Super Rugby Preview: Hurricanes v Highlanders

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Wednesday, March 6, 2019    Lynn McConnell    Getty Images

Match Details: Hurricanes v Highlanders, Westpac Stadium, Wellington, 7.35pm, March 8, 2019

Played: 31
Won: Hurricanes 17, Highlanders 14
Last time: Hurricanes 14-30 Highlanders, Dunedin, 1 June 2018
Referee: Damon Murphy

The Hurricanes put their 22-38 second round loss to the Crusaders behind them when rebounding to beat the Brumbies 43-13 last week, to build on their 20-19 win over the Waratahs in the first round. After their first two wins, 30-27 over the Chiefs and 36-31 over the Reds, the Highlanders suffered a 19-24 setback to the Rebels in Melbourne last weekend.


Tough calls in selection represent competition for places, something every coach appreciates and that has been the case for the Hurricanes this week. Knowing they face a never-say-die Highlanders side they have opted for close to their best possible side to take on the southerners. Fullback Chase Tiatia made the most of his start last week and should not lack for opportunities if the Highlanders opt to play their usual style of game. Being able to place Jordie Barrett on the wing is also a bonus while in the loose the selection of up and comer Du Plessis' Kirifi to work with Ardie Savea threatens a fascinating contest in the loose with the competitive Highlanders unit.


Knowing they will be facing a significant threat in the mid-field, the Highlanders have taken a bold choice in pairing Thomas Umaga-Jensen and Patelesio Tomkinson in the centres to deal with the Hurricances combination of Ngani Laumape-Matt Proctor. And fielding Richard Buckman on the wing, for his first appearance of the season is another big call, although his experience will be a more than useful asset. The Highlanders will be also tested up front where they face an experienced home front row. However, the contest between relatively inexperienced locking combinations will be of interest at lineout time. The contest between Jackson Hemopo and Vaea Fifita will be another sidelight.


Hurricanes' No.8 Ardie Savea has beaten 15 defenders in Super Rugby this season, two more than any other player in the competition.


The last five Highlanders games have been decided by seven points or fewer, three times for wins, and two times for Highlanders' losses.


Hurricanes: 1.Chris Eves, 2.Dane Coles (captain), 3.Jeff To'omaga-Allen, 4.James Blackwell, 5.Liam Mitchell, 6.Vaea Fifita, 7.Du'Plessis Kirifi, 8.Ardie Savea, 9.TJ Perenara, 10.Beauden Barrett, 11.Ben Lam, 12.Ngani Laumape, 13.Matt Proctor, 14.Jordie Barrett, 15.Chase Tiatia.

Substitutes: 16.Asafo Aumua, 17.Fraser Armstrong, 18.Ben May, 19.Isaia Walker-Leawere, 20.Reed Prinsep, 21.Richard Judd, 22.Jackson Garden-Bachop, 23.Vince Aso.

Highlanders: 1.Ayden Johnstone, 2.Liam Coltman, 3.Tyrel Lomax, 4.Pari Pari Parkinson, 5.Josh Dickson, 6.Jackson Hemopo, 7.James Lentjes, 8.Luke Whitelock (captain), 9.Aaron Smith, 10.Josh Ioane, 11.Tevita Li, 12.Thomas Umaga-Jensen, 13.Patelesio Tomkinson, 14.Richard Buckman, 15.Ben Smith (captain).

Substitutes: 16.Ash Dixon, 17.Daniel Lienert-Brown, 18.Josh Iosefa-Scott, 19.Tom Franklin, 20.Elliot Dixon, 21.Kayne Hammington, 22.Marty Banks, 23.Waisake Naholo.