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Preview: Hurricanes v Blues

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Wednesday, April 16, 2014    Sportal.co.nz    Getty Images

What did they do last week? Both teams had a bye, but the week before the Blues went tryless in losing to the Brumbies on a wet night in Canberra while the Hurricanes sent the Bulls packing in Napier.

Things you need to know: The Hurricanes have managed to achieve consistency in selection with barely a ripple in their side. The Blues have made seven changes and in the process have welcomed veterans back from injury, especially hooker Keven Mealamu and lock Tom Donnelly. But it is the young lock Patrick Tuipolotu who could be a significant contributor in the tighter exchanges. This is a game likely to be determined by which tight five can get on top, if the poor weather forecast is to be believed.
Reason to watch: This game has a history of high-scoring and plenty of action. Even in spite of the weather old habits may die hard and it could be the team prepared to take a risk who breaks a deadlock to take a win.
Reason to worry: The weather could be a test for even the most durable Hurricanes fans and if the exciting backs in either side can't run it will be disappointing.
Say what: "I think if you spoke to Mark Hammett he'd say exactly the same - this is a pivotal game in a pivotal season and I think there are a couple of games this weekend that are really exciting and ours is one of them." – Sir John Kirwan

Final instructions: Having had a reminder of how to play wet-weather rugby in their last outing it would be reasonable to expect the Blues to know how to cope with the forecast weather in Wellington. The Hurricanes will know because they are used to the conditions. It doesn't make the game so much a lottery as a demonstration of who knows best how to cope under the circumstances. The extra grunt in the Blues pack should at least give them parity with a Hurricanes forward unit that has been improving with each week and while it will be a night for numbers one to five, the effort of the loose forwards in support will add lustre to the rugby diehards' appreciation of the contest. We think the home team will get home ahead, but there won't be much in it.

Teams:

Hurricanes: 1.Reggie Goodes, 2.Dane Coles, 3.Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, 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.Motu Matu'u, 17.Chris Eves, 18.John Schwalger, 19.Blade Thomson, 20.Ardie Savea, 21.Chris Smylie, 22.Tim Bateman, 23.Matt Proctor.

Blues: 1.Tony Woodcock, 2.Keven Mealamu, 3.Charlie Faumuina, 4.Patrick Tuipolotu, 5.Tom Donnelly, 6.Steven Luatua, 7.Luke Braid, 8.Jerome Kaino, 9.Bryn Hall, 10.Chris Noakes, 11.Lolagi Visinia, 12.Ma'a Nonu, 13.Francis Saili, 14.George Moala, 15.Charles Piutau.

Reserves: 16.James Parsons, 17.Sam Prattley, 18.Angus Ta'avao, 19.Liaki Moli, 20.Brendon O'Connor, 21.Jamison Gibson-Park, 22.Benji Marshall, 23.Frank Halai.

Referee: Nick Briant