March 30, 2012
Westpac Stadium, Wellington, Saturday, 3.30pm (AEDT)
Last meeting: Round 9 2011 - Hurricanes 50 bt Cheetahs 47 at Vodacom Park
Head-to-head: Played 7 Hurricanes 5 Cheetahs 2
In Wellington: Played 2 Hurricanes 2 Cheetahs 0
Referee: Ian Smith (AUS)
TV: Live, FoxSports 3
Tab Sportsbet: Hurricanes $1.30 Cheetahs $3.30
Greg Growden writes: If there is going to be an upset, this is the most likely game, especially with the Hurricanes rotating players to avoid burnout. Sure, the Cheetahs are often treated as easy-beats, but they have vastly improved this season, and should have at least defeated the Brumbies - except for some dubious late refereeing calls in Canberra. As the Hurricanes are so unpredictable, the Cheetahs with a sizeable start are a sure bet.
AAP writes: Wellington is buzzing, and not because the Phoenix are hosting an A-League finals. The Hurricanes beat the Blues in fantastic style in Auckland last weekend, with captain Conrad Smith capping a comeback win with a try on full-time. The Canes don't have the best forward pack among the Kiwi teams but their skilful backline has a knack of making the most of their opportunities with Andre Taylor, Julian Savea and Beauden Barrett in sparkling form. Flanker Karl Lowe makes a long-awaited return from knee surgery for the home side. The Cheetahs pushed the Crusaders last week and will like their chances of troubling the Canes' struggling scrum.
HURRICANES: Andre Taylor, Cory Jane, Conrad Smith (capt), Charlie Ngatai, Julian Savea, Beauden Barrett, TJ Perenara, Brad Shields, Karl Lowe, Faifili Levave, Jason Eaton, James Broadhurst, Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, Dane Coles, Tristan Moran. Reserves: Motu Matu'u, Michael Bent, Mark Reddish, Jack Lam, Chris Eaton, Daniel Kirkpatrick, Jayden Hayward.
CHEETAHS: Hennie Daniller, Ryno Benjamin, Robert Ebersohn, Andries Strauss, Willie le Roux, Johan Goosen, Piet van Zyl, Philip van der Walt, Justin Downey, Heinrich Brüssow, Izak van der Westhuizen, George Earle, WP Nel, Adriaan Strauss (capt), Coenie Oosthuizen. Reserves: Hercu Liebenberg, Trevor Nyakane, Andries Ferreira, Ashley Johnson, Tewis de Bruyn, Sias Ebersohn, Philip Snyman.