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PREVIEW: Crusaders v Hurricanes

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Thursday, May 24, 2018    Andy Burt    Getty Images


Match details:
Crusaders v Hurricanes, 7.35pm Friday 25 May, AMI Stadium, Christchurch. TICKETS.

Played: 33
Won: Crusaders 18, Hurricanes 12, Drawn 3
Last time: Hurricanes 29, Crusaders 19 (10 March 2018)

FORM
Both teams are riding the crest of great form with the Crusaders racking up eight straight victories and the Hurricanes 10 consecutive wins. Both teams are coming off tight wins with the Crusaders edging the Blues 32-24 in a bruising encounter last week while the Hurricanes were pushed to the brink against the Reds in a thrilling 38-34 victory. This is set to be a high-scoring encounter with the Crusaders averaging 31.8 points per match and the Hurricanes 33.5 points per match. 



TIGHT FIVE TROUBLE
Despite missing All Blacks Joe Moody, Owen Franks and Tim Perry through injury and suspension, the Crusaders still manage to field a formidable front row in Wyatt Crockett, Codie Taylor and Michael Alaalatoa. A reshuffle is also required in the second row with Captain Sam Whitelock unavailable with concussion symptoms. Youngster Quinten Strange will partner Scott Barrett in the second row while Luke Romano returns to the bench in a timely boost for the side. Too add further trouble to the Crusaders forward pack, Jordan Taufua has been ruled out and will be replaced by Pete Samu in the starting side.

A BARRETT SANDWICH

Ngani Laumape will find himself in the middle of a Barrett family sandwich as Jordie Barrett moves to centre in place of the injured Matt Proctor. It just will be Jordie’s second time in the thirteen jersey for the Hurricanes but Coach Chris Boyd has no doubt in his ability and was quick to point out that he has trained there all season. In the back three, Nehe Milner-Skudder moves from wing to fullback with Julian Savea being elevated from the bench onto the right wing. An interesting match-up awaits at first five-eighth with Beauden Barrett facing Richie Mo’unga in a real ‘master v apprentice’ battle.
FAST FACT
The Hurricanes have won their last 10 straight games. An eleventh straight victory will be the longest winning streak in Hurricanes history.

THE SCOOP
It doesn’t get any bigger than this in the regular season. The defending champions against the undisputed form team of the competition. The stakes are high too with the winner moving to a comfortable lead at the top of the NZ Conference. The Hurricanes recent form against the Crusaders is strong with eight wins from their last 11 games. The Crusaders are battling with injury but will be buoyed by a bumper home crowd. This one is too tight to call for this scribe. Strap yourself in for another exciting chapter in one of the most enduring rivalries in Super Rugby.

TEAMS
Crusaders:
David Havili, Seta Tamanivalu, Jack Goodhue, Tim Bateman, George Bridge, Richie Mo'unga, Bryn Hall, Pete Samu, Matt Todd (captain), Heiden Bedwell-Curtis, Quinten Strange, Scott Barrett, Mike Alaalatoa, Codie Taylor, Wyatt Crockett. Reserves: Andrew Makalio, Chris King, Donald Brighouse, Luke Romano, Ethan Blackadder, Mitchell Drummond, Mitchell Hunt, Braydon Ennor.

Hurricanes: Nehe Milner-Skudder, Julian Savea, Jordie Barrett, Ngani Laumape, Ben Lam, Beauden Barrett, TJ Perenara, Blade Thomson, Ardie Savea, Brad Shields (c), Sam Lousi, Michael Fatialofa, Jeff Toomaga-Allen, Ricky Riccitelli, Toby Smith
Reserves: James O'Reilly, Chris Eves, Ben May, Murray Douglas, Reed Prinsep, Finlay Christie, Ihaia West, Jonah Lowe