Hurricanes aim to use winning momentum, home advantage against wounded Blues

With the first half of the Super Rugby Aotearoa out of the way, the Hurricanes are hoping to enter the home stretch riding the momentum of their last two matches.

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First-five Fletcher Smith says the Crusaders showed you need to win key moments to take down a team like the Blues. Source: 1 NEWS

Wins over the Chiefs and Highlanders have placed the Hurricanes third after five rounds but they'll have a chance to take second off the Blues this weekend when they host the Auckland franchise on Saturday evening.

First-five Fletcher Smith admitted to media he was unaware of the leapfrog opportunity his team had entering this week's match but one thing he did know - the Blues wouldn't make it easy for them.

"They bring a really strong kicking game," Smith told media this morning. 

"With Beauden and Otere, they have two good pivots who find good space with a kicking game."

That kicking game, along with a strong defensive line, has helped the Blues to win the previous two encounters between the teams in 2020 - 24-15 in Wellington pre-Covid and 30-20 in the opening round of Super Rugby Aotearoa.

Smith said the Hurricanes know they have to win the key moments in a game against the Blues if they want to avoid a 2020 whitewash this weekend.

"With the game versus the Blues, we got a few opportunities last time we didn't make the most of," Smith said. 

"That's what'll be important this week - these games come down to those moments."

Smith added you only needed to look at the Blues' last match - a close encounter where they eventually went down to the Crusaders for their first loss of the season - to see what the moments mean.

"If you look back at the Crusaders versus Blues game, the Crusaders probably nailed those moments towards the back end of the game. 

"It shows how important they are in the games."

If the Hurricanes can master those moments and win by 13 or more points this weekend they'll pass the Blues in the standings and take second off them, but Smith said the team weren't focused on the ladder.

"I suppose with the start we had, we were just worried about getting some wins on the board and generating momentum," he said. 

"We haven't been able to knock the Blues over in the last couple opportunities, so having them in Wellington at home is a really exciting opportunity for the team to get out there and put a good performance together."

There's also an added layer to Saturday's contest that it will be former Hurricanes star Beauden Barrett's first game in Wellington since moving to the Blues and, thanks to an injury keeping him out of their round one clash, brother Jordie's first time squaring off with him.

Smith said the team know the Blues fullback is probably looking forward to the match at the Cake TIn.

"He's obviously an influential player for the Blues," Smith said of Barrett. 

"We can't put too much emphasis on him because they've got a lot of game-breakers in their team; if you focus too much on one player, other guys can hurt you down the line. 

"But I'm sure he's just as excited to get down to Wellington to play as the 'Canes are to play against him. 

"It should be a good battle."