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PREVIEW: Force v Hurricanes

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Friday, June 2, 2017    Lynn McConnell    Getty Images

Round 15: Force v Hurricanes, nib Stadium, Perth, 11.35pm (NZT) June 3, 2017
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TALE OF THE TAPE
Host team the Force have had a mixed season but they are still a chance to finish second in the Australian Conference, especially after last weekend's win over the Reds (40-26). Three rounds back they also recorded a significant win over the Jaguares in Argentina (16-6). But against that they had a bad (6-55) loss to the Highlanders at home which followed earlier losses to the Lions (15-24) and the Sharks (12-37). The Hurricanes bounced back from their 12-20 loss to the Crusaders three weeks ago by beating the Cheetahs (61-7) and the Bulls (34-20).

BACK IN BLUE
Fullback Dane Haylett-Petty will make a welcome return for the home team in Perth on Saturday, his first appearance since Round Nine, and will mark his 50th game for the club in Super Rugby. He is the only change to the team which beat the Reds last weekend. In the substitutes Marcel Brache has taken a place on the bench. Coach Dave Wessels has set the side a challenge to back-up a winning performance, especially after not performing well in their last home game, against the Highlanders.

HURRICANES VERSATILITY
Mobility shapes as a key feature of the Hurricanes team named for Perth with locks Sam Lousi and Vaea Fifita both handy with the ball in hand and if the Hurricanes are able to secure plenty of second and third phase ball this pair, and the loose forward combination of Reed Prinsep, Callum Gibbins and Brad Shields could be a handful for the home side. When that is thrown into the mix with the potent attacking backline it is shaping as another tough night for the home defences. Midfield players Ngani Laumape and Vince Aso have been cutting a swathe through recent opponents and it is difficult to see that not continuing. Interest will also centre on how first five-eighths Beauden Barrett bounces back from his mystery headaches.

TEAMS

Force: 1.Francois van Wyk, 2.Heath Tessmann, 3.Jermaine Ainsley, 4.Matt Philip, 5.Adam Coleman, 6.Ross Haylett-Petty, 7.Matt Hodgson (captain), 8.Isi Naisarani, 9.Michael Ruru, 10.Peter Grant, 11.Alex Newsome, 12.Bill Meakes, 13.Curtis Rona, 14.James Verity-Amm, 15.Dane Haylett-Petty.

Substitutes: 16.Tatafu Polota-Nau, 17.Pek Cowan, 18.Tetera Faulkner, 19.Richie Arnold, 20.Richard Hardwick, 21.Mitchell Short, 22.Luke Burton, 23.Marcel Brache.

Hurricanes: 1.Loni Uhila, 2.Ricky Riccitelli, 3.Ben May, 4.Sam Lousi, 5.Vaea Fifita, 6.Reed Prinsep, 7.Callum Gibbins, 8.Brad Shields, 9.TJ Perenara (captain), 10.Beauden Barrett, 11.Ben Lam, 12.Ngani Laumape, 13.Vince Aso, 14.Cory Jane, 15.Jordie Barrett.

Substitutes: 16.Leni Apisai, 17.Chris Eves, 18.Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, 19.Mark Abbott, 20.Ardie Savea, 21.Te Toiro Tahuriorangi, 22.Otere Black, 23.Nehe Milner-Skudder.