Rugby Union: Hurricanes to prove too hot to handle

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RUGBY betting analyst Christian Murray (@wncomwncobutt) returns with his best bet from Friday morning's Super Rugby action.

Chiefs v Hurricanes | Friday 15th March 2019, 06:35 | Sky Sports

I nearly fell out my chair when the respective pack weights of the Highlanders and Hurricanes flashed onto the TV screen last Friday before the commencement of the first scrum of the game. The Highlanders packed down 60kg heavier than their Hurricane counterparts; as the subsequent Hurricane scrum went backwards at a rate of knots, I knew the Hurricanes would be in for a tough test.

John Plumtree, the Hurricanes coach, was very honest in his post-match appraisal and was quick to admit that the Highlanders had got the better of them up front. He would have also taken notice of how the Highlanders exposed some serious deficiencies in his team’s set-piece, driving maul and ability to defend the opposing teams rolling maul and pick and go around the ruck.

I’ve no doubt it’s something Plumtree would have addressed in training this week and he’s made changes to the Hurricanes team to reflect their shortcomings in these areas. Back come experienced props Toby Smith and Ben May, whilst Vaea Fifita has been moved into the second row to add a bit more beef to the front five.

Which is a shame for the Chiefs, as that’s the only way I could see them beating the Hurricanes on Friday, dominating up front. Even though they were spanked by the Crusaders last week, I thought the Chiefs forwards went well, giving as good as they got, especially when the Crusaders lost Joe Moody.

Unfortunately, I think lessons will have been learned by the Hurricanes coaching team and their forwards will be sufficiently equipped to ensure some parity up front and gain enough ball to allow their immensely talented backline to run riot.

Hurricanes too hot to handle

Let’s make no bones about it the Highlanders should have won that match against the Hurricanes. They would have done had it not been for the awesome Ardie Savea's two key turnovers, Luke Whitelock’s hands in the ruck at the death and the Hurricanes three-quarters. The Highlanders defence was massive, they really put the squeeze on the Hurricanes up front, but even with limited opportunities and little front foot-ball, the Hurricanes backs still managed to conjure up three tries and that was with Beauden Barratt having a bit of mare.

Now they come up against a Chiefs side whose season so far has been blighted by some shambolic defending. They have coughed up a whopping 23 tries (six more than anyone else) and 171 points (48 more than anyone else) in their first four games, whilst conceding on average 15 line breaks and 43 points per-game.

So not the best start for new defence coach Neil Barnes, who was previously the forwards coach until the start of this year.

It is a season of transition for the Chiefs, who along with a growing injury list (currently 13 1st XV players unavailable) have lost some very experienced players to other Super Rugby teams and the northern hemisphere. They will struggle whilst the players adapt to the new coaching structure and philosophies introduced by the franchise at the start of the season.

Colin Cooper, the head-coach, has recently admitted that it’s taken a little longer than he expected and I can’t see that changing dramatically in the space of a week. They have showed a lack of cohesion and are continually making the wrong decisions in both defence and attack.

So I can’t see past a Hurricanes win here and if they get a good start it could turn ugly for the Chiefs, so get on the Hurricanes -7 with Blacktype at even-money.

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Chiefs v Hurricanes – Hurricanes -7 handicap (1/1 Blacktype)

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