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Hurricanes to test the Brumbies' defence

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 20/04/2017 Matt Coughlan

The Hurricanes' meeting with the Brumbies shapes as the Super Rugby equivalent of a freight train speeding at a parked bus.

The competition's best attacking side are set to host the most miserly defence in Friday night's clash in Napier.

The Hurricanes are averaging almost seven tries a game, while the Brumbies have conceded just 120 points in seven games.

The Wellington-based defending champions are Super Rugby's best side for metres gained, clean breaks and defenders beaten - statistical areas where the Brumbies are amongst the worst in the competition.

But the Brumbies' brick wall has stood up this season, with the highest tackle percentage in the league.

Winger James Dargaville returns to the side after spending two matches on the sidelines as part of Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham's rotation policy.

"You don't want to go into your shell at any stage particularly against the Kiwi teams, they're going to score points," Dargaville said.

"Even though our defence has been great, their turnover and those sort of things are very good."

The Brumbies have contributed to Australian sides' shocking 0-12 record against New Zealand opposition in 2017, with the Crusaders and the Highlanders inflicting narrow defeats.

They have collected bonus points in all four of their defeats but Dargaville believes a renewed focus on attack is the edge the Brumbies need in close contests.

"Moving forward I think we need to be able to score points regularly as well to win those tight games," he said.

On the opposite wing Henry Speight has led the Brumbies' quest to be considered more than a one-trick set-piece pony.

And when fullback Aidan Toua runs the ball he can inflict the type of pain felt by the Queensland Reds in their 43-10 loss in Canberra two weeks ago.

"Watching Henry at the moment, Dos (Toua) against the Reds was unbelievable, even our forwards - they're all breaking tackles and throwing offloads," Dargaville said.

"When it sticks we're going to be pretty tough to beat."

Hurricanes five-eighth Beauden Barrett is free to wreak havoc with the Brumbies defence despite collecting three yellow cards in two weeks - he fronted the judiciary and escaped without sanction, restarting his card count.

Dargaville is set to come up against veteran All Black Cory Jane but the 24-year-old isn't overawed by his opponent.

"It's just like any other week. You've got to be on your a-game or else they'll show you up," Dargaville said.

Dargaville is one of two changes to the Brumbies' starting line-up with experienced hooker Josh Mann-Rea returning to the fold after a quicker-than-expected recovery from a knee injury.

Brad Shields will captain the Hurricanes with Dane Coles still out injured, while halfback TJ Perenara is set to start from the bench giving Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi a chance to start.

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