditions, they have also had a game under their belt and that is worth plenty if a tight encounter ensues. The five-eighths pairing of Patrick Lambie and Frans Steyn will ensure a committed approach will be required in defence by the visitors. The Hurricanes are always entitled to be considered a danger with their breakout abilities but it is a tough ask in an opening encounter and down on some of their key talent it will not be enough to head off a determined home team.

TEAMS:?

Sharks: 1.Tendai Mtawarira, 2.Bismarck du Plessis, 3.Jannie du Plessis, 4.Anton Bresler, 5.Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6.Marcel Coetzee, 7.Willem Alberts, 8.Ryan Kankowski, 9.Cobus Reinach, 10.Patrick Lambie, 11.Lwazi Mvovo, 12.Frans Steyn, 13.Paul Jordaan, 14.Odwa Ndungane, 15.SP Marais.

Reserves: 16.Kyle Cooper, 17.Dale Chadwick, 18.Lourens Adriaanse, 19.Stephan Lewies, 20.Jean Deysel, 21.Charl McLeod, 22.Heimar Williams, 23.S'bura Sithole

Hurricanes: 1.Ben Franks, 2.Dane Coles, 3.Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, 4.Jeremy Thrush, 5.Mark Abbott, 6.Faifili Levave, 7.Jack Lam, 8.Blade Thomson, 9.TJ Perenara, 10.Beauden Barrett, 11.Julian Savea, 12.Hadleigh Parkes, 13.Conrad Smith (captain), 14.Cory Jane, 15.Marty Banks.

Reserves: 16.Motu Matu'u, 17.Chris Eves, 18.John Schwalger, 19.Mark Reddish, 20.Adam Hill, 21.Chris Smylie, 22.Alapati Leiua, 23.James Marshall.

?REFEREE: Andrew Lees