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Less-weary Hurricanes favourites: Brown

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 12/05/2017

The travel factor hands favouritism to the Hurricanes in their showpiece Super Rugby clash against the Crusaders according to a rival coach.

Highlanders mentor Tony Brown is tipping the defending champion Hurricanes to end the Crusaders' perfect record in Christchurch on Saturday in what he expects will be a cracking contest.

A Hurricanes side who have won six on the trot meet a Crusaders team who are 10 from 10.

The clash of two teams who have spent the season shredding opposition defences could determine who tops the power-packed Kiwi Conference.

Brown says the Crusaders tight turnaround after hammering the Bulls in Pretoria last week could be the decisive factor.

"I just think it's too tough to come back from South Africa and play at your best," said Brown, whose own team play in Pretoria this weekend.

"The Hurricanes are playing great footy at the moment and I think they might take the Crusaders there.

"If it was the other way around, the Crusaders would win. The travel's a big factor."

Brown admits catching the three leading Kiwi teams, including the Chiefs (9-1), is a tall order.

The Crusaders and Hurricanes are both on track to set competition try-scoring records, having tallied 124 between them.

"They're both playing outstanding footy. It's hard to believe how well they're playing at the moment," Brown said.

"I feel sorry for the teams that are coming up against them."

Hurricanes captain TJ Perenara said the Hurricanes aren't getting caught up in the occasion.

That, he said, was the secret to their success last year.

They played without fear when they won the equivalent clash 35-10 in Christchurch in last year's final round.

That result gave them the all-important home advantage for the play-offs, setting up a maiden title.

"I think enjoying the match and having fun is the most important thing," Perenara said.

"That's where a lot of people get lost in the game, they treat it as a chore more than anything.

"A lot of people think about the result or whether we play well or not and it actually does no good for the moment. I tend to preach that a lot in this environment. Trust your instinct, and whatever does happen, we'll get through it."

Inspired by gifting playmaker Beauden Barrett, the Hurricanes approach is obvious.

In nine games, they have scored 63 tries and kicked just three penalty goals.

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