PLAYOFF PREVIEW: Hurricanes v Sharks

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Thursday, July 21, 2016    Getty Images

Hurricanes v Sharks, 7.35pm Saturday 23 July, Westpac Stadium, Wellington.

The Hurricanes came home with a wet sail to leap to first in the New Zealand conference with a faultless 35-10 win over the Crusaders last week. On the other hand, the Sharks were unconvincing against the Sunwolves but did enough to pip the Bulls for a wildcard spot in the play offs. Travel maybe a factor for the Durban-based Sharks but they will take confidence from their earlier road trip to New Zealand where they defeated the Highlanders and came close to topping the Blues and Chiefs.


While the Hurricanes are being talked up as heavy favourites, fans need only look back to round 11 to see how big a threat the Sharks are. On that day the Hurricanes were completely outplayed 32-15 by a rampant Sharks side in Durban. But it’s not just in 2016 that the Sharks have got the better of the Hurricanes. Of the last nine games played between the sides, the Sharks have won six compared to the Hurricanes two with one draw.

Although Ben May and Loni Uhila have been active for the Hurricanes off the bench this year, they will both make their first starting appearance of the season against the Sharks. With Jeff Toomaga-Allen out for the season and Reg Goodes recovering from a concussion, the new propping combo will have to hit the ground running against a seasoned Sharks propping combination of Coenraad Oosthuizen and Tendai ‘The Beast’ Mtawarira.

The Hurricanes wing-pairing of Jason Woodward and Cory Jane will have to be alert to the threat of JP Pietersen and Lwazi Mvovo. The strong and fast Sharks duo will be aided by the classy Willie Le Roux at fullback to make for one of the most potent outside back combinations in the competition. The Hurricanes will no doubt call upon Julian Savea from the bench at some stage. The 115kg powerhouse will be looking to impress and force his way back into the Hurricanes starting line-up for any remaining playoff games.

There is nothing like knockout footy and the Hurricanes will be relying on a bumper crowd to help keep their title aspirations alive. Get TICKETS HERE and experience the action LIVE at Westpac Stadium!

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
Reserves: Ricky Riccitelli, Chris Eves, Mike Kainga, Mark Abbott, Callum Gibbins, Jamison Gibson Park, Vince Aso, Julian Savea.

Sharks: 15: Willie Le Roux 14: JP Pietersen 13: Paul Jordaan 12: Andre Esterhuizen 11: Lwazi Mvovo 10: Garth April 9: Michael Claassens 8: Phillip Van Der Walt 7: Jean-Luc du Preez 6: Keegan Daniel 5: Stephan Lewies 4: Ettienne Oosthuizen 3: Coenraad Oosthuizen 2: Franco Marais 1: Tendai Mtawarira
Reserves: 16: Chiliboy Ralepelle 17: Dale Chadwick 18: Thomas du Toit 19: Hyron Andrews 20: Lubabalo Mtembu 21: Stefan Ungerer 22: Odwa Ndungane