Preview: Hurricanes v Crusaders – 15/07/2017

There will be plenty at stake when the Hurricanes take on the Crusaders in what promises to be a thrilling duel in Wellington on Saturday.

This encounter represents the final match of the Super Rugby regular season with the result set to influence the path each team takes during the play-offs.

For the Hurricanes, victory would mean a trip to Canberra to play the Brumbies in the quarter-finals, while a defeat would see the defending champions fly to Cape Town to play the Stormers.

The Crusaders are out to retain their unbeaten record and ensure they finish top of the overall table. The eight-time champions are currently on 63 points from their 14 matches played and are two points ahead of the Lions, who take on the Sharks in Durban later on Saturday.

Victory against the Hurricanes is imperative for the Crusaders as it will give them home advantage throughout the play-offs.

A home quarter-final is already secured, but the result of this weekend’s game will help to determine whether they will host the Sharks or the Highlanders at AMI Stadium in Christchurch next weekend.

With both sides boosted by their returning All Blacks, this should be an entertaining spectacle filled with tries aplenty and healthy dosage of drama.

This will be the first time since 2015 that the Hurricanes have hosted the Crusaders, with the Wellington side winning each of their last three such fixtures.

Victory for the visitors will be a momentous one as it would equal the Super Rugby record for the most wins by a team in a single season (including finals).

In fact, anything more than a loss for the Crusaders would see them become just the third team in Super Rugby history to progress undefeated through the regular season (Blues 1997, Crusaders 2002).

The Hurricanes will be looking to avoid consecutive Super Rugby losses on home turf for the first time since Round 4, 2014 after a 17-14 loss to the Chiefs prior to the international break.

The Crusaders kept the free running Hurricanes tryless when they met in Round 12 this season, the only team to keep the Wellington side from breaching their line in the last three years.

Previous results:

2017: Crusaders won 20-12 in Christchurch
2016: Hurricanes won 35-10 in Christchurch
2015: Crusaders won 35-18 in Christchurch
2015: Hurricanes won 29-23 in Wellington
2014: Hurricanes won 16-9 in Wellington
2014: Hurricanes won 29-26 in Christchurch
2013: Crusaders won 25-17 in Christchurch
2013: Hurricanes won 29-28 in Wellington
2012: Hurricanes won 23-22 in Christchurch

The teams:

Hurricanes: 15 Jordie Barrett, 14 Nehe Milner-Skudder, 13 Vince Aso, 12 Ngani Laumape, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara (c), 8 Brad Shields, 7 Ardie Savea, 6 Vaea Fifita, 5 Sam Lousi, 4 Mark Abbott, 3 Jeff Toomaga-Allen, 2 Ricky Riccitelli, 1 Ben May
Replacements: 16 James O’Reilly, 17 Chris Eves, 18 Loni Uhila, 19 Reed Prinsep, 20 Callum Gibbins, 21 Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, 22 Wes Goosen, 23 Cory Jane

Crusaders: 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Seta Tamanivalu, 13 Jack Goodhue, 12 David Havili, 11 George Bridge, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Bryn Hall, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Matt Todd (c), 6 Jordan Taufua, 5 Scott Barrett, 4 Luke Romano, 3 Michael Alaalatoa, 2 Ben Funnell, 1 Wyatt Crockett
Replacements: 16 Andrew Makalio, 17 Tim Perry, 18 Oliver Jager, 19 Sam Whitelock, 20 Jed Brown, 21 Mitchell Drummond, 22 Mitchell Hunt, 23 Sean Wainui

Date: Saturday, July 15
Venue: Westpac Stadium, Wellington
Kick-off: 19:35 local (07:35 GMT)
Referee: Glen Jackson
Assistant Referees: Brendon Pickerill, Angus Mabey
TMO: Glenn Newman


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