Hurricanes vs Melbourne Rebels Prediction: Heavily-rotated hosts should have too much

 | March 21 | 

3 mins read

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The Hurricanes will be looking to make it five-straight wins when they take on the Melbourne Rebels in Super Rugby on Friday morning (06:05), live on Sky Sports Action.

The Canes hit the road, swapping the Sky Stadium in Wellington for Palmerston North's CET Arena.

Hurricanes vs Melbourne Rebels Prediction

  • Hurricanes (-19.5) @ 21/20

Coach Clarke Laidlaw is using the match to test his squad's depth, making several changes before next weekend's derby trip to Dunedin to take on the Highlanders.

The Rebels sit seventh in the standings with a 2-2 record. They lost 53-26 at home to the Reds last Friday and, while they run in the tries, their defence is appalling, with their 140 points conceded the worst in the competition.

Friday's hosts were beaten in the pair's inaugural clash in 2011, but have won the last 10 meetings and their record against Australian sides hints that they will be ready to run all over them again.

Team News

The returns of captain Brad Shields and All Black Jordie Barrett have bolstered the Hurricanes.

Barrett will partner debutant Ngane Punivai in the centres, while fly-half Aidan Morgan, winger Daniel Sinkinson and full-back Harry Godfrey will make their first appearances of the year as part of the run-on side.

Half-back Richard Judd will also be looking to make his 2024 debut after being named among the replacements.

After some strong showings off the bench, the Rebels have rewarded loosehead prop Isaac Kailea with a start. Behind him, Angelo Smith comes in at lock and Tuaina Taii Tualima and Vaiolini Ekuasi start in the back-row.

The sole change in the backs is in the centres as Lukas Ripley replaces Nick Jooste. Ripley's selection could be a case of 'horses for courses' after scoring a hat-trick the last time the pair met in New Zealand.

Match Odds

The Hurricanes are the 1/12 favourites, implying that they have a 92.3%, chance of winning, with the Rebels 7/1, or a 12.5% chance, and the tie 28/1.

A home win with a -18 handicap is 10/11, while Laidlaw's side are just 4/9 to triumph by over 12 points.

Hurricanes (-19.5) @ 21/20

The 'Canes are setting the pace in Super Rugby Pacific and Laidlaw looks to have pinpointed this game from the outset as a chance to experiment.

Barrett's return from suspension adds an obvious dash of class and has the quality to cover for any mistakes his rookie colleagues might make.

Hitting the road means they will be determined to put on a show for their fans in Palmerston North and the Rebels' defensive record suggests they could be obliging guests.

After wins over the Reds, Blues and Crusaders, this is a chance for the hosts to let loose and Friday could be similar to their 44-14 round one win over another Australian side, Western Force.

The Victorians have their own array of attacking talent, including Wallabies' full-back Andrew Kellaway, who has already run in four tries this season and provided an assist.

They are dangerous on the counter and that, combined with the home team's changes and the possibility that they could take time to gel, demands a degree of success.

After making their best start to a season since 2015, Laidlaw's side look good to improve on last year's fifth-place finish.

The Kiwis have won their last 16 home games against Australian opposition and could expose the Rebels' porous defence and win with a bit to spare.

Hurricanes -19.5 at 21-20

Check out the rest of our Rugby Union Betting Tips here.

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