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Aisle be Back: Hurricanes v Crusaders

  • By Kevin McCarthy

Thank heavens we’ve got a soft game against the Crusaders to get back on track with this week.

The head scratching continues for Hurricanes fans no doubt this week. No, it’s not dandruff.

Last week produced quite a bit, with of course Jordie Barrett suddenly making the debut at 12 after which he’s been hankering. Was he a good looking 12? I guess so.

But there are  even more perplexed looks this week.

All power to Te Kamaka Howden – but debuting against the Crusaders is an interesting move.

As for fullback (we did have the All Black fullback at one point), we now have Josh Moorby taking his turn there – and Ruben Love moved back to the bench for his “finishing power”.

But it’s not finishing power we need necessarily. Who watching the second half did not think we were being gradually overpowered? In fact, take away the opening intercept, and the Chiefs were the better team for well on 60 minutes. Better clean outs, better attack.

If it hadn’t had been for the late heroics and Ardie carrying himself over line dragging 17 Chiefs players, all three refs and the TMO, we’d have been nowhere in touch.

Instead, we were back in last-chance saloon territory, and while it – and in fact, the whole game – was a great spectacle, there again, the Canes were on the losing side of the miniscule difference between winning and not.

That’s three games in a row now where that’s happened. No chance then that the side might actually get clear in a match and win it with some points to spare.

Now of course fans have no access to what’s driving team selection, and tactical choices. They must make sense, one would hope, to the coaching team.

We get to see the execution, and when it’s good, it’s good. When it’s not, the team tends to leak points, and switch off.

As anyone would tell you, you can’t do that in the New Zealand derbies. Now we have the never-forgiving Crusaders. The Canes really have to win this to stay even vaguely in touch – and you wouldn’t bet your next RAT test on it.

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Great everyone by all you folk who turned out on a typically sunny day at the Stadium.

Although staging the match in the second sunniest region in the country does mean that play in half the field at one point starts to resemble those sharp night and day test matches from South Africa.

I am sure the good turnout was due to cabin fever for many, but more daytime matches please. They are what quality rugby needs.

So, pack the sunscreen one more time for a 4.35pm kick-off, and go barbecue yourself some lamb.

Head Coach Jason Holland has named an experienced yet dynamic side to take on the Crusaders, with only two changes to the starting side from last week.

The front row remains unchanged with Hawkes’ Bay prop Pouri Rakete-Stones, hooker Asafo Aumua and Tyrel Lomax returning to the starting line-up. On the bench, James O’Reilly, Alex Fidow and Tevita Mafileo will add power at set piece.

Lock James Blackwell partners Scott Scrafton, while Wellington Lion Caleb Delany looks to add impact off the bench.

Du’Plessis Kirifi and Captain Ardie Savea line up in seven and eight, with Devan Flanders providing cover on the bench. Young Manawatū Turbos loose forward Te Kamaka (TK) Howden gets the chance to make his Hurricanes debut at six.

Wes Goosen and Julian Savea round out the run-on side, with Jamie Booth adding impact alongside former Chiefs utility Bailyn Sullivan.

Hurricanes team to face the Crusaders:    

1 Pouri Rakete-Stones
2 Asafo Aumua
3 Tyrel Lomax
4 James Blackwell
5 Scott Scrafton
6 Te Kamaka Howden *
7 Du’Plessis Kirifi
8 Ardie Savea (c)
9 TJ Perenara
10 Jackson Garden-Bachop
11 Wes Goosen
12 Jordie Barrett
13 Billy Proctor
14 Julian Savea
15 Josh Moorby

Replacements:
16 James O’Reilly
17 Alex Fidow
18 Tevita Mafileo
19 Caleb Delany
20 Devan Flanders
21 Jamie Booth
22 Bailyn Sullivan
23 Ruben Love

* Denotes debut

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