PREVIEW: Hurricanes v Reds

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Wednesday, May 16, 2018    Lynn McConnell    Getty Images

Match details:
Hurricanes v Reds, Westpac Stadium, Friday, 7.35pm. TICKETS

Played: 21
Won: Hurricanes 15, Reds 6
Last time: Reds 15-34 Hurricanes, Brisbane, April 1, 2017

Since their first round loss to the Bulls (19-21), the Hurricanes have been unbeaten with wins over the Jaguares (34-9), the Crusaders (29-19), the Highlanders (29-12), the Rebels (50-19), the Sharks (38-37), the Chiefs (25-13), the Sunwolves (43-15), the Lions 28-19) and the Blues (36-15). The Reds lost their first game, against the Rebels (19-45) but then had three wins, over the Brumbies (18-10), the Bulls (20-14), the Jaguares (18-7) but then suffered losses to the Stormers (19-25), the Brumbies (21-45), the Waratahs (16-37), the Chiefs (12-36) and the Sunwolves (28-63) while beating the Lions (27-22).
Halfback TJ Perenara will have his first start in a month after a knee injury. He will also lead the side with Brad Shields having a break on the bench. Blade Thomson will have his first start of the year, at No.8, with Reed Prinsep and Ardie Savea on the flanks. Michael Fatialofa will lock the scrum in place of Vaea Fifita who suffered a head knock against the Blues last weekend but who has recovered enough to be on the bench. Peter Umaga-Jensen will start at second five-eighths with Ngani Laumape getting a break. With Jordie Barrett's return at fullback, Nehe Milner-Skudder has moved to the right wing in place of Julian Savea. Three changes have been made to the Reds side which lost to the Sunwolves last weekend. Test player Scott Higginbotham returns at No.8 with Angus Scott-Young moving to blindside flanker. JP Smith will start at loosehead prop with James Slipper not considered. Second five-eighths Duncan Paia'aua will start after Chris Feauai-Sautia suffered concussion against the Sunwolves. Samu Kerevi has moved out a spot to centre.
Coach Brad Thorn is in no doubt about the task facing his side at Westpac Stadium. He said, "It was an incredibly disappointing result on the weekend [Sunwolves] but we need to move on from that poor performance. We're up against one of the better teams in the competition. It will be a challenge. The key thing for everyone this week is working hard and making the most of the opportunity presented to us. We knew there would be some tough lessons to learn this season, but we need to learn quickly and this Friday presents an opportunity to act on the disappointment from last weekend," he said.

Don't under-estimate the set-piece ability of the Reds. They toppled the Lions with one of the better packs in the competition. On the statistics front the Reds have a scrum success rate of 89 percent, one better than the Hurricanes, and they are ahead 97-96 on the ruck success rate while their lineout is only two points behind the Hurricanes on 87-89 percent.

The Hurricanes have nine wins on the trot at home against the Reds and have won 13 of their last 15 games against the Queenslanders. (Opta).

1.Toby Smith, 2.Ricky Riccitelli, 3.Jeff Toomaga-Allen, 4.Michael Fatialofa, 5.Sam Lousi, 6.Reed Prinsep, 7.Ardie Savea, 8.Blade Thomson, 9.TJ Perenara (captain), 10.Beauden Barrett, 11.Ben Lam, 12.Peter Umaga-Jensen, 13.Matt Proctor, 14.Nehe Milner-Skudder, 15.Jordie Barrett.

Substitutes: 16.James O'Reilly, 17.Chris Eves, 18.Ben May, 19.Vaea Fifita, 20.Brad Shields, 21.Jamie Booth, 22.Jackson Garden-Bachop, 23.Julian Savea.

Reds: 1.JP Smith, 2.Brandon Paenga-Amosa, 3.Taniela Tupou, 4.Izack Rodda, 5.Kane Douglas, 6.Angus Scott-Young, 7.George Smith, 8.Scott Higginbotham, 9.Ben Lucas, 10.Jono Lance, 11.Jordan Petaia, 12.Duncan Paia'aua, 13.Samu Kerevi, 14.Filipo Daugunu, 15.Hamish Stewart.

Substitutes: 16.Andrew Ready, 17.Sef Fa'agase, 18.Ruan Smith, 19.Harry Hockings, 20.Liam Wright, 21.Moses Sorovi, 22.Izaia Perese, 23.Aidan Toua.