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PREVIEW: Hurricanes v Sunwolves

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Wednesday, April 25, 2018    allblacks.com    Getty Images

Match details: Hurricanes v Sunwolves, 7.35pm Friday 27 April. Westpac Stadium. TICKETS.

FORM
The Hurricanes enjoyed a bye last round but come into this contest in hot form with six straight wins under their belt since their first up loss to the Bulls in Pretoria. The Sunwolves are winless from eight games in 2018 but will have confidence from their performance against the Crusaders last weekend. The Sunwolves trailed the defending champions by just three points at the 50 minute mark until a late blast shut them out of the game. 

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WEST’S WARNING
Although he is not in the match-day 23, first five-eighth Ihaia West has ensured the Hurricanes will not take the Sunwolves lightly. West was a part of the Blues side which was stunned 48-21 by the Sunwolves in Tokyo last year. West told his teammates: "They can really turn it on and they turned it on that day. They've got plenty of points in them. [Second five-eighth] Michael Little is a pretty outstanding player and with Tony Brown and Jamie Joseph there, they can definitely throw anything at you.”

RETURN OF THE SKUD
In welcome news for Hurricanes fans, flying wing Nehe Milner-Skudder will make his return to action following a shoulder injury suffered playing for the All Blacks in October last year. Milner-Skudder will start from the bench with the power-packed pairing of Julian Savea and Ben Lam starting on the wings.
LAST TIME
Exactly 100 points were piled on the last time the Hurricanes clashed with the Sunwolves. In round one of 2017, the Hurricanes stormed to an 83-17 victory in Tokyo. The result still remains the Hurricanes biggest victory in their history.

THE SCOOP

Friday night is set to be a cracker in Wellington with clear conditions and a high of 18 degrees. With a dry track and two teams that love to run, expect to see plenty of points scored. The Sunwolves have improved their defence since their 83-17 defeat to the Hurricanes last year but the home-side should still have too much firepower. The midfield clash between the Sunwolves pairing of Michael Little and Timothy Lafaele against Matt Proctor and Vince Aso will be one to watch closely.

TEAMS
Hurricanes:
Jordie Barrett, Julian Savea, Matt Proctor, Vince Aso, Ben Lam, Beauden Barrett, Finlay Christie, Brad Shields, Ardie Savea, Reed Prinsep, Murray Douglas, Michael Fatialofa, Ben May, Ricky Riccitelli, Toby Smith
Reserves: James O’Reilly, Chris Eves, Jeff Toomaga-Allen, Sam Lousi, Gareth Evans, Jamie Booth, Jackson Garden-Bachop, Nehe Milner- Skudder

Sunwolves: Will Tupou, Hosea Saumaki, Tim Lafaele, Michael Little, Kenki Fukuoka, Hayden Parker, Fumiaki Tanaka, Kazuki Himeno, Pieter Labuschagne, Yoshitaka Tokunaga, Grant Hattingh, James Moore, Takuma Asahara, Shota Horie, Craig Millar
Reserves: Jaba Bregvadze, Shintaro Ishihara, Nikoloz Khatiashvili, Wimple van der Walt, Ed Quirk, Yutaka Nagare, Yu Tamara, Semisi Masirewa