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Preview: Hurricanes v Bulls

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Thursday, April 3, 2014    Sportal.co.nz    Getty Images

HEAD TO HEAD: Played: 17, Hurricanes 8, Bulls 9

LAST TIME: Hurricanes 14 lost to Bulls 48, May 4, 2013, Pretoria

WALKING WOUNDED: The Hurricanes welcome Victor Vito and Brad Shields back from knee injuries for their first games of the season. Missing from the side will be second five-eighths Tim Bateman who has a shoulder injury. His place has been taken by Alapati Leiua who moves from the wing where Cory Jane returns from his ankle injury. Prop Jeffery Toomaga-Allen has been bracketed with John Schwalger. Toomaga-Allen is being monitored after a head knock last week. The Bulls welcome back skipper Flip van der Merwe while Victor Matfield will only play on the tour if one of the locks is injured. He is in the coaching role during the tour.

FORM: The win over the Cheetahs three weeks ago has revitalised the Hurricanes and sharpened their attacking play. They had a close loss to the Highlanders and then stormed home against the Crusaders to finally get their season on track. The Bulls have been powerful at home, where a win over the Sharks demonstrated their power, although they were rattled in the final stages in drawing with the Chiefs.

WE THINK:
The Bulls only left Johannesburg on Tuesday afternoon to arrive in Wellington late on Wednesday night and had one training session there before heading to Napier. That is a tight schedule and one that could leave the Bulls vulnerable late in the game, especially if the Hurricanes are able to regather some of the momentum they showed against the Crusaders. The return of Cory Jane adds vital experience to the backs while Victor Vito's return will lift the loose forwards as he looks to make an early impact. Alapati Leiua's play at second five-eighths looks to have the potential to cause some problems for the Bulls defences. A slight edge, but only if they can back-up last week's effort, and driven by the travel factor could see the Hurricanes seal this one.

TEAMS:


Hurricanes: 1.Ben Franks, 2.Dane Coles, 3.Jeffery Toomaga-Allen/John Schwalger, 4.Jeremy Thrush, 5.James Broadhurst, 6.Faifili Levave, 7.Jack Lam, 8.Victor Vito, 9.TJ Perenara, 10.Beauden Barrett, 11.Julian Savea, 12.Alapati Leiua, 13.Conrad Smith (captain), 14.Cory Jane, 15.Andre Taylor.

Reserves: 16.Ash Dixon, 17.Chris Eves, 18.John Schwalger/Reggie Goodes, 19.Blade Thomson, 20.Brad Shields, 21.Billy Guyton, 22.Hadleigh Parkes, 23.Marty Banks.

Bulls:
1.Dean Greyling, 2.Callie Visagie, 3.Werner Kruger,4.Paul Willemse, 5.Flip van der Merwe (captain), 6.Deon Stegmann, 7.Dewald Potgieter, 8.Jacques Englebrecht, 9.Francois Hougaard, 10.Jacques-Louis Potgieter, 11.Bjorn Basson, 12.Jan Serfontein, 13.JJ Englebrecht, 14.Akona Ndungane, 15.Jurgen Visser.

Reserves: 16.Bongi Mbonambi, 17.Marcel van der Merwe, 18.Morne Mellett, 19.Grant Hattingh, 20.Jacques du Plessis, 21.Piet van Zyl, 22.Handre Pollard, 23.Ulrich Beyers.

REFEREE:
Steve Walsh