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PREVIEW: Hurricanes v Brumbies

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Wednesday, February 27, 2019    allblacks.com    Getty Images


Match details:
Hurricanes v Brumbies, CET Stadium, Palmerston North, 7.35pm, Friday 1 March. TICKETS.

Played: 25
Won: Hurricanes 11, Brumbies 14
Last time: Brumbies 24, Hurricanes 12 (30 June 2018)
Referee: Nick Briant

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FORM
The form of these two teams couldn’t have been much more contrasting last week. The Brumbies were sensational in putting the Chiefs to the sword 54-17 in Canberra. The Hurricanes rallied late against the Crusaders but were still soundly beaten 38-22 by the defending champions. The Brumbies are the early front-runners in the Australian conference while the Hurricanes sit at third in the NZ conference.

ALL BLACKS BACK

The Hurricanes starting line-up has a formidable look to it with Beauden Barrett, Ardie Savea, TJ Perenara, Ngani Laumape and Vaea Fifita all coming into the run-on side. For Barrett and Fifita it will be their first appearance of the season while Savea returns from a week off. Both Laumape and Perenara came off the bench last week and were instrumental in the Hurricanes late rally against the Crusaders.
BACK TO THE FUTURE
Great scott, the Hurricanes go back to where it all began on Friday. The clash with the Brumbies marks 23-years to the day since the Hurricanes played their first Super Rugby game against the Blues at the same ground. On that day, the Hurricanes came up short 36-28 to the eventual champions but did score the first try in competition history with Alama Ieremia crossing

PIVOTAL CLASH

One of the most anticipated head-to-head battles on the field will be between playmakers Beauden Barrett and Christian Lealiifano. While Barrett’s influence over the Hurricanes is well-known, Lealiifano has shown over the opening two rounds that he is getting back near his best. After overcoming serious illness in 2017, Lealiifano has slotted straight back into the playmakers role for the Brumbies and was at his best against the Chiefs last week.
FAST FACT (Opta)
The Hurricanes have won 22 of their last 23 home games, with the last loss at home coming against the Chiefs in June 2017.

THE SCOOP

When looking at the numbers, it is easy to write off the Brumbies hopes in New Zealand. Australian sides have only won one of the last 38 games played in New Zealand. But after just two rounds there is a strong feeling that the Australian conference has improved starkly in 2019. The Brumbies may have completely outplayed the Chiefs at home last week, but an All Blacks-stacked Hurricanes side at home presents a wholly different challenge. The Hurricanes should have enough attacking threats to see off the Brumbies in front of a full house in Palmerston North, but it won’t come easy.

TEAMS
Hurricanes:

15: Chase Tiatia 14: Vince Aso 13: Matt Proctor 12: Ngani Laumape 11: Ben Lam 10: Beauden Barrett 9: TJ Perenara 8: Ardie Savea 7: Du'Plessis Kirifi 6: Vaea Fifita 5: Liam Mitchell 4: James Blackwell 3: Ben May 2: Dane Coles (c) 1: Chris Eves.
Reserves: Ricky Riccitelli, Xavier Numia, Jeff To'omaga-Allen, Isaia Walker-Leawere, Reed Prinsep, Richard Judd, Jackson Garden-Bachop, Wes Goosen

Brumbies:
15: Thomas Banks 14: Andy Muirhead 13: Tevita Kuridrani 12: Irae Simone 11: Chance Peni 10: Christian Lealiifano 9: Joe Powell 8: Lachlan McCaffrey 7: David Pocock 6: Peter Samu 5: Blake Enever 4: Rory Arnold 3: Allan Alaalatoa 2: Folau Fainga'a 1: Scott Sio
Reserves: Josh Mann-Rea, James Slipper, Les Makin, Darcy Swain, Thomas Cusack, Matt Lucas, Wharenui Hawera, Tom Wright