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SR18 Preview: Hurricanes v Sharks {6-4-18}

The Hurricanes will be determined to build on their impressive start to the tournament when they host the Sharks in Napier on Friday.

Both these sides will be brimming with confidence after notching impressive away victories last weekend.

The Hurricanes underlined their status as one of the favourites to win the competition when they claimed a superb 50-19 victory over the Rebels in Melbourne while the Sharks did well to beat the Blues 63-40 in Auckland.

The men from Wellington, who were crowned Super Rugby champions in 2016, have won three of their last five games against the Sharks, and will be looking for back-to-back wins against them for the first time since 2005/06.

In each of the most recent six games between these teams, the home side have been victorious on the day.

The Sharks may have won last weekend but they haven’t been consistent this season. From their six matches played so far this year, they have won two lost three and drawn one and are the only side to make fewer than 100 carries per match this season (97).

Defence and discipline will be the focus points for the Sharks team as they prepare to take on the high-riding Hurricanes on Friday in the last tour match of the Super Rugby competition.

Sharks head coach Robert du Preez, speaking about preparations for the match, has identified the defence and discipline as important factors for his team if they want to win this encounter.

“We know this week will be tougher than last week, the Hurricanes are the number one team in New Zealand in my opinion,” he said.

After their 50-point win over the Rebels, Du Preez is wary of the Hurricanes and warned that big scores are possible if a team’s discipline and defence fall apart.

“It just shows that if you have a little bit of an off day, you can catch 50 points,” he added.

“It happened to us against the Rebels and the Blues against us on Saturday.

“This means that our defence is going to have to be out the top drawer. We’ve given away too many soft tries and Saturday showed what a massive effect a yellow card can have on a team, so a massive focus for us will be on a discipline.

“In saying that, we only gave away six penalties, but the card was costly because we gave away three tries in the period. You just can’t lose a player against the New Zealand teams.

“Defence will win us this game.”

Team news: Hurricanes head coach Chris Boyd has made two alterations to his starting line-up for this clash. Both changes come in the forwards with Michael Fatialofa coming into the second-row where he replaces Vaea Fifita while Jeffery Toomaga-Allen takes over from Ben May at tighthead prop.

Fatialofa and Toomaga-Allen both came off the bench in the Hurricanes’ 50-19 win over the Rebels in Melbourne last week and May and Fifita will simply make a swap for them, giving the Hurricanes the same matchday 23 as the last round.

Openside flanker Sam Henwood, who impressed in his Hurricanes debut against the Rebels, will line up for a second match running as Ardie Savea continues to recover from a rib injury.

Matt Proctor also continues to make good progress from a similar injury Savea suffered against the Highlanders.

Meanwhile, Sharks boss Robert du Preez has named an unchanged starting line-up for this fixture. Ruan Botha captains the side again from the second-row where he packs down alongside Stephan Lewies while Tendai Mtawarira and Thomas du Toit are the starting props and Chiliboy Ralepelle lines up at hooker.

Jean-Luc du Preez and Philip van der Walt start on the flanks and Tera Mtembu continues at number eight. In the backline, Louis Schreuder and Robert du Preez continue as the half-back pairing and Andre Esterhuizen and Lukhanyo Am are the two centres.

In the back three, Curwin Bosch starts at full-back again while Lwazi Mvovo and Sbu Nkosi are the two wings.

Previous results:

2016: Hurricanes won 41-00 in Wellington (quarter-final)
2016: Sharks won 32-15 in Durban
2015: Hurricanes won 32-24 in Wellington
2014: Sharks won 27-09 in Durban
2012: Hurricanes won 42-18 in Wellington
2011: Sharks won 40-24 in Durban
2010: Sharks won 29-26 in Wellington
2009: Sharks won 33-17 in Durban
2008: The teams drew 13-13 in Wellington

The teams:

Hurricanes: 15 Jordie Barrett, 14 Julian Savea, 13 Vince Aso, 12 Ngani Laumape, 11 Ben Lam, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Gareth Evans, 7 Sam Henwood, 6 Brad Shields (c), 5 Sam Lousi, 4 Michael Fatialofa, 3 Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, 2 Ricky Riccitelli, 1 Chris Eves
Replacements: 16 Asafo Aumua, 17 Fraser Armstrong, 18 Ben May, 19 Vaea Fifita, 20 Reed Prinsep, 21 Jamie Booth, 22 Ihaia West, 23 Wes Goosen

Sharks: 15 Curwin Bosch, 14 Sbu Nkosi, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Robert du Preez, 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Tera Mtembu, 7 Jean-Luc du Preez, 6 Philip van der Walt, 5 Stephan Lewies, 4 Ruan Botha (c), 3 Thomas du Toit, 2 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 1 Tendai Mtawarira
Replacements: 16 Franco Marais, 17 Juan Schoeman, 18 John-Hubert Meyer, 19 Hyron Andrews, 20 Tyler Paul, 21 Cameron Wright, 22 Marius Louw, 23 Kobus van Wyk

Date: Friday, April 6
Venue: McLean Park, Napier
Kick-off: 19:35 local (07:35 GMT)
Referee: Nic Berry (Australia)
Assistant referees: Brendon Pickerill (New Zealand), Angus Mabey (New Zealand)
Television match official: Aaron Paterson (New Zealand)



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