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Super Rugby Pacific round 14 continues as the Hurricanes take on the Melbourne Rebels at Sky Stadium, Wellington in a match that the New Zealanders must win and win well to stand a chance of making the top four. Join The Roar for live scores from 5:05pm AEST.
Strangely, despite a poor season, the Rebels still have a route to make finals rugby this year but they must win their final two matches starting with this one against the Canes. The fact that Matt To’omua is back after missing the past three weeks is a big boost and the Melbourne side will try and take some positives from a good although losing performance against the Chiefs last week.
To’omua will have flying Wallaby Andrew Kellaway outside him in the centres. In last week’s thrashing by the Blues, Kellaway scored his second try of the season and while picking up 42 metres from nine runs.
Tamati Ioane is back in the side too and will play at number eight and coach Kevin Foote is expecting the whole side to rise up after last week’s punishment.
“This week’s focus is on redemption, so we’re hungry to put forward the best version of ourselves and play the brand of Rebels rugby we know we’re capable of and that our fans expect,” said Foote earlier this week.
After a stuttering start to the season, the Canes have found good form in the second half of the season. They will sorely miss leader Ardie Savea but TK Howden will move from the blind side to number eight to cover Savea. Jordie Barrett will continue to play in the centres and exciting talent Ruben Love is back in at full back after recovering from an injury he picked up in April.
With the Rebels six points behind eighth place, the maths are quite simple for them – win their two remaining games and win well. For the Canes, they still have a shot at fourth place which would get them a better draw come the first round of the finals – they are just three points behind the Chiefs and will have a final round away trip to Perth to play the Force.
HURRICANES (1-15): Tevita Mafileo, Dane Coles, Tyrel Lomax, James Blackwell, Isaia Walker-Leawere, Blake Gibson, Du’Plessis Kirifi, TK Howden, TJ Perenara, Aidan Morgan, Salesi Rayasi, Jordie Barrett, Billy Proctor, Julian Savea, Ruben Love.
RESERVES: Asafo Aumua, Pouri Rakete-Stones, Owen Franks, Scott Scrafton, Caleb Delany, Jamie Booth, Jackson Garden-Bachop, Wes Goosen.
REBELS (1-15): Matt Gibbon, Jordan Uelese, Pone Fa’amausili, Matt Philip, Rob Leota, Michael Wells (c), Brad Wilkin, Tamati Ioane, James Tuttle, Carter Gordon, Glen Vaihu, Matt To’omua, Andrew Kellaway, George Worth, Reece Hodge.
RESERVES: James Hanson, Cameron Orr, Cabous Eloff, Josh Canham, Richard Hardwick, Joe Powell, Lukas Ripley, Nick Jooste.