The Hurricanes will field the same starting XV from last week against the Chiefs in round three of the Rebel Sport Super 14 this Friday at Westpac Stadium.
In just one change to the Hurricanes playing 22 from the team that defeated the Reds 23-18 last Friday, Scott Waldrom replaces his younger brother Thomas on the reserves bench.
The Hurricanes website reports that should he take the field, Scott Waldrom will be making his third Super Rugby appearance since his debut for the Crusaders in 2004 and his second for the Hurricanes, after previously playing for the Hurricanes against the Bulls in 2005.
The Taranaki openside flanker and former New Zealand Sevens star will help turn on the Hurricanes afterburners with his electric speed and commitment around the field
Meanwhile midfielder Tane Tu’ipulotu is set to play at second five-eighth against the Super 14 team he played for last year. Tu’ipulotu scored the clincher for the Hurricanes to beat the Chiefs 42-40 in Taupo in pre-season play four weeks ago, and also made his Super 12 debut for the Hurricanes against the Chiefs in 2004.
Friday’s match will be the 13th encounter in Super Rugby between the Hurricanes and the Chiefs. The Hurricanes have won seven and the Chiefs five of their previous twelve clashes.
The Hurricanes have won four of the previous five clashes between the two sides, last losing 7-19 in Hamilton in 2004.
The Hurricanes and the Chiefs have previously met four times in Wellington with the Hurricanes winning three, and the Chiefs’ 51-27 victory in 2001 being their sole capital city success.
The two teams have played each in five different cities across the North Island, including once each in Rotorua, Palmerston North and New Plymouth, five times in Hamilton and four times in Wellington (all at Westpac Stadium).
The first five Hurricanes v Chiefs Super 12 clashes all produced knife-edge results, with margins of victory to either side of 8,5,3,3 and 5 five respectively.
The next seven encounters were generally more high scoring and more decisive for the winner. Last year’s Hurricanes’ 39-32 victory was the closest winning margin since 2000 when the Hurricanes won 24-19 in Hamilton. The Chiefs’ 51-27 win in 2001 is the highest winning margin between the sides.
The two teams head into this game practically neck and neck on the amount of points scored against each other; the Hurricanes have scored 288 points against the Chiefs and the Chiefs have totalled 286 against the Hurricanes.
The Hurricanes have scored 35 tries in Super Rugby against the Chiefs, but have earned four-try bonus points just four times out of twelve.
Former Hurricanes lock Paul Tito scored the match-winning try in last year’s round one 39-32 win for the Hurricanes over the Chiefs in Hamilton, scooting 30 metres to cross in the corner. Tito spent his first Super 12 season with the Chiefs in 1999, before earning another 84 caps with the Hurricanes between 2000-2007.
In 2006 Andrew Hore became a happy hooker when he scored a hat trick of tries against the Chiefs as the Hurricanes won 35-10 in Wellington.
First five-eighth Jimmy Gopperth (currently 302 points) is just seven points away of moving past Christian Cullen into second on the all-time Hurricanes points scoring list, behind David Holwell (676 points). Cullen (308) only scored one of his 56 Super Rugby tries against the Chiefs though.
Gopperth’s match-up against his opposite Stephen Donald will be important on Friday. Both teams contain an array of attacking talent out wide and hard running loose forwards, which both pivots will want to exploit at every opportunity.
Also look out for Conrad Smith’s match up at centre against his opposite Mils Muliaina – filling in there for the injured Richard Kahui – and at fullback where Cory Jane meets Sitiveni Sivivatu after facing Chris Latham last week.
Another Chiefs player to watch coming off the bench will be Faifili Levave. The all-action Vodafone Wellington Lions loose forward will hope to impress against many of his provincial teammates and supporters if given the chance.
The Hurricanes team to play the Chiefs on Friday 29 February in Wellington is:
Starting XV: 1 John Schwalger, 2 Andrew Hore, 3 Neemia Tialata, 4 Craig Clarke, 5 Jason Eaton, 6 Jerry Collins, 7 Chris Masoe, 8 Rodney So’oialo ©, 9 Piri Weepu, 10 Jimmy Gopperth, 11 Hosea Gear, 12 Tane Tu’ipulotu, 13 Conrad Smith, 14 Ma’a Nonu, 15 Cory Jane.
Replacements: 16. Hikawera Elliot, 17. Tim Fairbrother, 18. Jeremy Thrush, 19. Scott Waldrom, 20. Alby Mathewson, 21. Willie Ripia, 22. Shannon Paku.Tweet