Super Rugby: Blues vs Hurricanes Preview

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The Blues will have their work cut out for them as the host this year's strong title contenders the Hurricanes at Eden Park on Friday, 11 May.

Date: Friday, May 11
Venue: Eden Park, Auckland
Kick-off: 09:35
Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Brendon Pickerill (New Zealand), Paul Williams (New Zealand)
Television match official: Ben Skeen (New Zealand)

To Win
Blues 3/1
Draw 22/1
Hurricanes 1/4


Handicap
Blues (+10.5) 9/10
Hurricanes (-10.5) 9/10


The Blues will be looking to build on their momentum following their narrow victory against the Waratahs in Sydney last weekend. On Friday the 11th of May they host this year's title contenders and 2016 Super Rugby winners, the Hurricanes.

The Blues lie 13th on the overall standings and bottom of the NZ conference with only three wins from 10 matches and have failed to win a single match from their last 15 matches against New Zealand opposition. A statistic mad even scarier considering the magnitude of their next test.

The Hurricanes on the other hand are second on the overall standings behind reigning champs, the Crusaders. The Cane's have only lost one thus far in their campaign, which was their first match against the Bulls at Loftus. But the 'Canes have bounced back and have produced some entertaining rugby.

The return of Beauden Barrett earlier on in the season from injury changed the tune of the team, and with Jordie Barrett, Ngani Luamampe, and leading try scorer (12) Ben Lam all ready for this encounter, It seems likely that the Hurricanes will go 10 wins on the trot.

For the Blues Sonny Bill Williams and Ofa Tuungafasi return from injury and will start in tomorrow's crucial clash.

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Stats

Blues
Hurricanes
32
Tries
41
117
Clean breaks
127
1295
Carries
996
278
Defenders Beaten
209
131
Offloads
98


Head to Head:

2017: Hurricanes won 28-24 in Auckland
2016: Hurricanes won 37-27 in Wellington
2016: Hurricanes won 23-19 in Auckland
2015: Hurricanes won 29-5 in Auckland
2015: Hurricanes won 30-23 in Palmerston North
2014: Blues won 37-24 in Auckland
2014: Hurricanes won 39-20 in Wellington
2013: Blues won 28-6 in Auckland
2013: Blues won 34-20 in Wellington

Verdict: Blues (+10.5) 9/10
The Blues will have a point to prove in front of their home crowd and with the return of SBW I see them pushing the Hurricanes close but they won't seal the victory. So I'm going with the Blues to stay within the handicap. 

Starting Line-Ups:

Blues: 15 Matt Duffie, 14 Rieko Ioane, 13 Orbyn Leger, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Caleb Clarke, 10 Stephen Perofeta, 9 Augustine Pulu (c), 8 Akira Ioane, 7 Murphy Taramai, 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 4 Patrick Tuipulotu, 3 Ofa Tuungafasi, 2 James Parsons, 1 Ross Wright
Replacements: 16 Matt Moulds, 17 Pauliasi Manu, 18 Sione Mafileo, 19 Ben Nee-Nee, 20 Kara Pryor, 21 Jonathan Ruru/Sam Nock, 22 Dan Kirkpatrick, 23 Melani Nanai

Hurricanes: 15 Nehe Milner-Skudder, 14 Julian Savea, 13 Matt Proctor, 12 Ngani Laumape, 11 Ben Lam, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 Finlay Christie, 8 Gareth Evans, 7 Ardie Savea, 6 Brad Shields (c), 5 Sam Lousi, 4 Vaea Fifita, 3 Jeff Toomaga-Allen, 2 Ricky Riccitelli, 1 Toby Smith
Replacements: 16 James O'Reilly, 17 Chris Eves, 18 Ben May, 19 Michael Fatialofa, 20 Blade Thomson, 21 TJ Perenara, 22 Ihaia West, 23 TBC

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