PREVIEW: Rebels v Hurricanes
Thursday, March 29, 2018 allblacks.com Getty Images
Won: Hurricanes 5, Rebels 1
Last time: Hurricanes 71, Rebels 6
It has been an amazing form reversal for the Rebels after finishing at the bottom of the heap in Super Rugby 2017. After five games, the Rebels have picked up four wins to sit at the top of the overall Super Rugby ladder on 20 points. Last week they were hugely impressive in powering to a 46-14 win over the Sharks in Melbourne. The Hurricanes started the season with a loss to the Bulls but have bounced back strongly with victories over the Jaguares, Crusaders and Highlanders.
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If either team is given space out wide, expect the score to mount quickly. With Julian Savea getting back to his best form and Ben Lam setting the competition alight with his express pace and powerful finishing, the Hurricanes have a wing-combination that will keep any defensive coach up at night. The Rebels are not to be outdone in that department with Marika Koroibete noted as one of the most dangerous finishers in the world game and youngster Jack Maddocks impressing early in 2018. 21-year old Maddocks has been directly involved in seven tries this season (five tries, two assists), more than any other player.
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The Hurricanes have won their last five games against the Rebels, winning by an average of 33 points per game in that time. (Opta).
Don’t expect a repeat of the 71-6 thumping the Rebels endured against the Hurricanes last season. This is completely different unit who are playing with freedom and confidence and deserve their spot at the top of the Australian ladder. The Hurricanes pose a different challenge to the teams they have faced previously this season and the result of this match should give a real marker as to whether the Rebels are a contender in 2018. Expect plenty of running from both sides and watch out for the crucial head-to-head battle between Will Genia and TJ Perenara.
Rebels: Jack Maddocks, Tom English, Reece Hodge, Bill Meakes, Marika Koroibete, Jack Debreczeni, Will Genia, Amanaki Mafi, Angus Cottrell, Lopeti Timani, Adam Coleman, Matt Philip, Jermaine Ainsley, Anaru Rangi, Tetera Faulkner
Reserves: Jordan Uelese, Ben Daley, Sam Talakai, Ross Haylett-Petty, Colby Fainga’a, Richard Hardwick, Michael Ruru, Sefanaia Naivalu
Hurricanes: Jordie Barrett, Juilan Savea, Vince Aso, Ngani Laumape, Ben Lam, Beauden Barrett, TJ Perenara, Gareth Evans, Sam Henwood, Brad Shields, Sam Lousi, Vaea Fifita, Ben May, Ricky Riccitelli, Chris Eves
Reserves: Asafo Aumua, Fraser Armstrong, Jeff Toomaga-Allen, Michael Fatialofa, Reed Prinsep, Jamie Booth, Ihaia West, Wes Goosen
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