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Reds approach Hurricane
Richard Kelly
April 24, 2014
The Hurricanes enter this match with history on their side © Scrum.com
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Whatever way you look at it, the Hurricanes v Reds game promises plenty for the viewer. The Canes are in good form and look to be making a serious challenge in the extremely competitive New Zealand conference.

The Reds on the other hand have stuttered their way into the middle of 2014 and know that they need to start posting victories or watch this season pale into insignificance. The Reds are loaded with talent - and if their confidence is not shot to pieces - should fancy their chances of testing any side in this competition.

We take a look at the previous history between these sides since 2006

The New Zealander's have ultimately dominated in this fixture and have always possessed the ability to score points. They will fancy their chances of outgunning the Reds, though if it is a lower-scoring game they feel more nervy. Perhaps more importantly than history of this fixture, we compare the averages of the two sides so far this year.

2014 Match Averages © Scrum.com
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A good sign for the Reds, despite their modest form, is their ability to score points. That said, in general play they have really struggled to penetrate opposition defences if compared to their opponents in this game. Their error rate is also high if you take into account that they have commanded possession far less than the Hurricanes.

The two sides are well matched at the set piece so it may well come down to who can produce the more dynamic play out wide and going by the form of the two sides so far, this would suggest that there could only be a home victory on the cards.

For the Reds to compete in this facet, their international combination of Quade Cooper and Will Genia will need to click. They come up against a brilliant up and coming partnership in TJ Perenara and Beauden Barrett in this game and with two strong forward packs and exciting players behind them, whoever wins this dual could have the deciding say on this game.

We compare the numbers of the two sets of players so far this year.

Looking at the two fly-halves, Barrett has had far more joy when running at defences by making eight clean breaks so far. That swells his average gain per carry but it is perhaps Cooper who is more effective at getting over the gain-line for quick ball as his healthy average gain is perhaps more true with fewer breaks of the line.

The Australian's real strength comes with his handling though. He is perhaps the most renowned offloader in the game at present and his eye to pick out a try-scoring pass is matched by no other man in the competition so far.

Perenara has also had a more of a deciding influence on his side's attack than Genia. He has assisted more tries, beat twice as many defenders and made four more clean breaks than the Wallaby. He is also an astute offloader, while in defence he has made a good nuisance of himself, winning five turnovers for his side.

Though the figures would suggest that Cooper and Genia are putting in a decent shift for the Reds at present, the duo of Barrett and Perenara are on fire at present and will take some stopping.

Genia and Cooper may need to take it upon themselves to get at the Canes a bit more often than normal in a bid to come away with points, both during the match and at the full-time whistle. Regardless, we should see some flamboyance in and amongst the half-back battle this weekend.


Follow @OptaJonny, the official Twitter page for Opta's coverage of rugby union and rugby league, and @OptaJason, the official Twitter page for Opta Sports' coverage of sport in Australia and New Zealand.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd

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