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Preview: Hurricanes v Stormers

25th April 2013 09:36

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Hurricanes back Beauden Barrett offloading in 2012

Back at 10: Beauden Barrett

Despite sitting eighth and eleventh respectively, the Hurricanes and Stormers know that a win would fire them up the standings this Friday.

With the Bulls on 28, the Stormers (24) know they can apply pressure on their rivals in a South African ladder that is about as tight as it can be.

Meanwhile in New Zealand, the Hurricanes are also four off their conference pace-setter and would go second ahead of the Blues with a win.

The Stormers though desperately need a victory to kick-start their season as their current position is not sitting well with supporters in the Cape.

Fresh from a bye week they may fancy their chances of suffocating the 'Canes in Palmerston North with a physical game-plan - and also now that Julian Savea sits this one out due to off-field issues.

Mark Hammett has this week decided to revert back to the TJ Perenara - Beauden Barrett axis at half-back after a somewhat hot and cold experiment that saw Tusi Pisi wear 10 and Barrett line up at full-back.

While Pisi is a quality player and tougher in the first line of defence, losing the enterprise Barrett has been noticeable. Also returning to the XV is Andre Taylor, who is back off the bench and needs to be a running threat without the presence of wing Savea.

With bad news comes good for the 'Canes, however, as the return of Victor Vito adds yet another option to their strong back-row. This week the in-form Faifili Levave finds himself on the pine alongside Ardie Savea - expect those two to make an impact in the second-half.

There were patches against the Force when the 'Canes recaptured the form of 2012 that scared the life out of rivals, but that is not yet consistent enough to warrant title talk.

If they can put together a game that regularly breaks the Stormers' line - and Barrett is not found wanting in defence - then that stance may change ahead of a trip to Loftus in Round 12.

However the Stormers, who have had a few days to recover from their flight, will hope the return of Springbok wing Bryan Habana gives them the lift they have been craving.

Prediction: A tough one as the old bye week' argument but we feel the 'Canes by 2!

Put your money where your mouth is and make your predictions here!

The teams:

Hurricanes: 15 Andre Taylor, 14 Alapati Leiua, 13 Conrad Smith (c), 12 Tim Bateman, 11 Matt Proctor, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Victor Vito, 7 Karl Lowe, 6 Brad Shields, 5 Jason Eaton, 4 Jeremy Thrush, 3 Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, 2 Motu Matu'u, 1 Ben Franks.
Replacements: 16 Ash Dixon, 17 Ben May, 18 Mark Reddish, 19 Faifili Levave, 20 Ardie Savea, 21 Chris Smylie, 22 Tusi Pisi.

Stormers: 15 Joe Pietersen, 14 Gio Aplon, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Jean de Villiers (c), 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Gary van Aswegen, 9 Dewaldt Duvenage, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Michael Rhodes, 6 Siya Kolisi, 5 Andries Bekker, 4 De Kock Steenkamp, 3 Pat Cilliers, 2 Deon Fourie, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Replacements: 16 Scarra Ntubeni, 17 Brok Harris, 18 Rynhardt Elstadt, 19 Nizaam Carr, 20 Nic Groom, 21 Louis Schreuder, 22 Damian de Allende.

Date: Friday, April 26
Kick-off: 19:35 local (08:35 BST, 07:35 GMT)
Venue: FMG Stadium, Palmerston North
Referee: Steve Walsh (Australia)
Assistant referees: Mike Fraser (New Zealand), Sheldon Eden-Whaitiri (New Zealand)
Television match official: Vinny Munro (New Zealand)

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1Crusaders1651
2Chiefs1644
3Highlanders1642
4Hurricanes1641
5Blues1637