Hurricanes V Lions
Kick Off: 8.35AM, Saturday 6th
Stadium: Westpac Stadium
Super Haka Fans
Lions – Cian Long, Adam Barry, Jack Cosgrave, Thomas Joyce, Louis McCormick
Hurricanes – Kieran O’Malley, Mikey O’Gorman, Jordan Curry, Tom Russell, Cathal Hynes
Lions: Jaco Kriel, Faf de Klerk, Elton Jantjies, Lionel Mapoe, Ruan Combrinck
Hurricanes: Loni Uhila, Ardie Savea, TJ Perenara, Beauden Barrett, Cory Jane
Predicted First Try Scorer: Victor Vito
Game Changer – Beauden Barrett: The Lions have the hardest working pack in the competition. They therefore have the quickest ball and the most free running backs too. Elton Jantjies has hit amazing form, with his inventive kicking, as have fellow stars with their respective strengths. However, can they boast of a world class go-to star, to get them out of the deepest holes? I’m not so sure, but the ‘Canes certainly can. I expect Barrett to be a thorn in the side of the visitors as he is sure to prevent them from getting a front foot on proceedings and challenge their expansive play with a trademark interception whenever he can. The best outhalf, if not the best player, in the world right now.
Comment (Admin Ronan):
The Lions are the more exciting side and the heartthrob of rugby fans who have followed this year’s Super Rugby proceedings. They are certain to be a threat with the on fire presences of Jaco Kriel, Faf de Klerk, Elton Jantjies and Lionel Mapoe but whether they can get over the line with the ease of previous encounters is in doubt. The Hurricanes have taken pride in denying sides from gaining the front foot in the pack as with the exception of the powerhouses Loni Uhila and Ardie Savea, you are looking at six out and out grafters in the forwards. The ruck commitment won’t sit well with the typically dominant Johannesburg side and it will be interesting to see who comes out on top in that department, but the issues lie deeper than that for them. I can see the game being won and lost in the respective twenty twos but with Hurricanes’ defence having not conceded a single try in the last two games in contrast to the Lions, who watched four tries ran in last week against the Highlanders, right there is an imminent reason to be an optimistic Kiwi. The argument could be made that the Lions have the ability to open up games but with their unfavourable journey across the Indian ocean, the generally blustery conditions in Wellington, the thought of how the ‘Canes disrupted the Chiefs expansive play and of course the uber-confident Barrett against them, the factors just do not weigh in the Lions favour.
Verdict: Hurricanes by 15