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Blues v Hurricanes Super Rugby Rd.3 Preview

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The third round in Super Rugby kicks off in Auckland where the Blues host the Hurricanes who beat them twice in 2015.

The Blues go into the match with mixed results behind them. The Blues beat the Highlanders in their opening match but lacked the same spark in Round 2 and they were beaten the Crusaders.

The Hurricanes have yet to win a match in 2016 having lost to the Brumbies and the Highlanders last week. The Hurricanes were well below anything they were in 2015 against the Brumbies but made a big improvement for round 2.

The Hurricanes will have All Black Nehe Milner-Skudder available for this match and Cory Jane on the replacements bench as they both passed fitness tests. Team captain Dane Coles however misses out again with a calf injury.

Milner-Skudder’s return is the only change to the starting fifteen, while Jane takes Jason Woodward’s place on an otherwise unchanged reserves bench. TJ Perenara will again captain the side from halfback.

The Blues have named All Black front rower Charlie Faumuina to make his first start of the season. Steven Luatua starts at lock with Josh Bekhuis, in his 99th Super Rugby game. All Black lock Patrick Tuipulotu will come off the bench after two full games in his return from major off-season surgery and rehabilitation.

New Zealand Sevens player Akira Ioane gets his first start of the year at No 8. The backline from the opening game against the Highlanders is in place aside from Rene Ranger to start on the wing.

As mentioned earlier the Blues lost both of their matches against the Hurricanes in 2015 so a victory this week will end a two match losing streak.

Overall the Blues have played the Highlanders 25 times since 1996 and the Blues have won 14 or 56% of their matches against the Wellington side. There was a draw between the teams in 2004 at Wellington.

The Blues have played the Hurricanes 13 times in Auckland and they have won 8 times and lost 5. The average score when the Blues host the Hurricanes in Auckland is Blues 26 Hurricanes 23.

The Blues have been hit and miss so far while the Hurricanes are still searching for their first victory this year. This should make them hungry and their selections have been fairly consistent so they have some familiarity.

The Bookies have given the Hurricanes a 3 point start for this Match – with an offer of a FREE $150 BET. The Hurricanes were not far off last week while the Blues selections have not been consistent. We are going against the bookies on this one. The Hurricanes could sneak it by 1.

This Match will be shown on TV in NZ, Aus, SA and in the UK on Sky Sports 1.

Average score: Blues 28 Hurricanes 24

Last five results
23 May 2015 Blues v Hurricanes 5-29 Auckland
13 Mar 2015 Blues v Hurricanes 23-30 Palmerston North
31 May 2014 Blues v Hurricanes 37-24 Auckland
18 Apr 2014 Blues v Hurricanes 20-39 Wellington
13 Apr 2013 Blues v Hurricanes 28-6 Auckland

Blues overall record against the Hurricanes
Played 25 , Wins 14 , Losses 10, Draws 1

Match No.17: Blues v Hurricanes
Date : Friday 11 March 2016
Venue : Eden Park, Auckland
Kick Off local: 19:35 local
Referee: Nick Briant
Assistant Ref 1:Brendon Pickerill
Assistant Ref 2:Brett Johnson
TMO : Shane McDermott

Teams

Blues

Ofa Tu’ungafasi, James Parsons, Charlie Faumuina, Steven Luatua, Josh Bekhuis, Jerome Kaino (c), Blake Gibson, Akira Ioane; Bryn Hall, Ihaia West, Tevita Li, George Moala, Male Sa’u, Rene Ranger, Lolagi Visinia.

Reserves: Quentin MacDonald, Nic Mayhew, Sione Mafileo, Patrick Tuipulotu, Kara Pryor, Billy Guyton, Matt McGahan, Melani Nanai.

Hurricanes

15 James Marshall, 14 Nehe Milner-Skudder, 13 Vince Aso, 12 Ngani Laumape, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara (c), 8 Victor Vito, 7 Ardie Savea, 6 Brad Shields, 5 Mark Abbott, 4 Blade Thomson, 3 Jeff Toomaga-Allen, 2 Leni Apisai, 1 Reggie Goodes

Replacments : Ricky Riccitelli, Chris Eves, Loni Uhila, Vaea Fifita, Callum Gibbins, Jamison Gibson-Park, Willis Halaholo, Cory Jane.

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