Planet Rugby

Preview: Rebels v Hurricanes

08th May 2014 05:13

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The 'Canes' winning run was brought to an end against the 'Tahs last week as they left Sydney with nothing. They must recover at the Rebels on Friday.

Four should have been five though for the 'Canes and they will know it after taking an early 24-7 lead only to eventually go down to a 30-39 negative.

The result clearly hurt Conrad Smith afterwards but they must recover and get back to winning ways as results elsewhere for New Zealand's other franchises rubbed salt into the wound. After being at the conference summit, they now sit in third spot, four points behind the leading Chiefs.

Changes have been made by head coach Mark Hammett as the impressive Jeffrey Toomaga-Allen is given a spell on the bench, with Ben Franks shifting across to take the tighthead jersey. Reggie Goodes fills in at loosehead while there's a rare start for Ardie Savea at openside.

They will fancy their chances with the side at their disposal as on paper the 'Canes should take four points, possibly five, if they can get momentum and consistently utilise the lethal threat of Julian Savea, Andre Taylor and Alapati Leiua. Should that happen, one fears for the Rebels.

Speaking of the Melbourne side, they also enter on the back of a defeat after falling at this ground as the Sharks squeezed out a victory that saw both teams struggle to find rhythm. One imagines that was due to the Sharks' plan, with a different game expected on Friday.

They did win the last time these two met in Melbourne back in 2011 but their most recent meeting, in 2012, was a one-sided affair as the 'Canes prevailed 66-24 with the average of those two games being 78.5 points so all the signs point to the AAMI Park being repaid.

The Rebels make one change to their XV as hooker Pat Leafa comes in for Shota Horie while Ben Meehan replaces the injured Nic Stirzaker on the bench as the scrum-half cover.

"The Hurricanes have given us a lot to think about this week," said coach McGahan.

"They are a side in tremendous form, and they're a side whose improvement this year has been excellent, particularly in defence. They are always strong at the breakdown and they always pose a lot of attacking threats, and their ability to stay in games for longer has been impressive this year as they move towards the top of the table."

Previous results:

2012: Hurricanes won 66-24 in Wellington
2011: Rebels won 42-25 in Melbourne

Prediction: A recovery from the visitors. Hurricanes by 4!

The teams:

Melbourne Rebels: 15 Jason Woodward, 14 Male Sau, 13 Tamati Ellison, 12 Mitch Inman, 11 Tom English, 10 Bryce Hegarty, 9 Luke Burgess, 8 Scott Higginbotham (c), 7 Scott Fuglistaller, 6 Colby Fainga'a, 5 Luke Jones, 4 Cadeyrn Neville, 3 Laurie Weeks, 2 Pat Leafa, 1 Cruze Ah-Nau.
Replacements: 16 Shota Horie, 17 Max Lahiff, 18 Paul Alo-Emilie, 19 Hugh Pyle, 20 Sean McMahon, 21 Ben Meehan, 22 Tom Kingston, 23 Angus Roberts.

Hurricanes: 15 Andre Taylor, 14 Cory Jane, 13 Conrad Smith (c), 12 Alapati Leiua, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Victor Vito, 7 Ardie Savea, 6 Faifili Levave, 5 James Broadhurst, 4 Jeremy Thrush/Blade Thomson, 3 Ben Franks, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Reggie Goodes.
Replacements: 16 Motu Matu'u, 17 Chris Eves, 18 Jeffrey Toomaga-Allen, 19 Blade Thomson/Brad Shields, 20 Jack Lam, 21 Billy Guyton, 22 Tim Bateman, 23 Matt Proctor.

Date: Friday, May 9
Venue: AAMI Park, Melbourne
Kickoff: 19:40 local (10:40 BST, 09:40 GMT)
Referee: Matt O'Brien (Australia)
Assistant Referees: Steve Walsh (Australia), Ed Martin (Australia)
TMO: Peter Marshall (Australia)

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