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The two worst teams in Super Rugby Aotearoa – the Chiefs and the Hurricanes – will play off in Hamilton this afternoon, each looking to get their first win. Join The Roar, where we’ll have live scores and a blog from 1:35pm (AEST).
It’s easy to call these teams the worst in Super Rugby Aotearoa, which I just did, but the reality is that they’re not terrible. They’re just not up to the standard of the other sides, in what is an incredibly tough competition.
Take the Chiefs, for example. Sure, they’re 0-3, and should they lose today they’ll have gone halfway through the competition without a win, but they’ve not been all that bad. Really, the loss to the Highlanders in Week 1 is the only game they were expected to win. Losing to the Blues is nothing to be ashamed of, while they gave the Crusaders a scare for 80 minutes.
The Hurricanes are coming off a bye, after also previously losing to the Crusaders and Blues. They’ve struggled to cope without Beauden Barrett, but this is their opportunity to turn over a new leaf after the week off. Not to mention they have consecutive home games following today’s match-up.
Now that the penalties have not exactly dried up but decreased, that’ll play into the hands of the Canes, a team that struggles with set piece and forward play, while thriving when the game opens up and backs get decent ball.
Speaking of forward play, this game involves a fascinating match-up in the back row: Ardie Savea and Sam Cane clashing at the breakdown. Whoever gets ascendancy at that area is a hot favourite to win the game.
In team news, Jordie Barrett makes his return for the Canes, in his first appearance this campaign. He gets the nod at fullback, but will need to perform to hold onto his jersey ahead of an in-form Chase Tiatia. There’s just one change to the visitors’ pack, with Scott Scrafton taking over from Vaea Fifita.
For the hosts, there are five changes. Concussion rules out Anton Lienert-Brown, Quinn Tupaea slots in at ten, with Tumua Manu moving into outside centre.
Hurricanes have shown promise. The lineout worries can’t continue, or they’ll lose this game. But FMG Stadium isn’t the fortress it once was. If they can limit the set piece and forward play, the backs will outdo the Chiefs.
Canes by eight.
Join The Roar for live scores and a blog from 1:35pm (AEST).
Venue: FMG Stadium
Time: 1:35pm (AEST)
Odds: Chiefs $1.57, Hurricanes $2.40
Referee: Ben O’Keeffe
Aidan Ross, Bradley Slater, Nepo Laulala, Mitchell Brown, Naitoa Ah Kuoi, Lachlan Boshier, Sam Cane (c), Pita Gus Sowakula, Brad Weber, Aaron Cruden, Etene Nanai-Seturo, Quinn Tupaea, Tumua Manu, Sean Wainui, Damian McKenzie. Reserves: Samisoni Taukei’aho, Reuben O’Neill, Ross Geldenhuys, Tupou Vaa’i, Dylan Nel, Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, Kaleb Trask, Solomon Alaimalo.
Fraser Armstrong, Dane Coles, Tyrel Lomax, James Blackwell, Scott Scrafton, Reed Prinsep, Du’Plessis Kirifi, Ardie Savea, J Perenara, Jackson Garden-Bachop, Ben Lam, Ngani Laumape, Peter Umaga-Jensen, Kobus Van Wyk, Jordie Barrett. Reserves: Ricky Riccitelli, Ben May, Alex Fidow, Vaea Fifita, Devan Flanders/Liam Mitchell, Jamie Booth, Billy Proctor, Wes Goosen.