Super Rugby 2017: Hurricanes v Stormers Preview


We preview Friday's Super Rugby fixture between the Hurricanes and Stormers being played at the Westpac. 

The Hurricanes come off their bye-week and straight into a shoot-out with the struggling Stormers at the Westpac, this Friday. The ‘Canes sit third on the NZ Conference standings with 33-points, but with a game in hand on the Crusaders (41-points) and Chiefs (37-points). The Wellington men really do seem to be the complete package this season, with their incredible organisation on defence, as well as some excellent attacking backs (think the Barrett bros.), and they are sure to continue to challenge their Kiwi counterparts right up until the playoffs. The Stormers meanwhile, come off two crushing defeats at the hands of the Crusaders and Highlanders, conceding a whopping 57-points in both games. They will look to get something out of this one to end their overseas tour on a high but will do well to avoid a whitewash.

Hurricanes v Stormers | Friday 5 May | Westpac Stadium | 09:35

To Win (80 Mins)
Hurricanes 1/33 | Draw 35/1 | Stormers 8/1
Hurricanes (-23.5) 9/10 | Stormers (+23.5) 9/10

Chris Boyd’s charges are such a stupendous side, that I really can’t see any other (save perhaps the Crusaders or Chiefs) trumping them in a Grand Final. The speed at which they play the game is remarkable, and the British & Irish Lions, let alone the Stormers, will need everything in their arsenal to defeat such a well-balanced side.

The ‘Canes have, unsurprisingly, scored more points and more tries than any other franchise in 2017, whilst also conceding the fewest points and second fewest tries. And, for all those ignorant, old-fashioned South African 'ballies' that suggest that kicking the rugby ball away “is the reason for the Springbok’s downfall and lack of imagination”, it is interesting to note that Beauden Barrett – the greatest footballer on the planet, and the Hurricanes’ main attacking weapon – is ranked second in the tournament for kicks-from-hand. The difference is that the Kiwi’s kick the ball away to get it back. It’s all about decision-making and execution.

Nevertheless, the Hurricanes should run out comfortable victors this weekend. They have way too much firepower for this waning Stormers outfit, and they should put on as great a show, as they always do, this Friday.

Poor Robbie Fleck. A month on from being the man heralded to bring back Stormers rugby from the dead after a scintillating 34-26 Newlands victory over the Chiefs, his side now languishes eleven-points off the pace of the Lions in the Africa Conference, after three losses on-the-bounce. As disappointing as his most recent results have been, South African rugby fans shouldn’t lose perspective. As I pointed out last week, the Cape-based franchise was never going to go all the way in 2017, but their fantastic improvement and will-to-attack will only see them get better from here on out.

A marked improvement is needed from all players, in all departments if they are to have any hopes of upsetting the defending champions here. Unfortunately, the losses of Eben Etzebeth, JC Janse van Rensburg, Pieter-Steph du Toit and Kurt Coleman to injury will deeply hurt Fleck’s boys this weekend, and it really is difficult to see the Stormers do anything other than struggle against the might of the Wellingtonians. They would have struggled even with their towering lock-pairing – losing them is monumental.

Verdict: Hurricanes (-23.5) 9/10
Alas, I made a shocking call last week when I backed the Stormers to put-one-over the Highlanders. A forty-three-point thrashing (and more than a couple of beers) later, I decided that I should perhaps invest my time in finding a career outside of the world of sports journalism. Eventually, after coming to the conclusion that I’m no good at anything else, I decided to (perhaps vainly) attempt to clear my name. That’s not to say that I will be putting money on the Stormers to come out on top again this weekend. Instead, I will go for the conservative (and easier) option in backing the Hurricanes to win by clearing the handicap this week. After all; I can’t be THAT wrong two weekends in a row. Right?

Written by Shaun Goosen for!

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