Match Preview: Lions v Hurricanes

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Thursday, June 6, 2019    Getty Images

Match Detail: Lions v Hurricanes, Sunday 9 June 1.05am, Ellis Park Stadium, Johannesburg

Played: 13
Won: Lions 2, Hurricanes 11
Last time: Hurricanes won 28-19h on 5 May 2018
Referee: Jaco Peyper

The back end of the regular season has been up and down for the Lions. They went on the road and lost 31-20a to the Brumbies, before beating the Chiefs 23-17a and losing to the Crusaders 36-10a. Back at home the Lions just defeated the Waratahs 29-28h and they beat the Highlanders 38-29h. In their last two rounds they lost to the Sharks 27-17a and last week they thrashed the Stormers 41-22h. They currently sit in second place in the South African conference and fifth in the overall standings. The Hurricanes have had an impressive run into the playoffs. They won five on the bounce, against the Highlanders, Sunwolves, Chiefs, Rebels and Blues. But they then lost to the Jaguares at Westpac Stadium 28-20h. Last week in South Africa they beat the Sharks 30-17. The Hurricanes are second in the New Zealand conference and one place ahead of the Lions in fourth overall. 

The Lions have an impressive home record this year, having won 10 of their last 12 Super Rugby games at Ellis Park. That includes their last three games. However, the Hurricanes have won their last four away games on the bounce.

The Hurricanes will have to make do without Vaea Fifita for three weeks after the loose forward was suspended for a dangerous tackle. Hurricanes assistant coach Carlos Spencer said before Fifita’s hearing that they were preparing for the worst and that they had had discussions about how to get around his absence. A win against the Lions would secure a home playoff for the Hurricanes. It’s not only Fifita the Hurricanes are missing this weekend. Injury has forced centre Matt Proctor, wing Wes Goosen and lock Kane Le’aupepe to return to New Zealand. Wing Salesi Rayasi, midfielder Danny Toala and lock Liam Mitchell have all joined the team in South Africa as injury replacements. Ardie Savea is having a well deserved break from starting and will come off the bench, while Gareth Evans gets the start after coming off the pine against the Sharks. 
Beauden Barrett and TJ Perenara will bring up a special milestone against the Lions. It will be the 100th time the pair have combined at halfback and first five-eighth for the Hurricanes, dating back to their first match together back in 2012. They have both played 123 times for the Hurricanes. 

Hurricanes flanker Ardie Savea won a round-high six turnovers last weekend to take his season tally to 22, the most of any player so far in Super Rugby this year. 

FAST FACT (Opta Sports)
The Hurricanes have won nine of their last 10 matches against the Lions. Their only loss coming in the 2017 Super Rugby semifinal. 

Lions: 15 Andrias Coetzee, 14 Courtnall Skosan, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Harold Vorster, 11 Aphiwe Dyantyi, 10 Shaun Reynolds, 9 Ross Cronje, 8 Kwagga Smith, 7 Vincent Tshituka, 6 Cyle Brink, 5 Marvin Oire, 4 Stephen Lewies, 3 Carlu Sadie, 2 Malcolm Marx (C), 1 Dylan Smith. Reserves: 16 Jan-Henning Campher, 17 Nathan McBeth, 18 Johannes Jonker, 19 Reinhard Nothnagel, 20 Marnus Schoeman, 21 Nic Groom, 22 Elton Jantjies, 23 Tyrone Green

Hurricanes: 15 James Marshall, 14 Ben Lam, 13 Jordie Barrett, 12 Ngani Laumape, 11 Chase Tiatia, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara (C), 8 Gareth Evans, 7 Du’Plessis Kirifi, 6 Reed Prinsep, 5 Isaia Walker-Leawere, 4 James Blackwell, 3 Jeff To’omaga-Allen, 2 Ricky Riccitelli, 1 Toby Smith. Reserves: 16 Dane Coles, 17 Fraser Armstrong, 18 Ross Geldenhuys, 19 Liam Mitchell, 20 Ardie Savea, 21 Richard Judd, 22 Peter Umaga-Jensen, 23 Salesi Rayasi