Match Details: Sunday 12 July, 3:35pm, Sky Stadium, Wellington
Referee: Brendon Pickerill
Won: Hurricanes 19, Highlanders 14
Last match: Highlanders 28 Hurricanes 31 on 5 April 2019
Watch: Sky Sport 1
Both the Hurricanes and Highlanders have had one win and two losses in Investec Super Rugby Aoteaora. Their only wins both coming against the Chiefs. The Highlanders were impressive against the table-topping Crusaders last weekend and only just let it slip in the final 10 minutes. They’ve spoken about belief and trust this week and will be taking those key themes into the match. The Hurricanes played their best game of the competition against the Chiefs and were bolstered by the return of Jordie Barrett. We hope to see another 60 metre penalty kick attempt on Sunday.
HIGHLANDERS DESPERATE TO BREAK DROUGHT
It’s been a long time between drinks for the Highlanders in Wellington. They haven’t beaten the Hurricanes in the capital since they won the Super Rugby final in 2015. However, the Hurricanes have lost their last two home games, which is very rare. The last time they lost more at home in succession was a four-game stretch across the 2013 and 2014 seasons. So now is a good time for the Highlanders to pounce.
They aren’t serious injuries, but minor niggles have kept some very important people out of the Hurricanes line out this weekend. Co-captain Dane Coles (calf), Gareth Evans (ankle), Reed Prinsep (hamstring) and Fraser Armstrong (knee) are all unavailable. They have called upon the experienced Ben May as well as up and comers Asafo Aumua and Devan Flanders. The Hurricanes have made a switch at first five-eighth, with Fletcher Smith getting the nod over Jackson Garden-Bachop.
From Aaron Smith and TJ Perenara to Ardie Savea and Marino Mikaele-Tu’u. There are some brilliant match ups right across the park. The halfback battle will be a classic, the country’s two best number nine’s going at it. And the clash of the No 8’s will also be great. Highlanders loosie Mikaele-Tu’u has been impressive so far in 2020 and will be put to the test by Savea, who’s finding his feet after returning from a long injury layoff.
Sunday’s fixture doubles as ‘club night’ for the Hurricanes, where players and fans are encouraged to wear their club jersey to Sky Stadium – a tribute to the grassroots game.
18 of the last 22 Super Rugby clashes between the Hurricanes and Highlanders have been decided by a margin of seven points or fewer, including their last two meetings on the bounce.
Hurricanes: 1. Ben May 2. Asafo Aumua 3. Tyrel Lomax 4. James Blackwell 5. Scott Scrafton 6. Devan Flanders 7. Du’Plessis Kirifi 8. Ardie Savea 9. TJ Perenara © 10. Fletcher Smith 11. Ben Lam 12. Ngani Laumape 13. Vince Aso 14. Kobus Van Wyk 15. Jordie Barrett
Reserves: 16. Ricky Riccitelli 17. Pouri Rakete-Stones 18. Alex Fidow 19. Vaea Fifita 20. Murphy Taramai* 21. Jamie Booth 22. Billy Proctor 23. Wes Goosen
Highlanders: 1. Ayden Johnstone 2. Ash Dixon (cc) 3. Siate Tokolahi 4. Pari Pari Parkinson 5. Jack Whetton 6. Shannon Frizell 7. Dillon Hunt 8. Marino Mikaele-Tu’u 9. Aaron Smith (cc) 10. Mitch Hunt 11. Jona Nareki 12. Patelesio Tomkinson 13. Rob Thompson 14. Scott Gregory 15. Michael Collins
Reserves: 16. Liam Coltman 17. Daniel Lienert-Brown 18. Jeff Thwaites 19. Manaaki Selby-Rickit 20. Jesse Parete 21. Kayne Hammington 22. Bryn Gatland 23. Teariki Ben-Nicholas