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Hurricanes V Stormers Preview

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Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

17 APRIL 2008 - The Hurricanes continue their South African tour in Cape Town this weekend when they play the Stormers at Newlands on Sunday at 3.05am (NZT) in week 10 of the 2008 Rebel Sport Super 14.

This will be the 150th Super rugby match played by the Hurricanes since they played the Blues in Palmerston North in the very first Super 12 match on 1st March1996.

Colin Cooper's side will hope to make it two from two in the Republic after the thrilling 50-22 win over the Bulls in Pretoria last week. Another win could enable them to break free from a cluttered points table that sees the six teams from positions three to nine separated by just six competition points.

The starting XV is mostly unchanged from the team that took the field against the Bulls, with the only change being Neemia Tialata coming off the bench to trade places in the front row with Tim Fairbrother.

Ma'a Nonu, who scored two tries against the Bulls from second five-eighth, including one from a scrum move and an intercept from halfway, remains in the midfield position. Nonu's renewed partnership with centre Conrad Smith and his match-up with Stormers captain Jean de Villiers will be much anticipated.

There are some fresh faces on the Hurricanes bench for this game, with lock Bernie Upton and wing Zac Guildford both selected in the playing 22 for the first time this year. Upton replaces Craig Clarke and makes his first appearance in 2008 after earning nine starts last season.

Guildford, who scored three tries in the pre-season encounters, will make his Super 14 debut should he take the field after being sidelined since the start of the regular season after injuring his hand in training.

The 19-year-old winger comes on to the bench in place of prop Jacob Ellison as the Hurricanes revert to a more traditional four forwards / three backs split among their replacements. In two other changes to the reserves, Willie Ripia and Tane Tu'ipulotu replace Tamati Ellison and Alby Mathewson.

Mathewson has flown home to New Zealand to be with his father in hospital and has been replaced in the squad by Taranaki halfback and Wider Training Group member Brett Goodin.

Hurricanes fans will hope that their team can reproduce more of the sparkling form that beat the Bulls last weekend, running in seven tries and scoring 50 points for the first time since 1997. To do so they will need to breach a steadfast Stormers defensive line, with the seventh-placed Stormers having the third best tryline defence in the competition, their 13 tries conceded behind those of the table-topping Crusaders (conceded eight tries) and the Sharks (nine).

The Stormers are coming off a 34-22 home win against the Cheetahs, crossing for their fourth and bonus point try just before halftime and leading 24-3 at the break. They have a run of three further home games to follow against the Highlanders, Brumbies and Waratahs and an away fixture in Johannesburg against the Lions to finish.

The Stormers won this match 30-17 last year in Palmerston North, which broke up a run of four consecutive Hurricanes wins against them in Super Rugby matches played between 2003-06. Previously the Stormers had won in a four-match sequence against the Hurricanes between 1999-2002.

Prior to that the Hurricanes were defeated 25-35 by Western Province in the first year of the Super 12 in 1996, didn't play them in 1997 and beat the newly-formed Stormers franchise 45-31 in 1998. Overall, the two teams have met 11 times with five wins to the Hurricanes and six to Western Province / the Stormers.

The Hurricanes have won on their last two visits to Newlands, winning narrowly 25-19 in 2004 and again 23-19 in 2006, with Tu'ipulotu scoring a try in each of these matches.

The 45-31 victory in 1998 is the highest score by the Hurricanes against the Stormers, while the widest margin of victory is the 33-18 win in 2003 and the tightest is the 12-9 win in Palmerston North in 2005 when Jimmy Gopperth kicked a match-winning drop goal.

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