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A highly entertaining contest has seen the Hurricanes emerge three point winners over a Highlanders side that was 11 points up at one stage in the second half.
It looked as if the Highlanders had all the momentum at 28-17 but tries to Ardie Savea and Ngani Laumape turned things around for the Hurricanes.
The Highlanders had chances at the death to steal a result but failed to do so and suffer another defeat.
The Hurricanes will be keen to bounce back from last week’s heavy defeat when they clash against the Highlanders in Dunedin. Join The Roar for live scores and a blog of the match from 5:30pm AEDT.
Matches featuring the Hurricanes and Highlanders are always eventful affairs and tonight’s contest should be no different.
With the Crusaders once again running away with the lead in the New Zealand conference, both the Hurricanes and Highlanders are chasing second position and will look to build a gap between the ever-improving Chiefs and Blues.
The Highlanders however are still missing some key All Black stars while the Hurricanes are also down a few players but appear better stocked in the key positions.
Highlanders coach Aaron Mauger has named a new midfield for Friday’s crucial derby in Dunedin.
Richard Buckman and Teihorangi Walden have taken over from Patelesio Tomkinson and Thomas Umaga-Jensen in the centres after the Highlanders’ bye week.
The Highlanders are missing three injured All Blacks stars in Aaron Smith, Waisake Naholo and Liam Squire, with Kayne Hammington getting the start at halfback, Matt Faddes on the right wing and Shannon Frizell at blindside flanker.
Openside flanker James Lentjes and lock Josh Dickson also get starts ahead of Dillon Hunt and Pari Pari Parkinson.
Centre Rob Thompson is also back on the bench after six weeks out with injury.
Meanwhile, Hurricanes coach John Plumtree has made two changes to the side that was walloped by the Crusaders last weekend.
Kane Le’aupepe will make his first start at lock ahead of Liam Mitchell while Wes Goosen replaces Matt Proctor in the backline.
Captain Dane Coles remains out with a calf strain while Plumtree also revealed Vince Aso’s pectoral injury would likely end his Super Rugby season.
Goosen will start on the right wing, with Jordie Barrett shifting to outside centre.
The Hurricanes will come out with a point to prove after suffering their second heavy defeat of the season to the Crusaders. Both teams will be keen to draw a line in the sand and kickstart their Super Rugby campaigns.
Despite being at home, the absence of class players like Aaron Smith could prove telling in the end as the Barrett brothers guide the Hurricanes home in a tight one.
Hurricanes by 7
Venue: Forsyth Barr Stadium
Betting: Highlanders $2.30, Hurricanes $1.62
Ben Smith (co-c), Matt Faddes, Richard Buckman, Teihorangi Walden, Tevita Li, Marty Banks, Kayne Hammington, Luke Whitelock (co-c), James Lentjes, Shannon Frizell, Tom Franklin, Josh Dickson, Tyrel Lomax, Liam Coltman, Ayden Johnstone
Reserves: Ash Dixon, Daniel Lienert-Brown, Siate Tokolahi, Jackson Hemopo, Elliot Dixon, Folau Fakatava, Josh Ioane, Rob Thompson
Chase Tiatia, Wes Goosen, Jordie Barrett, Ngani Laumape, Ben Lam, Beauden Barrett, TJ Perenara (c), Reed Prinsep, Ardie Savea, Vaea Fifita, Kane Le’aupepe, James Blackwell, Ben May, Ricky Riccitelli, Fraser Armstrong
Reserves: Asafo Aumua, Chris Eves, Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, Isaia Walker-Leawere, Liam Mitchell, Du’Plessis Kirifi, Finlay Christie, Matt Proctor