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Fleck starts with his pre-season squad in Wilderness


Robbie_Fleck_Carl_Fourie_Gallo_Images_620_395_s_c1_top_topDHL Stormers coach Robbie Fleck has named his first pre-season 38-man squad on Monday.

This is Fleck first task for the season as he was selected as the Head Coach for the Stormers for 2016 last year after what some would have seen as a controversial decision when Director of Rugby Western Province, Gert Smal choice was not excepted by Western President and counsel.

The squad will be doing there pre-season training in Wilderness this year and will be leaving for the training camp on Tuesday and will return to Cape Town on the 16th.

The camp will see the squad begin preparations in earnest for the new Vodacom Super Rugby season, and Fleck is looking forward to building on the work the team have already put in over the off-season.

“Traditionally we have been to Hermanus which has been really good for us, but we decided to visit Wilderness and George this year for a change of environment.

“The players worked incredibly hard over November and December and had a good break, so we are looking forward to picking up where we left off last year in terms of the way we want to play and our conditioning.

“The purpose of the camp is to build on our philosphy of our playing style and our culture,” said Fleck.

Players not attending the camp due to commitments with other teams are Schalk Burger (Suntory Sungoliath), Eben Etzebeth (NTT-Docomo Red Hurricanes), Juan de Jongh (Springbok Sevens), Cheslin Kolbe (Springbok Sevens) and Cornal Hendricks (Springbok Sevens).

The team will be holding an open day for the public on the afternoon of Thursday, January 14 at Outeniqua Park in George, with a signing session at 17.00.

DHL Stormers training camp squad: Nizaam Carr, Kurt Coleman, Damian de Allende, Jan de Klerk, Jean-Luc du Plessis, Robert du Preez, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Ryno Eksteen, Rynhardt Elstadt, Nic Groom, JC Janse van Rensberg, Huw Jones, Oli Kebble, Jean Kleyn, Vincent Koch, Siya Kolisi, Johnny Kotze, Dillyn Leyds, Frans Malherbe, Godlen Masimla, Bongi Mbonambi, Khanyo Ngcukana, Sikhumbuzo Notshe, Scarra Ntubeni, Justin Phillips, Louis Schreuder, JD Schickerling, Chad Solomon, JP Smith, Jaco Taute, Brandon Thompson, Jurie van Vuuren, Kobus van Wyk, Alistair Vermaak, Jano Vermaak, Jacques Vermeulen, Michael Willemse, Leolin Zas.


Jaguares ready to go….




With so much expectations surrounding the Argentina Super Rugby team the Jaguares, coach Raul Perez and his team cannot wait to get it all started.

With a most successful 2015 for the National team, Argentina announced there new Super Rugby teams name and logo in December which showcase an impressive squad of international players. The coach and players alike are glad to finally get the chance to work together and build up to the Super Rugby season.

We’ve been anxious to get started,” Pérez told the UAR website.”We’re with a group that know each other well, who have been working together for two years. Just like with the beginning of any process there’s a lot of expectation, especially when you think about the size of the tournament and how us joining Super Rugby has given us the level of competition we wanted.”

The players ended last year on a real high so there’s also a lot of expectation.”

Pérez revealed that closer attention on the side’s structures would come after the end of their physical preparations, which are well underway.

In the first few weeks there will be a lot of physical work, but not without working on in-game situations so that when it comes down to it the players are ready for anything,” he said. “Then we’ll have more of a chance to work together on our structures in attack and defence.”

Super Rugby’s played at a much higher intensity than at other levels and we’re prepared for that. We have an excellent staff to help us prepare for it in the best way.”

The Jaguares will make their debut in the Southern Hemisphere elite competition this year along with a team from Japan, The Sunwolves.


Super Rugby Preview: Kings fighting before it even starts


Southern_Kings_Kit_2016It is a new year and in eight weeks we will see the start of the new expanded Super Rugby taking shape in South Africa, New Zealand, Australia, Japan and Argentina.

This week we will look more closely at the Southern Kings who will be base in Port Elizabeth at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.

Unfortunately if you talk about the Southern Kings and Super Rugby in the same sentence, then you think about that story of the dog that everyday got out of the and chase the cars down the street, but where never able to catch them. Then one day he actually caught up with a cars he was chasing but did not know what to do with it once he caught it.

Most of the time we could have thought that Frans Marx was busy writing his new drama series for MNet, but reality is that we are sitting with the six team which we wanted and it seems we do not know now what to do with it.

The problems at the Kings are stretching way back when coaches started leaving the union due to unhappiness with management and salaries that was not paid. We should have seen the writing on the wall then already but with what seems to be a dictatorship at the steer of things in the union, the problems escalated to a point where SARU had to step in to save us from embarrassment.

Normally from November to February when the Super Rugby kicks off we do not see any news on the rugby front but the media were kept busy during the festive season with all that was going on at the EP Kings and preparations for their re-entry to Super Rugby.

Although things looks much more organised at the Southern Kings since SARU has step in, the “Sepie” has just began at the EP Kings with plenty of fingers pointing to the unions President Cheeky Watson. With a vote of no confidence hanging over the much talked about Watson, things could get worse before it will get better.

The fact remains that the Kings have wanted a place in the Super Rugby competition, which they now have and all that needs to prevail is rugby people making rugby decisions for the better of the franchise and the South African rugby.

In this week will look at the first of the South African franchises, the Southern Kings in the newly structured Super Rugby competition which include this year a team from Argentina and Japan.

Throughout the week we will get a better understanding of the team, the players and the coaches that will take the team through the season and try and pick up the pieces that was left in the aftermath of all that has been happening at the EP Kings last year.

SARU did made the announcement of the first twenty players that received contracts for the Super Rugby season to play at Nelson Mandela Stadium and represent the Southern Kings.

Southern Kings signings (to date):

Malcolm Jaer (20) Fullback, Siyanda Grey (26) Wing/centre, JP du Plessis (24) Centre, Stefan Watermeyer (27) Centre, Elgar Watts (30) Flyhalf, Louis Fouché (25) Flyhalf, Shane Gates (23) Flyhalf, James Hall (19) Scrumhalf, Kevin Luiters (23) Scrumhalf, Aidon Davis (21) No 8, Sipato Junior Pokomela (19) No 8, Cyril-John Velleman (20) Flank, Stefan Willemse (23) Flank, Thembelani Bholi (25) Flank, Cornell Hess (26) Lock, Steven Sykes (31) Lock, Tyler Paul (20) Lock/flank, Schalk Ferreira (31) Prop, Tom Botha (25) Prop, Edgar Marutlulle (27) Hooker.




Mark Hammett confirmed as Sunwolves coach


Mark Hammett is confirmed to be making a return to Super Rugby.

Mark Hammett, pictured in his role with the Cardiff Blues. Photo / Getty

Mark Hammett, pictured in his role with the Cardiff Blues. Photo / Getty

The former Hurricanes coach has this afternoon been unveiled as the head coach for the new Japanese Super Rugby side, the Sunwolves.

The 43 year-old will take the reigns of a squad of 34 players that includes 15 with Test experience and 10 of the Japan squad that took the world by storm at the recent Rugby World Cup.

The debut Sunwolves squad also includes former Hurricanes first-five and Samoan standout Tusi Pusi and ex-Blues lock Liaki Moli, as well as Bay Of Plenty lock Tim Bond and former Northland centre Derek Carpenter.

Hammett coached the Hurricanes from 2011-2014, compiling a record of 29 wins, two draws and 33 losses, before joining the Cardiff Blues as their Director of Rugby.

However, six months into a three year contract, he was released at his request to return home to New Zealand.

The former All Blacks hooker has also signed on as an assistant coach for the Tasman Makos in the 2016 National Provincial Championship – a role which is unlikely to clash with the Sunwolves role, as the Sunwolves are a big outside shot to make the Super Rugby playoffs.

Meanwhile, Super Rugby title-winning coach Jamie Joseph is reported to have agreed to coach the Japan national side, replacing new England boss Eddie Jones.

His hiring is expected to be officially revealed later in the week.


NZ Herald

Stormers get over Brumbies hurdle..just


The Stormers fought back in the second half to win a close contest against the Brumbies on Saturday with 25-24.




By: Jacques Nortier




Stormers win Brumbies

The match was an ugly affair which reminded one more of a South African derby with some feeling from both sides throughout the game.

Nick Mallett comment afterwards with,”Nic White needs a good klap” sums up the attitude the Brumbies brought to the game with a lot of off the ball stuff which at most of the time took away any form of a spectacle one expected from these two teams.

It was a different approach we saw from a usually attacking Brumbies side to try and unsettle the Stormers team.

As with the Lions game a bit earlier the afternoon, the South African Stormers side had to fight back from a first half deficient 16-9 to beat the Brumbies at home.

The Brumbies score two tries to the one of the Stormers and only a missed conversion straight in front of the poles gave the Stormers the final edge to win the game.

The Brumbies deserve the lead at half time with the Stormers handling and poor attacking skills costing them to turn possession into points. The only thing that really worked from the Stormers in the first half was the scrums which they were again to dominate from the start.

The strong scrums from the Stormers have serve them well this season and it was this part of the game that gave them there one and only try from Burger at the hour mark of the game and also gave them the lead for the first time.

A late try from flank David Pocock should have put the Brumbies back in front but Lealiifano hit the post with the conversion to set up a tense finish.

Fly-halves Lealiifano and Demetri Catrakilis traded early penalties to leave the Brumbies leading 6-3 after ten minutes.

De Allende had a shocker of a game in the first half but was able to put a better performance together on attack and defense in the second half. The Stormers lineouts was still not a happy aspect of their game but it was much better than last week with Etzebeth back in the team after last week rest.

The turning point came when Brumbies replacement lock Jorden Smiler was shown a yellow card for a silly tip tackle on Burger.

A series of scrums close to the Brumbies’ line followed shortly thereafter and while the visitors managed to keep their props out of the sin bin, it was a matter of time before their 14-man defence gave way to a barrage of Stormers drives off the back of their forward-moving scrum.

Burger eventually wriggled over and Catrakilis added the simple conversion to put the Stormers 22-16 ahead.

Leali’ifano pulled three points back with his third penalty of the night but Catrakilis replied with a well-taken drop goal to restore the six-point lead going into the final 10 minutes.

The almost 30 000-strong crowd was stunned into silence though when Pocock ghosted through the middle of a line-out to score untouched.

Unbelievably, Leali’ifano’s conversion effort from practically in front of the posts bounced off the upright to leave the Stormers ahead by the narrowest of margins.

Cue the home side to close out the game, never giving the Brumbies a sniff of the ball in the dying moments.

The Stormes have some worrying signs which they need to correct very fast if they want to be considered as real contenders in this competition. One get the feeling that even if they do make the play-offs that they will not be able to win against the big teams.

The scorers:

For Stormers:
Try: Burger
Con: Catrakilis
Pens: Catrakilis 5
Drops: Catrakilis

For Brumbies:
Tries: Tomane, Pocock
Con: Leali’ifano
Pens: Leali’ifano 3, Mogg
Yellow card: Smiler


Lions fight back to beat Highanders


Turning a first half deficient of 20-3 to a 28-23 win speaks loudly of the quality and character of the Emirates Lions team.



By: Jacques Nortier




Lions win Highlanders

The first half was not a true reflection of the Lions performance in the first half and they were able to show the quality that this team have in the second forty. The fact that the Lions could not secure their ball on attack gave the Highlanders the chances to use turnover ball to stretch out a comfortable lead.

Both sides showed their attacking intent from the outset although the first half only came alive during its final five minutes – when the Highlanders scored two tries.

The Highlanders thought they had made a perfect start when Aaron Smith got over the whitewash from a ruck close to the Lions’ tryline in the third minute. His effort was disallowed, however, after Patrick Osborne was penalised for holding back a Lions player in the build-up.

Marnitz Boshoff opened the scoring with a penalty in the 20th minute before Lima Sopoaga drew the visitors level with a three-pointer of his own from the kicking tee two minutes later.

Sopoaga put the Highlanders in front for the first time with a well-struck drop-goal in the 30th minute and when Gareth Evans rounded off a well-worked try in the right-hand corner five minutes later, the visitors looked set to make a perfect start to their South African tour.

On the brink of half-time the Highlanders extended their lead thanks to a moment of brilliance from Malakai Fekitoa. The Lions were on the attack just outside the visitors’ 22 but the Highlanders secured a crucial turnover before the ball was shifted to the All Black midfielder, who outpaced several defenders from close to his 10-metre line before scoring his side’s second try. A try scored in a manner the Supersport crew warned about on Thursday as the Highlanders have proven exceptionally talented at exploiting momentary opposition confusion after a turnover.

Sopoaga added the extras which gave the Highlanders a commanding lead at the break and he had a chance to extend the visitors’ lead shortly after the break but his penalty attempt was inaccurate.

The difference for the Lions came when Jantjies and De Klerk came on for Boshoff and Cronje. From the moment they stepped onto the field the Lions’ speed on attack was finding holes in the Highlanders defence. The Lions have a more direct impact on attack with this 9/10 combination and their ability to read the play was evident in the Lions’ first try by wing Courtnall Skosan in the corner to start the great fightback.

Jaco Kriel scored the Lions’ second try from a driving maul just outside the Highlanders’ 22. This move would have put the fear of God into the Highlanders as they found themselves completely incapable of fighting the Lions’ maul. When Jantjies slotted the conversion, the Lions were trailing by less than a converted try.

Things went from bad to worse for the Highlanders when Harold Vorster crashed over for the hosts’ third try in 61st minute and although Jantjes missed the conversion, two further penalties from him in the final 10 minutes sealed a superb win for the hosts. It will be a major worry for the coaching staff however that their lineout was domeinated after Anker Van Der Merwe came on.

The Lions side showed so much character that one can start believing they can beat any team in the competition.

The scorers:

For Lions:
Tries: Skosan, Kriel, Vorster
Cons: Jantjies 2
Pens: Jantjies 2, Boshoff

For Highlanders:
Tries: Evans, Fekitoa
Cons: Sopoaga 2
Pen: Sopoaga
Drop goals: Sopoaga, B Smith


Hurricanes win against gutsy Sharks


Problems in defense again cost the Cell C Sharks another game on Saturday when they lost against the Hurricanes 32-24.



By: Jacques Nortier




Hurricanes wins Sharks

Even with no Perenara, Barrett and Savea the Hurricanes had enough to beat the struggling Sharks team even with a much better performance from the Sharks.

On attack the Sharks had enough to beat the Hurricanes but yet again there defense cost them the game as the Hurricanes just found it too easy to get over the Sharks line. Surely the questions needs to be ask why the Sharks are looking totally unmanaged and unable to keep teams out this year.

One can have the best attacking skills and ability to score tries but if you cannot keep your opposition out and allow them to score more than what you can, then you will lose every game.

We’ve witnessed the Hurricanes dazzle with their attacking play but this was about being gritty and grinding out a win that was never guaranteed until just before the final whistle.

Ten wins from 11 matches now mean the Hurricanes are in prime position in the New Zealand Conference.

The Sharks had the perfect start with some great intent and Bismarck was the first man over the line to opening the scoring and one could have think that this may be the day the Sharks turns around there season but terrible defense let the Hurricanes back in the game and kept them there for most of the game.

The Hurricanes attack came good with a try for Cory Jane after he latched onto Ma’a Nonu’s looped pass in acres of space out on the wing.

Cronje hit back with his first penalty but the Hurricanes exploited some soft tackling with a well-worked try to restore the lead.

Matt Proctor hit a fine inside line off Ma’a Nonu and the winger created enough space for Conrad Smith to make his way over after breaking through to score.

Another shambolic high tackle from the Sharks saw them rightfully put down to 14 men with Etienne Oosthuizen seeing yellow right off the restart, but the visitors were growing in confidence.

A series of penalties within the Hurricanes 22 saw the South African franchise opt for the corner rather than the points, where they ultimately came up short.

Steyn did his best to notch up another three points on half-time but his long-range penalty was nowhere near, meaning the Hurricanes led 14-10 at half-time in an open first half not short of errors.

Line breaks and broken tackles weren’t a problem for the Hurricanes but their execution wasn’t quite at its best, as was illustrated by the opening minutes of the second half.

A prolonged period in the Sharks 22 went unrewarded with the visitors striking back with a rare long-range score finished off by S’bura Sithole as Cronje did well to put him into space.

Coming somewhat against the run of play, the Sharks forced the Hurricanes to chase down their lead with the home side responding thanks to a second try in a week for Reggie Goodes.

The loosehead, who is having a fine season, powered his way over from close-range with Marshall’s conversion making it 21-17.

Noticeably sharper in defence the Sharks began to impose themselves in the contest and their go-ahead try was outstanding.

JP Pietersen, bar his missed tackle on Smith in the first half, had an excellent game and after a good pass from Steyn the experienced Springbok drew the defenders across and offloaded on his inside to Akona Ndungane for the score.

With a shock win on the cards Marshall missed a penalty to tie the scores, but you can never write the Hurricanes off.

Sharp hands from Ardie Savea put the big lock Jeremy Thrush over in the corner for not only a try to take the lead with five minutes left, but also a try bonus point.

It meant the Hurricanes only held a two-point lead going into the closing stages with Marshall missing the conversion to set up a dramatic finish.

Weak tackles cost the Sharks again when Smith earned the Hurricanes a penalty within range for Marshall who snuck it in past the post for a bit of breathing room.

Cruelly given how much better they performed this week compared to last Friday, Marshall then denied the Sharks a losing bonus point with a second penalty, as the Hurricanes emerged on top 32-24.

For the Sharks to get back to winning ways they will need to get there defense organise and quickly so.

The scorers:

For Hurricanes: 
Tries: Jane, Smith, Goodes, Thrush
Cons: Marshall 3
Pens: Marshall 2

For Sharks:
Tries: B du Plessis, Sithole, Ndungane
Cons: Steyn 3
Pens: Steyn
Yellow Card: Oosthuizen


Rebels keep play-offs alive with win over Blues


In some way we are use to the fact that the Blues cannot put too many good performances together in too many weeks, so another disappointing defeat on the hands of the Rebels of 42-22 sums up the Blues weekend in week 13.

Rebels win Blues


Five tries were scored by the home side, who feasted on the Blues’ mistakes at times as the men from Auckland had their slim hopes of knockout rugby firmly extinguished by a much more clinical Australian outfit.

The Rebels are now provisionally just two points off the top six places and will hope the Force and Brumbies do them a favour this weekend.

Tony McGahan’s men were handed a gift three points via Mike Harris after four minutes when Blues lock Hayden Triggs was offside at ruck time.

3-0 was soon 8-0 for the hosts too as seven minutes later, blindside flanker Colby Fainga’a combined with wing Sefanaia Naivalu and number eight Scott Higginbotham to go over for a slick score, which came following turnover ball as Blues wing Tevita Li couldn’t hold on to an offload. Unfortunately for the Rebels, the usually reliable Harris could not add the extras.

The Blues meanwhile were wondering how they were not on the scoreboard in Melbourne after powerful inside centre George Moala and hooker Keven Mealamu had gone close either side of Fainga’a’s try.

Their drought ended on 27 minutes though when Moala’s midfield partner, Francis Saili, broke clear on halfway before firing out a pass to his left wing Melani Nanai, who finished strongly down the touchline. Ihaia West was on target off the tee to reduce the margin to just one point.

However, it was soon 11-7 thanks to Harris’ boot when flank Akira Ioane was pinged at ruck time before a moment to forget for the officials.

Referee Angus Gardner and his team incorrectly awarded Rebels prop Toby Smith a try on 36 minutes from a quick line-out that was taken after a ball boy had touched it. That however wasn’t discussed in the television match official referral as the Blues were hard done by. That made it 18-7.

The Blues did strike back before the half-time hooter thanks to West’s penalty that reduced the arrears to eight points and then came out of their dressing room firing after the turnaround, with replacement scrum-half Jamison Gibson-Park starting and finishing an attack with a try.

His score with West’s conversion meant it was now 18-17 but credit to the Rebels who struck back with purpose thanks to Higginbotham’s score on 51 minutes. That try moved the Wallaby number eight to the top of the chart for the most tries by a forward in Super Rugby history, edging out Owen Finegan.

The Blues weren’t done there though and continued to fight with plenty of time remaining in the game, Gibson-Park again sparking things which led to Moala powering over from two metres out. This time West couldn’t land the extra two points so it was now 28-22 with thirteen minutes left.

But then came a disastrous moment for the Blues from Jack Debreczeni’s resulting restart as the visitors under jumped and then fell off a tackle, with Dom Shipperley cruising over to undo all of their good work. Harris’ conversion meant the Rebels were 13 points to the good.

Just to add the icing on the Rebels’ cake, Shipperley then bumped off West on the right wing before he found Debreczeni for a simple run-in to rubber stamp the result at 42-22.

The scorers:

For Rebels:
Tries: Fainga’a, Smith, Higginbotham, Shipperley, Debreczeni
Cons: Harris 4
Pens: Harris 3

For Blues:
Tries: Nanai, Gibson-Park, Moala
Cons: West 2
Pen: West

Crusaders outclass poor Reds


Christchurch was again as happy as any rugby mad town can be in New Zealand after the Crusaders beat the Reds 58-17 on Friday.

Saders win Reds

If one have to think of the Reds one can only compare them to the Sharks with no structure in defence and no plan to make any team worried on a rugby field.

It was one of those special nights for the Crusaders as they ran in eight tries to two which also could be the last game for their iconic players, Carter and McCaw.

The home side only led 15-10 at the interval but six tries in the second half, including a brace for outstanding wing Nemani Nadolo, sealed an important win on a memorable night for the seven-time champions.

Further excellent performances from Colin Slade, Jordan Taufua and Nafi Tuitavake underlined the class in a Crusaders team that will surely still play a major role in the season run-in.

The Crusaders got off to a flyer with tries from half-backs Andy Ellis and Slade inside the first quarter, giving the home side a handy early lead.

Ellis was the beneficiary of a storming run from Nadolo down the touchline with the first attack of the game before some brilliant work from Carter in midfield put Slade away for a try from long range.

James O’Connor pulled three points back for the Reds from the tee in between those tries but the Crusaders completely dominated the first half-hour and a penalty from Slade to go with his conversion of the first try put the hosts 15-3 up.

The Reds were thrown a lifeline when Crusaders lock Dominic Bird was sent to the bin as a result of his team’s repeated ruck infringements but the visitors fluffed a golden opportunity to strike back with some below-par technique at a maul while camped on the Crusaders’ line.

Reward for their perseverance did eventually came in the form of try from centre Samu Kerevi, who powered through a handful of tacklers to score.

O’Connor’s conversion on the stroke of half-time kept the Reds very much in the hunt as the teams swapped ends.

The Crusaders struck almost immediately after the restart though via an intercept try from Nadolo as the big winger pounced in an ill-advised pass from O’Connor before Slade added the extras to restore the 12-point gap.

O’Connor missed a sitter of a penalty shortly afterwards to further dent the Reds’ spirits but Slade had no such worries with his second penalty giving his team a comfortable cushion.

From there the floodgates opened.

Nadolo showed his power to muscle his way past two defenders and to cross in the corner and seal the bonus point before Sam Whitelock showed impressive pace for a lock and great step as he bolted home from inside his own half.

Matt Todd finished off a wonderful team try started by a break from Carter before replacement wing Jone Macilai bagged number seven following a break from Kieron Fonotia.

Some quick hands as the ball went back and forth down the Crusaders line set up try number eight for Bird, who crashed over from short range.

Reds wing Chris Feauai-Sautia crossed for a good team try in the dying moments but it provided little consolation for a side that had been outplayed across the park.

The scorers:

For Crusaders:
Tries: Ellis, Slade, Nadolo 2, Whitelock, Todd, Macilai, Bird
Cons: Slade 6
Pens: Slade 2
Yellow card: Bird

For Reds:
Tries: Kerevi, Feauai-Sautia
Cons: O’Connor 2
Pen: O’Connor


Preview: Stormers vs Brumbies


From all the South African teams the Stormers have one of the better roads to travel in the last bit of this year’s Super Rugby competition and it all starts at Newlands this weekend against the Brumbies.



By: Jacques Nortier





Stormers vs Brum bies


The Stormers have been talked up in the press as the best change for South African teams to reach the play-offs due to their draw but one have to win games and win it with a bit of oomph.

Last week was so disappointed from a Stormers point of view losing to the bottom dwellers the Toyota Cheetahs in Bloemfontein. This should have been a bonus point win with more than 20 points but in fact it was a lost with no points at all.

These type of games is what makes a championship side and the Stormers have not yet shown that bit for many years.

With just six rounds left in the Super Rugby league phase, both the Stormers and Brumbies will be desperate for victory at Newlands on Saturday having on the wrong end of derby results last weekend.

The Brumbies suffered a 13-12 loss to the Waratahs in Canberra – a result which saw the defending champions move to within a point of Stephen Larkham’s side at the top of the Australian Conference.

The Stormers’ 25-17 loss to the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein proved more costly as it meant they surrendered their place the top of the South African Conference to Bulls.

Allot have been said about the Stormers lineouts and scrums, the one the best in the competition and the other the worst. This is something they need to sort out not just for the games ahead but for any change you have to win a play-off match you need to have your set pieces sort out.

One can be sure that the Brumbies will target the Stormers in the lineouts and it will be a huge contested area in the game. The Stormers have the luxury of having Springbok Eben Etzebeth back which will help them in this erea.

“They’ve fared poorly at line-out time in their last few games and it’s a facet we’ve already studied,” said Larkham.

“The Stormers are opting for shorter lineouts because they are inconsistent.

“The reasons for that are a combination of line-out calls, movement and throw-ins. It’s also a facet of the game where you can blow hot and cold from week to week.”

Stormers coach Allister Coetzee admitted that they would have to improve their line-out play considerably if they want to beat their Australian opponents.

“The Brumbies are a very good side,” he said.

“They’re very structured and don’t gift you any possession. They’re well coached and well organised in all aspects of their game.

“They’ve got a great maul and line-out (attacking-wise and defensively) and we really have to be up for this one.

“We’re obviously aware that we weren’t good enough last week and although we’ve had a disrupted week of training, with a lot of our players having been with the Springboks up until yesterday, we’re looking forward to being back at home in front of our supporters at Newlands.”

This will be a huge contested game and one can expect a great battle between the two sides.

Prediction: Stormers play at home and they would have sorted out the sort comings in the lineout. There superior pack will dominate the Brumbies and should give them the opportunities to score, Stormers by 7 points.

The teams:

Stormers: 15 Cheslin Kolbe, 14 Johnny Kotze, 13 Juan de Jong/Huw Jones, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Dillyn Leyds, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Nic Groom,8 Duane Vermeulen (c), 7 Siya Kolisi, 6 Schalk Burger, 5 Manuel Carizza, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Steven Kitshoff.

Replacements: 16 Scarra Ntubeni, 17 Ali Vermaak, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Jean Kleyn, 20 Nizaam Carr, 21 Louis Schreuder, 22 Kurt Coleman, 23 Huw Jones/Pat Howard.

Brumbies: 15 Jesse Mogg, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Robbie Coleman, 11 Joe Tomane, 10 Christian Lealiifano, 9 Nic White, 8 Ita Vaea, 7 David Pocock, 6 Scott Fardy, 5 Sam Carter, 4 Rory Arnold, 3 Ben Alexander, 2 Stephen Moore (c), 1 JP Smith.

Replacements: 16 Josh Mann-Rea, 17 Allan Alaalatoa, 18 Ruan Smith, 19 Jorden Smiler, 20 Jarrad Butler, 21 Michael Dowsett, 22 James Dargaville, 23 Nigel Ah Wong.

***Follow the game “Live” on Ruggaworld’s Super Rugby Match Center*** 


Preview: Rebels vs Blues


In our second game of the weekend the Blues travel to Australia to face the Rebels to try and keep the winning ways going for the men from Auckland.

Rebels vs Blues

If history is anything to go by, spectators are set for a high-scoring Super Rugby game between the Rebels and Blues in Melbourne on Friday.

A remarkable 63, 57 and 68 points have been scored in their three previous clashes so we should expect plenty of tries and drama throughout.

Both enter on the back of respective victories too, with the Rebels having edged out the Chiefs while the Blues got the better of the Force, which will hopefully see them play with plenty of confidence with ball in hand. Personnel should also help with that trend as we’ll explain.

Players such as Scott Higginbotham, Akira Ioane, Nic Stirzaker and Ihaia West thrive off fast-paced contests and coupled with the quality in the Blues backline and back- ow, there is every chance Melbourne will be treated to plenty of line breaks from these two play-off outsiders.

Of course the Rebels have the best chance out of these two of sneaking into the knockout mix due to the fact they have a game in hand to go with an eight-point buffer over the thirteenth placed Aucklanders. Therefore, a victory would put the pressure on the Crusaders, Lions and Stormers above them.

As has been the case over recent seasons, the Blues at home are very different to the side that travels outside of Eden Park so the Rebels enter as favourites as they look to back up that Chiefs scalp. And because of that, it’s hard to argue against the hosts claiming the spoils.

Previous results:

2013: Blues won 36-32 in Auckland
2012: Rebels won 34-23 in Melbourne
2011: Blues won 40-23 in North Harbour

The teams:

Rebels: 15 Mike Harris, 14 Tom English, 13 Dom Shipperley, 12 Mitch Inman, 11 Sefanaia Naivalu, 10 Jack Debreczeni, 9 Nic Stirzaker, 8 Scott Higginbotham, 7 Jordy Reid, 6 Colby Fainga’a, 5 Lopeti Timani, 4 Luke Jones, 3 Paul Alo-Emile, 2 Pat Leafa, 1 Toby Smith.
Replacements: 16 Tom Sexton, 17 Cruze Ah-Nau, 18 Tim Metcher, 19 Cadeyrn Neville, 20 Scott Fuglistaller, 21 Luke Burgess, 22 Bryce Hegarty, 23 Telusa Veainu.

Blues: 15 Lolagi Visinia, 14 Melani Nanai, 13 Francis Saili, 12 George Moala, 11 Tevita Li, 10 Ihaia West, 9 Jimmy Cowan, 8 Steven Luatua (c), 7 Brendon O’Connor, 6 Akira Ioane, 5 Hayden Triggs, 4 Culum Retallick, 3 Angus Ta’avao, 2 Keven Mealamu, 1 Tony Woodcock.
Replacements: 16 Greg Pleasants-Tate, 17 Ofa Tu’ungafasi, 18 Sam Prattley, 19 Josh Bekhuis, 20 Joe Edwards, 21 Jamison Gibson-Park, 22 Simon Hickey 23 Hamish Northcott.

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Preview: Force vs Waratahs


Force taking on the Warartahs is in some way something to look forward to with the Waratahs not really showing the class they had shown last year in becoming champions.




By: Jacques Nortier





Tahs vs force

One also just have to look back at the opening round defeat against the same Force team to know that the Waratahs will go full tilt to put things right against their Australian friends from Perth. The Force rocked the Waratahs boat with a 25-13 win in Sydney early this year but could not get any wins after that shock in the first round.

Although the Waratahs have not been playing constant winning rugby, they have shown some signs of the champion team they really are. Quality of players they have enough of it is just a question of putting it all together and do that for a couple of weeks in a row.

This derby will be one that the Waratahs would have targeted as they are six on the log at this stage and need to keep on winning to make the paly-offs this year. You can also see the strange phenomena, were the Waratahs will maybe cheer for the Stormers to beat the Brumbies in Cape Town, to see them move to the top of the Australian Conference.

For the Waratahs, Fijian wing Taqele Naiyaravoro replaces Peter Betham, who moves to the bench, and hooker Tolu Latu comes in for Tatafu Polota-Nau, who takes a break.

Adam Coleman replaces Wilhelm Steenkamp at No 5 lock for the Force, with Junior Rasolea at inside centre ahead of Luke Burton.

Prediction: Waratahs to win by 10+ points, this can either be a run-away or one of those boring Australian derby’s

Force – 15 Dane Haylett-Petty, 14 Luke Morahan, 13 Kyle Godwin, 12 Junior Rasolea, 11 Nick Cummins, 10 Sias Ebersohn, 9 Ryan Louwrens, 8 Ben McCalman, 7 Matt Hodgson (c), 6 Angus Cottrell, 5 Adam Coleman, 4 Steve Mafi, 3 Tetera Faulkner, 2 Nathan Charles, 1 Pekahou Cowan.
Subs: 16 Heath Tessmann, 17 Chris Heiberg, 18 Guy Millar, 19 Wilhelm Steenkamp, 20 Kane Koteka, 21 Alby Mathewson, 22 Luke Burton, 23 Marcel Brache.

Waratahs  15 Israel Folau, 14 Taqele Naiyaravoro, 13 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 12 Kurtley Beale, 11 Rob Horne, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Wycliff Palu, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Jacques Potgieter, 5 Dave Dennis (c), 4 Will Skelton, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Tolu Latu, 1 Benn Robinson.
Subs (one to be omitted): 16 Hugh Roach, 17 Jeremy Tilse, 18 Paddy Ryan, 19 Mitchell Chapman, 20 Tala Gray, 21 Pat McCutcheon, 22 Brendan McKibbin, 23 Matt Carraro, 24 Peter Betham.

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Preview: Hurricanes vs Cell C Sharks


Second game for the Cell C Sharks on tour and yet another top New Zealand team to face this weekend in the Hurricanes.



By: Jacques Nortier



Canes vs SHarks

The Sharks had it all the past seven days, with yet another crushing defeat last weekend, John Smith writing an open letter to fans to say they are going to get better and Springbok Cobus Reinach returning home with a broken hand.

This week see them facing the top team of this year’s competition the Hurricanes and it can become a tour from hell if they do not pitch up on Saturday against the log leaders.

Gary Gold has welcome back a few players in Francois Steyn and Bothma in the starting line-up and he was also able to select the Springbok front row for Saturday clash.

“The Hurricanes are a team on an absolute high at the moment, their performance against the Crusaders was outstanding and this is probably going to be a big challenge for our players at this moment in time, with our backs against the wall,” explains Gold to Sharks Rugby Website.

“We’re playing the best team in the competition, it’s going to be an unbelievable challenge, but one that’s going to make us grow as a group.”

Lwazi Mvovo has moved to fullback, a straight swap with Odwa Ndungane while Lionel Cronje wears the number 10 jersey, partnering Stefan Ungerer who gets his first start at scrumhalf.

“From our point of view, we need to concentrate on the things we can do well, we know we have the ability to do well, even though we haven’t done it very often. But we’re a proud bunch of guys and this is an opportunity against the odds to step up to the plate.”

The Hurricanes have included Chris Evens for his first start of the season with Vito also returning from injury. Coach Chris Boyd have decided to rest star wing Julian Savea which see TJ Perenara, Matt Proctor and Chris Smylie coming into the starting team.

The problem with the Sharks team still lies with their nine and ten and with Lambie and Reinach out one cannot see anything improving for them in that department.

Prediction: This will be another horrible week for Sharks fans and Hurricanes should win by 15 + at the end of the day.

Hurricanes: 15 Nehe Milner-Skudder, 14 Cory Jane, 13 Conrad Smith (c), 12 Ma’a Nonu, 11 Matt Proctor, 10 James Marshall, 9 Chris Smylie, 8 Victor Vito, 7 Ardie Savea, 6 Blade Thomson, 5 James Broadhurst, 4 Jeremy Thrush, 3 Ben Franks, 2 Motu Matu’u, 1 Chris Eves.

Replacements: 16 Brayden Mitchell, 17 Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, 18 Reggie Goodes, 19 Callum Gibbins, 20 Brad Shields, 21 Frae Wilson, 22 Otere Black, 23 Rey Lee-Lo.

Sharks: 15. Lwazi Mvovo, 14. Odwa Ndungane, 13. JP Pietersen, 12. Francois Steyn, 11. S’bura Sithole, 10. Lionel Cronje, 9. Stefan Ungerer, 8. Renaldo Bothma, 7. Etienne Oosthuizen, 6. Marcell Coetzee, 5. Marco Wentzel (Captain), 4. Stephan Lewies, 3. Jannie du Plessis, 2. Bismarck du Plessis, 1. Tendai Mtawarira

Replacements: 16. Franco Marais, 17. Dale Chadwick, 18. Lourens Adriaanse, 19. Mouritz Botha, 20. Kyle Cooper, 21. Conrad Hoffmann, 22. Andre Esterhuizen, 23. Waylon Murray

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Preview: Crusaders vs Reds


Richie McCaw and Dan Carter are set to play their last game in Christchurch for the Crusaders in Friday’s Super Rugby clash with the Reds.

saders vs reds

With the seven-time champions playing their only other remaining ‘home’ game in Nelson, and a home play-off seemingly now out of reach, this week is likely to mark the end of an era for Super Rugby’s most successful city.

Carter is heading to Racing-Métro in France after the World Cup and while McCaw is yet to confirm his retirement it is understood this will be his last game at AMI Stadium in a red jersey.

“Being a Cantabrian and growing up in Christchurch, to play for Canterbury and the Crusaders has meant so much to me,” Carter told local media on Monday.

“To think it is probably going to be my last game on home soil means it will be a pretty emotional time throughout the week.”

The fact that McCaw will start from the bench after an enforced concussion layoff and Carter will not wear 10 – he will play at inside centre with Colin Slade continuing at fly-half – is an illustration of how far off script this season has gone for the iconic All Blacks duo and their team.

Sitting in ninth place and with a difficult set of fixtures left – including trips to the defending champions as well as the Aussie conference-leading Brumbies interspersed with clashes against the pace-setting Hurricanes and away to the resurgent Blues – if the Crusaders are to have any hoping of continuing their proud record of featuring in the playoffs every year since 2002, a bonus-point win over the 2011 champions is non-negotiable.

The good news for hosts is that the Reds have been woeful this year, and have just two wins to show from their ten games, both against fellow strugglers (the Force and Cheetahs).

The Crusaders have won three in a row against the Reds since defeat in the final in 2011, scoring nearly 37 points per game.

In typical fashion, McCaw has attempted to deflect attention away from himself, calling on his team to focus on the task at hand and not get swept up by emotions if they are to save their season.

The All Blacks skipper believes that trying too hard has been the Crusaders biggest problem as they try to climb out of their slump in results.

“That’s not always the solution,” he said.

“We’ve got a team here that’s a bit like that. Trying extra hard to get it sorted. When you’re all not quite nailing it, and our performances have been a bit like that, it can happen.

“Looking back at the Blues game, I perhaps relaxed a little bit more rather than trying too hard. And we had a better performance as a team and that makes it easier for the individuals.

“Sometimes the games go your way, sometimes they don’t and if you try and force it then sometimes you go out of the system and away from what’s best for the team.”

The teams:

Crusaders:15 Tom Taylor, 14 Nafi Tuitavake, 13 Ryan Crotty, 12 Dan Carter, 11 Nemani Nadolo, 10 Colin Slade, 9 Andy Ellis, 8 Kieran Read (c), 7 Matt Todd, 6 Jordan Taufua, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Dominic Bird, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Wyatt Crockett.
Replacements:  16 Ben Funnell, 17 Alex Hodgman, 18 Joe Moody, 19 Jimmy Tupou, 20 Richie McCaw, 21 Mitchell Drummond, 22 Kieron Fonotia, 23 Jone Macilai.

Reds: 15 Lachie Turner, 14 Chris Feauai-Sautia, 13 Samu Kerevi, 12 Anthony Fainga’a, 11 James O’Connor, 10 Nick Frisby, 9 Will Genia, 8 Jake Schatz, 7 Liam Gill, 6 Adam Thomson, 5 James Horwill, 4 Rob Simmons, 3 Greg Holmes, 2 James Hanson, 1 James Slipper (c).
Replacements: 16 Andrew Ready, 17 Sef Fa’agase, 18 Sam Talakai, 19 Marco Kotze, 20 Lolo Fakaosilea, 21 Scott Gale, 22 Ben Tapuai, 23 Jamie-Jerry Taulagi.

Date: Friday, May 8
Venue: AMI Stadium, Christchurch
Kick-off:  19:35 local (07.35 GMT, 17:35 AEST, 09:35 SAST)
Referee: Mike Fraser (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Nick Briant (New Zealand), Paul Williams (New Zealand)
TMO:Vinny Munro (New Zealand)


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Preview: Blues vs Force


Blues vs Force

By: Jacques Nortier

Saturday morning’s Super Rugby kicks off with the Blues vs the Force as both teams will try to get a win which is something scares this year for both.

With just one victory each for both teams this would be a game both coaches would have looked at to get that second win of the season. Between the two teams the Blues was the most disappointing this far the season as they have all the players to put a decent team on the park but poor skills, handling and option taken have been the story of their year so far.

Both teams have come close in many of their games, but as must as winning becomes a habit losing does that as well to any team.

For the Blues they welcome back Kaino this week which will bring plenty to the struggling team. Kaino have been almost the lone ranger in this team this year and have been putting performance after performance in a losing team, but rugby is a team sport and one man does not make a team.

There is one change in the Force team with Louwrens replacing the suspended Prior at scrum half for this week.

The thing about desperate teams playing each other is that it can be a great game or it can be one you pray for the whistle to blow for the end of the game, let’s hope for the exciting one rather…

Prediction: This is one that can both way just because of the pure eagerness of both teams to get a win but Blues should be the one at the end smiling, Blues by 15 points.

Blues – 15 Charles Piutau. 14 Lolagi Visinia, 13 Francis Saili, 12 George Moala/Hamish Northcott, 11 Melani Nanai, 10 Dan Bowden, 9 Jimmy Cowan, 8 Jerome Kaino (c), 7 Brendon O’Connor, 6 Akira Ioane, 5 Hayden Triggs, 4 Josh Bekhuis/Culum Retallick, 3 Charlie Faumuina, 2 Keven Mealamu, 1 Tony Woodcock.
Subs: 16 James Parsons, 17 Ofa Tu’ungafasi, 18 Angus Ta’avao, 19 Steven Luatua, 20 Luke Braid, 21 Jamison Gibson-Park, 22 Ihaia West, 23 Hamish Northcott/Tevita Li.

Force – 15 Dane Haylett-Petty, 14 Luke Morahan, 13 Kyle Godwin, 12 Luke Burton, 11 Nick Cummins, 10 Sias Ebersohn, 9 Ryan Louwrens, 8 Ben McCalman, 7 Matt Hodgson (c), 6 Angus Cottrell, 5 Adam Coleman/Wilhelm Steenkamp, 4 Steve Mafi, 3 Tetera Faulkner, 2 Nathan Charles, 1 Pekahou Cowan.
Subs: 16 Heath Tessmann, 17 Chris Heiberg, 18 Guy Millar, 19 Wilhelm Steenkamp/Ross Haylett-Petty, 20 Kane Koteka, 21 Justin Turner, 22 Marcel Brache, 23 Junior Rasolea.


Preview: Brumbies vs Waratahs


Brum vs Wara

By: Jacques Nortier

Brumbies versus Waratahs have been an exciting prospect for a number of years now and on Friday morning we will be treated to yet another Aussie clash between these two teams.

The Brumbies and the Waratahs have been the two top sides for the Aussies the last couple of years and with both in the running for the Aussie conference one can expect a brutal battle.

As the defending champions this year the Waratahs have been blowing hot and cold so far but they are a very dangerous side and one of the teams that is in the reckoning to take the title again this year.

Coach Cheika has made two changes to his side for the clash with Palu and Potgieter into the back row. The Waratahs are second in the Aussie conference, four points behind the Brumbies so all to play for this Friday.

The big battle will in the game will surely come from the side of the scrum were Hooper and Pocock will face each other. They will not just battle it out in the match but also for the open side position in the Australian team.

Gibson believes he offers a different skill-set to his predecessor with the Wallabies. “You’ll see David Pocock very strong on the ball, getting in and being a real pest around the breakdown, whereas Hoops is almost like a second back,” he told the Sydney Morning Herald.

“The try that he set up on Saturday night [Adam Ashley-Cooper’s 20th minute effort against the Rebels], I think David Pocock would struggle to do that.

“You’ve got to admire them for their own skill sets and admire the battle.”

The Brumies have started well this year but did had a slip against the Blues and the Rebels but came back strongly against the Highlanders last week. They have made only two changes to their side for the Waratahs game with Carter coming in at lock and Alexander at prop.

This could be one of the games of the weekend if the real Brumbies and Waratahs team run onto the field.

Prediction: The Waratahs have just ben to inconsistent this year so far for me to tip the scale to their side for this match and even some of the wins was and awful affair, Brumbies by 5 points.


Waratahs: 15 Israel Folau, 14 Peter Betham, 13 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 12 Kurtley Beale, 11 Rob Horne, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Wycliff Palu, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Jacques Potgieter, 5 Dave Dennis (c), 4 Will Skelton, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 Benn Robinson.
Replacements (one to be omitted): 16 Tolu Latu, 17 Jeremy Tilse, 18 Paddy Ryan, 19 Mitch Chapman, 20 Stephen Hoiles, 21 Pat McCutcheon, 22 Brendan McKibbin, 23 Taqele Naiyaravoro, 24 Matt Carraro.

Brumbies – 15 Jesse Mogg, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Robbie Coleman, 11 Joe Tomane, 10 Christian Lealiifano, 9 Michael Dowsett, 8 Ita Vaea, 7 David Pocock, 6 Scott Fardy, 5 Sam Carter, 4 Jordan Smiler, 3 Ben Alexander 2 Stephen Moore (c), 1 JP Smith.
Replacements: 16 Josh Mann-Rea, 17 Allan Alaalatoa, 18 Ruan Smith, 19 Blake Enever, 20 Jarrad Butler, 21 Joe Powell, 22 James Dargaville, 23 Nigel Ah Wong.



Preview: Highlanders vs Cell C Sharks


First game for the Sharks on tour will be against Highlanders will be a difficult one but the Sharks do have the services of Springbok Bismarck Du Plessis back for this game. Bismarck will have to step up to make up for his suspension of the last couple of weeks.

Highlanders vs Sharks

By: Jacques Nortier

Wentzel will keep the captaincy after Bismarck requested not to be selected as the captain.

Ndungane move back into the 15 jumper which looks like a much better option than SP for the team at this stage with Esterhuizen and Pietersen making up the midfield.

One can see the Highlanders targeting the fly half channel with young Zeilinga at 10 for the Sharks. He will be put under pressure as they will try and unsettle the youngster with Lambie still out injured.

Upfront the Sharks have a formidable pack that will be able to dominate as there scrums started to get better in the last couple of games.

A win is essensial for the Sharks not just for the Championship but also for the rest of the tour and with a week off last week they can get into the game the fresher of the two teams.

The Highlanders have been one of the front runners the whole competition and at home they are as difficult as any top team in the competition. Coach Jamie Joseph had made seven changes to his team to take on the Sharks.

The Highlanders All Blacks Ben Smith, Aaron Smith and Fekitoa are all back after a week’s break and will boost the team for Friday’s match.

The Highlanders have won six out of there nine games this year with the Sharks only four out of ten games.

Prediction: The Highlanders will be difficult to beat at home and with the Sharks playing without their general at 10 it swings towards the Highlanders, but with Bismarck back to make the wrongs right I think the Sharks will try and take on the Highlanders upfront and starve them from the ball. Sharks with 3 points.


Highlanders: 15 Ben Smith, 14 Waisake Naholo, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Richard Buckman, 11 Patrick Osborne, 10 Lima Sopoaga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Nasi Manu, 7 Dan Pryor, 6 Gareth Evans, 5 Mark Reddish, 4 Tom Franklin, 3 Josh Hohneck, 2 Liam Coltman, 1 Kane Hames.
Replacements: 16 Ash Dixon, 17 Brendon Edmonds, 18 Pingi Tala’apitaga, 19 Joe Latta, 20 Elliot Dixon, 21 Fumiaki Tanaka, 22 Marty Banks, 23 Jason Emery

Sharks: 15 Odwa Ndungane, 14 S’bura Sithole, 13 JP Pietersen, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Fred Zeilinga, 9 Cobus Reinach, 8 Willem Alberts, 7 Renaldo Bothma, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Marco Wentzel (c), 4 Stephan Lewies, 3 Lourens Adriaanse, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Tendai Mtawarira
Replacements: 16 Franco Marais, 17 Dale Chadwick, 18 Matt Stevens, 19 Mouritz Botha, 20 Etienne Oosthuizen, 21 Conrad Hoffmann, 22 Lionel Cronje, 23 Waylon Murray



Exciting north-south derby for SA fans in Week 11


It is week 11 of Vodacom Super Rugby and we have a few match-ups that should be interesting coming up this weekend.

By: Jacques Nortier


One of the highlights this weekend is the old North versus South derby at Newlands between the Stormers that will host the SA Conference leaders the Bulls on Saturday night. This match could help decide the SA Conference winner but I am sure some Sharks and Lions supporters will have something to say about that.

Other match-ups to look forward to will be the Brumbies versus the Highlanders on Friday and also just for the sure pleasure of it the Crusaders versus the Blues on Saturday morning.

Friday 24 April

Chiefs vs Force

Chiefs vs Force

First up this weekend is the Chiefs taking on the struggling Force on Friday morning. McKenzie has been given the 10 jumper in place of All Black Cruden who will be out for the rest of the season for the Chiefs.

Cruden picked up a torn ACL last week and will even struggle to get back to the field in time for the World Cup. Even without Cruden the Chiefs still looks like a championship team and will want to put a big performance in against the Force.

Messam is also being rested and will be replaced by Symons on Friday.

The Force have never won away against the Chiefs and it will be a hard core gambling man to bet for that stat to change this weekend. The Force did get some good news this week with the return of Matt Hodgson who returns to the team.

The Force is one of that teams that can spring a surprise onto the bigger teams as they proofed last season with a win in Perh over the Chiefs.

Prediction: Even with the win of last season which can as a huge surprise, one cannot see the Force beating the Chiefs at home, Chiefs by 20 plus points.

Brumbies vs Highlanders

Brumbies vs Highlanders

The second game on Friday should be one of the weekend’s matches as the Highlanders travel to Australia to take on the Brumbies.

With some great wins behind their name and some brilliant rugby being played by the Highlanders this year one would not be surprise to find a Highlanders win after eighty minutes. The Highlanders has become a very dangerous team and in most of their games this season has built an early lead against the other teams.

The Brumbies comes of some poor games the past few weeks and need to get back to winning ways soon not too miss the playoffs. The Brumbies could just have found an opening to beat the Highlanders as they will be resting Aaron Smith, Malakai Fekitoa and Ben Smith.

The Brumbies will also be without some star players as Matt Toomua and Nic White will not be playing. Between the two teams they have scored 43 tries so we are in for a try-fest.

Prediction: This pure guessing but I give this one to the Brumbies as I believe that they will miss Smith, Fekitoa and Smith more than the Brumbies will miss White and Tooma, Brumbies by 6 points.

Saturday 25 April

Crusaders vs Blues

Crusaders vs Blues

This has all the making of being a great local derby with the Crusaders struggling after the big win over the Sharks a couple of weeks ago and the Blues playing some better rugby.

The Crusaders need there senior players to step up this week as much have been said over the performances of All Blacks Carter, McCaw and even Read. The Blues is busy building from the worst start they had in the competition and are getting better and better each week.

A local derby against the Crusaders can just be the medicine they need to get another win for the season.

The Blues have no made no less than eight changes for this week’s match with the Crusaders making four changes. Taylor comes in for the Crusaders at hooker as is Franks at prop. Drumming will start at scrum-half and Crotty is back in the midfield.

Prediction: Not an easy one to call but one has to believe the Crusaders will come right at some stage and this could just be the game to do so, Crusaders by 10 points.

Waratahs vs Rebels

Waratahs vs Rebels

We stay with local derbies as the Waratahs will host the Rebels in the second match of the weekend.

After the disappointing match against the Stormers at home two weeks back the Waratahs showed why they became champions last weekend with a great win over the Hurricanes. This was the first lost for the Hurricanes and the Waratahs will want to build on that for this week’s game.

Australian games have not been great this year but this could be one were the Waratahs can show that they are in this to defend their title.

The Rebels as the Force have not had a great season but this will have to be a perfect performance against the Waratahs if they want to win this one.

Prediction: Waratahs by 20 points…

Lions vs Cheetahs

Lions vs Cheetahs

Saturday afternoon sees the first of two South African derby’s with the Lions and the Cheetahs kicking it off in Johannesburg.

The Lions is on a high since coming back from three wins on tour as they beaten the Sharks and Bulls in recent weeks. They will be looking forward to make it three out of three against South African opposition comes Saturday.

The Cheetahs is sitting on the opposite side of the window as they have lost narrowly against the Reds last week at home after coming back from a disappointing tour. To add to the Cheetahs misery, they also lost two of their star players in Brussow and Le Roux for a couple of weeks.

One find it difficult to think that the Cheetahs have any change to upset this Lions team but then again stranger things have happened before.

One of the exciting inclusions in the Lions team will see Armand van der Merwe getting a start at hooker and Dreyer who will start at prop.

Things could get very interesting come Saturday afternoon at five o clock when these two team take each other on.

Prediction: Just cannot see the Cheetahs upsetting the Lions, Lions by 20 plus…..

Stormers vs Bulls

Stormers vs Bulls

Now this is one for the weekend as the number one and two in the South African conference take each other on at Newlands.

Through the years, does not matter how good or bad these two teams were, one would almost always get a nail bitter when they play each other. This weekend they can do so with almost both teams at full strength and one just hope that they can live up to the hype that is the Bulls vs the Stormers derby.

The Stormers came back from a not too bad tour but did not have a too much time to prepare for this big match. Too add a bit of spice they have lost both their wings and will have to face this Bulls sides with two new speedsters.

Great news for the men from the Cape is the return of their captain and Springbok Vermeulen and he will pair up with the ever great Burger and Kolisi on Saturday.

If one think that they will take on Spies, Steggman and Du Plessis one can expect some fireworks upfront and on attack.

The Bulls have a new combination behind the scrum with Van Zyl coming in for Paige at nine pairing up with the Springbok Pollard. One would expect Pollard to step up to the plate after last week’s disappointed performance.

Kolbe and Kriel will be great to see as would the returning Serfontein against De Allende in the midfield.

This has all the making of great one come Saturday evening.

Prediction: This is here were the gambler needs to step in because one would find is difficult to pick a winner when these two teams walks onto the same field, but one has to think the Stormers may have the edge upfront and that could just be the deciding factor, A very causes win to the Stormers by 6 points…

Sunday 26 April

Reds vs Hurricanes

Reds vs Hurricanes

The last game of week 11 sees the Reds hosting the Hurricanes after their tour in the Republic the last two weeks.

The Reds will take allot of heart from there win against the Cheetahs last week but they will have to face a Hurricanes team who came of their first loss of the season last week against the Waratahs. The lost will not have sit very nicely for the Hurricanes and one can expect them to hit hard to get back to winning ways.

As much as winning becomes a habit so does losing, and the Hurricanes will want to be very careful not to lose another one in Australia.

With so many great game breakers in this Hurricanes team one finds it very hard not to see them taking this one over a struggling Reds side.

As with the Stormers the Reds had to travel along way to get back home and that could just add to their misery in facing this Hurricanes team.

Predictions: One can only see one result here and that will be a Hurricanes win and it should be with more than 25 points.

Cooper signs with Toulon


Wallaby star Quade Cooper will join Toulon on a two-year deal next season, according to reports in France.


The Reds playmaker will quit Super Rugby to join the reigning French and European champions having spent the weekend in the south of France.

Cooper was on hand to watch Toulon make their third successive European Cup final in Marseille on Sunday, and L’Equipe are now reporting that he has signed a two-year contract.

It’s the latest in a string of big name signings for the French side, with Mourad Boudjellal having hinted at the move over the weekend.

Cooper will join the likes of Ma’a Nonu, Samu Manoa and Napolioni Nalaga next season, while Duane Vermeulen has also reportedly signed.

And Toulon might not be done there, with reports emerging this morning that Paul O’Connell could also be on their radar.

Boudjellal had previously talked of bringing in ‘The Fantastic Four’ next year, but it’s not yet clear which of his new recruits fall under this category.

Toulon are currently top of the Top 14, and will play Clermont in next weekend’s Champions Cup final as they seek a historic third straight title.

Cooper’s departure is the latest big blow for the Reds, who have already lost James Horwill and Will Genia to European deals next year.

Pietersen at fullback for Cheetahs


The Cheetahs have named their side that will face the Lions at Ellis Park on Saturday, with Joe Pietersen moving into the full-back shirt.


Naka Drotské’s side enters the derby without injured duo Willie le Roux and Heinrich Brüssow, with Tienie Burger replacing the latter at openside.

Meanwhile, loosehead prop BG Uys is suffering from a back injury and has been ruled out for three weeks. He will be replaced by Danie Mienie with Caylib Oosthuizen named on the bench as cover.

In the backline, Willie du Plessis will direct the team from fly-half alongside scrum-half Sarel Pretorius, with Clayton Blommetjies on the bench.

The last game between these two teams was on April 5, 2014 at the Free State Stadium in Bloemfontein, which ended in a 43-43 scoreline.

Cheetahs: 15 Joe Pietersen, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 Johann Sadie, 12 Francois Venter, 11 Ryno Benjamin, 10 Willie du Plessis, 9 Sarel Pretorius, 8 Willie Britz, 7 Boom Prinsloo, 6 Tienie Burger, 5 Francois Uys (c), 4 Carl Wegner, 3 Coenie Oosthuizen, 2 Torsten van Jaarsveld, 1 Danie Mienie.
Replacements: 16 Stephan Coetzee, 17 Caylib Oosthuizen, 18 Maks van Dyk, 19 Steven Sykes, 20 Carel Greeff, 21 Tian Meyer, 22 Michael van der Spuy, 23 Clayton Blommetjies.

Date: Saturday, April 25
Venue: Ellis Park, Johannesburg
Kick-off: 17:05

Reds get second win for the year


If you were hoping that the last game of week 10 between the Cheetahs and the Reds will end the weekend at some kind of high, you would have been very disappointed when the Reds edge out the Cheetahs with 18-17.

By: Jacques Nortier

Reds win cheetahs

It was a bit of the two worst teams in the Super Rugby trying to redeem themselves just so that they can have that nugget feeling in you knows where.

The already long list of injuries for both teams grew just a little bit more in the game which added to the stop start affair from both teams.

Like always with any Cheetahs team one felt that they can score anytime but there were just too many mistakes for them to take advantage of these opportunities.

Both teams skill level is just not up there with the rest of the teams in this tournament and mistakes on attack prevent them to really dominate a game.

At the end Two quickfire tries after half-time salvaged the game for the Reds to set up a tight finish, with Joe Pietersen missing a penalty with a minute left when his effort came back off the post.

It is difficult to find players that stand out for these two teams but the Reds will be happy with O’Connor who was the outstanding player on the night, but unfortunately that is where it stop for both teams.

The Cheetahs was dealt a blow when Heinrich Brüssow left the field in the first half with what looked like an arm injury. Brüssow was the last couple of weeks the outstanding player for the Cheetahs and they will be hoping it is not too serious.

The scorers:

For Cheetahs:
Tries: Benjamin, Prinsloo
Cons: Pietersen 2
Pens: Pietersen

For Reds:
Tries: Korczyk, Kerevi
Cons: O’Connor
Pens: O’Connor
Drop Goal: Frisby

Bulls makes it two wins over Sharks


With the disappointment of the Stormers and Force game one was really hoping that the Sharks against the Bulls game will lift up to expectation, but that was not going to happen as both teams decided kick and pray is the best method on beating one another.One can say that two wrongs do make one right maybe…well at least for the Bulls as they won the game

By: Jacques Nortier

Buls win sharks

The Bulls won the game at the end with 17-10 but this were a weekend most South African teams must rather forget.

You will have the odd supporter saying it was a typical South African derby with hard hitting given no inch to each other, but if one is true to one self then you will now this was a poor display of rugby and the ability to outsmart and outplay one another.

There was just too many poor play from both teams to make any person really excited and Meyer should be real worried by the inability by South African teams to put more than one good performance together.

There was so many turnovers which emphasise that both teams could not protect their ball and they played not as a team.

At the end the match was decided by the boot with both teams scoring only one try in the match. The Sharks miss opportunities at goal will haunt them as Fred Zeilinga did not kick well at gaol missing 3 kicks at gaol.

His general play was poor and his decision making even worst. The Sharks will be well tested on if he is the only option they have in the absence of Springbok Lambie. It did not get any better when Lionel Cronje came on the field.

On the positive side for the Sharks, Alberst and Coetzee was again the best of the lot and something that will please Springbok coach Meyer.

Unfortunately it did not stop at the Sharks with most of the Bulls players being well under par in this match.

If you see that kick out of hand were 23 for the Sharks and 32 for the Bulls, you can understand why this game did not live up to expectations. The Sharks had one clean break the whole game with the Bulls with only 5. Handling errors was even at 17 to both and turnovers 13 to 6 for the Bulls.

These stats just show you that neither team could really build any momentum and it felt like both were just happy to squeeze a win before the start touring in two weeks’ time.

The Bulls did go to the top of the South African log with this win but we can expect them to drop down the log when they go on tour if they do not change the way they approach there games.

The Sharks have a bye next week before they go on tour and the Bulls will have to travel to Cape Town to face the Stormers before they pack their bags for Australasia.

The scorers:

For Sharks:
Tries: Coetzee
Cons: Zeilinga
Pens: Zeilinga

For Bulls:
Tries: Hougaard
Pens: Pollard 4



Rebels suprise with win over Brumbies


The Brumbies’ position at the top of the Australian Super Rugby conference is under threat after going down 13-8 to the Rebels in difficult conditions on Saturday.

rebels win

In a largely forgettable game in driving rain, the Rebels played the smarter game as they led from start to finish, avenging their home loss to the Brumbies back in February and claiming their first-ever win in Canberra.

The home sided lacked intensity in the opening period and their endless, aimless kicking played in the hands of a hungry Rebels side that had come to the Aussie capital looking to build on their win over the Reds a fortnight ago.

Dominated at scrum time for the first hour, the Brumbies pack failed to match the quality performances they produced for most of the season. Missing some big names from their backline, the Brumbies attack never really fired.

Rebels half-backs Jack Debreczeni and Nic Stirzaker stood out as they engineered a win that revitalises their season.

The Rebels were good value for their 13-5 lead at the interval thanks to a try from wing Sefanaia Naivalu and a couple of penalties from full-back Mike Harris.

The Brumbies were still in the contest thanks to a try on the stroke of half-time from centre Henry Speight, but they were being outplayed across the field.

The second half produced just one penalty that saved a losing bonus point for the Brumbies.

Harris opened the scoring with an early penalty before the Rebels bagged the first try on 11 minutes. Stirzaker broke from the back of a scrum on halfway before finding speedster Naivalu, who sold Lausii Taliauli a dummy and raced home.

Harris added the conversion and a further penalty to put the visitors 13-0 up on the half-hour mark.

The Brumbies were rewarded for a patient build up just before the break as Speight crossed at the end of a huge overlap after 15 phases.

Christian Lealiifano’s conversion attempt sailed wide, leaving the hosts with a lot of work to do as the teams headed for the warmth of the changing rooms.

The crowd had to wait until the 63rd minute for the scores to change again as Lealiifano landed a penalty to cut the gap to five points but that was all she wrote as the Rebels defence stood firm.

The scorers:

For Brumbies:
Try: Speight
Pen: Lealiifano

For Rebels:
Try: Naivalu
Con: Harris
Pens: Harris 2

Another great first half safe Highlanders


An impressive first-half performance set the platform for the Highlanders to beat the Blues 30-24 in Dunedin on Saturday.

Highlanders win

The Highlanders’ sixth win from eight games this season keeps them in the hunt in the New Zealand Conference but they will regret missing the four-try bonus point that was well within their reach.

Three unanswered tries – including a double for Malakai Fekitoa – saw the home side lead 24-0 at the interval.

The second half was a very different story though as the Blues raised their intensity to score four tries of their own with Keven Mealamu touching down twice.

The Highlanders blitzed to a 17-0 lead inside the first quarter thanks to tries from former Blues players Fekitoa and Waisake Naholo.

The Blues conspired to fluff a few golden opportunities and when Fekitoa bagged his second before the break, things were looking bleak for the visitors.

But the Blues didn’t lie down as tries from George Moala, Patrick Tuipulotu and Mealamu early in the second period kept the contest alive before Mealamu’s second in the dying minutes set up a tense finish.

Unlike his opposite number Dan Bowden, who had a shocker from the tee, Lima Sopoaga had his kicking shoes on and opened the scoring early.

The Highlanders back three have set the benchmark for attacking play this season and Naholo was phenomenal once again, creating a try and scoring another in the first 20 minutes alone.

First he drew two defenders to put Fekitoa away for the opening try before showing he has plenty of power too, as Akira Ioane tried to bring the big wing down only for momentum to take them both over the line.

Sharp-shooting Sopoaga, who finished with a perfect record, added both conversions and the hosts were cruising at 17-0.

The Highlanders withstood a long period of pressure with some committed defending but the Blues will be wondering how they failed to score as twice massive overlaps did not produce any points. An unlucky bounce from an necessary cross-field kick and then a wayward pass let the hosts off the hook as the Blues’ decision making and execution left much to be desired.

Fekitoa ensured his team had a huge lead going into half time as he split the Blues midfield apart with some impressive footwork after Aaron Smith took a quick tap. Sopoaga added the extras as the hooter sounded.

After being read the riot act by John Kirwan, the Blues started the second half breathing fire and Moala powered over soon after the restart.

Sopoaga added a penalty for the hosts but the Blues kept coming as Tuipulotu forced his way over after series of pick and drives.

Bowden missed both conversions though, meaning a comeback remained unlikely.

Highlanders lock Joe Wheeler was harshly sent to the bin for a dangerous tackle and the Blues immediately capitalised on the extra man as Mealamu muscled his way over from close range.

Bowden finally found the target with the conversion but Sopoaga’s third penalty goal meant the Highlanders had a 13-point leading with 15 minutes left on the clock.

There was late drama though as Mealamu crashed over in the 77th minute and Ihaia West added the conversion to bring the men from Auckland with striking distance of victory.

It wasn’t to be though and the Blues will have to settle for two well-deserved bonus points.

The scorers:

For Highlanders:
Tries: Fekitoa 2, Naholo
Cons: Sopoaga 3
Pens: Sopoaga 3
Yellow Card: Wheeler

For Blues:
Tries: Moala, Tuipulotu, Mealamu 2
Cons: Bowden, West

Waratahs give Hurricanes first loss


The Waratahs became the first team to beat the Hurricanes this season with a 29-24 victory in an eight-try thriller in Wellington on Saturday.

Waratahs win

The reigning Super Rugby champions revived their title defence with arguably their best performance of the season as both they and the competition leaders scored four tries in a clash high on quality and excitement.

Two bonus points for the Hurricanes mean they will nevertheless end the weekend at the summit of the overall standings but they will harbour a number of regrets as their high-risk approach resulted in two of the Waratahs’ tries.

The scores were locked at 19-all at the end of a high-paced first half that saw both sides score three tries. Both teams were also denied tries by the TMO as the action never stopped flowing.

The Hurricanes would have been frustrated at the interval though having enjoyed the lion’s share of territory and possession.

The Waratahs bench had a huge impact in the second half as they took control of the game after the break, upping the intensity and physicality.

After blowing hot and cold this season, the Waratahs’ big names stepped up as Wycliff Palu, Michael Hooper, Bernard Foley and Israel Folau all put in excellent shifts while Ma’a Nonu and Ardie Savea stood out for the ‘Canes.

The Hurricanes should have had the first try early on from a wonderful passage of play but Ardie Savea wasted the chance by fumbling the ball while dotting down under no pressure.

It would be the visitors who opened the scoring with a great try as Peter Betham capped an 11-phases build up with a powerful finish.

The reply from the Hurricanes came soon afterwards as skipper Conrad Smith crossed untouched down the blindside flank after a solid ‘Canes scrum before fly-half Beauden Barrett collected Nonu’s chip kick to race home from deep inside his own half. Barrett slotted both touchline conversions.

Kurtley Beal was unlucky not to score as he put the ball down over the line but he grounded it on Ardie Savea’s boot. But the Waratahs did hit back when monster lock Will Skelton charged over from close range to cut the lead to 14-12.

Hurricanes number eight Brad Shields was the beneficiary of some excellent work from his backs to score in the corner to take the score to 12-19.

But the ‘Tahs drew level on the stroke of half time. With the Hurricanes trying to run out of their own half, a well-placed Betham swooped to intercept Barrett and score underneath the posts for his second try with Foley adding the extras.

‘Tahs skipper Dave Dennis came within inches of scoring after the break, denied by a great tackle from Ardie Savea but the visitors’ pressure was rewarded with the all-important fourth try.

A brilliant run from Hooper broke the Hurricanes defensive line, allowing the backs to give the ball to Folau, who used his pace to score in the corner. The conversion from Foley gave the ‘Tahs a 26-19 lead.

The Waratahs were enjoying momentum and a Foley penalty for offside opened the gap to ten points on the hour mark.

The Hurricanes set up a grandstand finish through TJ Perenera as the scrum-half dived over from the back of a ruck with less than ten minutes remaining but, crucially, Barrett missed the conversion.

With the clock ticking away, the Hurricanes were unable to maintain their composure and slumped to their first defeat of the year.

The scorers:

For Hurricanes:
Tries:Smith, Barrett, Shields, Perenara
Cons: Barrett 2

For Waratahs:
Tries:  Betham 2, Skelton,  Folau
Cons: Foley 3
Pen: Foley

Chiefs beat struggling Crusaders


The Chiefs made it back-to-back triumphs over the Crusaders in 2015 as they claimed a comfortable 26-9 victory in Christchurch on Friday.

Chiefs win

Defeat means the hosts are now twelve points off the second-placed Chiefs in the New Zealand conference, with their play-off hopes taking another substantial hit. Things could get a lot worse after Saturday’s remaining fixtures.

The seven-time champions seem bereft of ideas right now as they couldn’t bounce back from last week’s home negative to the Highlanders.

Things weren’t helped when their woeful first-half record against the Chiefs continued in a mistake-ridden 40 minutes as they went in 18-6 down at the break. Such is their bleak openings against their rival, it’s now the fifth straight game they’ve failed to hit double figures.

That rot should have been broken though had Dan Carter had his kicking boots on, as his three missed penalties cost the Christchurch outfit.

The Chiefs thought they had opened the scoring on five minutes when scrum-half Brad Weber sent wing Tim Nanai-Williams under the posts. But the television match official rightly intervened as he spotted that prop Ben Tameifuna had held loosehead Wyatt Crockett to create the gap.

Carter struck three minutes later from the tee when Weber’s pass on halfway was this time intercepted by flanker Jordan Taufua, who ran to within ten metres before Sam Cane was carded for tackling the nine. Aaron Cruden would level from the restart as Sam Whitelock was isolated.

Unfortunately for the Crusaders they did not make their numerical advantage count as the next score went the way of the Chiefs when Cane had returned. However, it wasn’t from their regular kicker as Cruden hobbled off with a knee problem so Nanai-Williams slotted one from in front.

Those three points followed two poor misses off the tee from Carter, as the decision to drop Colin Slade from those duties became a mystery.

A mystery too was the Crusaders errors under no real pressure and it cost them another seven points on 21 minutes as Richie McCaw’s knock-on led to number eight Michael Leitch going over with relative ease. Replacement fly-half Andrew Horrell made no mistake as their third kicker.

At 13-3, the Chiefs were in a promising position and with Carter missing another effort on the half-hour before finally finding his range on 37 minutes, there was no doubt who the happier head coach would have been heading into the dressing rooms as time ticked on in Christchurch.

But the first-half wasn’t done there as deja vu from Hamilton saw in-form wing James Lowe race over on the left after the Crusaders lost the ball at ruck time on halfway. That meant that the Chiefs went in 18-6 ahead and looking like they held the psychological edge on their hosts.

After the turnaround, the score was cut to 18-9 by Carter when Cane was pinged for not releasing the tackled player. In truth he was running the risk with referee Nick Briant as the Crusaders were on the march at that point. Another official might have seen the offence as cynical.

Todd Blackadder sensed his charges needed something else out there and sent on Owen Franks and Jimmy Tupou for Nepo Laulala and Luke Romano respectively before the 58 minute mark. However, it didn’t lead to them further reducing the gap as it was in fact Horrell who struck next.

21-9 was now the scoreline with the Chiefs looking far too comfortable from a Crusaders’ perspective as the crowd was muted due to that fact. Suddenly the prospect of being twelve points off the men from Hamilton and a good deal more off the Hurricanes was dawning on the Crusaders.

And the result was rubber stamped with seven minutes remaining as Tom Marshall’s brilliant carry before Nanai-Williams’ smart offload in the home 22 led to replacement number eight Liam Squire cruising over. Missed extras from Horrell meant the Chiefs were home and hosed at 26-9.

Credit to the Chiefs who kept plugging away into added time, looking for the try bonus-point, but in the end they would settle for the four.

The scorers:

For Crusaders:
Pen: Carter 3

For Chiefs:
Tries: Leitch, Lowe, Squire
Con: Horrell
Pen: Cruden, Nanai-Williams, Horrell

Preview – Super Rugby Week 10


Week 9 of Vodacom Super Rugby was by far the best weekend for South African teams with wins all over which included two wins in Australia by the Stormers and Cheetahs.

Supporters will hope for the same as we have again some interesting matchup coming up this weekend.


Friday 17 April 2015

Crusaders versus Chiefs

We start the weekend with a New Zealand local derby when the Crusaders host the Chiefs on Friday morning (SA Time). This could be one of the best matchups over the weekend as the Chiefs is coming of a bye and the Crusaders off a lost at home against the Highlanders.

Somehow the New Zealand derby’s always brings the best out of the players like I suppose we can say about the South African derbies as well.

The lost last weekend has put the Crusaders under allot of pressure and it has almost become a must win for them as the New Zealand conference is always the tightest contest in Super Rugby, and if you slip too far away you will not make the playoffs.

All Blacks Richie McCaw and Dan Carter started last week from the bench and will surely be in the starting line-up to bolster the Crusaders side.

Sonny Bill Williams and Charlie Ngatai will bring danger to the Crusaders in the midfield and they do pose the biggest problem for any team.

Prediction: Tough as always with New Zealand sides playing each other but I cannot see the Chiefs losing this one. The Crusaders have problems in the backline and they have not really put a full 80 min this season on the field…for me Chiefs with 10 points.

Saturday 18 April 2015

Hurricanes versus Waratahs

On Saturday we start bright and early in New Zealand again with the unbeaten Hurricanes hosting the defending champions the Waratahs.

Now here we should see something interesting with the Waratahs that have not really played any good consistent rugby this season. They also come off a lost at home last weekend against the Stormers who score a bonus point win on the road.

With so many talented players in this Waratahs side one expect each weekend for them to stat firing and produce the same quality that won them the championship last year, but after 9 weeks we have not really see any of that.

On the flip side, the Hurricanes is the only team that is still unbeaten in the competition and coming off a bye one should think that the batteries is recharge and rearing to go. Many people believe the bye weekends for teams on a winning streak break momentum and they find it hard to get back into it, so this could be the weekend that the Hurricanes are given their first lost.

One thing is for sure, this should be a high tempo game if both teams comes to the party on Saturday.

Prediction: Not an easy one due to the quality that the Waratahs have in their team, but this is me thinking that the Waratahs is not all here so I give it to the Hurricanes with 6 points but an upset can be a realistic option.

Highlanders versus Blues

Another New Zealand derby so another close game that we should expect from these two team. After their first win of the season last weekend one can be sure that the Blues will come with allot of confidence and determination to upset the Highlanders.

The game should produce some fine rugby under the roof and all that is needed is for both teams to pitch up with the right attitude.

The Highlanders comes of an impressive win away from home against the Crusaders and if one think that they came from behind in that game it make sense that they will carry the favourites tag.

With one of the most exciting backlines in the competition we can be sure that they will test the Blues all day.

Prediction: It must be the Highlanders at home on a dry pitch. Although I believe the Blues will come hard and with confidence, I cannot see the Highlanders losing this one at home. Highlanders with 14 points.

Brumbies versus Rebels

Brumbies will be hurting after their loss of last weekend as they most properly played the worst game of rugby all season.

There is now better way to get back on winning ways than playing a side that is hovering at the bottom of the log and the Brumbies should be able to get a decent win this weekend. The Rebels is no easy team but recent form has shown that they starting to struggle to keep up with the top teams.

The Brumbies are a much better side than what they showed last weekend and should pull this one through.

Prediction: Brumbies by 15 points or more, do not think the Rebels will be able to stop and angry Brumbies side at home

Force versus Stormers

Many will expect the Stormers to build on their bonus points win over the Waratahs from last weekend but history do show us that the Stormers are a side that blow hot and cold especially on tour.

The Force is not really a team that should give this quality Stormers side any problems but unpredictability is one thing we always expect from the Force. As a team they did not play badly this year and some close games could have gone either way for them so this should be a nice battle to watch.

The Stormers are one of the sides that have an easy run in for the season and another win on tour will set the men from Cape Town up for a great run at home.

The Stormers are one of the sides this year who have a good quality and balance in the side and have been dominating from the front to give some dangerous backs the opportunity to play some good rugby.

One of the concerning points for the Stormers is that they still score most of their tries from turnover possession but that seems to be the trend this season for all teams and defensive structures are hard to break.

One would like to see that they do more on attack and score some tries from it as well.

With Vermeulen at home we should expect Burger and Etzebeth to lead from the front and give the team momentum.

Prediction: This must be a Stormers win by at least 15 points but one know that the Stormers can slip against so-called easy sides.

Sharks versus Bulls

Now this will be one that could be yet another epic South African battle. Bulls versus Sharks are always a special match but allot will be riding on this one for both teams.

The Bulls comes off a big win over the Reds last weekend but one almost want to say that the score did not reflect the quality of play from the Bulls. It was a game which saw the Reds also score enough tries to question the defense of the Bulls during this game.

The Bulls could have Pollard and Serfontein back in the mix which should add to the expectation of this big matchup. Without Pollard the Bulls look a bit without any real direction and one almost feel they only play what they are allowed to play.

The Bulls will want to get this win before they leave for their tour and make sure that they bank enough points to stay with the leading pack.

The Sharks have shown a major improvement last weekend against the Lions and comeback to almost win the game. With players like Du Plessis and Mtawarira back in the front row one can expect a great battle upfront.

Alberts also showed with his first 40 min back from injury last weekend that he is back to his best and this will add some great flavour to the mix when they take on the Bulls.

The biggest problem for the Sharks will be at 10, where they still missing Lambie due to injury and this could be just the place where the Bulls will concentrate on.

Prediction: This is the hardest one to call with the Sharks playing at home and one can only hope they will try and keep the name of the stadium Growthpoint Kings Park and not the new adopted name of “House of Cards”. I must go with the team inform although my gut say otherwise, but Bulls to win with 10 points.

Cheetahs versus Reds

Now if there was ever a dead-rubber game this this will be the one. The Cheetahs has come back from a one win tour and will still be feeling the pressure with so many of their players injured or on required rest for this weekend.

The Reds have one of their worst season and to add to that the “Ghost of Injury” have not let go of this team from the start. Add to that some disciplinary issues with some payers this Reds side have not look like winning all season.

Although they scored some tries last weekend against the Bulls, one can expect them to go on their marry way this weekend as well.

The Cheetahs will be happy to be back at home and will want to show their fans that they still have something in it for the jersey. With Le Roux being rested things may be difficult over the weekend as Le Roux has been the one player in the backline that created most of their opportunities.

This should be a close contest but one do not expect too much from either team really.

Prediction: The Cheetahs should be on the winning side if only because they play at home. One would like to see a real Cheetah game played with some flair again.


Tries galore as Bulls beat Reds


Bulls win

Although it was not at the same intensity and speed as what we saw in the earlier game between the Lions and Sharks, the Bulls came out and got a great win against the struggling Reds with 43-22.

By Jacques Nortier

It was a try feast at Loftus as both teams gave the ball as must air as possible to scored ten tries between the two teams. One can say that this was not a great defensive performance from either team but some of these tries were great tries especially from Kriel, Hougaard and Odendaal on the Bulls side and Genia from the Reds.

At scrum time the Bulls struggled again and one can only imagine this can be a problem for the Bulls when they meet stronger teams.

The Bulls playing without their playmaker Pollard showed some brilliance on attack but once again there defense was questionable and they will have to work on kick offs as it is just not good enough at this level.

For the Reds is was a better performance but they were never really looking like a team that will beat the Bulls in 80 minnutes.

In a free-scoring first-half that saw four tries carded, it was a fourth minute penalty from Jacques-Louis Potgieter that opened matters.

Three minutes later the opening try of the contest saw wing Francois Hougaard finish off Jesse Kriel’s break down the left wing, with the conversion from Potgieter putting the Bulls into a 10-0 advantage. The Reds were desperately looking for a foothold as the Bulls cantered.

The second-half brought new hope for a struggling Reds side though as Will Genia scrambled his way under the uprights to give his team-mates a lift. There was now a spring in the Australian outfit’s step and things would get even better for them on the 49th minute when Genia was again involved, this time grubbering through for Nick Frisby to ground near the left touchline. Turner’s missed conversion meant it was now 24-17.

The Bulls though were duly woken up and would enjoy ten minutes against fourteen men when a rolling maul was pulled down by Adam Thomson. From the resulting phase, prop Marcel van der Merwe was adjudged by the referee and TMO to have scored without the use of double movement.

It was a contentious decision but there was no doubting the Reds response three minutes later when Samu Kerevi burst through before being brought down one metre out. The recycled ball saw replacement lock Marco Kotze pick up and dive over with the scoreline now 29-22 to the Bulls.

But head coach Richard Graham would have been infuriated by his Reds side’s defence in the 59th minute as soon after Kotze’s score, Bulls centre Burger Odendaal raced through a hole for the try. Replacement fly-half Tian Schoeman’s conversion gave the hosts a handy cushion at 36-22.

And the gloss was added in the 68th minute when a powerful break from the in-form Hougaard led to scrum-half Piet van Zyl dummying before going over from close-range to seal a deserved victory that takes the Bulls up to third.

The scorers:

For Bulls:
Tries: Hougaard 2, Spies, Van der Merwe, Odendaal, Van Zyl
Con: Potgieter 3, Schoeman 2
Pen: Potgieter

For Reds:
Tries: Turner, Genia, Frisby, Kotze
Con: Turner

Emirates Lions edge out Cell C Sharks


lions win

Lions were on the better end again after 80 min when they beat a much improve Sharks team 23-21 on Saturday.

By: Jacques Nortier

The intensity from both teams was on the field from the first second of the match and the Lions did all the playing with Faf de Klerk making some great breaks and play for the Lions.

It was also well deserve for the Lions to be first on the board with a penalty. The Sharks thou was not going to sit down and roll over as they were willing to hit the Lions with their own game and gave the ball air. They looked like a total different team from the last couple of weeks and were the first to score a five pointer.

Any person that they say this was not a great game must rather go and watch league for it is as good as it gets when both teams give it all.

The Lions made better from there opportunities and at one stage one felt that they will pull away from the Sharks but the men from Durban never gave up and had a chance to win the game in the last seconds of the game with a penalty which they could not convert.

Willem Alberts was brilliant in his first game back for the Sharks after a long injury and one thinks that if he could have stayed on the field for the second half the Sharks would have been better off.

The real difference for me between the two teams was the fact that the Lions have done every little move with speed and their accuracy was top class for about 70% of the game.

The Sharks defense let them down after the break and gave the Lions the chance to get some distance on the scoreboard. One has to feel for the Sharks team as it must have been difficult to keep once defensive structure with so many changes in this team in the last couple of weeks.

At fullback for the Sharks Odwa Ndungane was daylight better than what SP and Esterhuizen was again showing he is one to look out for.

The clear man of the match for me was Faf De Klerk who just played out of his skin and made Cobus Reinach look ordinary for most of the game. He was also rewarded with a brilliant try which sealed his great performance.

Whiteley was again brilliant and showed how he has become one of South Africans better lose forwards. In the scrums neither team really dominate as both get moment at some stages in the game but maybe the Lions did get the more over the Sharks in that department.

One do get the feeling that it does not matter who you support, one must admire the way this Lions team play. I am sure they are winning over supporters every week in the way they do their business.

The way these two teams played will bring back the people to the stadiums.

The scorers:

For Lions:
Tries: Mnisi, De Klerk, Vorster
Cons: Jantjies
Pens: Jantjies 2

For Sharks:
Tries: Bothma, Mvovo, Du Toit
Cons: Zeilinga 3
Yellow Card: Esterhuizen


Cheetahs end tour with win over Force


cheeta win

The Cheetahs made a perfect end to their tour when the score a much needed win against the Force.

By: Jacques Nortier

It was one of those games were you expected the two teams to run riot on attack while there is nothing really to proof for them but mistakes and senseless kicking made this game very hard to watch.

Both teams showed why they are on the bottom half of the log and at some stages one wonder if any team had any plan other than to kick the ball down field hoping the other team makes a mistake which the other can capitalise on.

Even some forwards from the Cheetahs were kicking the ball on attack with no clear plan to outsmart the opposition.

The man of the match for the Cheetahs must be Brussouw who really put his whole body into the match again. He is truly playing some brilliant rugby since he came back from injury.

On the flip side of the coin one must believe that Le Roux is playing with an injury as he has been poor to his own high standard. He left the field not looking very happy in the second half and surely someone needs to now give this guy a break?

For the Force one cannot expect to win games with so many handling errors and no player to really take control. Between the two teams they must have be hoping for better 10’s to control the game.

A mammoth defensive effort from the Cheetahs kept the Force at bay through countless phases before a counter attack gave Pietersen the chance to add another penalty and put the game beyond reach.

The real man of the match was again for a second week in a row Referee Mr Hoffmann who again showed his inability to control a match at this level. The worst thing of Mr Hoffmann performances the last two week is that he does not look that he knows the laws of the game.

At one stage I felt sorry for the two teams on the field to have to put up with such an incompetent official who must be the worst referee in the world at this stage.

The scorers:

For Western Force:
Tries: Morahan, Alcock
Con: Burton
Pen: Burton

For Cheetahs:
Tries: Rhule, Brussow
Con: Pietersen
Pens: Pietersen 3
Drop: Pietersen


Stormers secure win over Waratahs


stormers wn

It has been a long four weeks of wait for the Stormers supporters to see their team on the winning side as they beat the defending champions Waratahs 32-18 on Saturday.

By: Jacques Nortier

The Stormers must have had their supporters worried when the Waratahs Naiyaravoro run through three Stormers defenders to score a brilliant try in the corner. One almost thought that we are going to see yet another bad defensive performance from the Stormers but that was almost the only real bad defending from the men from Cape Town.

The only real question in this Stormers performance will still be why coach Coetzee still prefer Catrakilis over the magic man this season for the Stormers, Coleman?

Like almost every game as soon as Coleman comes onto the field the Stormers attacking game step up to another step and they look like a team that can actually score tries. Time as came to get over the fact that Catrakilis won them a Currie Cup last year and give Coleman the run he and his team deserve.

With a lead of 15-13 at half time for the Waratahs the Stormers was still in the game and many would have hope that they could put the same brilliant second half performance together like last week as they surely did that.

With a massive defensive display from the Stormers they outplayed the Waratahs in the second forty. What make this second half display even more special for the Stormers is the fact that they were able to score four tries for there first bonus point win of the season.

They start there half with a brilliant chip by Coleman which Van Wyk picked up and scored to get the Stormers second half going.

The Waratahs looked like they had no plans to get over the Stormers defense which the Stormers took full advantage off.

An intercept from De Jongh who put De Allende away secure the match for the Stormers. After yeat another brilliant display on defense from the Stormers Kolbe picked up a lose ball to run in the Stormers fourth try and secure the win for the men from Cape Town.

The Stormers can end the tour on a high as they face the Force next week which on performances so far should beat them.

The scorers:

For Waratahs:
Tries: Naiyaravoro, Horne
Cons: Foley
Pens: Foley 2

For Stormers:
Tries: De Allende 2, Kobus van Wyk, Kolbe
Cons: Catrakilis, Coleman 2
Pens: Catrakilis 2


Highlanders fight back to beat Crusaders


High Win

By: Jacques Nortier

The Highlanders brought the Crusaders back to earth on Saturday morning after the Crusaders 50 point win over the Sharks last week, when they stuck it out to win 25-20 win.

Highlanders was on the back foot from the start of the match and even more so when Sopoaga received a yellow card early in the game which saw the Crusaders getting an early lead of 14-3 in the first half.

Although the Crusaders looked the better side in the first half the Highlanders were never out of it and played some brilliant rugby with Ben Smith the star of this team yet again. The way he read the play and the massive effort he puts in defence and even stealing turnovers makes his one of the best in the world at this stage.

The Crusaders looked flat in the end of the first half and never really had the same intensity like last week which the Highlanders took full advantage off.

Sopoaga came back after his yellow card and played a brilliant game to make up for the yellow card.

The star for the Highlanders was Naholo which include two tries from the winger and keeps on looking like the real deal.

Slade pulled three points back for the Crusaders just before the hour mark and added his second penalty to bring his team within striking distance in the dying minutes.

But the Highlanders’ defence held firm, meaning the Crusaders had to settle for a losing bonus point.

Highlanders keep being a surprise package this season….

The scorers:

For Crusaders:
Tries: Todd, Taufua
Cons: Dagg, Slade
Pens: Slade 2

For Highlanders:
Tries: Smith, Naholo 2
Cons: Sopoaga 2
Pens: Sopoaga 2
Yellow Card: Sopoaga

Blues gets first win over Brumbies


After nine rounds of Vodacom Super Rugby the Blues from Auckland recorded their first win of the season against the Brumbies 16-14.

By: Jacques Nortier


Not that one can say that the Blues have turned a corner with this win but at least it is a start which they can build on. It was a final penalty kick from the young fly half West that sealed the match for the Blues, but they had to wait to see if a final penalty from White would again prevent them from winning their first game.

Like most games this season this was also a game of two half’s with the Blues that dominated the scoreboard in the first forty and the Brumbies in the second. The Blues led the Brumbies 13-0 at the break and deservedly so as they made the most of the play in the first half. It was almost if the Brumbies was half asleep in the first half.

Kicking at poles cost the Brumbies at the end as they missed a few kickable penalties in the first half and the last effort which was a long range kick from White.

The Blues made a promising start and were good value for their 6-0 lead at the end of the first quarter thanks to two penalties from Bowden. The gap should probably have been bigger but the home pivot hit the post with shot at goal and an early chance was missed when Charles Piutau put too much on his chip ahead.

With the penalty count mounting, the Brumbies were lucky to not have a man sent to the bin as they struggled to get out of their own half.

The visitors’ cause was not helped by the loss of fly-half Matt Toomua while a series of uncharacteristic errors meant the Blues were allowed to control the game.

At the end West held his nerve to split the uprights from a penalty out wide before White’s last gasp effort – from another scrum penalty – sailed off target.

This is a well deserve win for the Blues as they came close so many times this season. One can maybe say the team that made the least mistakes was the team that took the victory.

The scorers:

For Blues:
Try: Bowden
Con: Bowden
Pens: Bowden 2, West

For Brumbies:
Try: Taliauli
Pens: Leali’ifano 3

Super Rugby week 9 Preview


Moving past the halfway mark of the season teams will have to start performing each week to make the play-offs of this year’s Vodacom Super Rugby competition.

By: Jacques Nortier


Blues vs Brumbies

There are a few great matchups this weekend which should be worthwhile spending time in front of the television. We only have one matchup on Friday as the Blues will try and get off the duck they still have this season against the Brumbies.

This will not be an easy task for the men from Auckland as there coach and players are under huge pressure to start winning but against an inform Brumbies side it will not be easy. One almost feel that it is a watershed moment for Sir Kirwan this weekend and no other result than a win will do to keep the vultures away.

That the Blues team is a team with some great exciting players is no question, but they need to put the performance on the field and show the class some of these players have. Only a team effort will do for them to get the confidence back in the team and supporters.

The Brumbies has gone by their business very quietly but looks like one of the form teams in the competition but this is an away match and it is never easy to win on the round.

Prediction: I just cannot see a New Zealand team losing much more than what the Blues have done this year. The Blues need to start winning sometime or another and I think they will do it this weekend, Blues with 8 points…

Crusaders vs Highlanders

This should be one of the games of the weekend as these two New Zealand teams. Crusaders come off a great win against the Sharks which will add to the confidence to this great team after yet another bad start to the season.

The Crusaders look again like the real deal and any team that can leave out players like McCaw and Carter have confidence in their ability to keep on winning. One thing that even the Crusaders captain spoke about this week is the discipline of his players and something they need to sort out. No team can afford anymore to have players send off the field anymore and with referees that seemed to be trigger happy this year players needs to stay in the law of the game.

The Highlanders is one team this year that will test any team and the Crusaders win of last week will be put in perspective in this game.

Prediction: Truly believe that the Crusaders have reach a point where they going to be almost unstoppable against most teams. The will be a great test for both teams but I have to give it to the Crusaders with 5 points.

Waratahs vs Stormers

This is going to be an interesting matchup on Saturday with a Stormers team that showed in the second half of last week that they can play the type of game that can compete with the best. One thing that will surely have some kind of effect will be that fact that Stormers captain Vermeulen was send home to rest for the next two games.

The way that Vermeulen added value to this Stormers team, not just in his play but also as a great leader will surely be missed. The Stormers do not lose too much in quality as Carr is a brilliant stand-in for his captain and is due for the performance we know he can give this team.

The Waratahs have been blowing hot and cold this year so far but kept on winning games which help to build confidence. With the quality they have in the team they do pose a huge challenge for the men from Cape Town and if the Stormers is not on their game they could see a huge score against them.

Prediction: This is a tough one as the Stormers have shown throughout the season they can beat any team if they do play some rugby. The problem with the Stormers is that they usually only wake up for one half of the game and that is just not good enough. I hope I am wrong but give this to Waratahs with 10 points.

Force vs Cheetahs

Interesting game between two teams that have struggled this far this year. One always thought that the Cheetah will struggle to put two good performances together and with the added problem of injuries they do have to try harder than most teams.

At least the Cheetahs have “Super Sarel” back in the team which can add that extra value to their attack and they just seemed a bit better every time he is on the field.

The Force started so good this season but as with the Cheetahs do not have the backup or amount of quality in their team as other have in this competition. Playing at home will add a bit more to their game and one thing is for sure we should see both teams running at each other for the full 80 min.

Prediction: Well this is where you start guessing because anyone of these two teams can have a blinder or be there worst enemy on the day. Just because I am a South African and Americano will send a hit squad to get me I will go with the Cheetahs with 9 points.

Lions vs Sharks

This will be the game most South Africans will be waiting for with all the added drama that went on with the Sharks over the past week and the win the Lions had over the Bulls last weekend.

The Lions are riding the wave of some great wins which started in their second week on tour. After a really troubled start to the season the Lions have started to lay there game and have been successful so far although most of these wins was very close games for them.

It was Gary Player that said the more you try the luckier you get and that is one of those things that do happen in sport. The one thing most teams forget about the Lions team (who do not have that many so-called stars) is that they have a good balanced side and each player is doing his job and they do it well.

The Sharks will have to play without Lambie who was the one player that did pull them through in tight games. The other problem is that the Sharks are playing with their third captain in so many weeks and the disruption with all there discipline issues will have an effect.

This is a perfect time for the Lions to get a good win over the Sharks with the Sharks that will have to play out of their skin to win this one.

Prediction: I just cannot see the Sharks pulling a Houdini with all the problems they have had with injuries and suspensions of key players. They disruption in a team like this in a competition like this one is just one step too many for me, I give it a win to the Lions by 14 points.

Bulls vs Reds

This could be just the right medicine for the Bulls to pick themselves up after the narrow lost against the Lions last week.

The biggest concern for the Bulls is the fact that Matfield and Pollard is still not available for the match and as we saw last week that have a huge influence on this team. One thing that bother me last week was the fact that Ludeke played Jacques-Louis Potgieter in place of the exciting youngster Tian Schoeman and he has picked Potgieter again at ten for this weekend.

This is surely the most frustrating aspect of all the South African coaches in not to give young talent the opportunity and surely against a Reds side who is far below par this season it would have been the perfect opportunity to give Tiaan a run.

We want to complain when our young stars sign contracts overseas but one cannot blame them when they do not get the opportunity due to coaches.

The Reds have as much problems with discipline than the Sharks this year and the way they have perform is also nothing to write home to about. Add the frustration of injuries one could understand the performances they have dish up this season.

Prediction: Bulls all the way for this one, one cannot even see a bad Bulls performance giving this Reds side on tour a win but strangest things have happen to Bulls sides over the years. Bulls by 20 points or more for me on this one



Milner-Skudder stars in Super XV


The heading is dedicated to the brilliance that is Nehe Milner-Skudder! So while you still can, join the bandwagon! It was a crazy weekend of Super Rugby.

By: Ruggaworld’s Benedict Chanakira


The Hurricanes hung on against the Stormers after a super first half. The Stormers can be justified if they hold something against the poor officiating they have had to endure in their last three games.

The Cane train keeps cruising despite the nervy end this weekend. The Brumbies brushed past the Cheetahs, the Blues fought hard against the Chiefs only to lose. John Kirwan’s sides are improving but need a bit more as they search for that first win!

The Reds imploded on Friday after a great start only for a red card to cost them the game against the Rebels! The Crusaders blew the Sharks out the ocean, while the Lions continued to stamp their authority!

What has happened to the Sharks? The Durban side has been battling to adjust not just too new management, but their game plan, culture and discipline looks to be in complete disarray? Anyway the real question is; who then makes our team of the week?

  1. Nehe Milner-Skudder (Hurricanes)

If there is an heir to the excitement that is Willie le Roux, take a moment to watch this Manawatu youngster. He excelled in the ITM Cup, was exceptional for the Maori All Blacks and has taken quite well to Super Rugby. Milner-Skudder is an exciting, an elusive runner and a defensively sound 15. No guessing who started the try of the weekend scored by Beauden Barrett! PS Americano- he is part of the Monarchy!

  1. James Lowe (Chiefs)

Lowe could have easily scored a double. The Chiefs had to labor against a strong Blues side that was looking to sharp. Lowe was sound on defense especially with Frank Halai making good use of his foot work.

  1. Conrad Smith (Hurricanes)

He was off the radar and he was not mentioned that much in the game. The leadership and work that Smith got to do was the reason the Canes managed to just edge the Stormers. At times the veteran’s experience was vital in deceiving an inexperienced referee who somehow benefited the home side. Henry Speight and Huw Jones were equally brilliant at 13 as well!

  1. Christian Lealifano (Brumbies)

The value of having a fly half at twelve is of immense value to any team. Lealifano was quality as he took the ball up well, was a reliable goal kicker and this allowed the Brumbies the edge against an ill disciplined Cheetahs side. His try was also well taken is a man of the match show for Lealifano.

  1. Sefanaia Naivalu (Rebels)

Underrated. The Rebels man was signed straight from the Australian Club game. He has managed to adapt well and provide much needed quality on the wing for the Rebels. Naivalu was instrumental in the team’s victory as he ran hard at the Reds as he made clean breaks and managed to go well over the gain line!

  1. Colin Slade (Crusaders)

I am adamant of this, the Crusaders playa better game with Colin at 10. The former Highlanders man was so highly rated by the All Blacks management that he found himself in the World Cup 2011 squad. Versatility is a nasty old gift but Slade controlled the Sharks game superbly. He was also able to grab a try in a dominant Crusaders display!

  1. Andy Ellis (Crusaders)

The first seven minutes of this game were all thanks to his quick service, quick and intelligent thinking and his ability to direct his pack. Ellis was the top half back of the round and could be back in the All Black fold at this rate. Andy scored a great try, and he also managed to create a few. Top show!

  1. Duane Vermeulen (Stormers)

Warren Whiteley and Kieran Read were among the top performers at eighth man; however one man came out on top. Thor of Cape Town. Duane Vermeulen was still top as he showed why he is viewed by some as the best in the world. He managed to carry the Stormers to a bonus point loss from the depths of defeat and was a terror to the Canes defense.

  1. Warwick Tecklenburg (Lions)

We all marvel at the brilliance that is Warren Whiteley but a certain Tecklenburg has been going about his work aggressively in the loose. Warwick was on a mission on Saturday and managed to help his side beat a confident Bulls side. Strong carries and even stronger defense as the Lions made it 4 wins from last 5 games. Callum Gibbins was again on song as he worked hard with an impressive 24 tackles!

  1. Liam Gill (Reds)

A top show from one of the few Reds players to play well. Four turnovers for the man were what almost kept the Reds in the game despite being a man down. Gill was a top performer in this Reds side. He also managed to make 20 tackles in the game.


  1. Blake Enever (Brumbies)

Blake is a future Test star; should he keep growing and improving as a player. This weekend was yet another stepping stone of the player’s potential. Add a well taken try and he ranks as a quality second rower! A top line out operator with 9 takes on their own ball.

  1. Jeremy Thrush (Hurricanes)

What a player this week. Jeremy was immaculate with ball in hand in the first half, but was on defensive duty with the majority of his 24 tackles coming then. A clear indication on how the Hurricanes have managed to develop and improve under John Plumtree and Chris Boyd to become a strong force for the team.

  1. Charles Faumuina (Blues)

The All Black man was strong in the scrum, on defense and is making his case heard on the All Black front. The man is a massive asset for the All Blacks and for the Blues man was very good this weekend. Trevor Nyakane has been very good for the Blue Bulls as he has adapted to the tight head role well.

  1. Armand van der Merwe (Lions)

They say substitutes are meant to change games. Armand was effective. Forget the strong run to blow into the try box to win the game. The hooker’s strong run and the fend off of Francois Houggard was a powerful statement of this former Varsity Cup star. The hooker could be a brilliant player should he develop his set piece prowess.

  1. Danie Mienie (Cheetahs)

A strong performance from the Cheetahs prop in a tough game. The former Sharks man was effective with ball in hand and managed to scrum well. A mere shining beacon in a rather dull and unconvincing Cheetahs team.


Lions edge Bulls in thriller


With the disappointment of the South African performances during week eight one at least knew that we would have a South African team win when the Vodacom Bulls visited Johannesburg side the Emirates Lions in the last game of the day.

What a game of rugby we got from these two teams as the Lions won the game within the last minutes of the game 22-18.

By: Jacques Nortier


When the news came through in the week that Pollard and Matfield will not play due to injuries one really felt that momentum shifted to the Lions team who came of a successful tour with allot of confidence. One expect these days that Pollard drive the Bulls team not just on attack but also on defence which see the Bulls playing a much more improve and running game this. We always expect the Bulls versus Lions game to be high pace high drama and entertaining game and both teams lived up to it throughout the eighty minutes. One do not need to have a high scoring game to make it exciting or great and these two teams just proof it on Saturday.

The Lions started the game with a high tempo and succeeded to put the Bulls under early pressure and were rewarded with two early penalties which Jantjies slotted over to lead 6-0. The Bulls struggled to show any of the same intensity or accuracy they showed a week earlier against the Crusaders. One want to question the coach for picking Jacques Louise Potgieter ahead of Tiaan Schoeman at fly half with the type of game the Bulls want and have played the season so far.

Every time the Bulls fall back to their old ten man rugby they tend to lose the games of late so surely everyone including the coaching staff needs to have a 100% confidence in the ability of the exciting youngsters they have in their system. One would have thought that Potgieter was selected for his kicking ability and kicking at poles, but the experience fly half did not have a great afternoon with his boot nor with his control of his backline on attack. Jantjies overshadowed Potgieter in every aspect of the game and showed much more control on attack for his team as well.

Upfront we came to expect over the last couple of years that the Bulls do not have the control nor the strength we were used to from a Bulls side and the Lions again showed the upward curve of their forward play in scrums, lineouts and the rucks.

Too many penalties from both sides stop momentum on attack with only the boot that was able to put any points on the board with the Bulls going into half time with a 9-3 lead.

The second half went the same way as the first with both team going at each other even with a wet ball and field. One can only stand and admire the way the Bulls and The Lions played in that second half with no inch given by either team as we went down to the wire. The hero of the match for the Lions, Armand van der Merwe made an immediate impact on the Lions when he came on the field in the second half.

Bulls supporters will ask the question why a player like Visagie is still being rated to play at this level by his coaching staff. You can extend the question on why Strauss was replace by Visagie in the first place. Some replacements of coaches these days are also questionable and one can only wonder why you will want to change a player that play a great game for the team.

With less than two minutes left the Lions showed there class to score the only and match winning try through Armand van der Merwe to stun all Bulls players and supporters. The never say die attitude from the Lions have served them well in the past few years and pulled them through the match that was the match of the weekend.

For the Bulls Spies showed some class with Kriel from the back again the outstanding players in this Bulls side. For the Lions I really feel that Jantjies was a big difference between the two teams and the way the Lions played on attack and defence give us some explanations why they were so successful in the last four rounds.

The scorers:

For the Lions:
Van der Merwe
Con: Jantjies
Pens: Jantjies 5

For the Bulls:
Potgieter 6

Sharks embarrass again as Crusaders show class  


The first thing that came to mind when one look at the Crusaders win against the Cell C Sharks was a song from Carrie Underwood, “Blown away” because no other title will explain the way one of South African premiere sides were just beaten on Saturday.

They can also think of changing Growthpoint Kings Park to House of cards with the way games have been played at the stadium this year.

By: Jacques Nortier

Cell C Sharks Jersey

Within 3 min of the game Ellis open the try-fest for the Crusaders which would see them score eight at the end of eighty minutes. The Sharks are playing with some disruptions due to ill-discipline due to suspensions and some injuries but that is all of their own making and can only blame themselves. The fact that they yet again conceded a red card during the game (three so far this season) start to label them as a team and with some last year as well, referees will start looking very closely at this team in future as well.

It is easy to get a label of a team that play dirty and very difficult to get rid of once you have it.

Let’s be honest non the yellow cards nor red cards anyone can complain about and Deysel red card in this game was just plain stupid play which one does not expect from senior players left alone Springbok players.

A lot of noise was made around Jake White and the unhappiness among players, but at this stage of the year one starts to think that Jake Whites Sharks team was better off that Golds team at this stage. With White you actually knows that they play towards a plan were even after 7 rounds in this year’s competition one feel nobody have an idea what the plan on the field actually is. With the amount of quality players in the franchise every South African supporter expect more from these players even if you are not a Sharks supporter.

Defence of the Sharks was awful and one can expect that your structure will find some problems when you have to change you team week in and week out but at this leave you do expect some kind of professionalism from players and management.

The Sharks had enough changes in the first half to stay at least in touch with the Crusaders but even failed to put more than four phases together without making some kind of error or bad decision on attack. It did not help the Sharks that Lambie and Reinach were not on their game after a week’s rest. One thing that I struggle to understand from South African teams for a number of years now is this kicking at inform good quality teams like the Crusaders and more so when you go down 21 -3 within 20 min of the game. Decision making is most properly one of the most important aspect of today’s game, thus making the game plan that the Shark have been playing so far under Gold even more of a mystery.

The Crusaders are such a good team that they will punish any team on a good day and when you have no plan to offer and your defence is as bad as what the Sharks put on the field then you will get run over. The Crusaders were without Carter even and McCaw were playing off the bench one would thought that the Sharks would have fancy themselves in sending the Crusaders back home with to losses from the republic. If one take into account that the Crusaders were playing with three players send off with yellow cards one would have expected the Sharks to take advantage of that but then they decide to fight three yellow cards with a  red card through Deysel with a knee in the head of a Crusaders player.

For Gary Gold to come out and say the Sharks do not have a discipline problem makes you think if he Director of Rugby at the Sharks is living in the same world as Peter Pan. The sad part of this all is that all these players have represent South African in the Springbok team and they are senior players in this franchise. It is a sad day if we start accepting these kind of incidents from a coach, union or players as isolated incidents when a team conceded two yellow cards and three reds cards in eight matches.

You do feel for the players in the team that have to carry the load and the reputation of some players and it will not be easy for the Sharks to get back to their best. Players, coaches and franchises need to understand that they belong to the supporters who keep them alive to play this beautiful game and once you get to a stage were the supporters do not come to support their teams, unions will find it difficult to survive and keep the service of the top players.

The Crusaders have shown that they will be a team to beat if one wants to win this competition once again and for the Sharks one see a long road ahead to show anybody and themselves that they are the quality team we all know they are.

The scorers:

For the Sharks:
Con: Zeilinga
Pen: Lambie

For the Crusaders:
Ellis, Dagg, Fonotia, Crotty, Slade, Havilli, Todd, Taylor
Cons: Slade 5, Taylor

Yellow cards: Nepo Laulala (Crusaders, 36 – foul play, no arms in tackle), Kieron Fonotia (Crusaders, 38 – foul play, no arms in tackle), Nemani Nadolo (Crusaders, 40 – professional foul, kicking the ball away)
Red card: Jean Deysel (Sharks, 40 – foul play, knee to the head of an opponent)

2nd Half fightback not enough from Stormers


How do you describe a match when one person turns a game on his head so much like referee Rohan Hoffmann?

By Jacques Nortier

Cartoon by Tim Mostert
Cartoon by Tim Mostert

At the end it was a game of two half’s with the Hurricanes taking the first half and the Stormers the second. Hurricanes stayed unbeaten and took the win 25-20 and gave the Stormers their second lost on tour and third overall in a row.

The Stormers started well making their intentions clear that they will take on the Hurricanes in their own game and run the ball but execution was not good enough.

They traded penalties and with the score at 6-3 to the Hurricanes the first of Mr Hoffmann decisions gave the Hurricanes a 14 point turnaround when Smith clearly knocked the ball out of the hands of Jones which ended up in try for the Hurricanes at the other end…

The referees inconsistency in his decision made him look like he did know what to do. His overall controlling of the game was absolutely the worst that we have seen from any referee for the long time, making ever call for both teams questionable.

Off course from a South African view point one will be seeing the mistakes against the Stormers more than against the Hurricanes but in all he was just bad for the game and both teams. Another of his questionable decisions was in the second half when Jones pick up the ball from the ruck and dive over which the referee and his TMO decided was illegal. If that was illegal then I am sorry we will have to penalise every single ruck from now one.

The Hurricanes was good for the win as they did take the changes and turned them over into points and Barrett again the guy that was outstanding for the Hurricanes. The speed and accuracy in their attack was brilliant in the first half.

One thing we have seen from the Stormers this year, there defence are not great and the Hurricanes took advantage of that in the first half.

A question on coach Coetzee persistence in picking Demetri Catrakili ahead of Coleman was ask all week and proven again that it is long overdue to give Coleman an extended run at 10. He looks like the more complete player between the two and add every time a spark to the Stormers backline when he comes on.

One of the players that stand out for the Stormers must be Huw Jones and looked like a promising player who can bring an extra ability on attack for the backline. The Stormers forwards had a strong game again with Vermeulen and Burger leading the men.

Vermeulen made a clear difference to the team and was outstanding in all aspect of the game.

At the end the Stormers had just too much to catch up from 25-3 down and allowed the Hurricanes to pull away on top of the log from the rest of the teams.

For the Stormers the tour can now turn into a disaster as they have to face the Waratahs next week in their third game on tour This will almost come a must win game for the Stormers to stay in touch in the competition.

The scorers:

For Hurricanes:
Tries: Milner-Skudder, Savea, Barrett
Cons: Barrett 2
Pens: Barrett 2

For Stormers:
Tries: Penalty Try, Jones
Cons: Catrakilis 2
Pens: Catrakilis, Coleman

Ruggaworld’s “Live” Match Center


What a way to start the weekends games with the Stormers a bit on the back foot after two loses and taking on the only unbeaten team this year, The Hurricanes.


Hurricanes 0 Stormers 0  

This is almost a must win for the Stormers with the Hurricanes unbeaten thus far the season.

Hurricanes: 15 Nehe Milner-Skudder, 14 Cory Jane, 13 Conrad Smith (captain), 12 Ma’a Nonu, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Victor Vito, 7 Callum Gibbins, 6 Brad Shields, 5 James Broadhurst, 4 Jeremy Thrush, 3 Ben Franks, 2 Motu Matu’u, 1 Reggie Goodes.
Replacements: 16 Brayden Mitchell, 17 Ben May, 18 Chris Eves, 19 Mark Abbott, 20 Adam Hill, 21 Chris Smylie, 22 Rey Lee-Lo, 23 James Marshall.

Stormers: 15 Cheslin Kolbe, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Dillyn Leyds, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Duane Vermeulen (captain), 7 Schalk Burger, 6 Siya Kolisi, 5 Manuel Carizza, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Vincent Koch, 2 Siyabonga Ntubeni, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Replacements: 16 Mbongeni Mbonambi, 17 Oliver Kebble, 18 Frans Malherbe, 19 Ruan Botha, 20 Michael Rhodes, 21 Louis Schreuder, 22 Kurt Coleman
23 Huw Jones.

Referee: Rohan Hoffmann
Assistant referees: Kane McBride, Mike Lash
TMO: Chris Wratt

Rebels v Reds

It is the first of this season’s derbies between the states of Victoria and Queensland.

None of these two teams are really a threat to the competition…


Rebels: 15 Mike Harris, 14 Tom English, 13 Tamati Ellison, 12 Mitch Inman, 11 Sefanaia Naivalu, 10 Jack Debreczeni, 9 Nic Stirzaker, 8 Scott Higginbotham, 7 Scott Fuglistaller, 6 Sean McMahon, 5 Lopeti Timani, 4 Luke Jones, 3 Paul Alo-Emile, 2 Pat Leafa, 1 Toby Smith.
Replacements: 16 Tom Sexton, 17 Cruze Ah-Nau, 18 Tim Metcher, 19 Cadeyrn Neville, 20 Colby Fainga’a, 21 Luke Burgess, 22 Jordy Reid, 23 Bryce Hegarty.

Reds: 15 Lachie Turner, 14 Chris Feauai-Sautia, 13 Samu Kerevi, 12 Anthony Fainga’a, 11 James O’Connor, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Will Genia, 8 Jake Schatz, 7 Liam Gill, 6 Adam Thomson, 5 James Horwill, 4 Dave McDuling, 3 Greg Holmes, 2 James Hanson, 1 James Slipper (captain).
Replacements: 16 Ben Daley, 17 Saia Fainga’a, 18 Sef Faagase, 19 Marco Kotze, 20 Curtis Browning, 21 Nick Frisby, 22 Chris Kuridrani, 23 Karmichael Hunt.

Referee: Matt O’Brien (Australia)
Assistant referees: Andrew Lees (Australia), Michael Hogan (Australia)
TMO: George Ayoub (Australia)



Sharks Boks back for Crusaders


As expected, the Springbok trio of Marcell Coetzee, Cobus Reinach and Patrick Lambie have all been included in the Cell C Sharks team to host the Crusaders at Growthpoint KINGS PARK on Saturday afternoon.

Cell C Sharks Jersey

It doesn’t get much tougher than this, although there have been some pleasing results against the multiple champions. Last year’s 13 man win in Christchurch was a Herculean effort by the Cell C Sharks and while taking energy from past games is a meaningless exercise, certainly that win as well as the victory over the Chiefs two weeks ago means they can take a lot of self-belief out of that match.

The Crusaders are without Dan Carter who has returned to New Zealand on paternity leave as he awaits the birth of his second child, but are nonetheless a side deserving of huge respect, which they will no doubt get from a Sharks side chasing a fourth successive win after victories over the Cheetahs, Chiefs and Force during the last three weekends of Vodacom Super Rugby action.

The Crusaders failed to register a single point in their loss to the Bulls at Loftus last weekend and would hate to leave their two match tour to South Africa without a win. They are in ninth place on the combined log, with the Cell C Sharks in third.

In team changes, Patrick Lambie and Cobus Reinach are straight swaps for Frans Steyn and Conrad Hoffmann, with Lambie taking over the captaincy.

Renaldo Bothma gets a deserved rest after starting all but one match so far this season. He will take great comfort from his Man of the Match award against the Force last week and will provide ample firepower off the bench, with Marcell Coetzee taking his place after gaining a week’s rest.

The Cell C Sharks

15. SP Marais
14. Odwa Ndungane
13. JP Pietersen
12. Andre Esterhuizen
11. Lwazi Mvovo
10. Patrick Lambie (Captain)
9. Cobus Reinach
8. Ryan Kankowski
7. Jean Deysel
6. Marcell Coetzee
5. Marco Wentzel
4. Mouritz Botha
3. Jannie du Plessis
2. Kyle Cooper
1. Tendai Mtawarira

16. Franco Marais
17. Thomas du Toit
18. Matt Stevens
19. Lubabalo Mtyanda
20. Renaldo Bothma
21. Conrad Hoffmann
22. Fred Zeilinga
23. Waylon Murray


SA teams need to step it up…


With only the Cell C Sharks in the top six after round 7, the South African teams will have to start winning games to stay in touch with the leading pack, no more so than the Stormers.

By: Jacques Nortier


Hurricanes versus DHL Stormers (08:35 “Live” on SS1)

They were the early leaders of the South African and overall log but came unstuck the last three weeks with two losses against the Chiefs and Highlanders. Although Vermeulen was rested last week, it cannot be held as an excuse for losing their opening game on tour in New Zealand.

Upfront the Stormers are looking fine and giving most teams problems in the scrums and in rucks, but strangely enough the problems for the Stormers lies at the backs and more so at 9 and 10. With Vermeulen coming back this week to lead the team from eight man one can expect the dominance of the forwards to continue, but the same cannot be said of the backline.

The coach has kept faith with the halfback pairing that came in for some media criticism after last week’s game, but he made it clear that Nic Groom and Demetri Catrakilis will have to perform. Many suggested in the week that Catrakillis have not made the step-up to Super Rugby successfully and Coleman should be the oen that takes the Stormers forward.

Coleman was also the man in charge of the backline last year when the Stormers change the way they played the game and had pretty good success every time he comes on the field.

One would believe that this will be a make or break game for Catrakilis against the Hurricanes this weekend.

One thing is for sure the Stormers are going to find it difficult to keep up in the competition if they lose again on Friday.

Prediction: This is a difficult one against the Hurricanes but I will pick the Stormers to win with 5.

Brumbies versus Toyota Cheetahs (10:40 “Live” on SS1)

The Cheetahs take on the leading Australian team the Brumbies Saturday morning. For the men from Bloemfontein it almost seems that it is crises management every week. The Cheetahs don’t just have the smallest group of players but have been hampered with injuries so far this season.

Good news for the Cheetahs team is that Willie Le Roux and Coenie Oostuizen will be back in the starting 15 on Saturday. With two straight losses on tour things are not getting any easier for the Cheetahs against the Brumbies, who are one of the inform Australian teams this year.

Sarel Pretorius is back in the match day squad and will start from the bench which should give them the spark they maybe need.

Prediction: Struggle very much to see the Cheetahs wining the Brumbies but anything can happen with this team but have to go with Brumbies by 9 point.

Cheetahs: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 Johann Sadie, 12 Francois Venter, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Joe Pietersen, 9 Tian Meyer, 8 Willie Britz, 7 Boom Prinsloo, 6 Heinrich Brussow, 5 Francois Uys (c), 4 Carl Wegner, 3 Coenie Oosthuizen, 2 Torsten van Jaarsveld, 1 Danie Mienie.
Replacements: 16 Stephan Coetzee, 17 BG Uys, 18 Maks van Dyk, 19 Steven Sykes, 20 Tienie Burger, 21 Sarel Pretorius, 22 Willie du Plessis, 23 Rayno Benjamin.

Cell C Sharks versus Crusaders (15:00 “Live” on SS1)

This is a very tough one for the Sharks considering that they have lost yet another player in Steyn this week due to disciplinary actions. With Steyn and Bismarck out for a couple of weeks one lose a hell of experience in this team.

To add to the Sharks problems they have not performed very well this year and although they have won the games the performance was not of a team that will be able to contest for the trophy.

Hopefully all the disruptions are done now and the Sharks can concentrate on their game and the teams they have to face.

The SANZAR-enforced absence of Steyn means, going forward, there is another opportunity for Andre Esterhuizen who is likely to start in the vacant No.12 jumper.

Esterhuizen played alongside Steyn against the Force last weekend, with the Springbok shifting to flyhalf – while fellow Bok Pat Lambie was rested in accordance with a South African Rugby Union request.

Lambie is set to return this week against the Crusaders and that will boost the Sharks team. Lambie must be one of the coolest heads around these days and his presence rubs off on his team mates.

The Crusaders comes off a loss against the Bulls last week and will want to leave South Africa with a win and will not be an easy team to beat even at home. The one thing the Bulls had over the Crusaders last week was up front and the referees looking at the suspect scrum of the Crusaders it may yet be another difficult weekend for the men in red.

Prediction: It is straight forward, if the Sharks dish up the nonsenses they have done the last two weeks, then the Crusaders  will put 50 against them, but I have a feeling this is the week the Sharks will come and play some rugga’s again, Sharks by 8 points.

Emirates Lions versus Vodacom Bulls ( 17:00 “Live” on SS1)

Two teams that had great success over the last couple of weeks, the one here at home and the other one on tour.

The Lions is coming back from one of their most successful tours in the competition and will be wanting to continue winning game but they will be up against a much improved Bulls side who looks like they have believe back again.

Playing at home will be great for the Lions and they will be a difficult customer to overcome at home. The one team that have been able to put more than just one good performance together is the Lions team.

The Bulls will have to make the trip to their neighbours without Serfontein and Victor Matfield but Odendaal in the midfield looked really good against the Crusaders and will be a handful.

Always difficult to travel back from tour the Lions should not lose the intensity they had on their tour as the Bulls match will be one difficult home welcome.

These games between the Bulls and Lions always seemed to upset pre-match predictions but we can be sure that we will be entertained.

Prediction: Although I think the Lions have a great change back at home, I just cannot see the Bulls relaxing after the big win over the Crusaders and give it to them with 12 points.

Weekend’s Schedule:

FRI – 03RD APR 15
06:35 Super Rugby Hurricanes Stormers
08:40 Super Rugby Rebels Reds


SAT – 04TH APR 15
06:35 Super Rugby Chiefs Blues
08:40 Super Rugby Brumbies Cheetahs
13:00 Super Rugby Sharks Crusaders
15:05 Super Rugby Lions Bulls




Three changes for Emirates Lions


Emirates Lions head coach Johan Ackermann has named his 23-man side to face the Vodacom Bulls in Saturday’s local Vodacom Super Rugby derby match.
In the forwards, Ackermann has made just two changes with Jacques van Rooyen starting at loosehead prop and Andries Ferreira earning a starting berth at lock.

Ackermann has also opted for consistency in the Emirates Lions backline, making just one change to his starting outfit. Anthony Volmink will earn his first Vodacom Super Rugby start of the year having fully recovered from his long-term injury.

Kick-off is at 17h05 at Emirates Airline Park. Tickets are still available via from as little as R40.

15. Andries Coetzee
14. Ruan Combrinck
13. Lionel Mapoe
12. Harold Vorster
11. Anthony Volmink
10. Elton Jantjies
9.  Ross Cronje
8.  Warren Whiteley (c)
7.  Warwick Tecklenburg
6.  Derick Minnie
5.  Franco Mostert
4.  Andries Ferreira
3.  Ruan Dreyer
2.  Robbie Coetzee
1.  Jacques van Rooyen

16. Armand van der Merwe
17. Corne Fourie
18. Julian Redelinghuys
19. Robert Kruger
20. Jaco Kriel
21. Faf de Klerk
22. Marnitz Boshoff
23. Howard Mnisi

Willie back for Cheetahs


Cheetahs head coach Naka Drotské has recalled Bok duo Willie le Roux and Coenie Oosthuizen for Saturday’s Super Rugby clash with the Brumbies.


According to Netwerk24, the pair, who were rested for last week’s game against the Chiefs, return alongside outside centre Johann Sadie in the starting side.

Francois Venter is also back in the XV after covering from the bench in Hamilton while there is a new front-row of Oosthuizen, Torsten van Jaarsveld and Danie Mienie, with the other changes made see Carl Wegner and Tian Meyer come in at second-row and scrum-half as they look to end a four-game losing run.

Sarel Pretorius is back in the squad after the birth of his second child and will look to make an impact off the replacements bench against the Brumbies.

Cheetahs: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 Johann Sadie, 12 Francois Venter, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Joe Pietersen, 9 Tian Meyer, 8 Willie Britz, 7 Boom Prinsloo, 6 Heinrich Brussow, 5 Francois Uys (c), 4 Carl Wegner, 3 Coenie Oosthuizen, 2 Torsten van Jaarsveld, 1 Danie Mienie.
Replacements: 16 Stephan Coetzee, 17 BG Uys, 18 Maks van Dyk, 19 Steven Sykes, 20 Tienie Burger, 21 Sarel Pretorius, 22 Willie du Plessis, 23 Rayno Benjamin.

Date: Saturday, April 4
Kick-off: 19:40 local, 21:40 NZDT, 10:40 SAST, 09:40 GMT
Venue: Canberra Stadium
Referee: Ben O’Keeffe
Assistant referees: Angus Gardner, James Leckie
TMO: Peter Marshall

Vermeulen and Etzebeth back in Stormers team


Duane Vermeulen will assume the DHL Stormers captaincy, as well as the No.8 jersey, for Friday’s Vodacom Super Rugby clash against the top of the table – and unbeaten – Hurricanes team in Wellington (kick-off 08h35 SA time) reports website


The influential No.8 missed last week’s 21-39 loss to the Highlanders in Dunedin as part of the SA franchises’ rest agreement with SA Rugby, but he returns this week in one of two changes to the DHL Stormers XV.

The second change, also up front, sees fellow Springbok hardman Eben Etzebeth take over the No.4 jersey from Jean Kleyn, the latter dropping out of the matchday squad altogether – along with Nizaam Carr, who did duty at No.8 last week.

On the bench, meanwhile, lock Ruan Botha will take over the No.19 jersey vacated by Etzebeth in an otherwise unchanged replacements’ unit.

The DHL Stormers and ‘Canes have met on New Zealand soil on seven previous occasions, with the Men from the Cape holding a narrow 4-3 head-to-head advantage – including a nailbiting 18-16 victory in Palmerston North in 2013.

The DHL Stormers team to face the Hurricanes (away) is as follows:

15. Cheslin Kolbe
14. Kobus van Wyk
13. Juan de Jongh (vice-captain)
12. Damian de Allende
11. Dillyn Leyds
10. Demetri Catrakilis
9. Nic Groom
8. Duane Vermeulen (captain)
7. Schalk Burger
6. Siya Kolisi (50th cap for DHL Stormers)
5. Manuel Carizza
4. Eben Etzebeth
3. Vincent Koch
2. Scarra Ntubeni
1. Steven Kitshoff

16. Bongi Mbonambi
17. Oli Kebble
18. Frans Malherbe
19. Ruan Botha
20. Michael Rhodes
21. Louis Schreuder
22. Kurt Coleman
23. Huw Jones

Referee: Rohan Hoffmann (Australia)
Assistant referees: Kane McBride (New Zealand), Mike Lash (New Zealand)
TMO: Chris Wratt (New Zealand)

Stormers to step it up



The Men from the Cape went down 21-39 to the Highlanders in their tour-opener in Dunedin on Saturday, but they remain determined as ever to bounce back this week against the table-topping – and unbeaten – Hurricanes.

Adding to that determination was a clean bill of health on the injury front, meaning that all 27 squad members would be taking part in training tomorrow and, thus, would also be available for selection in Week Two of the four-match tour.

According to Proudfoot, the squad had good conditioning and review sessions on Monday, whilst the management team held their regular preview meetings in their specific departments as well as with the senior players and leadership team (all part of the team’s regular Monday routine).

“We had a very good review day and have put the Highlanders game to bed,” Proudfoot told the website.

“The Hurricanes and Highlanders are similar in some ways, but not totally the same in other (ways). You need to dominate New Zealand sides on the gainline and if you need match them with your kicking game (too).

“We need to train accurately this week and put our lessons into practice against a Hurricanes side that is rightly sitting on top of the log and a team that has a tremendous ability to strike from out wide and also from turnovers.”

Speaking about the performance of the DHL Stormers pack, which continues to impress in 2015, Proudfoot added: “As a pack we set high standards and we need to maintain that consistency in our game to be a dominant pack (on a consistent basis).

“The Hurricanes are tough and proud up front and they play an incredibly hard brand of rugby. They are very proficient at line-out time, they have an excellent scrum and their work-rate is phenomenal. We need to match them in all facets of play up front – if you can’t match them technically you won’t be able to compete with them physically.”

The DHL Stormers team, to face the Hurricanes, will be announced on Tuesday morning (South African time).

The tour squad will head to Wellington on Thursday before taking on the ‘Canes at the Westpac Stadium on Friday (19h35 NZ time; 08h35 SA time

Bulls best of South Africans over the weekend



Get more news and stats at Vodacom Rugby Portal 

A historic end to an Australian tour for the Emirates Lions with three victories from four and a comprehensive victory for the Vodacom Bulls over the Crusaders highlighted the weekend’s Vodacom SupeRugby action.

While the DHL Stormers and the Toyota Cheetahs were defeated in their respective matches in New Zealand, the Cell C Sharks moved to the top of the South African Conference log following their victory over the Force in Durban.

Vodacom Bulls pivot Handre Pollard continued his good run of form as he ended the weekend second in the Points category behind the Chiefs’ Aaron Cruden on 17.

Pollard scored one point less as he topped the Penalty Goals bracket with the Crusaders’ Dan Carter with four apiece.

The Springbok pivot is the leading points scorer so far this season on 108 points with Sharks flyhalf Pat Lambie 18 points behind him in second place.

Playing in his 100th Vodacom SupeRugby match, Stormers flanker Schalk Burger displayed the grit that has made him one of the most recognisable figures in world rugby.

Burger’s 22 Carries in his side’s defeat to the Highlanders was the most in the seventh round with Kurtley Beale of the Waratahs and the Rebels’ Scott Higginbotham tied in second place with 19.

Stormers captain Juan de Jongh also led from the front making the second most (three) Clean Breaks along with Brad Weber (Chiefs), Israel Dagg (Crusaders) and Mitch Inman (Rebels) behind the Crusaders’ Andy Ellis with four.

Meanwhile, Bulls centre Burger Odendaal made a dream Vodacom SupeRugby debut as he scored a try on debut while sharing second place in the Defenders Beaten bracket with team-mate Jesse Kriel.

The Bulls duo beat eight defenders on the night with George Moala of the Blues leading the category with nine.

Round-7 Stats:


  1. Aaron Cruden (Chiefs) – 17
  2. Handre Pollard (Bulls) – 16
  3. Dan Carter (Crusaders) – 14
  4. Bernard Foley (Waratahs) – 13
  5. Mike Harris (Rebels) – 12

Penalty Goals:

  1. Dan Carter (Crusaders) – 4
  2. Handre Pollard (Bulls) – 4
  3. Mike Harris (Rebels) – 4
  4. Aaron Cruden (Chiefs) – 3
  5. Bernard Foley (Waratahs) – 3

Kicks from Hand:

  1. Francois Steyn (Sharks) – 13
  2. Sias Ebersohn (Force) – 12
  3. Dane Haylett-Petty (Force) – 11
  4. Joe Pietersen (Cheetahs) – 10
  5. Andy Ellis (Crusaders) – 9

Clean Breaks:

  1. Andy Ellis (Crusaders) – 4
  2. Brad Weber (Chiefs) – 3
  3. Israel Dagg (Crusaders) – 3
  4. Juan de Jongh (Stormers) – 3
  5. Mitch Inman (Rebels) – 3


  1. Schalk Burger (Stormers) – 22
  2. Kurtley Beale (Waratahs) – 19
  3. Scott Higginbotham (Rebels) – 19
  4. Dane Haylett-Petty (Force) – 18
  5. Israel Folau (Waratahs) – 18

Defenders Beaten:

  1. George Moala (Blues) – 9
  2. Burger Odendaal (Bulls) – 8
  3. Jesse Kriel (Bulls) – 8
  4. Damian McKenzie (Chiefs) – 6
  5. Dane Haylett-Petty (Force) – 5

Bothma, Naholo prove their Super Rugby class!


The weekend was peculiar! The Hurricanes march on as they made it six from six against Melbourne Rebels!

By: Ruggaworld’s Benedict Chanakira

Super rugby


The Chiefs managed to beat an ill discipline Cheetahs side who had star performances from their loosies!  The Lions won their third match on tour as they beat a Quade Cooper inspired Reds. The Bulls and credit to them were brilliant.

That is how you beat the Crusaders. The scrumming prowess of the Crusaders was well subdued. The Sharks managed to get four points but will be very fortunate to get those. The Force had everything but the appropriate points to win a game! They were absolutely shocking! You know what they say; champions even get the result when they play trashy!

The Highlanders were scintillating, as the Stormers wheels starting to fall off. The Waratahs also played championship winning rugby! Played terribly but ground out a win against the winless but improving Blues!

The losing teams played really well and could in most cases have found themselves unfortunate to lose! Who were the star performers of the week? My team of the week:

  1. SP Marais (Sharks)

After a horrific first twenty five minutes SP managed to step his game up a bit. The Sharks looked terrible and he was one of the few shining beacons for the home side. A vital try in the early minutes of the second half got the Sharks going. He was also a pivotal player in the movement that produced the decisive and second try.

  1. Waisake Naholo (Highlanders)

Two spectacular tries and a solid defensive show! The big winger did not just power his side to victory but also was at the centre of sparking a fierce debate. Is size important in rugby? This was after his bumping and running over of Cheslin Kolbe!!

  1. Malakai Fekitoa (Highlanders)

It’s not just his defensive play that we must laud but also his attacking touch! Fekitoa continues to impress and looks set to be a shoe-in for the New Zealand World Cup Squad. The centre is crucial to the brilliance of the Highlanders!

  1. Burger Odendaal (Bulls)

Late inclusion, mammoth display, crazy hair-do and huge future. The former Bulls junior player managed to put on a show for the Loftus faithful! Burger set the platform for a great Bulls win. Many will probably remember him being part of the disastrous Bulls Currie Cup side! Jan Serfontein was not missed at all, but his return could see Burger thrust away! Burger-Jan combo anyone?

  1. Nehe Milner-Skudder (Hurricanes)

Exciting, tricky and absolutely brilliant! The youngster was on as a 15, but was brilliant! The two try burst in the five minutes cameo made fans revel in yet another brilliant player produced by the Canes. Hoping the youngster manages to be nurtured and will not fade like Andre Taylor who started off magnificently!!

  1. Handre Pollard (Bulls)

You will not have a one horse race. Pat Lambie may lead the race to the Bok jersey but boy oh boy is Pollard showing he has the goods! He shifted the ball well, kicked exceptionally well and can I say outplayed the fading though great Crusaders pivot- Daniel Carter!

  1. Aaron Smith (Highlanders)

He got a yellow and deservedly so too. Aaron is currently the dream scrumhalf in the world. Defensively sound, clever and he scored a cheeky try this weekend which could see several players make use of that trick. He was sharp on attack and was a brilliant partner to Lima Sopoaga! Rudy Paige deserves special mention for a great display for the Bulls!

  1. Michael Leitch (Chiefs)

Talk about a quality number 8. I can already see Tanaka and this man linking up with the Japanese national team. A quality player, who produced a world-class show for the Chiefs. A try, and a try assist was vital at the different stages for the Chiefs! Warren Whiteley was also outstanding for the Lions in yet another performance from the skipper!

  1. Renaldo Bothma (Sharks)

The Namibian was the best Sharks player on the field. Played the game as if it was his last as he managed to carry effectively, defend like a tank and managed to inspire a Sharks team that needed inspiration. He made up for lost minutes after, being replaced early for the Chiefs game! Hanru Liebenberg was absolutely immense in the Crusaders game. More game time must be offered with Arno Botha an injury-prone talent!

  1. Heinrich Brussow (Cheetahs)

By miles the best Cheetah on the park. There is no player who played out of his skin than Brussow. He managed to bag a double of tries and made a powerful statement. I rate if he keeps playing like this, he will give Meyer no option but to call him up! Remains unbeaten against the All Blacks!!

  1. Victor Matfield (Bulls)

A veteran. A master. Big Vic put on a show and managed to set the tone in the line outs and managed to be a vital leader for the Bulls. One of the silent warriors in the forward pack as the Bulls subdued a strong Crusaders side!

  1. Will Skelton (Waratahs)

The man is humongous! He is slowly developing into an 80 minute player. Skelton was effective with ball in hand and defended superbly. A powerful asset for Australian rugby!

  1. Trevor Nyakane (Bulls)

Two key turnovers, a powerful scrumming display had the former Cheetahs prop dancing! Trevor played extremely well and with the help of an eagle eye referee was keeping the Bulls ahead in all aspects! A performance to remember for the Springbok man.

  1. Ash Dixon (Highlanders)

The Magpies man was solid for the Highlanders and was crucial to the momentum and quick ball produced by the forwards. A quality player going forward too. Adriaan Strauss was also a power player for the Bulls!

  1. Tendai Mtawarira (Sharks)

The Beast was outstanding for the Sharks at scum time. While this may be a tricky area, be assured against the Crusaders the man is going to destroy. He is starting to look very good and has been quite solid in his defensive efforts. It’s a pity he has his ball carrying duties limited!

I quite enjoyed the flurry of tries scored this weekend! How good was the Naholo try, when he ran over Kolbe by brushing him aside? Nadolo also proved to be a powerful runner as he ran over Kriel, keeping his balance on the touchline! Have to go with the Bulls going wide and Houggard dotting in the corner!

Make your pick!

Bulls show their class over Crusaders


It was made up during the week as the game of the week in South Africa and the Bulls and Crusaders did not disappoint when the Bulls beaten the seven times champions 31-19 in Pretoria on Saturday.

By: Jacques Nortier

Picture by Tim Mostert Speedy Productions
Picture by Tim Mostert Speedy Productions

After the Sharks versus the Force game I think most people was just hoping that the Bulls and Crusaders can bring some respect back to the game. This was one of the Bulls best performances so far this year and they sowed some glimpses of a team that can be a treat this year.

Most people on social media had already written the Bulls off before the game started as the news came through during the Sharks game that Arno Botha and Serfontein had to withdraw from the team due to injuries.

Luckily for us the Bulls had other ideas and started the game putting the Crusaders under immense pressure and quickly were on the board with two quick tries to put the Crusaders on the back foot.

The game had everything every rugby supporter wanted in a game and a little bit more.

The Bulls decided to keep ball in hand and give their backline enough opportunities to run at the dangerous Crusaders. Within three minutes Hougaard open the scoring for the Bulls with a try in the corner and follow that up with a brilliant try from Burger Odendaal who had to step into the side after Serfontein withdrew before the match.

Odendaal was a sensation in the Bulls backline throughout the game with his energy in defence and attack. One already started thinking on how to pair him with Serfontein when he is back to fitness to make this backline even more dangerous.

The Bulls were able to keep the ball away from the dangerous Crusaders backline but it did not take long for Dagg to start breaking the Bulls defence. Dagg who did not had a good start to the competition this year showed why he is one of the most dangerous players in world rugby and he got through the Bulls defence with ease.

Defence did let the Bulls down in the first half and kept the Crusaders in the game as the two teams exchange the lead several times during the game.

The Second half the Bulls showed better control in attack and defence as they were able to keep an ongoing attack from the Crusaders away from their goal line.

The Bulls were able to keep the Crusaders at a distance on the scoreboard with the boot of Pollard with the final nail in the Crusaders coffin when Hattingh scored a run away try from an intercept.

The Bulls were able to keep the Crusaders out to win yet another great Loftus battle against the Crusaders.

Next week the Bulls will take on the Emirates Lions who will return after a successful tour.

The scorers:

For Bulls:
Tries: Hougaard, Odendaal, Hattingh
Con: Pollard 2
Pen: Pollard 4

For Crusaders:
Try: Nadolo
Con: Carter
Pen: Carter 4


Sharks get ugly win over Force


For the second week in a row it is one of the most difficult things to give a positive report after yet another Sharks win which could have gone horribly wrong for them when they beaten the Force 15-9.

By: Jacques Nortier

Cell C Sharks Jersey

The Force is not really a team that will be a great threat for most teams in the competitions and away from home one would expect a highly rated Sharks team to get a bonus point win over the Australians. Unfortunately from a South African perspective for the second week in a row they proof to be exactly the opposite and can feel very unlucky for not have won the game.

The Sharks started the game with a bang and it looked like the players will be playing an fast and expansive game but mistakes on attack and in defense was yet again the Sharks biggest problem. At one stage one felt that they were rather playing against themselves than the Force as they kept on making the wrong decisions on attack.

At fly half Frans Steyn were below par as he has been since arriving back from Japan. With senseless kicks and wrong decision making he could never really get his back line going and his kicking to poles was less than impressive. At scrum half Hoffmann also failed as the Sharks gave Cobus and Patrick the week off.The Sharks back line looked like they had no real plan on attack as was the case with the Stormers earlier the day.

Luckily for the Sharks there forwards was good on the night and were able to make the difference at the end.

The Force was not any better and one was looking forward for the game to end so that we can look forward to the next one.

The Sharks did look like they were feeling the disruption o fall the players being rested for this game and were not use to play together.

Next week it is the Crusaders that will visit Durban and if they want to win this game they will have to pull something different out of the hat than what they dished up in the last two weeks.

At the end they did move into the top spot on the log for the South African conference and with two ugly wins behind them they can only get better.

The scorers:

For Sharks:
Tries: Marais, Mvovo
Con: Zeilinga
Pen: Zeilinga

For Force:
Pen: Ebersohn 2, Burton


Highlanders wipe Stormers away


The Highlanders welcomed the Stormers to New Zealand win a convincing win of 39-21.

By: Jacques Nortier


Not the start that the men from Cape Town wanted on their first game on tour. They started well scoring the first try although a forward pass from Scarra was missed by the officials in the lead up to it.

After that it was all Highlanders as they just move up a gear and just never really let go. The rush defence from the Highlanders broke down any attack that the Stormers has and put them on the back foot for the rest of the game.

The backline of the Stormers looked like they had now plan and could most of the time not get over the defensive line and when they did, they either spilled it or gave away a turnover.

Schalk Burger playing in his 100th match for the Stormers was again all over the field and was involved in most of the Stormers attack and play. He showed why he is still important for not just this Stormers team but also for Meyers Boks.

Kolbe had a difficult time on defence to say the least but was instrumental in one of the Stormers tries in the second half.

The Highlanders was just in a class above the Stormers and not even the Stormers strong display in the scrums could stop the momentum they build in the game.

In the backline there is not much to say for the Stormers as they had either too many forwards in back play stopping moment or had no plan to break the Highlanders defence.

The Stormers back play did look better once Coleman came on and do feel that he needs to get an extended run at the number 10 jersey.

For the Highlanders Smith was again brilliant and must be the best 9 in the world. The unstoppable Waisake Naholo notched up two tries with the home crowd particularly enjoying his second effort when he smashed through Cheslin Kolbe and tossed him aside on his way to the line.

It is not getting any easier for the Stormers as they have to take on the Hurricanes next week and need to pull something out of the hat to get back to winning ways.

The scorers:

For Highlanders:
Tries: A.Smith, Naholo 2, Osborne, Pryor
Cons: Sopoaga 4
Pens: Sopoaga, Banks
Yellow Cards: A.Smith

For Stormers:
Tries: De Jongh 2, Rhodes
Cons: Catrakilis, Coleman 2