Same again for the ‘Canes

Hurricanes coach Colin Cooper has named an unchanged starting line-up for the first time this season to take on the Cheetahs from South Africa in their must-win Super 14 clash at Westpac Stadium in Wellington on Friday.

The men in yellow sit third from bottom on the Super 14 table, nine points outside the top four and needing to win each of the remaining four games while also relying on other results falling their way.

“We’re not out of it but we are another loss out of it,” Cooper told NZPA.

“There’s a lot more pressure on us to perform now. Every game is virtually do or die for us.

“We are eight points away from where I’d like us to be and that’s put a lot of pressure on us in these last four games.”

Beaten finalists last year, the Hurricanes have no realistic prospect of making the play-offs with just one month remaining in the round robin stage of the competition.

The team have managed just 16 tries in nine matches and will be hoping to change that against a Cheetahs outfit that have suffered two losses out of two so far on their Australasian trip.

The Hurricanes on the other hand will be boosted by their 17-9 victory over a tough Bulls team a fortnight ago at the ‘Cake Tin’, and will have been well rested after having a bye last weekend – which was both a good and bad thing, according to Cooper.

“The bye didn’t come at a good time for us, particularly since we’d just got seven personnel (All Blacks) back in,” said Cooper.

“They got two games under their belt then the bye arrived, so it hasn’t worked that well for us. But that’s the card played in front of us and we’ve just got to take on the challenge.

“Those who had been playing week in, week out have come back fresh, and it’s given us a good focus heading into the game this week.”

The Cheetahs have blown hot and cold in this year’s tournament, but dismantled quality teams in their Super 14 campaign – something Cooper is fully aware of.

“The Cheetahs are the most expansive of all the African teams,” Cooper said.

“Whereas the others are a little more predictable where they kick the ball for set play, the Cheetahs will move the ball from anywhere.

“So we really have to look after the ball. I want us to be a bit more ruthless with the ball in what we do, not give penalties away and not turn the ball over.”

Hurricanes: 15 Cory Jane, 14 Shannon Paku, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Ma’a Nonu, 11 Hosea Gear, 10 Piri Weepu, 9 Alby Mathewson; 8 Rodney So’oialo (c), 7 Chris Masoe, 6 Jerry Collins, 5 Jason Eaton, 4 Paul Tito, 3 Neemia Tialata, 2 Andrew Hore, 1 John Schwalger.
Replacements: 16 Mahonri Schwalger, 17 Anthony Perenise, 18 Brad Mika, 19 Luke Andrews, 20 Jimmy Gopperth, 21 David Smith, 22 Tana Umaga

Date: Friday 13 April
Venue: Westpac Stadium, Wellington
Kick-off:19.35 (07.35 GMT)
Referee: Paul Marks (Australia)
Touch judges: James Scholtens (Australia), Brent Murray (New Zealand)
Television match official:
Gary Wise (New Zealand)
Assessor: Stuart Beissel (New Zealand), Keith Hendricks (South Africa)


365 Digital

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