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Aisle be back: Hurricanes v Crusaders review and Cheetahs preview

Hurricanes | 18 May 2017 | Kevin McCarthy

Aisle be back: Hurricanes v Crusaders review and Cheetahs preview

So it was a case of Down Trou Monday, and not-so-bad Tuesday.

Were you, too, baffled by some of the comments out of the Canes camp?

The team got a fair bit of a roasting in media at the start of the week;  a reflection of the general gloom about the Canes getting well beaten by a Crusaders side with a tough pack, in your face defence, and a ruthless mindset.

On reflection, some of that flagellation was a bit overdone. It was an  eight-point loss, the defence held up well under considerable pressure,  and the turnover rate was enough to give us ball to play with and win.

Yet the second half felt like a siege, with the scrum on skates and the lineout misfiring. And not a Barrettcuda in sight.

On Tuesday, the coaches were analysing the set-pieces and concluding, well, they went pretty much as well as they usually do. I find the high level stats sometimes trotted out (and yes, they're only a fraction of what the teams actually see and use) pretty unrevealing.

Complete numpties like the Rebels can end up with Super rugby's best ruck and maul completion rate.

Now whatever the stats say, our scrum was under the pump and no-one's denying that. And that always seems to spread through the team in the course of a game.

And the lineouts were none too flash. So when I hear the completion rates were pretty on par, I've got the feeling that while that may be the case, it really comes down to how poor your completion is when it really counts.

You'll remember the times in this game well enough - like turning down the penalty to kick into the corner and then muffing the lineout. It wasn't that we didn't have chances, we just couldn't convert.

Now I suspect there's a difference between the front shop comments and how the team will actually be reacting - and we'll see that this Saturday.

But my last bit of puzzlement was over Chris Boyd's comment that perhaps the Canes were trying to play too much footy.

I hope that doesn't mean we end up turning conservative. 

I'd say double down.

Double down on the audacity.

Double down on the tempo.

Double down on the run and gun.

Keep believing you can still top this conference, maybe the whole thing. 
 
And know that whatever happens, no finals footy team is going to be saying, wow, what a relief we're hosting the Hurricanes.

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My chief mental game this week, besides dodging Sader supporters at work, is trying to decide if I want the  Crusaders or the Chiefs to win.

Crusaders win and they may still top the overall table, and take some of  the travel load off the Kiwi teams later on. But they'll be at Fortress Christchurch. 

Chiefs win and it closes up the NZ conference of course. But then we'll all be playing for the chance to go to Ellis Park. However, is that that scary?

It's a tough one. So I'll just go Chiefs and hope they can puncture some of that Cantab smugness.

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Could Colesey be back soon? Not that Ricci R hasn't been too shabby. But  we sure could do with the skipper's zip and nous. Nehe would be nice too, but if we can only have one, then Dane's the man.

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My spies tell me that season ticket holders are getting their gifts this Saturday. Which is a bit later than usual.

Most disturbingly, they may indeed not be the promised knee blankets. I shall report back next week. 

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Beauden Barrett will start at fullback and Otere Black at first five in a reshuffled Hurricanes team named to play the Cheetahs at Westpac Stadium on Saturday evening.
 
Hurricanes head coach Chris Boyd has made four personnel changes to the team that started against the Crusaders with lock Sam Lousi set to make his starting debut in the second row.
 
Black will make his second start of the season in the No.10 jersey, Wes Goosen replaces Cory Jane on the right wing, and Ben May returns at loose head prop for Chris Eves.

 

Lifelong All Blacks supporter Kev has followed the Hurricanes since they began. Last year his faith in them was rewarded when they won the title – can they do it again?

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