Super Rugby Preview: Sunwolves v Hurricanes
Thursday, April 18, 2019 allblacks.com Getty Images
Won: Hurricanes 2
Last time: Hurricanes 43, Sunwolves 15 (27 April 2018)
Referee: Angus Gardner
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The Sunwolves may sit at the bottom of the Australian ladder but they have shown their danger in 2019 with victories away from home against the Waratahs and Chiefs. Interestingly their form at home hasn’t been as strong with four losses and they will be out to avoid five straight home losses for the first time since 2017. The Hurricanes are second on the NZ Conference and are coming off a nail-biting 31-28 win over the Highlanders before enjoying a bye week in round nine.
The Hurricanes will be without Ardie Savea and the Barrett brothers, Beauden and Jordie, who are all serving their final All Blacks rest week period. Impressive youngster Du’Plessis Kirifi pulls on the seven jersey he so admirably filled in the opening rounds of the tournament while Fletcher Smith takes the pivot role and Matt Proctor returns to centre. The other talking point in the Hurricanes line-up is the return of experienced utility James Marshall to the bench after injuring his shoulder in round one and inclusion of youngster Billy Proctor as outside back cover.
"They always teach you to play it safe...but you don't always have to listen"#RaiseTheStakes pic.twitter.com/Fjm46o3CSg— Super Rugby (@SuperRugbyNZ) April 17, 2019EX-HIGHLANDERS SQUARE OFF
One of the most crucial head-to-head battles will happen at first five-eighth where former Highlanders Fletcher Smith and Hayden Parker clash. Parker has turned heads this season with his astute game-management and dead-eye goal-kicking for the Sunwolves. Fletcher Smith ran hot and cold early in the season and will be eager to put on a commanding performance in place of Beauden Barrett. With two sets of expansive backlines, expect both Parker and Fletcher to spin the ball wide whenever possible and find chinks in the defence with cross kicks or stabs through the line.
FAST FACT (Opta)
The Hurricanes have an aggregate score of 126-32 over the Sunwolves in the two games played between the sides.
Sunwolves: Ryohei Yamanaka, Gerhard van den Heever, Josh Timu, Rahboni Warren-Vosayaco, Semisi Masirewa, Hayden Parker, Jamie Booth, Hendrik Tui, Dan Pryor, Ben Gunter, Luke Thompson, Mark Abbott, Hiroshi Yamashita, Nathan Vella, Pauliasi Manu
Reserves: Atsushi Sakate, Masataka Mikami, Takuma Asahara, Tom Rowe, Shuhei Matsuhashi, Fumiaki Tanaka, Jason Emery, Jamie Henry
Hurricanes: Chase Tiatia, Wes Goosen, Matt Proctor, Ngani Laumape, Ben Lam, Fletcher Smith, TJ Perenara (c), Reed Prinsep, Du'Plessis Kirifi, Vaea Fifita, Liam Mitchell, James Blackwell, Ben May, Ricky Riccitelli, Fraser Armstrong.
Reserves: Asafo Aumua, Xavier Numia, Jeff To'omaga-Allen, Isaia Walker-Leawere, Sam Henwood, Richard Judd, James Marshall, Billy Proctor
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