PREVIEW: Hurricanes v Sharks
Wednesday, April 4, 2018 allblacks.com Getty Images
Won: Hurricanes 9, Sharks 6
Both teams come into this clash on the back of impressive victories last weekend. The Hurricanes encounter with the table-topping Rebels in Melbourne was a mismatch with the Chris Boyd-coached side storming to a 50-19 victory. The Sharks were equally impressive against the Blues. Led by a virtuoso 38 point performance from first five-eighth Robert du Preez, the Sharks thumped the home-side 63-40 at Eden Park.
QUICK TAP: DEFENCE VITAL FOR SHARKS HOPES IN NAPIER
WHAM BAM THANK YOU BEN LAM
The Hurricanes just seem to keep pumping out world class outside backs and Ben Lam has announced himself in that category in 2018. The 105kg powerhouse left wing is the top try-scorer in Super Rugby this year with eight tries – six of which have come in the last two rounds. While hard to stop close to the line, Lam has also left defenders in his wake through pure pace and is sure to cause the Sharks plenty of problems on Friday night.
Sharks first five eighth Robert du Preez has been in stellar form in 2018 and will need to be watched closely by the Hurricanes. The 24-year-old playmaker is the leading points scorer in Super Rugby with 83 points and is landing an incredible 88 percent of his attempts at goal. While he will be sure to punish the Hurricanes from the tee, du Preez is also an astute tactician and slick distributor and will be looking forward to squaring off with Beauden Barrett in the ten jersey.
The Hurricanes are looking for back-to-back wins against the Sharks for the first time since 2005/06.
It may have been a walk over at Eden Park against the Blues, but the Sharks will find things much tougher in Napier. The Hurricanes are the form team of the competition and will be looking for a maximum five points to stay at the top of the NZ conference. The deadly boot of Robert du Preez will ensure the Sharks capitalise on any Hurricanes indiscretions in their own half, but it won’t be enough to match a Hurricanes side that has averaged almost five tries per game in 2018.
Hurricanes: Jordie Barrett, Julian Savea, Vince Aso, Ngani Laumape, Ben Lam, Beauden Barrett, TJ Perenara, Gareth Evans, Sam Henwood, Brad Shield (C), Sam Lousi, Michael Fatialofa, Jeff Toomaga-Allen, Ricky Riccitelli, Chris Eves
Reserves: Asafo Aumua, Fraser Armstrong, Ben May, Vaea Fifita, Reed Prinsep, Jamie Booth, Ihaia West, Wes Goosen
Sharks: Curwin Bosch, Sibusiso Nkosi, Lukhanyo Am, Andre Esterhuizen, Lwazi Mvovo, Robert du Preez, Louis Schreuder, Lubablo Mtembu, Jean-Luc du Preez, Phillip Van Der Walt, Stephan Lewies, Ruan Botha, Thomas du Toit, Chilliboy Ralapelle, Tendai Mtawarira
Reserves: Franco Marais, Juan Schoeman, John-Hubert Meyer, Hyron Andrews, Tyler Paul, Cameron Wright, Marius Louw, Jacobus Van Wyk
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Tickets | https://t.co/w9YtUUaUTj pic.twitter.com/zmDVxJJoUb— Hurricanes Rugby (@Hurricanesrugby) April 4, 2018
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