Hurricanes look to create their own storm

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Thursday, July 13, 2017    Lynn McConnell    Getty Images

The unbeaten Crusaders need to win to ensure themselves of the right to host their play-off games in Investec Super Rugby while a win for the Hurricanes would make their own path through the quarter finals a little easier.

Coach Chris Boyd is well aware of the need for the Hurricanes to be on their game, especially after they lost their last Super game to the Chiefs at home before the June break.

"They're [the Crusaders] playing with a lot of confidence and rightfully so, they haven't been beaten all year in Super Rugby. Their defence is probably the biggest change for them since the last couple of years. They've done very well and they'll be very keen to win," he said.

Boyd said reflection on the earlier encounter between the sides showed it had been a dewy night, and cold, meaning the ball was difficult to handle and the Hurricanes, under the conditions, had probably tried to play a little too much rugby.

"Going back and looking at that game in preparation for this there wasn't a huge amount in it. Our set-piece probably didn't function particularly well that night and we played a little too much football."

They had been trying to address both of those factors.

Because the Crusaders had an All Blacks front five, the scrum contest would be tough again this weekend, whoever they lined out. But working on getting parity at the set-pieces had been a focus for the Hurricanes this week.

Playing Vaea Fifita on the blindside of the scrum allowed them to field the hard-working lock Mark Abbott but that was also unfortunate for flanker Callum Gibbins who had played so well against the Lions and that had been a tough call.

The British & Irish Lions game had been disappointing in the first half but a much better effort in the second half had allowed them to earn a creditable 30-30 draw, he said.

Whether the confidence gained from that revival was enough to help them topple the Crusaders would be seen on Saturday, Boyd said.

"There's a whole different number of cogs to the game and the set-piece battle is certainly one important cog."

Centre Vince Aso said the side realised they needed to be more patient in some areas as a result of their earlier game against the Crusaders. They needed to be more clinical, hold onto the ball and build phases.

Aso said there was a motivation in attempting to avoid a trip to South Africa and playing closer to home in Canberra.

The side had taken confidence from their draw with the Lions and he said it was the highlight of his career so far. It had been played in an 'awesome atmosphere' and Aso said he loved being part of it.

It had been a high tempo game but fun to be in at the same time, he said.

Aso has also taken motivation from his midfield partner Ngani Laumape's elevation to the All Blacks.

"It's made me work harder," he said, adding that Laumape and Jordie Barrett had provided plenty of input to the side since their All Blacks' exposure.

"In the areas they can help they've added a lot to the team this week," he said.