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Preview: Hurricanes v Kings

29th March 2013 07:13

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Conrad Smith Hurricanes skipper 2012

Hurricanes: Host the Kings

The Kings face another difficult assignment on their Australasian tour when they face the Hurricanes in Wellington on Saturday.

The Hurricanes had a bye last weekend and will see this clash against the tournament newbies as an opportunity to close the gap on the tournament leaders.

After a slow start to their campaign, with losses to the Blues and Reds, the Hurricanes bounced back with narrow victories over the Crusaders and the Highlanders.

This match will present them with an opportunity to register a convincing win against the men from Port Elizabeth who battled for large periods of their first tour match - a 55-20 defeat to the Crusaders in Christchurch last weekend.

A player who will be keen to make an impact for the home side is full-back Andre Taylor who returns to the starting line-up after he was demoted to the replacements bench against the Highlanders.

The Hurricanes have a strong track record against South African sides, they've earned 39 wins from 72 games and have scored over 2,000 points for an average of 28.1 points per game, while conceding just a smudge over 20 points.

The Kings have done better than expected since coming into the competition. They kicked off their campaign with a memorable win over the Western Force and were competitive in defeats at home to the Sharks and Chiefs.

However, they struggled in that loss to the Crusaders and their squad depth has been severly tested after losing stalwarts like Luke Watson and Darron Nell to injury.

That, as well as the fiasco surrounding two of their foreign imports - Tomās Leonardi and Virgile Lacombe - who were forced to fly back to Port Elizabeth after the Kings exceeded SARU's quota for foreigners in their 30-man touring squad would have made a huge dent in their plans.

However, Kings head coach Matt Sexton remains positive who feels preparations were going well in Wellington.

"We've done some previews and have been looking at the footage of the Hurricanes, so we can prepare ourselves for a great performance on Saturday," he explained.

"If we give the Hurricanes the same time, space and momentum as we did last weekend against the Crusaders, it will be another long day.

"So we've been working pretty hard on making sure that doesn't happen, as well as making sure that we hold onto the ball through phases."

Prediction: The Kings know what's coming and the best they can do is to try and keep the score as low as possible.Hurricanes to win by 20 points!

The teams:

Hurricanes: 15 Andre Taylor, 14 Alapati Leiua/Matt Proctor, 13 Conrad Smith (c)/Alapati Leiua, 12 Tim Bateman, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara/Chris Smylie, 8 Victor Vito, 7 Karl Lowe, 6 Brad Shields, 5 Jason Eaton, 4 Jeremy Thrush, 3 Ben May, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Ben Franks.
Replacements: 16 Ash Dixon, 17 Reggie Goodes, 18 Mark Reddish, 19 Faifili Levave, 20 Chris Smylie/Samisoni Fisilau 21 Tusi Pisi, 22 Reynold Lee-Lo.

Kings: 15 George Whitehead, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Ronnie Cooke, 12 Andries Strauss (c), 11 Marcello Sampson, 10 Demetri Catrakillis, 9 Shaun Venter, 8 Jacques Engelbrecht, 7 Wimpie van der Walt, 6 Devin Oosthuizen, 5 David Bulbring, 4 Steven Sykes, 3 Kevin Buys, 2 Bandise Maku, 1 Schalk Ferreira.
Replacements: 16 Hannes Franklin, 17 Grant Kemp, 18 Rynier Bernardo, 19 Daniel Adongo, 20 Nicolas Vergallo, 21 Waylon Murray, 22 Hadleigh Parkes.

Date: Saturday, March 30
Kick-off: 16:35 (03:35 GMT)
Venue: Westpac Stadium, Wellington
Referee: Nick Briant (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Garratt Williamson (New Zealand), Mike Fraser (New Zealand)
Television match official: Vinny Munro (New Zealand)

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