PREVIEW: Hurricanes v Chiefs

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Wednesday, July 18, 2018    Lynn McConnell    Getty Images

Match details: Hurricanes v Chiefs, Westpac Stadium, Wellington, July 20, 2018, 7.35pm. TICKETS.

Played: 32
Won: Hurricanes 16, Chiefs 15, Drawn 1
Last time: Hurricanes 24-28 Chiefs, Hamilton, July 13, 2018

After a 19-21 loss to the Bulls in Pretoria in the opening game of the competition, the Hurricanes put 10 wins together, but in their last five games of the year, they have lost four. Only a 42-24 win over the Blues has provided some light for them. Their losses were 13-24a to the Crusaders, 14-30a to the Highlanders, 12-24a to the Brumbies and 24-28a to the Chiefs. There has been a wider spread to the Chiefs' five losses. They, too, lost their first game of the year, to the Crusaders, 23-45 and they lost to the Hurricanes in their first game, 13-25, in Wellington. They also lost to the Jaguares 19-23h, the Sharks 24-28a and the Crusaders 20-34h. They have won their last three games, against the Highlanders 45-22a, the Brumbies 24-19h and the Hurricanes 28-24h.

Prop Jeffrey Toomaga-Allen becomes the 15th Hurricanes Super Rugby centurion in the game. Captain Brad Shields who attained that status earlier in the season has been bracketed with Reed Prinsep for the game as he attempts to recover from a rib injury while Gareth Evans will start on the openside flank with Ardie Savea ruled out. In the backline, Nehe Milner-Skudder will be at fullback with Jordie Barrett at centre meaning Julian Savea will be on the right wing. Wes Goosen has also been bracketed in the reserves with Jonah Lowe pending concussion protocols. Also on the bench will be Vaea Fifita who is making his way back from injury.
Back in the pack for the Chiefs are All Blacks, prop Karl Tu'inukuafe, hooker Nathan Harris and flanker Sam Cane. Damian McKenzie is back at first five-eighths after his week off while Charlie Ngatai will start at second five-eighths with Sean Wainui playing on the right wing. Coach Colin Cooper was pleased with the consistency across the side selected for the game. "Damian coming back brings a lot of X factor into our game. We're excited to see the combinations Damian, Charlie and Anton will bring as well as the leadership Sam Cane displays every time he takes the field. The Hurricanes are going to bring a lot of intelligent skills to the contest. I expect them to use a lot of variety and they have a very good backline so there'll be lots of threats around the park," Cooper said.

The two protagonists have conceded the fewest line breaks per game of all Super Rugby teams in 2018. The Chiefs average 9.1 a game and the Hurricanes 9.4. (Opta)

The Chiefs go to Westpac Stadium having won four of their last six games against the Hurricanes, including their 28-24 win in Hamilton last week.


Hurricanes: 1.Toby Smith, 2.Ricky Riccitelli, 3.Jeff Toomaga-Allen, 4.Michael Fatialofa, 5.Sam Lousi, 6.Brad Shields (captain)/Reed Prinsep, 7.Gareth Evans, 8.Blade Thomson, 9.TJ Perenara, 10.Beauden Barrett, 11.Ben Lam, 12.Ngani Laumape, 13.Jordie Barrett, 14.Julian Savea, 15.Nehe Milner-Skudder.

Substitutes: 16.James O'Reilly, 17.Chris Eves, 18.Ben May, 19.Vaea Fifita, 20.Prinsep/Sam Henwood, 21.Jamie Booth, 22.Ihaia West, 23.Wes Goosen/Jonah Lowe.

Chiefs: 1.Karl Tu'inukuafe, 2.Nathan Harris, 3.Angus Ta'avao, 4.Brodie Retallick, 5.Michael Allardice, 6.Lachlan Boshier, 7.Sam Cane, 8.Liam Messam, 9.Brad Weber, 10.Damian McKenzie, 11.Shaun Stevenson, 12.Charlie Ngatai, 13.Anton Lienert-Brown, 14.Sean Wainui, 15.Solomon Alaimalo.

Substitutes: 16.Liam Polwart, 17.Sam Prattley, 18.Jeff Thwaites, 19.Jesse Parete, 20.Mitch Karpik, 21.Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, 22.Marty McKenzie, 23.Alex Nankivell.