Super Rugby Preview: Blues v Hurricanes
Wednesday, May 8, 2019 Lynn McConnell Getty Images
Won: Blues 14, Hurricanes 15, Drawn 1
Last time: Blues 24-42 Hurricanes, Westpac Stadium, Wellington, July 7, 2018
Referee: Nick Briant
After a mid-season block of four consecutive wins at home, against the Sunwolves 28-20, the Highlanders 33-26, the Stormers 24-9 and the Waratahs 32-29, the Blues have suffered three losses away to the Chiefs 29-33, the Highlanders 12-24 and the Brumbies 21-26. They followed three losses at the start of the season to the Crusaders 22-24, the Sharks 7-26a and the Jaguares 19-23a. The Hurricanes are on a four-game winning streak after wins over the Highlanders 31-28a, the Sunwolves 29-23a, the Chiefs 47-19 and the Rebels 29-19. That follows earlier wins against the Waratahs 20-19a, the Brumbies 43-13a, the Highlanders 25-22 and the Stormers 34-28. They had two losses, both to the Crusaders 22-38 and 8-32a and a 23-23 draw with the Chiefs away.
All the statistics point to an open game from the two sides, the Blues best in the competition for carries and the Hurricanes third, while the Hurricanes lead the competition in metres made while the Blues are third. And in defenders beaten the Hurricanes are second and the Blues third. While the Hurricanes rank second in tries per game at 3.8, the Blues are back in 11th on 2.8, however the Blues are ranked second for fewest missed tackles while the Hurricanes are seventh. The Blues also have the best scrum and ruck success in the competition while the Hurricanes are ranked fifth and ninth respectively in those two disciplines.
RETURN TO STRENGTH
The absence of halfback Richard Judd, who sustained a shoulder injury against the Rebels, and lock Liam Mitchell, who suffered a hand injury, are the only injury enforced changes. While the return of wing Ben Lam, for Chase Tiatia, and Toby Smith at loosehead prop for Fraser Armstrong are the only other changes in the side. Lock Isaia Walker-Leawere has retained his starting role. Coach John Plumtree said: "We know they are a really physical side who will be desperate to get a result and get back into a play-off spot. They have only lost once at Eden Park this year and that was a close defeat to the Crusaders so we know how difficult it is going to be. But it's a challenge we are looking forward to and we really want to get our game going to carry on the momentum we have built up."
?? PIRI"S PICKS | @piriweepu only managed to pick three out of the seven matches last week, find out who Piri and @jptocker are tipping in week 1?3? of #SuperRugby! #RaiseTheStakes pic.twitter.com/MAhzF3fVEg— Super Rugby (@SuperRugbyNZ) May 8, 2019
Blues wing Rieko Ioane has made 22 clean breaks this Super Rugby season, more than any other player while the Blues have won five of their last six games at Eden Park.
The Hurricanes have won their last seven games against the Blues and have conceded only four tries in the final quarter of games this year, the joint-fewest of any side.
Blues: 1.Karl Tu'inukuafe, 2.James Parsons, 3.Ofa Tuungafasi, 4.Patrick Tuipulotu, 5.Josh Goodhue, 6.Dalton Papalii, 7.Blake Gibson (captain), 8.Akira Ioane, 9.Sam Nock, 10.Harry Plummer, 11.Rieko Ioane, 12.Ma'a Nonu, 13.TJ Faiane, 14.Tanielu Tele'a, 15.Melani Nanai.
Substitutes: 16.Leni Apisai, 17.Ezekiel Lindenmuth, 18.Marcel Renata, 19.Scott Scrafton, 20.Jed Brown, 21.Augustine Pulu, 22.Otere Black, 23.Matt Duffie.
Hurricanes: 1.Toby Smith, 2.Asafo Aumua, 3.Jeff To'omaga-Allen, 4.James Blackwell, 5.Isaia Walker-Leawere, 6.Vaea Fifita, 7.Ardie Savea, 8.Reed Prinsep, 9.TJ Perenara (captain), 10.Beauden Barrett, 11.Ben Lam, 12.Ngani Laumape, 13.Matt Proctor, 14.Wes Goosen, 15.Jordie Barrett.
Substitutes: 16.Ricky Riccitelli, 17.Fraser Armstrong, 18.Ross Geldenhuys, 19.Kane La'aupepe, 20.Du'Plessis Kirifi, 21.Finlay Christie, 22.James Marshall, 23.Chase Tiatia.
Clear your weekend schedule...Super Rugby is on.
?? Watch all the action live on @skysportnz.
?? Or download the @AllBlacks app for live updates! pic.twitter.com/MdaFJEaaod— Super Rugby (@SuperRugbyNZ) May 7, 2019
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