PREVIEW: Hurricanes v Cheetahs

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Thursday, May 18, 2017    Lynn McConnell    Getty Images

ROUND 13: Hurricanes v Cheetahs, Westpac Stadium, Wellington, Saturday, May 20, 7,35pm.

There couldn't be much more of a contrast between the fortunes of these two sides. The only blemish on the Hurricanes' recent record is last week's 12-20 loss to the Crusaders in Christchurch. Before that they beat the Blues (28-24), the Brumbies (56-21) and the Stormers (41-22). But for the Cheetahs it is losses all the way: the Chiefs 27-41), the Bulls (14-20), the Crusaders (21-48), the Highlanders (41-45) and the Blues (32-50). Yet, in several of those games the Cheetahs were well in the hunt until late in the game but if they have a flaw it is in their defence, never more exposed than by the Highlanders in scoring three tries in the last five minutes.


All the analysis that goes into checking opposing sides will be tested for the Hurricanes this week as Cheetahs coach Franco Smith has dipped into his resources to make a swathe of changes for Round 13. Ox Nche returns to the front row in place of Charles Marais at prop, Elandre Huggett is at hooker ahead of Torsten van Jaarsveld while completing the clean sweep of the front row is Johan Coetzee who is in for Tom Botha on the tighthead. Locking the scrum are Carl Wegner and Armandt Koster with Francois Uys dropped to the bench. Uzair Cassiem will come in for Niell Jordaan on the flank. Shaun Venter will play halfback ahead of Tian Meyer while Clinton Swart is back at second five-eighths ahead of William Small-Smith.

Failing to score a try against the Crusaders in their bruising encounter in Christchurch last week, it would not be difficult to expect the Hurricanes to be looking for some release against the Cheetahs on Saturday. But it will be a situation demanding attention to first things first, quelling the Cheetahs' forward drive. The Hurricanes have generally been an efficient side against the rolling lineout maul, something the Cheetahs used to score four tries last week. They will need to shut the visitors down quickly in that area to keep them out of upset territory. It is something of a risk in moving first five-eighths Beauden Barrett back to fullback. But in the longer term view it is probably a necessity to freshen him up, freshen up his younger brother Jordie by resting him, and allowing Otere Black some valuable game time before the business end of the campaign.

Hurricanes: 1.Ben May, 2.Ricky Riccitelli, 3.Jeff To'omaga-Allen, 4.Sam Lousi, 5.Vaea Fifita, 6.Reed Prinsep, 7.Ardie Savea, 8.Brad Shields, 9.TJ Perenara (captain), 10.Otere Black, 11.Julian Savea, 12.Ngani Laumape, 13.Vince Aso, 14.Wes Goosen, 15.Beauden Barrett.

Substitutes: 16.Leni Apisai, 17.Mike Kainga, 18.Loni Uhila, 19.Mark Abbott, 20.Callum Gibbins, 21.Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, 22.Jordie Barrett, 23.Ben Lam.

Cheetahs: 1.Ox Nche, 2.Elandré Huggett, 3.Johan Coetzee, 4.Armandt Koster, 5.Carl Wegner, 6.Uzair Cassiem, 7.Oupa Mohoje, 8.Henco Venter, 9.Shaun Venter, 10.Fred Zeilinga, 11.Raymond Rhule, 12.Clinton Swart, 13.Francois Venter (captain), 14.Sergeal Petersen, 15.Clayton Blommetjies.

Reserves: 16.Torsten van Jaarsveld, 17.Charles Marais,, 18.Tom Botha, 19.Francois Uys, 20.Niell Jordaan, 21.Tian Meyer, 22.Niel Marais, 23.Ruan van Rensburg. c