The two form teams of the competition go toe to toe in the capital on Friday night. Both sides come into this match with identical records and similar aspirations. Expect a gruelling battle between two of New Zealand’s elite teams.
The Hurricanes pulled a rabbit out of the hat last Friday after managing to pull off the unimaginable. They went 80 metres in overtime to grab victory over the Sharks when it almost looked certain they would succumb to the jaws of defeat. They showed champion quality and composure which will only enhance the confidence of the Canes moving forward.
Exit plays will be a significant work on heading into this match after Jamie Booth & Ihaia West struggled to clear their line in Napier. Once Perenara limped off before halftime, they looked lost and indecisive. They may have gotten away with it against the Sharks, but the Canes can ill afford a similar approach against the resilient Chiefs. Beauden Barrett’s return will be crucial to the overall tactical ability of this side.
Once again the 2018 Chiefs found a way to win against a much improved Blues outfit. The Chiefs created plenty of opportunities on Saturday but failed to take a stranglehold on the match. If they are to beat the Canes on their patch, finishing those chances is a must.
Damian McKenzie could be a late scratching with a troublesome hip injury; if he is, the Chiefs could be in trouble. More often than not he is the curator for Chiefs attacking play and pops up at the right time. He is a human highlight real at times, and if he is unavailable it will then fall on the shoulders of Brodie Rettalick, Sam Cane and Liam Messam to exert some “Chiefs Mana”.
Player to Watch: Ngani Laumape
Ngani Laumape has been a constant battering ram for the Hurricanes, keenly smashing into opposition defensive lines while providing quality front foot ball for his side. He is by no means one dimensional mixing his power game with deft touches that have allowed the likes of Ben Lam and Vince Aso to finish in such destructive nature.
Up against fellow All Black Anton Leinert Brown, Laumape will be looking for more of the same. If the Canes can put away their indecisive kicking game and focus on running, then this Chiefs team could be in for one hell of a night trying to stop the ‘Mini Bus’.
This rivalry is renowned for producing high octane rugby and everything points to the same on Friday. The return of Beauden Barrett and the potential loss of a banged up McKenzie will tip the scales in the Hurricanes favour. They will get the job done at home in a close fought victory. Hurricanes by 7.
Author: Simon van Ryn
I am a sports mad fanatic who loves watching drama filled code. Growing up in Wellington I have been fortunate enough to witness some great sporting moments at the Cake Tin – non more satisfying than seeing my beloved Hurricanes finally lift that trophy after 21 years of hurt.