Friday’s sole fixture offers Chris Boyd’s Hurricanes another shot at keeping up the pressure in the New Zealand Conference when the struggling Waratahs come knocking at the Westpac.
The Waratahs will be looking to bounce back from last Sunday's defeat to the Crusaders when they cross the Tasman to take on the 'Canes. They will be hard tasked to achieve this, however, as the men from Wellington have been a class above thus far.
Hurricanes v Waratahs | Friday 7 April | Westpac Stadium | 09:35
To Win (80 Mins)
Hurricanes 1/20 | Draw 33/1 | Waratahs 7/1
Hurricanes (-19.5) 9/10 | Waratahs (+19.5) 9/10
The defending champions were far from their best against the Reds last week. Many of their plays didn’t come off, with wayward passes and a lack of synergy making for a very average performance. A few unforced errors from the Queenslanders, as well as a late flurry of tries, aided the ‘Canes’ cause and added some gloss to the scoreline, but ultimately they will feel that they have much to prove this week (especially with the Crusaders and Chiefs continuing to grind out wins).
This Friday’s challenge against another Aussie outfit in the Waratahs, will be seen as a must-win. The ‘Tahs may have displayed signs of steady improvement against the ‘Saders last week, but they should still be ripe for the plucking by this remarkable Hurricanes unit. Their speed and dynamism in the backs (and even in their backrow – I’m looking at you Ardie Savea) will be too much for their trans-Tasman rivals to handle, and they should rack up another sweet score at the 'Cake Tin'.
Although they managed to push the Crusaders close at times during last week’s clash in Canterbury, the ‘Tahs weren’t ever in control of the game. Allowing their opponents a few early scores was a big setback, and one that they ultimately never recovered from. They will be encouraged by the performances of a few of their players; among them the mammoth 25-year-old winger Taqele Naiyaravoro, who managed an absolute belter of a try off the bench last week. The big man should earn a spot in the run-on side for this weekend, with his size and strength surely to come in handy against the likes of Julian Savea and co.
The Waratahs will manage a few five-pointers of their own over the course of the eighty, with their industrious play in the backs sure to pay off at some stage. The ‘Tahs are extremely dangerous off the first phase, as was evident by the wonderful Jake Gordon score last week, and the Hurricanes will be wary of allowing their set-pieces to run too smoothly. All-in-all however, the Michael Hooper-led bunch will battle to keep up pressure on the scoreboard for the full duration of the match, but will certainly score a try or two.
The ‘Canes should canter to a victory here. Yes, they weren't great at Suncorp last Saturday but they're sure to turn it on at the 'Cake Tin'. Get on the hosts to clear the 19.5 cap at 9/10.