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The Hurricanes host the Blues on Saturday evening at Sky Stadium, Wellington. Join The Roar for live scores and a blog of the match, starting from 5:05pm (AEDT).
While the Canes won 11 of their last 13 matches against the Blues, the Blues won two of their three matches last year. Their last encounter resulted in a two-point nail-biter home win by the Hurricanes.
Much has been written about the Savea brothers playing against the Ioane brothers. We have seen the great form of all four in New Zealand except 30-year-old Julian Savea. He has been in France since 2018, when he was also playing well. Hot on his heels is super speedster Salesi Tuivuna, who is relegated to the bench.
The Blues’ pack is loaded with scary talent and power. The back five are captain Patrick Tuipulotu, Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, Akira Ioane, Dalton Papalii, and Hoskins Sotutu. The home team defence needs to be fast and flawless to keep Caleb Clarke and Rieko Ioane off the try lines.
Wellington captain Ardie Savea is good in the back-row position. Tonight he plays as openside, which creates a good balance with Vaea Fifita and Devan Flanders. He is expected to shift when the small but terrible for the opposition Du’Plessis Kirifi comes off the pine.
On paper, it will be a close match. Ardie Savea and Jordie Barrett are possible game clinchers for the home team. But walking and talking referee terroriser TJ Perenara is missing, which is a first for the home team for a while.
The Blues are laden with power and talent, and on a good roll. It’s anyone’s game today, but the Blues will prevail assuming the refs keep the offside line where it belongs.
Venue: Sky Stadium, Wellington
Kick-off: 5:05pm (AEDT)
Odds: Hurricanes $2.00, Blues $1.80
1. Fraser Armstrong, 2. Asafo Aumua, 3. Tyrel Lomax, 4. James Blackwell, 5. Scott Scrafton, 6. Vaea Fifita, 7. Ardie Savea (captain), 8. Devan Flanders, 9. Jonathan Taumateine, 10. Jackson Garden-Bachop, 11. Julian Savea, 12. Ngani Laumape, 13. Billy Proctor, 14. Wes Goosen, 15. Jordie Barrett.
Replacements: 16. Ricky Riccitell, 17. Xavier Numia, 18. Alex Fidow, 19. Reed Prinsep, 20. Du’Plessis Kirifi, 21. Luke Campbell, 22. Peter Umaga-Jensen, 23. Salesi Rayasi.
1. James Lay, 2. Kurt Eklund, 3. Nepo Laulala, 4. Patrick Tuipulotu (captain), 5. Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 6. Akira Ioane, 7. Dalton Papalii, 8. Hoskins Sotutu, 9. Sam Nock, 10. Otere Black, 11. Caleb Clarke, 12. Harry Plummer, 13. Rieko Ioane, 14. Mark Telea, 15. Stephen Perofeta.
Replacements: 16. Luteru Tolai, 17. Karl Tu’inukuafe, 18. Ofa Tuungafasi, 19. Josh Goodhue, 20. Tom Robinson, 21. Adrian Choat, 22. Jonathan Ruru, 23. Tanielu Tele’a.