Super Rugby Preview: Hurricanes v Stormers

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Thursday, March 21, 2019    Lynn McConnell    Getty Images

Match Details: Hurricanes v Stormers, 7.35pm, March 23, Westpac Stadium, Wellington

Played: 19
Won: Hurricanes 8, Stormers 11
Last time: Hurricanes 41-22 Stormers, May 5, 2017, Westpac Stadium, Wellington
Referee: Glen Jackson

Both sides have three wins going into the game, although the Hurricanes have played an extra game and have also had a draw. They won their opener against the Waratahs 20-19 in Sydney but lost their next against the Crusaders 22-38. They then won their two home games, against the Brumbies 43-13 and the Highlanders 25-22 before drawing with the Chiefs 23-23 last weekend. The Stormers lost their opener to the Bulls 3-40 but have since recovered to beat the Lions 19-17, the Sharks 16-11 and the Jaguares 35-8.
As always the difference in approach between New Zealand and South African sides will be put to the test in Wellington. The Hurricanes have scored 3.4 tries per game compared to 1.5 for the Stormers. The home team are second in the competition in carries and metres made at 121.4 and 471.0 respectively while the Stormers 105.5 and 269, and last in the latter category. Most significantly for the Stormers' defence, the Hurricanes lead the competition in defenders beaten at 30.0 compared to 17.5 where the Stormers are 12th overall. The Stormers kick more than the home side at 25.3 to 18.8, but the Hurricanes are guilty of conceding more turnovers 17.0-15.5. While the Hurricanes scrum has been under pressure through the early rounds they have still managed a 95 percent success rate compared to 86 for the Stormers.


Coach Robbie Fleck confirmed that lock Eben Etzebeth, while named to start, still has to complete his HIA protocols. "He has been looking good and passing all the stages until today. But today he did not get past stage five. We are going to give him the best possible chance," he said on Thursday. Otherwise the Stormers made three changes to their side for the game. Bongi Mbonambi returns at hooker with Chris van Zyl back at lock. Ruhan Nel is at centre with Dan du Plessis to come off the bench. Coach Robbie Fleck said the side will be looking to make a positive start to the tour. "Our first week in New Zealand has been a good one and we are hoping to build on the momentum we have created. We know this will be a big challenge on the road, but it is one we are excited about as a group," he said.
The Hurricanes have won 24 of their last 25 Super Rugby games on home soil, including the last 12 consecutively. The last time they lost at home to a South African side was in April 2013, against the Stormers.

The Stormers have the best tackle success rate of any team in the competition and they will need it when the likes of Hurricanes wing Wes Goosen leads the way with the high average gain of carries at 11.5m.

1.Fraser Armstrong, 2.Ricky Riccitelli, 3.Ben May, 4.James Blackwell, 5.Liam Mitchell, 6.Vaea Fifita, 7.Ardie Savea, 8.Reed Prinsep, 9.Richard Judd, 10.Beauden Barrett (captain), 11.Ben Lam, 12.Jordie Barrett, 13.Matt Proctor, 14.Wes Goosen, 15.Chase Tiatia.

Substitutes: 16.James O'Reilly, 17.Xavier Numia, 18.Jeff To'omaga-Allen, 19.Isaia Walker-Leawere, 20.Sam Henwood, 21.Finlay Christie, 22.Fletcher Smith, 23.Danny Toala.

Stormers: 1.Steven Kitshoff, 2.Bongi Mbonambi, 3.Frans Malherbe, 4.Eben Etzebeth, 5.Chris van Zyl, 6.Siya Kolisi (captain), 7.Pieter-Steph du Toit, 8.Juarno Augustus, 9.Herschel Jantjies, 10.Jean-Luc du Plessis 11.SP Marais, 12.Damian de Allende, 13.Ruhan Nel, 14.Sergeal Petersen, 15.Dillyn Leyds.

Substitutes: 16.Scarra Ntubeni, 17.Corne Fourie, 18.Wilco Louw, 19.JD Schickerling, 20.Jaco Coetzee, 21.Justin Phillips, 22.Dan du Plessis, 23.Damian Willemse.