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Semi Final Preview – Crusaders v Chiefs

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And we are left with only four teams as the Crusaders host the Chiefs in the first semi final this weekend.

The two teams beaten the Highlanders and the Stormers last week to advance to the final four and have just one match to win to get into the final of this years Super Rugby competition.

Let’s face it all the cards are showing the Saders as the favorites for this one but we have seen stranger things happen before in knockout rugby and if their is one match it could happen then it is this one.

The weather will play a huge role as well and all we hope for that we do not see more rain like last week which forced two exciting teams to kick us to sleep.

Crusaders coach Scott Robertson has kept his winning team of last week with the same match-day 23.

The weather forecast does not predict any rain but very cold condition with the mercury that will drop to well below -3 during the game.

The Crusaders were very good last week in their tactically and it was good for the wet conditions but but the Chiefs on a dry cold evening will bring a different challenge all together. The two teams will have one huge battle in the set pieces and the one area that could end up crucial for the win, will be the collisions.

In every battle on the field we will have mini-battles and those mini-battles are as important as the big one’s. The Chiefs have been blowing hot and cold this season especially against the New Zealand teams but when they get it right they can be unstoppable.

The only way to get past the Crusaders seemed to be to starve them from the ball and put them under pressure so the Chiefs tactical kicking will be very important on the day.

We expected both teams to implement a rush defence so it will be crucial for them to execute it 100% for any mistake will surely cost you points.

The battle of the big boys will ensure the type of game the backs will play. Although I do not expect a big difference between the two teams on the scoreboard I do believe we gonna see some tries.

Prediction: Crusaders for the win by 5 points

Teams:

Crusaders: David Havili, Israel Dagg, Jack Goodhue, Ryan Crotty, Seta Tamanivalu, Richie Mo’unga, Bryn Hall, Kieran Read, Matt Todd, Jordan Taufua, Sam Whitelock (captain), Scott Barrett, Owen Franks, Codie Taylor, Joe Moody.

Replacements: Ben Funnell, Wyatt Crockett, Mike Alaalatoa, Luke Romano, Pete Samu, Mitchell Drummond, Mitchell Hunt, George Bridge

Chiefs: Damian McKenzie, Tim Nanai-Williams, Anton Lienert-Brown, Charlie Ngatai, James Lowe, Aaron Cruden (co-c), Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Michael Leitch, Sam Cane (co-c), Liam Messam, Brodie Retallick, Mitchell Brown, Nepo Laulala, Nathan Harris, Kane Hames.

Replacements: Liam Polwart, Aidan Ross, Atu Moli, Dominic Bird, Lachlan Boshier, Finlay Christie, Stephen Donald, Shaun Stevenson.

QF 1 Preview – Brumbies Hurricanes

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The most exciting bit of Super Rugby when you at least see strength vs strength and our first quarter final is Friday morning when the Brumbies host the Hurricanes in Canberra.

Most expect this to be a onside match and that the current champions will easily get pass the Brumbies but we have learned enough over the last couple of years that you do not write of any team when it comes to the play-offs.

The Hurricanes have draw not the shortest straw, not the longest straw but the best one when they beat the Crusaders last week to secure a trip to Australia rather than Cape Town. The Brumbies have not played the world on fire this year and to be honest have actually struggled in their last couple of matches.

The Hurricanes have been on of the top sides in the competition throughout the year and have a great change to defend their title this year again. They are the only side that could beat the Crusaders this year and have been brilliant on attack.

They have also top this years Super Rugby for most tries scored(89), being deadly from broken play and turnovers is something you do not want to give to this Hurricanes team.

The Brumbies have been good in the set pieces and their defence have been good as well this year.

Praying for rain is almost all they Brumbies can do to maybe stand a change of winning this one and taking their log position, rightly so as well. Another positive for the Brumbies will be that they will play in front of their passionate supporters but that is about it for them.

Prediction: Can only see one winner, Hurricanes by 15 plus points

Hurricanes – 15 Nehe Milner-Skudder, 14 Wes Goosen, 13 Jordie Barrett, 12 Ngani Laumape, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara (c), 8 Brad Shields, 7 Ardie Savea, 6 Vaea Fifita, 5 Sam Lousi, 4 Mark Abbott,3  Jeff To’omaga-Allen, 2 Ricky Riccitelli, 1 Ben May.
Replacements: 16 Dane Coles, 17 Chris Eves, 18 Loni Uhila, 19 Reed Prinsep, 20 Callum Gibbins, 21 Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, 22 Otere Black, 23 Cory Jane.

Brumbies – 15 Tom Banks, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Tevita Kuridrani,12  Andrew Smith,11 James Dargaville, 10 Wharenui Hawera, 9 Joe Powell, 8 Jordan Smiler, 7 Chris Alcock, 6 Scott Fardy, 5 Sam Carter (c), 4 Rory Arnold, 3 Allan Alaalatoa, 2 Josh Mann-Rea, 1 Scott Sio.
Replacements:: 16 Robbie Abel, 17 Ben Alexander, 18 Leslie Leuluaialii-Makin, 19 Blake Enever, 20 Jarrad Butler, 21 Tomas Cubelli, 22 Jordan Jackson-Hope, 23 Christian Leali’ifano.

Canes, Saders, Lions and Chiefs for the win this weekend

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To get to the final is much about momentum than anything else when it comes to the business end of Super Rugby and their are a few teams that are showing great form.

As we move into the first week of play-offs nobody will complain if the bookmakers are backing the New Zealand teams to advance to the next stage of the tournament with only the Lions that have shown again this year that they can go all the way.

In the first quarter final of the weekend we see the Brumbies hosting the Hurricanes on Friday and although the saying goes”Anything can happen in the play-offs” it will unfortunately not happen for the Brumbies.

The Aussie sides have been poor this year and even the Australian conference winner the Brumbies have not shown that they can scare any of the teams in the play-offs. More worrying for the Australian side is that their form this last two weeks have been poor as well and they are playing the current champions on Friday.

The only thing that is going for the Brumbies is that they are playing at home and will (hopefully) have more supporters at the stadium than the Hurricanes.

The Hurricanes have shown that they are the one team that can again go all the way and have quality written all over the side, from number 1 to number 23.

The Hurricanes have top this years Super Rugby in most tries scored(89) and they have been deadly from broken play and turnovers is something you would not want to give to this Hurricanes team.

Praying for rain is almost all they Brumbies can do to maybe stand a change of winning this one and taking their log position, rightly so as well.

Can only see a Hurricanes win by at least 15 points.

The next quarter-final match will be an all New Zealand derby when the Crusaders host the Highlanders on Saturday morning. This is going to be a cracker and certainly not one to miss out on on. The Crusaders have been on top of the Super Rugby log until last weekend when they lost for the first time this year against the Hurricanes.

The end result is that they will gave up an easier run and a home final to the Lions who has ended on top of the overall log. The Highlanders are not the easiest team to play against and they have shown that they have a few game plans which have won them matches this season against good teams.

The Crusaders is a quality team and most properly the most conservative (if there is such a word in NewZealand rugby) of all the franchises there but they can score tries from anywhere and just don’t let up. They have one of the best set phases of all the teams in the competition and are one of the most balanced sides as well.

This one is difficult to call but have to go with the Saders by 10 points.

From the Crusaders and Highlanders we move to the next local derby match, this time in Johannesburg when the Lions take on the Sharks. The Lions have ended on top and will want to take the opportunity that has come their way and get the first win done and dusted against the Sharks.

Last week the two teams met in Durban and although it was not the Lions best game of the year they still beat the Sharks comfortable which will be a huge worry for the Sharks. The Lions are one of the most difficult teams to face at home and even without their captain Whiteley will not be easily beaten by any of the remaining teams.

They have so many game breakers and as with the Crusaders one of the most well balanced sides in the competition. The Lions struggled in the scrum last week and know that it is the one place where the Sharks will target them. When the two teams met earlier this year at Emirates Airline Park we witness one of the games of the season and most will want to see the same but we need to realistic and know that the Lions should be too strong for whatever the Sharks throw at them.

Lions will take this by 15 plus points at home.

The last quarter final will be at DHL Newlands when the Stormers will again take on the Chiefs. In the last two matches played between these two teams we saw the Chiefs running the Stormers off their feet in last years quarter final and during the season the Stormers had one of their best matches of the year when they surprise the Chiefs at Newlands.

The Chiefs is a quality side as all the New Zealand teams but have not dominated as they did previous years. The Stormers will take some believe into this match from the last time they meet but that frankly counts for nothing. The Chiefs also has all their big guns in the team and this will be a either a great contest or another runaway for the Chiefs.

That the Stormers have the quality  to beat the Chiefs no one will question, but they have been so much hot and cold this year that you never know what team will pitch up. Defence have also not always been up to scratch and they will have to defend out of their skins if they want to win this game.

This will be a great game to end the weekends quarter finals and although I hope the Stormers will pull this one through, the head keep on saying Chiefs by 12 points atleast.

Who do you think will be the winners this weekend?

 

Micth- Lions can take this all

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Former Lions and current Bulls director of Rugby John Mitchell believes the emotional attachment that the Lions have to their current coaching set-up can carry them all the way to this year’s Super Rugby title.

According to the SuperSport website, with coach Johan Ackermann heading to Gloucester at the conclusion of the Super Rugby campaign, the Lions will have more than the normal motivation to win the tournament, and as they have finished top of the league table, they will be comfortable at home without the travel nightmare that other teams face in the final rounds of the competition.

Mitchell believes that the New Zealand teams in particular underestimate the emotional attachment around the Lions team and that could be to their downfall if they have to visit Johannesburg for a playoff game.

“Most definitely. They’ve presented themselves with a great opportunity by finishing top of the log. I’m not sure if the other teams understand the emotional motivation with Ackers leaving after this tournament and the fact that they fell short last year at the last hurdle.

“They will be highly motivated and have a huge amount of desire. If they can keep their composure and focus on their processes and not get too emotionally committed to the outcome, I think they will finish off well.”

Mitchell also believes that while it was never good to see the Kings and Cheetahs leave Super Rugby, the proposed move to new competitions could well benefit the rest of the country’s rugby structures when the game moves to a global season in a few years time.

“Its not nice to exit a competition. If you look at my experience in 2012 with the Lions where I was hoping to debate whether people were transparent enough about what was happening to us. But ultimately when you look at it it was probably one of the best thing that happened to the Lions in the way they could clean out and get their wage bill way under R30-million and start again with a young committed group that wasn’t targeted by the market. It is only now they’re starting to be targeted by the market. There is actually a lot of good things to happen from coming out of Super Rugby.

“But for Saru, when the next broadcasting deal comes up in Super Rugby, hedging your bets by betting on the other side of the fence is not a bad commercial strategy as well. Ultimately as well where does SA Rugby head when it becomes a global season.

“There is a lot to be said for South Africans playing in the northern hemisphere, so I guess they get the best of both worlds.”

Mitchell was the coach of the Lions when they exited Super Rugby for a season to make way for the Kings to debut in the competition.

Read the full story on SuperSport

Cane impress by Kolisi

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All Black and Chiefs Sam Cane believe Kolisi is a South African loose forward playing like a Kiwi.

The All Black flank was full of praises for Kolisi and the form he has shown this year not just in Super Rugby but also during the test series against France. The Stormers host the Chiefs in one of the four play-off matches this weekend at Newlands.

Cane admits to being impressed with Kolisi this season and knows his side must limit his impact.

 “He is a South African loose forward that plays a lot more like a Kiwi‚” he told TimesLive. “He’s got good footwork‚ a great skill-set‚ and is very physical too. I’m not sure if he has bulked up in the past few years. I first swapped a Test jersey with him four years ago. We always make an effort to chat after the game. We’ve got a good relationship.”

Judging from recent Stormers performances it promises to be a frantic game at Newlands this weekend as both sides like to play at a pace, which should create another thriller between the sides.

Everyone knows that our game revolves around lightning-quick ball,” added head coach Dave Rennie. “Because of that‚ teams are going to work really hard to slow our ball down. Our ball-carriers and supporting players need to do a good job to ensure we get quick ball. And hopefully the referee will play his part in that respect too.”

He continued: “That last game [against the Stormers] was a hell of a game of footy. We made a couple of errors and got punished. We need to look after the ball. They’ve got a big pack and a lot of firepower out the back. That’s what we expect from the African sides. Hopefully‚ we can get a bit of pill and put pressure on them.”

Stormers back Willemse

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Stormers coach Robbie Fleck will have no problem backing young Damian Willemse to start at flyhalf in Saturday’s high-pressured quarter-final against the Chiefs, writes CRAIG LEWIS for SARugbyMag

The Stormers have opted to start the 19-year-old in their last three games, with Willemse having made his Super Rugby run-on debut against the Cheetahs after returning from duty at the World Rugby U20 Championship last month.

As it is, the highly-regarded youngster is seen as the future at flyhalf for the Stormers, with Brandon Thomson heading to the Glasgow Warriors, while Robert du Preez has been strongly linked with a move back to the Sharks.

In recent weeks, Willemse has displayed plenty of encouraging signs, particularly on attack, which has served to vindicate his selection.

And although this Saturday’s quarter-final against the Chiefs is sure to present his greatest challenge yet, Fleck insisted at a press conference at the team’s high-performance base on Monday that they had no doubts about Willemse’s ability to rise to the occasion.

‘I think he’s been outstanding, he’s brought a different dynamic to our attack. He brings a lot of energy and he’s a tough character who gets stuck in. So we’ve got no problem selecting him against the Chiefs, it doesn’t matter what his age is, the boy is performing, and we need to keep backing him.’

One area where Willemse has battled for consistency has been with his goal-kicking, which has seen him miss five out of 13 shots at goal.

Nevertheless, Fleck said they believed he would continue to grow into this role as a frontline goal-kicker, while suggesting there were enough backup kicking options if needed.

‘We believe in him [Willemse], he has huge belief in himself and the players enjoy playing with him. When it comes to the goal-kicking duties, SP [Marais] is back, so that might play a role in the selection, while Cheslin [Kolbe] did a good job when he had to kick against the Cheetahs.

‘We want to take the pressure off Damian, his goal-kicking is part of his growth in terms of where he’s going and we do like to have a flyhalf who has the kicking duties, but we’ll make the right decision going forward. Looking at his general play and his abilities, there’s no doubt around him.’

ALSO READ: Stormers must be smarter

As Fleck alluded to, Marais’ return to fitness does provide an interesting selection quandary this week, with Dillyn Leyds having impressed in his absence at fullback.

Of course, Leyds could move back to the wing in order to accommodate Marais, but this would be likely to result in Seabelo Senatla dropping out of the starting lineup at a time when the Blitzboks star has just begun to find some form.

‘We do have an interesting selection consideration,’ Fleck commented. ‘SP has had an excellent season at the back. His boot makes a big difference, and his decision-making has been very good all-year round. But Dillyn has been absolutely outstanding in the last couple of games, especially on the counter-attack, and he’s also made good decisions.

‘It’s a good headache to have, while we have to also consider that Seabelo has come into form of late. His speed does have an impact on the way we want to play, but we’ll look at the combinations that will suit what we want to do and provide the best opportunities on attack or with the kicking game.’

Fleck added that there were no new injury worries after this past weekend’s clash against the Bulls, while confirming that Rynhardt Elstadt, Wilco Louw, Ali Vermaak, Oli Kebble and Kobus van Dyk would be available for selection.

Super Rugby laughing stock of world rugby

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Super Rugby is losing credibility faster than Titanic took on water or the Hindenburg ruptured on its fatal final attempt at docking, write Rob Houwing, Sport24 chief 

It is hugely difficult to imagine, under the frankly embarrassing circumstances, that it can survive another season next year of the conference format … at least as it is presently, near-farcically constituted.

The competition already lost a certain “something”, a notable chunk of its prior allure, when it shifted a little less radically to three conferences from an orthodox, fair and easy-to-follow round-robin format after the 2010 season – coincidentally also the last time a South African winner, the Bulls, was engraved on the trophy.

Even then, for a few seasons subsequently, legitimacy remained partially intact, given that most teams encountered each other at least once, despite the expanded emphasis on domestic derbies.

But both the 2016 and current seasons, with the altogether more convoluted and contrived formula employed (effectively conferences within conferences, and with widely-scattered newcomers the Jaguares and Sunwolves very dubiously being deemed “African”) have really turned the once-hallowed competition into a laughing stock of rugby the world over.

Hardly aided by the bizarre ordinary-season principle of SA sides playing New Zealand and Australian foes in alternate years only, really meaning you play the princes en masse one season and paupers the next, the finals series sees rank injustice as a key feature of at least two of the quarter-finals.

Most criminally of all, the Brumbies, who ended a humdrum ninth overall in log-points terms, somehow sport rights to a home QF tie against the defending champion Hurricanes, who finished third on a points basis and as many as 24 points and six victories superior to the men from Canberra.

What sort of honour is there in the Brumbies, admittedly an iconic outfit of years long past, running out as hosts? Don’t be too surprised if their supporters, too, fail to fill GIO Stadium to capacity on Friday as they vote with their feet on this abjectly hollow scheduling.

Not quite as acute but still well worthy of a wince, the Stormers entertain a Chiefs team 14 points better than they were in pre-knockout play.

People have been fired for lesser offences than this, SANZAAR!

The frailty of the conference system was already apparent some three weeks ago, when many teams came out of the Test-related hiatus (for the supposed “climax” of ordinary season) with conference honours already settled, or all but so.

Flimsy Africa Conference 1 would eventually end with the Stormers (43) earning more than double the points tally of runners-up – that expression is used cautiously – the Cheetahs (21).

In Africa 2, the Lions (65) had an even wider gap of 23 points over the second-finishing Sharks.

In the league of gripping finishes in sport, these outcomes don’t even make it to the grid, do they?

Increasingly, the public aren’t fooled, and they are also getting more and more strident in their mockery of Super Rugby 2017 on social media and over the pub counter.

Nobody is going to enduringly embrace a competition where the cream so palpably isn’t allowed to the rise to the top; it will be dead in the water if it doesn’t reinstate logical and fair principles speedily.

One ray of light a few months ago was the concession that 18 teams is too many, eroding the once pleasing concept of strength versus strength, and that 15 will be the number from 2018.

It is at least a step back closer to rekindling the halcyon days of Super 12, when the competition was arguably at its finest and most intense.

Yet if it is to really woo the swelling lobby of detractors back, I believe SANZAAR also need to be brave and proactive (they probably won’t, alas) by restoring a straight round-robin system: everyone plays everyone, and best four finishers, regardless of nationality, advance to semi-finals.

Yes, in the currently lopsided balance-of-power terms, it would mean a very high risk of at least three New Zealand teams hogging the knockout berths, but that’s sport … and we also know that sporting prowess tends to come in cycles.

Things do change, evolve, with time.

As for the inevitable likelihood that South African teams would be put back under deeper “travel pressure” … well, a counter-argument might be that we have bitten the collective bullet in these parts before.

All three Bulls titles, of course, came when the disadvantageous time-zone factor in itinerary terms was at its most acute, and remember that both the 2007 and 2010 finals also, commendably, ended up being all-South African affairs. So was the long-haul deal really that bad in those days?

Of course SANZAAR have created such a monster with the present Super Rugby model that genuinely “de-monstering” it from a legitimacy point of view cannot be limited to dramatically reworking the format.

Participating teams henceforth is another burning issue.

Already with a vastly-improved Kings side now sucked out with the bathtub waste – a deep, gurgling irony considering how spiritedly Super Rugby disturbed its synergy to initially accommodate them –there will be intense scrutiny over which of the Australian teams makes way.

The Force have been favoured for the drop for several months, which always seemed a shame considering their gees and the support they are capable of generating when things are going at least fairly decently, although the Rebels – from the wealthier metropolis of Melbourne, which may be decisive – should be the ones sacrificed based on their lame 2017 (a gaping 17 points behind the Force on the collectively sickly Aussie table).

We all know, at the end of the day, that the Sunwolves (played 30, won three, over the course of two hapless years thus far) should never have been arbitrarily latched on, creating a particularly discordant geographical dispersal of Super Rugby.

But they’ll almost certainly stay, as an act of pre-RWC 2019 convenience, and to many of us that just won’t sit well.

Truth be told, the best days of Super Rugby have passed.

But that doesn’t mean a humungous exercise in damage limitation isn’t required, for very survival purposes.

*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing

Japan not taking Super Rugby seriously – Mallett

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Japan are not taking Super Rugby seriously, says TV analyst and former Springboks coach Nick Mallett after the Tokyo-based Sunwolves were humiliated 94-7 by Lionsat the weekend.

The Johannesburg side equalled the competition try-scoring record for one team in a single match by running in 14 for the second biggest Super Rugby winning margin.

Sunwolves were trailing by 59 points during the second half at Ellis Park stadium when Tonga-born substitute forward Uwe Helu scored the lone try for the Japanese side.

The most humiliating defeat by the two-year-old franchise angered Mallett, one of the most outspoken voices on rugby in South Africa.

“Japanese rugby officials are not taking the Super Rugby competition seriously,” he said on Johannesburg-based SuperSport TV.

“Unless officials in that country change course, there are going to be a lot more heavy defeats in the future, some even heavier than the one this weekend.

“Sunwolves were introduced to Super Rugby so that a strong Japanese national team could be built as they prepare to host the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

“But many of the best Japanese rugby players are turning out for company-owned clubs in the country and not for the Sunwolves.

“The best Japanese players have to play for the Sunwolves, otherwise they are going to be embarrassed many more times.

“In the match against the Lions they missed 53 tackles — you cannot compete successfully in Super Rugby with that sort of statistic,” warned Mallett.

“The Sunwolves defence was non-existent and they were continually smashed in the scrums,” said the man who guided South Africa to third place at the 1999 Rugby World Cup.

“Had it been a boxing match, the white towel would have been flung into the ring by half-time.”

Another SuperSport analyst, 2007 Springboks World Cup-winning flyhalf Butch James, was equally critical of the Sunwolves.

“The one thing supporters of any rugby team expect is commitment and effort — we saw neither from the Sunwolves at Ellis Park.”

South Africa-born Sunwolves skipper and loose forward Willie Britz — one of three non-Japanese starters against the Lions — was blunt after the thrashing.

“If you do not keep the ball and make your tackles, you are going to be in big trouble, especially against a team as strong as the Lions.

Sunwolves play Stormers in Cape Town next Saturday and complete their season the following weekend by hosting the Blues from New Zealand.

The Tokyo outfit have played 28 Super Rugby matches since debuting last year, winning two, drawing one, losing 25, scoring 545 points and conceding 1,225.

Both victories came in Japan, against the Jaguares last season and the Bulls this year.

Lions demolish Sunwolves in Johannesburg

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The Lions took another step closer to get that home final when they demolish the Sunwolves on Saturday 94-7.

With the Lions picking their strongest possible side for this game one expected them to dominate play and the scoreline and that is exactly what they did from the start.

They scored five tries in the first half all off them converted by Jantjies to give them a 35-0 lead at the break.

The Sunwolves had no answer in the first half for the power and speed the Lions came at them and the tackling was poor to say the least.

The Lions dominated all aspects of the game in that first half from the scrums, lineouts to the breakdowns and where good enough to keep the Sunwolves scoreless in that first forty minutes.

If one though the first half was bad for the Sunwolves then the second was a massacre as they Lions ended up with 14 tries with only 1 that was scored by the Sunwolves.

They were totally outplayed and not in the same class to be honest. Serious questions on the thinking of SANZAAR to keep a team like the Sunwolves but want to send the Southern Kings, Cheetahs and ether Force or Rebels pacing.

They are not even close to be competitive in this competition and it is a shame that SANZAAR allows a mediocre side like them stay in this premier competition.

The Lions are well on their way to put their name in the hat for the title this year and will have a bye next week to take the Sharks on in their last match of the season in two weeks.

Scorers:

Lions:

Tries: Cronje, Smith 2, Kriel 2, Jantjies, Van der Merwe, Combrinck 3, Skosan, De Klerk, Mahuza, Ackermann

Conversions: Jantjies 6, Combrinck 5, De Klerk

 Sunwolves:

Try: Helu

Conversion: Ogura

 

 

Stormers beat Cheetahs ugly

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The Stormers edge the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein from a scrappy game that saw the game end with two red cards 40-34.

The game started with both teams giving the ball air and running it down the field. It was the Stormers that scored the first try with brilliant backline move to send Kolbe over and the lead of 7-0 after just 4 minutes.

The Cheetahs answered the way they know best in scoring their first try from a scrum set five meters out often Stormers line.

This made the score 7 all after just 8 minutes.

Senatla made his appearance quickly onto the field with SP Marias injuring himself with Kolbe moving from wing to fullback.

The Stormers then started to take full control and played in the Cheetahs half where WIllemse showed his class and scored the Stormers next try.

It took not long before they got to 26-10 after just 32 minutes.

The Cheetahs had enough ball but made mistakes on attack which the Stormers took as opportunities.

A yellow card to Marais did not help the Cheetahs cause as well.

The Cheetahs did put the pressure back on the Stormers and while they were controlling things Elstadt got yet another yellow card this season.

The Cheetahs took the advantage of the one man extra in the pack and drove over for their second try of the match.

The teams went into the break with the Stormers leading 26-17.

The second half was much even between the two teams but it was again the Stormers to extend the lead and had a lead of 33-17.

A yellow card to Du Toit for a high tackle brought the Cheetahs back in the game and they scored immediately through Swart who powered over the line.

The Cheetahs scored twice while Du Toit was off and took the lead 34-33.

It cost all that is the Stormers to work for another try to take the lead back to 40-34 with minutes to go.

The game ended with two red cards which put a damper on the end result but a win for the Stormers.

Scorers:

STORMERS

Tries: Sikhumbuzo Notshe(73′) Cheslin Kolbe(52′) Seabelo Senatla(31′) Cheslin Kolbe(28′) Damian Willemse(20′) Cheslin Kolbe(2′)

Penalties: Cheslin Kolbe(60′)

Cons: Cheslin Kolbe(75′) Cheslin Kolbe(53′) Cheslin Kolbe(29′) Cheslin Kolbe(21′) SP Marais(3′)

CHEETAHS

Tries: Raymond Rhule(61′) Clinton Swart(56′) Elandre Huggett(39′) Reniel Hugo(7′)

Penalties: Daniel Marais(48′) Daniel Marais(18′)

Cons: Daniel Marais(62′) Daniel Marais(57′) Daniel Marais(40′) Daniel Marais(8′)

 

Kings beat Jaguares in Buenes Aires

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The Southern King got another victory this time against the Jaguares on Saturday morning when they beat them 31-30 in Buenes Aires.

 

Makazole Mapimpi crossed twice while Luzuko Vulindlu and Wandile Mjekevu also scored tries, with Lionel Cronje kicking 11 points.

What will make this defeat hurt more for the Jaguares is that they scored five tries – through Juan Manuel Leguizamón, Emiliano Boffelli, Nicolás Sánchez and Joaquín Tuculet (2) – but their goal-kicking percentage finished at 25.

There was only six points separating the sides at the break after a fast-paced first 40 minutes which saw the Jaguares cross three times. In reply the Kings went over twice as they once again proved they are a team on an upward curve this season under head coach Deon Davids.

The visitors came out in determined mood but their early pressure didn’t result in points, in fact they were lucky not to concede from a counter attack that was sparked by Jaguares centre Bautista Ezcurra. In the end scrumhalf Martín Landajo lost the ball on the try-line.

That breakout seemed to lift the Jaguares though and after a spell of pressure they went wide right to where the busy Tuculet found flank Leguizamón, who barged over. Sánchez missed with his difficult conversion attempt so it was a 0-5 advantage for the hosts on 17 minutes.

It did not last long as after Tuculet strayed offside, a kick to the corner led to centre Vulindlu crashing over off a short ball for 7-5.

Sánchez did restore his side’s lead on 26 minutes, but again the Kings responded, with Mapimpi racing over following quick hands for 14-8.

At this point it was end-to-end rugby so it was no surprise when Tuculet’s smart grubber found Boffelli on the left wing to make it 14-13.

The Jaguares weren’t done and when Sánchez cut back against the traffic towards a ruck, he slipped through weak tackling for a 14-20 lead.

Just two minutes after the break the Jaguares moved further ahead when Sánchez’s grubber saw Tuculet gather before going over for the try. However, four minutes later the Kings added a penalty via Cronje’s boot, which cut that buffer down to eight points at 17-25 to the hosts.

Sánchez was struggling off the tee in the game and was at a worrying success rate off 33 percent on 57 minutes after another penalty miss.

The Kings made the flyhalf pay two minutes later as Vulindlu combined with Mapimpi to send the wing over on the left. With Cronje cooly slotting the conversion, suddenly the South African franchise were just one point behind at 24-25 and had their tails up in Buenos Aires.

Joaquín Díaz Bonilla replaced Sánchez soon after but even he couldn’t add points to their tally, missing his first attempt on 63 minutes.

The match was seemingly there for the taking for the Kings and when Mjekevu raced over thanks to a lovely pull-back pass from scrumhalf Stefan Ungerer they had a six-point cushion with just eight minutes to play. The Jaguares needed to find something special at this point.

And they came agonisingly close to rescuing the four points on 75 minutes as a lovely Bonilla cross-kick found Tuculet wide out for the try. But it was perhaps fitting that a missed conversion cost the Jaguares the lead and victory on a dismal night for their goal-kickers.

 

Scorers

Jaguares

Tries: Leguizamón, Boffelli, Sánchez, Tuculet (2)
Conversion: Sánchez
Penalty: Sánchez

Kings:

Tries: Mapimpi (2), Vulindlu, Mjekevu
Conversions: Cronje (4)
Penalty: Cronje

 

 

thanks to

Gelant hat-trick sink Sharks in Durban

1

The Bulls outscored the Sharks to take their first win away from home when they beat them 30-17 on Friday night. Gelant scored a hat-trick of tries to sink the Sharks in the Shark-tank.

The Sharks and the Bulls started the return to Super Rugby after the June Internationals and kick off the last few rounds in Durban.

With the Sharks certain off a play-off spot and the Bulls just playing for pride it was a game to look forward to and more dangerous for the Sharks than the Bulls as the Bulls had nothing to lose.

Supporters from both side just wanted their sides to show some intend to run the ball and score tries and that is what the two teams tried to do on the night.

It was the Bulls with the better start showing a bit more in the first ten minutes of the match and scored the first try from a mistake from the Sharks at their own lineout.

This gave them a 5-0 early lead in the match.

The game then came to life with the Sharks replying with a try of their own through Thomas Du Toit. This gave them a 7-5 lead.

With the Sharks on the break-out the Bulls turned it around and score from the turnover to take back the lead 12-7 after 20 minutes.

The Bulls did not take long to extend the lead after a Sharks slotted a penalty over with Serfontein showing his class and sending his fullback over for the try.

The Sharks had their chances but Bulls defence hold them and some silly mistakes on attack prevent any points coming from it.

The Bulls kept the lead going into the break and great first half from the visitors.

The Sharks did not had a good start to the second half giving away allot of penalties and got a yellow card for repeated penalties against them.

The Bulls extend the lead with a penalty to 20-10.

It was the Sharks that scored against the run of play after they caught the Bulls asleep with a quick lineout to make the lead only 3 points.

Serfontein was again in the frame sending Gelant over for his third try of the match and a 10-point lead for the Bulls leading the Sharks 27-17 after 60 minutes.

The Bulls extend their lead to 30-17 with a penalty as both teams made more mistakes on attack.

The Bulls kept the lead till the end and got their first away win this season.

Jan Serfontein was again outstanding and my Man of the Match.

Scorers:

Sharks – Tries: Thomas du Toit, Curwin Bosch. Conversions: Bosch (2). Penalty: Bosch.
Bulls – Tries: Nic de Jager, Warrrick Gelant (3). Conversion: Tian Schoeman (2). Penalties: Schoeman (2)

Rohan to make return for Lions

4

IOL has reported that Springbok centre Rohan Janse van Rensburg may be returning to the Lions setup as early as next week after his knee operation.

The Springbok centre has been given the all clear to play from his medical staff and just need to get his conditioning back in shape before running out for the Lions again.

Jansen van Rensburg has been one of the inform number 12’s in the country before his injury and will want to get back on the field to fight for his place not just in the Lions side but also in the Springbok setup.

Meanwhile, Lions team doctor Rob Collins said no one was to blame for Warren Whiteley’s recent injury, which saw him suffer a torn ligament in his pelvis.

‘It’s obviously been worn for a while and now it’s torn. It’s really unfortunate, but no one is to blame, nobody did anything wrong,’ Collins told The Star newspaper.

‘The good news is Warren is excellent when it comes to rehabilitation work. He’s one of the most professional guys I’ve dealt with regarding this sort of thing, so, if all goes well, he’ll be back before eight weeks.’

Whiteley out of Super Rugby

2

Springbok captain Warren Whiteley will not take part in any of the remaining Super Rugby matches for the Lions including the finals due to a torn ligament in his pelvis.

Whiteley was a lats minute withdraw from the first test which saw Eben Etzebeth taking charge of the Springboks in his first game as captain. The Lions made the announcement on Whiteley on Tuesday to confirm the injury after scans.

He does not require surgery but is expected to be sidelined for between six and eight weeks, Lions team doctor Rob Collins said.

With the Super Rugby final scheduled for August 5, it means Whiteley will not take any further part in this year’s event and the injury also leaves his participation for the start of the Rugby Championship in doubt.

The Boks open their campaign against Argentina in Port Elizabeth on August 19.

That is a over six weeks away and leaves the Bok skipper in a race against time to be fit for their Rugby Championship opener.

Injury Report

0

With test rugby a bit on the background we move our attention to the Super Rugby competition which will see the African conferences in action this week but there are a few injury concerns for some teams this late in the competition

Vodacom Bulls

The Bulls looks worst of all the teams when they returned to Loftus on Monday starting to prepare for this weekend clash against the Sharks.

They have atleast 13 players on the list and will have to reshuffle the team ahead of this weekends match.

Wingers Jamba Ulengo (knee) and Travis Ismaiel (knee) both a week away from action, their loss against the Lions in the SuperSport Challenge last Friday saw them lose two more wingers in Jade Stiglingh (broken cheekbone) and Rabs Maxwane (concussion) in the same game. Maxwane’s concussion is his second of the season, meaning he will need to undergo a mandatory six week layoff before returning to action.

In addition to this the return of Handre Pollard has been put on hold because of inflammation to his injured ankle, and his return is also a week away still.

 

The other bad news is that hooker Edgar Marutlule injured his ankle badly in Mauritius and underwent an operation on Monday that will also keep him out of action for six weeks.

Then there are the other injuries that compound selection, including fullback Ulrich Beyers (calf), Piet van Zyl (lung infection), Martin Dreyer (ankle), Hendre Stassen (knee), Johnny Kotze (knee) and captain Hanru Liebenberg (ankle) that will also not be available for selection this week.

The good news however, is that Springbok flanker Roelof Smit, who has not played a minute of Super Rugby this season, is fit and available for selection. The Bulls will have to decide whether to throw him in the deep end against the Sharks, or rather opt for Shaun Adendorff, with Smit heading back to the Blue Bulls for the SuperSport Challenge quarter-finals.

DHL Stormers

 

The Stormers are facing the Cheetahs and coach Fleck have some decisions of his own to make as well concerning some injuries.

Oli Kebble and Ali Vermaak are both struggling with injuries. Kebble is expected back for the last home league match against the Sunwolves on 8 July.

Back in the mix this week after missing the defeat to the Sharks is flanker Rynhardt Elstadt, but Fleck won’t be able to consider talented young inside centre Dan du Plessis, who dislocated his shoulder playing for Western Province against the SWD Eagles in the Supersport Challenge on Sunday.

With De Allende out and Scotland international Hugh Jones, who is back in training, only due back in the selection next week, Fleck has something to think about at centre. Juan de Jongh made his comeback as a replacement against the Sharks and is due for a start, but former Highlander Shaun Treeby is also now available again after completing the suspension that he incurred after being cited following the Newlands win over the Blues. EW Viljoen is the other centre in the frame and as he has played in every game he should be expected to wear the No 13 in Bloemfontein.

With all those players expected to be available from the Sunwolves game onwards, Fleck will have an abundance of midfield resources, with De Allende, De Jongh and Jones all boasting international experience.

Melbourne Rebels

Wallabies and Rebels wing Sefa Naivalu has been ruled out for at least six weeks with an ankle injury sustained in the 40-27 win over Italy.

It also means that Naivalu will take no further part in the Melbourne Rebels’ Super Rugby campaign. Naivalu twisted his leg going into a collision with Italian centre Tommaso Boni, ending his night against Italy and any chance of another Super Rugby outing this season.

It was a tough blow for the 25-year-old, who had scored a double before going off, including a spectacular exhibition of his pace to spark the Wallabies’ attack early in Brisbane.

Emirates Lions

The Lions will be looking for a new captain for their match against the Sunwolves on Saturday as Springbok captain Warren Whiteley is set to be on the sidelines for around three weeks.

According to the supersport.com website, Whiteley will get confirmation on Monday from a specialist about the groin injury that kept him out of the Springboks’ third Test victory over France this past weekend.

Confirmation from sources close to the team have confirmed that Whiteley is expected to be out for three weeks but should be ready in time for the playoff matches in this year’s Super Rugby tournament.

Cell C Sharks

Sharks lock Ruan Botha has been suspended for three matches following a disciplinary hearing after his red card in the match between South Africa ‘A’ and the French Barbarians at Orlando Stadium in Soweto on Friday evening.

Botha was red carded in the 39th minute of the match when which he “charged into a ruck dangerously, leading with the arm and shoulder making contact with the opponent’s face.”

The player admitted foul play and agreed that the issue of a red card was appropriate

Super Rugby returns this week

3

With the June Internationals a thing of the past for all expect the New Zealanders and British & Irish Lions, we turn our attention back to Vodacom Super Rugby.

It is the last few rounds and although most play-off spots have already been decided a few teams can make sure they do not have to travel for these play offs.

Firstly let’s have a look at the logs as it stands at the moment….

PosTeamPWLPts
111810
29810
31100
412660
58510
610350
PosTeamPWLPts
111810
29810
31100
412660
58510
610350
PosTeamPWLPts
111810
29810
31100
412660
58510
PosTeamPWLPts
111810
29810
31100
412660
58510

As it stands now it seems that the Lions will finish first in Africa 2 group and the Stormers in African 1, with the Sharks finishing as the wild card for the African Conferences. In New Zealand it looks like the Crusaders have secured their spot as the top New Zealand team and will have the luxury of a home play-off.

The Hurricanes, Chiefs and Highlanders will have to fight it out to see who ends where and who travels where?

In the Australian conference it looks all set that the Brumbies will qualify for the play-offs leaving the other Aussie teams yet again without a spot in the play-offs.

So to sum it up….it seems teams will be playing for where they will play the play-off games in a few weeks.

This weekend only sees the African Conferences playing and here is how the weekend pans out….

Friday 30 June 2017

Cell C Sharks v Vodacom Bulls Growthpoint Kings Park Friday 19:00

 

Sharks – 15 Curwin Bosch, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 S’bura Sithole, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Sbusiso Nkosi, 10 Garth April, 9 Cobus Reinach, 8 Daniel du Preez, 7 Tera Mtembu, 6 Philip van der Walt (c), 5 Stephan Lewies, 4 Etienne Oosthuizen, 3 Coenie Oosthuizen, 2 Franco Marais, 1 Thomas du Toit.
Replacements: 16 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 17 Juan Schoeman, 18 Lourens Adriaanse, 19 Hyron Andrews, 20 Jacques Vermeulen, 21 Michael Claassens, 22 Jeremy Ward, 23 Marius Louw.

Bulls – 15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Duncan Matthews, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Kefentse Mahlo, 10 Tony Jantjies, 9 Rudy Paige, 8 Nic de Jager, 7 Jannes Kirsten, 6 Ruan Steenkamp, 5 RG Snyman, 4 Jason Jenkins, 3 Conraad Van Vuuren, 2 Adriaan Strauss (c), 1 Pierre Schoeman.
Replacements: 16 Jaco Visagie, 17 Lizo Gqoboka, 18 Johnroy Jenkins, 19 Shuan Adendorff, 20 Renaldo Bothma, 21 André Warner, 22 Burger Odendaal, 23 Tian Schoeman.

Saturday 1 July 2017

Jaguares v Southern Kings Estadio Jose Saturday 01:00

 

Jaguares – 15 Joaquín Tuculet, 14 Matías Moroni, 13 Matías Orlando, 12 Bautista Ezcurra, 11 Emiliano Boffelli, 10 Nicolás Sánchez, 9 Martín Landajo (c), 8 Leonardo Senatore, 7 Juan Manuel Leguizamón, 6 Pablo Matera, 5 Matías Alemanno, 4 Guido Petti, 3 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro, 2 Julián Montoya, 1 Lucas Noguera.
Replacements: 16 Roberto Tejerizo, 17 Santiago García Botta, 18 Enrique Pieretto, 19 Ignacio Larrague, 20 Rodrigo Báez, 21 Gonzalo Bertanou, 22 Joaquín Díaz Bonilla, 23 Santiago Cordero.

Kings – 15 Malcolm Jaer, 14 Wandile Mjekevu, 13 Berton Klaasen, 12 Luzuko Vulindlu, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Lionel Cronjé, 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Andisa Ntsila, 7 Tyler Paul, 6 Chris Cloete, 5 Wilhelm van der Sluys, 4 Irne Herbst, 3 Ross Geldenhuys, 2 Michael Willemse, 1 Mzamo Majola.
Replacements: 16 Martin Bezuidenhout, 17 Schalk Ferreira, 18 Dayan van der Westhuizen, 19 Lubabalo Mtyanda, 20 Thembelani Bholi, 21 Stefan Ungerer, 22 Masixole Banda, 23 Yaw Penxe.

Toyota Cheetahs v DHL Stormers Toyota Park Saturday 15:00

 

Cheetahs: 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Francois Venter, 12 Clinton Swart, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Niel Marais, 9 Tian Meyer, 8 Niell Jordaan, 7 Uzair Cassiem, 6 Henco Venter, 5 Reniel Hugo, 4 Armandt Koster, 3 Johan Coetzee, 2 Elandré Huggett, 1 Ox Nche
Replacements: 16 Jo Dweba, 17 Charles Marais, 18 Tom Botha, 19 Justin Basson, 20 Oupa Mohoje, 21 Fred Zeilinga, 22 Ruan van Rensburg, 23 William Small-Smith

Stormers: 15 SP Marais, 14 Cheslin Kolbe, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Shaun Treeby, 11 Dillyn Leyds, 10 Damian Willemse, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Nizaam Carr, 7 Kobus van Dyk, 6 Rynardt Elstadt, 5 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 4 Chris van Zyl, 3 Frans Malherbe (c), 2 Ramone Samuels, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg
Replacements: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Wilco Louw, 19 JD Schickerling, 20 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 21 Justin Phillips, 22 EW Viljoen, 23 Seabelo Senatla

Emirates Lions v Sunwolves Emirates Park Saturday 17:00

 

The teams:

Lions: 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Ruan Combrinck, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Harold Vorster, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Ross Cronje, 8 Ruan Ackermann, 7 Kwagga Smith, 6 Jaco Kriel (c), 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Andries Ferreira, 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Jacques van Rooyen
Replacements: 16 Akker van der Merwe, 17 Corné Fourie, 18 Johannes Jonker, 19 Lourens Erasmus, 20 Cyle Brink, 21 Faf de Klerk, 22 Jacques Nel, 23 Sylvian Mahuza

Sunwolves: 15 Yasutaka Sasakura, 14 Takaaki Nakazuru, 13 Ryohei Yamanaka, 12 Derek Carpenter, 11 Teruya Goto, 10 Jumpei Ogura, 9 Keisuke Uchida, 8 Willie Britz (c), 7 Shokei Kin, 6 Yoshitaka Tokunaga, 5 Kotaro Yatabe, 4 Sam Wykes, 3 Yasuo Yamaji, 2 Atsushi Sakate, 1 Masataka Mikami
Replacements: 16 Takeshi Hino, 17 Koki Yamamoto, 18 Takuma Asahara, 19 Uwe Helu, 20 Malgene Ilaua, 21 Kaito Shigeno, 22 Rikiya Matsuda, 23 Kotaro Matsushima

 

Friday 30 June 2017

A Great one to start the Super Rugby returns from the International window with the Sharks hosting the Bulls in Durban. Before one can make any predictions we will have to see how the teams have taken stock with all the injuries and who is available.

What we do know is that it does not matter who runs on to the field in this one it will be a cracker of a match especially with the Bulls playing for pride.

The Sharks have opted for Bosch at the back and April at 10 for this clash with the Bulls. Coach Du Preez made a few changes from the team that beat the Stormers in their last outing way back in May. Odwa Ndungane starts at right wing in place of Kobus van Wyk, while there’s a new midfield combination in Andre Esterhuizen and S’bura Sithole.

Esterhuizen returns from suspension to replace Johan Deysel, while Sithole starts in place of Lukhanyo Am at outside centre.

Up front, Tera Mtembu gets a chance at number seven  in place of Springbok Jean-Luc du Preez, while Etienne Oosthuizen comes in for the suspended Ruan Botha at lock.

Franco Marais also starts ahead of Chiliboy Ralepelle at hooker.

Bulls couch Nollis Marais have picked the Springbok midfield pair in Kriel and Serfontein for the match. He also handed out first starts for Mahlo and Van Vuuren for this Friday match.

Van Vuuren, who has made three appearances off the bench, starts in his first match in place of Trevor Nyakane, who was ruled out, while John-Roy Jenkinson will take Van Vuuren’s bench duties.

Marais also decided to start Tony Jantjies at fly-half, with the former Junior Springbok running out in the starting team for the first time after three consecutive appearances off the bench. Tian Schoeman, who started against the Hurricanes, moves to the bench.

Marais made two changes to the starting pack. Nick de Jager is promoted off the bench and will start at number eight in place of the injured Hanro Liebenberg, with Renaldo Bothma and Shaun Adendorff coming onto the bench as lock and loose forward cover.

RG Snyman is also available again following his suspension and will combine with Jason Jenkins with Lood de Jager been ruled out.

Andre Warner could make his debut for the team after being named back-up scrum-half with Ivan van Zyl not available.

This will be a great match to re-start the Super Rugby after the international break and we can expect a huge battle between these two team. The Bulls are only playing for pride and will be dangerous with the Sharks that have already qualified, will want to start build momentum for their play-off game which will be away from home.

Previous Matches

Prediction: The Blue Bulls have been looking good in the SuperSport Challenge but that was under a different coach, they can beat the Sharks at home but have to go Sharks by 9 points for this one

Teams:

Sharks – 15 Curwin Bosch, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 S’bura Sithole, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Sbusiso Nkosi, 10 Garth April, 9 Cobus Reinach, 8 Daniel du Preez, 7 Tera Mtembu, 6 Philip van der Walt (c), 5 Stephan Lewies, 4 Etienne Oosthuizen, 3 Coenie Oosthuizen, 2 Franco Marais, 1 Thomas du Toit.
Replacements: 16 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 17 Juan Schoeman, 18 Lourens Adriaanse, 19 Hyron Andrews, 20 Jacques Vermeulen, 21 Michael Claassens, 22 Jeremy Ward, 23 Marius Louw.

Bulls – 15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Duncan Matthews, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Kefentse Mahlo, 10 Tony Jantjies, 9 Rudy Paige, 8 Nic de Jager, 7 Jannes Kirsten, 6 Ruan Steenkamp, 5 RG Snyman, 4 Jason Jenkins, 3 Conraad Van Vuuren, 2 Adriaan Strauss (c), 1 Pierre Schoeman.
Replacements: 16 Jaco Visagie, 17 Lizo Gqoboka, 18 Johnroy Jenkins, 19 Shuan Adendorff, 20 Renaldo Bothma, 21 André Warner, 22 Burger Odendaal, 23 Tian Schoeman.

Saturday 1 July 2017

They say the early bird catches the worm, well if you are up for this one you will have plenty. The second match this weekend sees the Jaguares hosting the Kings early Saturday morning.

The Jaguares slipped away after they were in a good position to qualify for this years play-offs and will want to finish strong not just in the Super Rugby but also to build for the Rugby Championships that starts soon after the competition ends. The kings have been a revaluation this year and have surprise many will have to wait and see if they can make the trip to Argentina and surprise us some more.

The Kings coach Davids has named a strong side to take on the Argentina side on Saturday morning.

It is good to see that the Kings coach has opted to make as less changes as possible and rewarded players for the good form they have shown this year in the competition.

The Jaguares are not an easy side to face at their one eyed home stadiums and the Kings will have to be on par if they want to beat them this weekend.

Cronje will play a pivotal roll in the teams desire to win this game not just by the way he has control the team from the number ten jersey but also his leadership which have proven to be vital.

“This week we have tried to keep continuity as we considered players that have done well in the SuperSport Rugby Challenge competition and also players that have come back from injury,” Davids said from Buenos Aires on Thursday.

“It was a long and tiring travel to Buenos Aires. The guys were a little tired when we arrived here. We have done some recovery and had a good team meeting and training session,” said the head coach.

“The guys look excited and are ready to go on Friday night.

“We expect a very tough game. The Jaguares will always be a formidable side here in Buenos Aires. They have selected an internationally experienced team, so we know we have to be at our best from the start. We have to keep the pressure on them for the whole 80 minutes to ensure that we have a good result here in Buenos Aires.”

Predictions: The Jaguares should take this by at least 6 points but I am going with the inspirational Kings side by 5

Teams: 

Jaguares – 15 Joaquín Tuculet, 14 Matías Moroni, 13 Matías Orlando, 12 Bautista Ezcurra, 11 Emiliano Boffelli, 10 Nicolás Sánchez, 9 Martín Landajo (c), 8 Leonardo Senatore, 7 Juan Manuel Leguizamón, 6 Pablo Matera, 5 Matías Alemanno, 4 Guido Petti, 3 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro, 2 Julián Montoya, 1 Lucas Noguera.
Replacements: 16 Roberto Tejerizo, 17 Santiago García Botta, 18 Enrique Pieretto, 19 Ignacio Larrague, 20 Rodrigo Báez, 21 Gonzalo Bertanou, 22 Joaquín Díaz Bonilla, 23 Santiago Cordero.

Kings – 15 Malcolm Jaer, 14 Wandile Mjekevu, 13 Berton Klaasen, 12 Luzuko Vulindlu, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Lionel Cronjé, 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Andisa Ntsila, 7 Tyler Paul, 6 Chris Cloete, 5 Wilhelm van der Sluys, 4 Irne Herbst, 3 Ross Geldenhuys, 2 Michael Willemse, 1 Mzamo Majola.
Replacements: 16 Martin Bezuidenhout, 17 Schalk Ferreira, 18 Dayan van der Westhuizen, 19 Lubabalo Mtyanda, 20 Thembelani Bholi, 21 Stefan Ungerer, 22 Masixole Banda, 23 Yaw Penxe.

The second match on Saturday sees the Stormers traveling to Bloemfontein to face the Cheetahs in what we only can expect to be a high pace game between these two sides.

Cheetahs v Stormers games are always a high scoring affair and I believe we can expect the same. As with the Sharks v Bulls game the Cheetahs are only playing for pride as they can not make the play-offs which makes them even more dangerous.

This game has been historically one of the great free flowing games of the season and we can expect the same from these two sides. The Cheetahs have been over the years a bogey side for the Stormers especially at the end of the season.

The Stormers have named an exciting team that will take the field while they are resting some of their Springbok. Etzebeth and Kolisi will sit this one out and that means that Du Toit will partner with Van Zyl at lock.

The most exciting news coming out of the Cape is the Junior Bok Damian Willemse that will get his first start at 10 for the Stormers. He is a player that they have earmarked for the future in Western Province and it will be great to see him show his worth on Saturday.

The Stormers have not been traveling well this year and have lost the last four games on the road this year which gives the Cheetahs that small believe in this match.
Stormers head coach Robbie Fleck said his team will have to be at their best in what will be a typically tough derby.

“The Cheetahs are always a tough prospect on their home turf, so we will have to be sharp if we are to come away with the win we are looking for,” he explained.

“The players have trained well this week and we are excited to see what they are able to produce in Bloemfontein.”

The Cheetahs have been boosted by the return of Francois Venter. Tian Meyer replaces Shaun Venter at scrum-half for the Super Rugby game this Saturday.

Up front, Niell Jordaan is named at number eight while Reniel Hugo and Elandre Huggett are included in the second-row and at hooker respectively, with Torsten van Jaarsveld out injured for the Free State Stadium clash.

Previous Matches:

 

Prediction: Although the match is being played in Bloem I still be believe the Stormers will pull this one by 8 points

The teams:

Cheetahs: 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Francois Venter, 12 Clinton Swart, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Niel Marais, 9 Tian Meyer, 8 Niell Jordaan, 7 Uzair Cassiem, 6 Henco Venter, 5 Reniel Hugo, 4 Armandt Koster, 3 Johan Coetzee, 2 Elandré Huggett, 1 Ox Nche
Replacements: 16 Jo Dweba, 17 Charles Marais, 18 Tom Botha, 19 Justin Basson, 20 Oupa Mohoje, 21 Fred Zeilinga, 22 Ruan van Rensburg, 23 William Small-Smith

Stormers: 15 SP Marais, 14 Cheslin Kolbe, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Shaun Treeby, 11 Dillyn Leyds, 10 Damian Willemse, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Nizaam Carr, 7 Kobus van Dyk, 6 Rynardt Elstadt, 5 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 4 Chris van Zyl, 3 Frans Malherbe (c), 2 Ramone Samuels, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg
Replacements: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Wilco Louw, 19 JD Schickerling, 20 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 21 Justin Phillips, 22 EW Viljoen, 23 Seabelo Senatla

The last match this weekend will see the Lions hosting the Sunwolves in Johannesburg. Clearly the best team in South Africa again this year the Lions will want to end strong and chase the Crusaders for that top spot.

That can only happen if the Crusaders lose their last game in two weeks time against the Hurricanes and the Lions gets full house of points in their last two matches. It will be interesting to see how the Lions go about the task this time around.

The Lions will have to do without the service of their Springbok Captain Warren Whiteley who will take no further part in this years Super Rugby. Although this is a big blow for the Lions, they do have the quality in the players to be able to have another one step up.

The Lions are chasing top spot on the overall table in the competition and home ground advantage throughout the play-offs, and five points against the Sunwolves is a must. For this reason, they have named their strongest possible side for the clash.

This is going to be a tough one for the Sunwolves at Emirates Park and could get a big score against them.

The Lions have a seriously impressive home record. They have won their last 12 games at home and would surely like to bag the five points.

Although the Sunwolves have improved a bit this year they are still far away from really competing in this competition and off late have always faded in the second half of their matches.

The Lions is playing a New Zealand like game and also have adopted to step one or two gears up in the second half and ran away with teams.

It is still very debatable that their should be  spot in such a premier competition for a poor team like the Sunwolves but money drives SANZAAR to keep them and kick three other teams out for next year.

Prediction: The Lions will have too much power and should cruise to victory here. Lions by 20.

The teams:

Lions: 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Ruan Combrinck, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Harold Vorster, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Ross Cronje, 8 Ruan Ackermann, 7 Kwagga Smith, 6 Jaco Kriel (c), 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Andries Ferreira, 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Jacques van Rooyen
Replacements: 16 Akker van der Merwe, 17 Corné Fourie, 18 Johannes Jonker, 19 Lourens Erasmus, 20 Cyle Brink, 21 Faf de Klerk, 22 Jacques Nel, 23 Sylvian Mahuza

Sunwolves: 15 Yasutaka Sasakura, 14 Takaaki Nakazuru, 13 Ryohei Yamanaka, 12 Derek Carpenter, 11 Teruya Goto, 10 Jumpei Ogura, 9 Keisuke Uchida, 8 Willie Britz (c), 7 Shokei Kin, 6 Yoshitaka Tokunaga, 5 Kotaro Yatabe, 4 Sam Wykes, 3 Yasuo Yamaji, 2 Atsushi Sakate, 1 Masataka Mikami
Replacements: 16 Takeshi Hino, 17 Koki Yamamoto, 18 Takuma Asahara, 19 Uwe Helu, 20 Malgene Ilaua, 21 Kaito Shigeno, 22 Rikiya Matsuda, 23 Kotaro Matsushima

Good and Bad news for Stormers

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The Stormers have received some good with the bad while they prepare for the final stages of Super Rugby in July.

It was great news for the men from Cape Town to hear that  Scarra Ntubeni, centre Dan du Plessis and flanks Rynhardt Elstadt and Steph de Wit will all return to training next week.

Ntubeni who has been sideline for a long time will make his return from an Achilles injury sustained in the Currie Cup last year, whilst Dan Du Plessis was able to avoid undergoing surgery on his shoulder, which he dislocated against the Crusaders in Christchurch earlier this season.

Elstadt has also recovered from a fractured rib and Steph De Wit is back after breaking his ankle in pre-season which was a huge setback for the Stormers.

But with good news comes the bad as well and fly-half Jean-Luc du Plessis will undergo surgery on his hips this week which will rule him out for the rest of the year.

Meanwhile the Stormers Scottish  centre Huw Jones’ hamstring is recovering well and he should be available to play in five weeks.

Fly-half Rob du Preez (torn pectoral muscle), lock Jan de Klerk (broken toe) and flank Cobus Wiese (shoulder) are all expected to return in only three months.

Hurricanes gets bonus point win over Force

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The Hurricanes made it nine wins in a row against the Force with a 34-12 bonus-point victory at nib Stadium in Perth on Saturday.

Hurricanes tries from Loni Uhila, Leni Apisai, Vince Aso, TJ Perenara and a Ngani Laumape brace proved too much for the Force, who scored through tries from Dane Haylett-Petty and Richard Hardwick.

The result means the Hurricanes consolidate second position in the New Zealand Conference as they edge closer to the play-offs while the Force miss an opportunity to go second in the Australian Conference and have been dealt another blow to their play-off hopes.

The Force, despite applying immense pressure on the Hurricanes try-line were denied time after time, as the away side managed to turn over the ball again and again. The Force should have had more points on the board as reward for their territorial dominance in the first-half.

But the ‘Canes showed what made them champions; an ability to mix attacking flair with a stingy uncompromising defence. This desperation on defence hasn’t been needed this season as they have blown teams out the water with their attack. Credit must go to the Force for bringing that out of the champions.

The result slightly flattered the Hurricanes who capitalised on their numerical advantage after a dubious yellow card was given to Dane Haylett-Petty.

The Hurricanes profited on an errant lineout from the Force to score the first try of the game. TJ Perenara pounced on the loose ball, and immediately gave the ball to Jordie Barrett who offloaded for Laumape who was not going to be stopped, all after just two minutes on the clock. Beauden Barrett converted.

Despite persistent pressure from the Force, the Hurricanes showed incredible defence on their own try-line in a game of physical attrition as both sides put their bodies on the line.

Despite the ‘Canes enjoying 13 percent of the territory in the first half, they scored their second after only spending a minute on the Force try-line. Uhila used his massive frame to bash over from close range with the try assist coming from TJ Perenara.

Shortly after the resumption of the second half, The Force responded with their first try of the game. After the Force won a lineout on the Hurricanes 22, Peter Grant kicked high and the bounce favoured Dane Haylett-Petty, who went over to score. Grant converted to bring the deficit back to seven.

A well-worked lineout set-piece move straight from the training ground saw substitute Apisai go over for the Hurricanes’ third try. Sam Lousi secured the lineout and the ball was switched blindside to Brad Shields which completely wrong-footed the Force defence and Apisai profited to crash over.

The Canes’ bonus-point try came from Super Rugby’s leading try-scorer Aso. Beauden Barrett decided to run it from his own line and then went wide to Perenara who sent a kick through. Aso was on hand to brilliantly collect the grubber and race through to cap off a brilliant counter-attack. Haylett-Petty was yellow-carded for cynical play and this cost the Force dearly as they conceded two tries in his absence.

Once again the Hurricanes ran it from their own line, Perenara kicking deep and although the Force regathered the ball, but threw an errant pass which Perenara picked up and dotted down.

Laumape bagged his brace as the ‘Canes scored their sixth – Nehe Milner-Skudder, his first game back from a prolonged lay-off, creating the try with a beautiful sidestep before running thirty metres and sending Laumape away.

For Force:
Tries: D Haylett-Petty, Hardwick
Con: Grant
Yellow Card: D Haylett-Petty

For Hurricanes:
Tries: Laumape 2, Uhila, Apisai, Aso, Perenara
Cons: B Barrett 2
Yellow Card: Laumape

Brumbies secure bonus point against Rebels

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The Brumbies secured first place in the Australian Conference with a 32-3 bonus-point victory over the Rebels in Canberra on Saturday.

It was a game in which the wet conditions made handling of the ball difficult and resulted in a number of unforced errors.

Tries from Jordan Smiler, Tevita Kuridrani, Wharenui Hawera and Nigel Ah Wong proved too much for the Rebels who have now gone tryless in four of their last six games.

The result means the Brumbies have an unassailable lead at the top of the Australian Conference with 33 points while the Rebels remain rooted to the bottom of the table on eight points.

The home side showed good ball retention and enjoyed the majority of the possession in the game and are guaranteed a place in the Super Rugby play-offs.

Wharenui Hawera gave the Brumbies a 3-0 lead, just reward for the pressure they put on the Rebels in the opening quarter. Reece Hodge responded with a penalty for the Rebels in the 25th minute to level matters at 3-3 in a low-scoring opening to the game.

After the Rebels were penalised for offside, Hawera added another three from the tee on the half-hour mark to put the home side 6-3 up.

Soon after, the first try of the game went to the Brumbies. After Marika Koroibete was dispossessed near his goal line, the Brumbies launched a counter-attack and won a penalty for offside. Speight took it quickly, pushing the ball wide and Smiler went over unopposed in the corner five minutes before half-time.

After the break, the Brumbies continued to apply pressure and build on their momentum. After good work from Joe Powell to force a knock-on off Amanaki Mafi at the back of a Rebels defensive scrum, the Brumbies had the put in at a five-metre attacking scrum.

Kuridrani crashed over from first phase ball after a good flat pass from Powell. No one was going to stop the Kuridrani train from that distance.

The Brumbies’ third try came from their own attacking lineout and Powell was quick to go wide. Hawera scythed through a gap and showed good reach to dot down in the 57th minute. He converted his own try to put the score at 25-3 to the Brumbies.

The bonus-point try for the Brumbies came just before the hooter. Hodge and Koroibete took the ball deep inside Brumbies territory and again they conceded a penalty to turn it over.

The Brumbies then lost the lineout, but got the ball back after a knock-on, a grubber kick bounced nicely for the Brumbies and Ah Wong went over to score.

The scorers:

For Brumbies:
Tries: Smiler, Kuridrani, Hawera, Ah Wong
Cons: Hawera 3
Pens: Hawera 2

For Rebels:
Pen: Hodge

Saders keep unbeaten record with drop goal

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Mitchell Hunt’s late drop goal secured a 25-22 win for the Crusaders over the Highlanders in a thrilling derby in Christchurch on Saturday.

As expected, this was an entertaining affair between two of the tournament’s in-form sides and the game was in the balance until the end before Hunt’s secured the result for his team with his snap-shot from 35 metres out with the final act of the match.

The result means the Crusaders have now won all 14 their matches in this year’s competition while it ends the Highlanders’ nine-match winnig streak.

Both sides deserve credit for making this the entertaining spectacle that it was although the Highlanders will be kicking themselves as they dominated for large periods especially during the second half.

The men from Dunedin had the bulk of the the possession during the first half but the Crusaders made better use of their chances and led 19-10 at the break thanks to tries from Mitchell Drummond, Seta Tamanivalu and Heiden Bedwell-Curtis with Richard Buckman crossing the whitewash for the Highlanders during this period.

The tournament’s pacesetters made a terrific start and scored their opening try as early as the third minute when Drummond rounded off several waves of attack after George Bridge, Richie Mo’Unga and Matt Todd were all stopped just short of the try-line in the build-up.

The Crusaders continued to attack and 10 minutes later they extended their lead when a superb line break from Ryan Crotty was rounded off by Seta Tamanivalu after gathering a perfectly-weighted long pass fom Jack Goodhue.

The Highlanders tried to take the Crusaders on at their own game but could not match the intensity and execution displayed by the seven-time champions during the opening quarter.

However, the Crusaders were dealt a blow in the 26th minute when Bedwell-Curtis received a yellow card for a cynical foul on defence, deep inside his 22, after referee Glen Jackson had given the home side several warnings for similar indiscretions before that.

Five minutes later, the Highlanders opened their account when Ben Smith joined the line inside the Crusaders’ 22 and offloaded to Buckman, who crossed for an easy five-pointer.

Marty Banks slotted the conversion and added a penalty in the 37th minute which meant the match was evenly poised with the Crusaders leading 12-10.

The Crusaders responed in style, however, and two minutes after returninig from his stint in the sin bin, Bedwell-Curtis ran onto an inside pass from Jack Goodhue before crossing for his side’s third try just before half-time.

The Highlanders came out firing in the second half and two minutes after the restart Aaron Smith crossed the whitewash but his effort was ruled out after television replays revealed that Rob Thompson stepped into touch in the build-up.

Five minutes later, Crotty lost the ball in contact and the Highlanders launched a counter attack with Malakai Fekitoa kicking into space and Bridge failed to gather. Waisake Naholo kicked ahead and beat the cover defence before diving onto the ball behind the Crusaders’ try-line.

Five minutes later, Naholo crossed for his second try after intercepting a long pass from Codie Taylor just inside the Crusaders half. That gave the visitors the lead for the first time and they continued to dominate for the rest of the half although – crucially – they could not extend their lead.

Despite trailing on the scoreboard, the Crusaders did not panic and Hunt drew them level via a penalty in the 77th minute. The seven-time champions finished stronger and were awarded a penalty in the final minute which Hunt pushed wide of the posts.

Despite that missed opportunity, the Crusaders continued to attack and after taking the ball through 20 phases, the ball came out to Hunt who secured the result for his side with his stunning drop goal at the end.

The scorers:

For Crusaders:
Tries:
Drummond, Tamanivalu, Bedwill-Curtis
Cons: Mo’unga 2
Pen: Hunt
Drop goal: Hunt
Yellow Card: Bedwell-Curtis

For Highlanders:
Tries: Buckman, Naholo 2
Cons: Banks 2
Pen: Banks

Blues win against Reds

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Stephen Perofeta’s late try was enough for the Blues to come out on top of a see-sawing encounter with the Reds, winning 34-29 in Apia.

The talented replacement number ten was the Blues’ fifth try-scorer on the night and for long periods Tana Umaga’s side looked the better team on the field, leading 20-12 at the break after tries from Rene Ranger, Rieko Ioane and Kara Pryor.

To their credit the Reds never gave up, their forward power creating four tries including two for Taniela ‘Tongan Thor’ Tupou as Quade Cooper’s boot kept them in the hunt.

But scores from lock Gerard Cowley-Tuioti and then Perofeta guaranteed a seventh win of the season for the Blues, who could have had more tries were it not for four on the night being ruled out by the officials.

In front of a disappointly low crowd in the Samoan capital due to ticket prices, those in attendance certainly enjoyed a tighter spectacle than many were predicting after the opening minutes.

It was a blistering start for the Blues, with Ranger stepping his way through the Reds’ defence all too easily after the Reds had been turned over at the scrum, scoring in the second minute.

The second score wasn’t far away either, TJ Faiane’s smart pass releasing Pryor before the final pass put Rieko Ioane over in the corner. Piers Francis couldn’t convert, but the Blues held a comfortable lead at 12-0.

The Reds needed a response, not helped by the loss of captain Samu Kerevi to an ankle injury, but tighthead prop Tupou scored his first try when he burrowed over from close-range.

A scrappy period of play followed before Pryor scored the Blues’ third try, going over off the back of a rolling maul.

To their credit the Reds responded swiftly, with hooker Andrew Ready in for Wallabies captian Stephen Moore powering his way over off the back of another effective driving maul from the Reds, one of their best weapons in recent weeks.

Cooper converted but it was Francis who had the final say of the first half, knocking over a long-range penalty to give the Blues a 20-12 advantage.

A rare three-pointer from Cooper kicked off the second half to put the Reds within range of the lead, and they grabbed it thanks to their third try of the match from replacement forward Adam Korczyk, Cooper banishing the memory of his early miss off the tee to land the conversion and make it 22-20.

In-form lock Cowley-Tuioti went over in response for the Blues, switching the lead back their way after Francis converted, but the Reds were making progress up front, Tupou showing off the power that made him a star at schoolboy level as the ‘Tongan Thor’ to grab a second try.

With that effort the Reds led 29-27, as the Blues had a third possible try of the match ruled out by the TMO, at the start of tense final ten minutes.

Having been the better side for most of the match a defeat would have been unthinkable for the Blues, and with seven minutes left they retook the lead once more through the highly-rated Perofeta on debut.

Melani Nanai was released into open space and despite coming up short of the line after backing himself to beat the last man, Perofeta was there in support for the score.

Perofeta converted his own score to give the Blues a 34-29 lead in the closing stages as the Blues ran down the clock, pleasing the local crowd, with the Reds unable to find the winning score.

The scorers:

For Blues:
Tries: Ranger, R Ioane, Pryor, Cowley-Tuioti, Perofeta
Cons: Francis, Perofeta 2
Pen: Francis

For Reds:
Tries: Tupou 2, Ready, Korczyk
Cons: Cooper 3
Pen: Cooper

Preview – Rugby galore this weekend

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June always bring the next level up for all of us in the Southern Hemisphere as we put Super Rugby a little bit back and turn our attention to Test Rugby.

This year we can add some Tabasco to it all with the British and Irish Lions touring in New Zealand as well, but before we look at their first match we have the small little thing called Super Rugby which see some New Zealand and Aussie teams playing this weekend.

After last weeks results we can almost for certain say we know who the three teams from the two African conferences will be come play-off time, but we still have a way to go for the New Zealanders to fight out.

Here is a look at the logs as it stands now…

PosTeamPWLDPts
1118120
298100
311000
4126600
585120
PosTeamPWLDPts
1118120
298100
311000
4126600
585120
PosTeamPWLDPts
1118120
298100
311000
4126600
585120
PosTeamPWLDPts
1118120
298100
311000
4126600
585120

This week I would suggest that if your family does not want to sit in front of the TV the whole weekend that you give some money and send them shopping because we have 5 Super Rugby matches for Friday and Saturday, The British and Irish Lions first match on tour on Saturday and 6 Junior World Championship matches on Sunday to make this a heavenly weekend for rugby lovers.

Lets first have a look at our Super Rugby matches coming up this weekend

Friday 2 June 2017

Blues v Reds 09:35 Apia Park Catch the live scores and chats here

Saturday 3 June 2017

Crusaders v Highlanders 04:35 AMI Stadium Catch the live scores and chats here

Chiefs Waratahs 07:05 FMG Stadium Catch the live scores and chats here

Brumbies v Rebels 11:45 GIO Stadium  Catch the live scores and chats here

Force v Hurricanes 13:55 NIB Stadium

Let’s have a look at the matches and maybe we can help with your Superbru predictions, but I doubt it  laugh

Blues v Reds

This could be one of those matches that you usually do not expect to lift the excitement bar but then it does. Both teams have been struggling with consistency and showing promise but just have not been able this year to get over that line.

The Blues will definitely go into the game as the favorite but the Reds have the capability to surprise on the day as they have enough quality players which just have not been on form this year.

The two teams have also traveled this weekend to play an historic first ever match in Apia in Samoa.

We expect a huge crowd at the ground and the atmosphere will be electric so hold thumbs that the two teams will produced the goods

Blues head coach Tana Umaga highlighted the importance of this clash to his side and said his charges  are determined to deliver a good performance.

“We know this is a special game and a special occasion for the Blues to bring a home game to Samoa,” said Blues coach Tana Umaga.

“We have a significant number of our club who have heritage in Samoa, including myself, and it is a privilege for so many of our team to return home to play in front of friends and family.”

He expects a tough challenge from the Reds but wants his side to build on last weekend’s effort against the Chiefs when they were unlucky to draw 16-16 in Auckland.

“It is important for us to respect this game in Samoa with a strong performance,” added Umaga.

“We have two games left in the Super Rugby season and we desperately want to continue our progression.

“Also the injuries to some of our regular starters have given us the chance to play some of our exciting young players who have earned their opportunities.”

 

Previous results:

Prediction: The Blues will relish the opportunity to play in front of a passionate island crowd and will take this one by at least 15 points

The teams:

Blues: 15 Melani Nanai, 14 Declan O’Donnell, 13 Rene Ranger, 12 TJ Faiane, 11 Rieko Ioane, 10 Piers Francis, 9 Sam Nock, 8 Steven Luatua, 7 Kara Pryor, 6 Jimmy Tupou, 5 Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 4 Patrick Tuipulotu, 3 Sione Mafileo, 2 James Parsons (c), 1 Alex Hodgman
Replacements: 16 Hame Faiva, 17 Sam Prattley, 18 Ofa Tu’ungafasi, 19 Akira Ioane, 20 Murphy Taramai, 21 Billy Guyton, 22 Stephen Perofeta, 23 Jordan Trainor

Reds: 15 Karmichael Hunt, 14 Chris Kuridrani, 13 Samu Kerevi (c), 12 Duncan Paia’aua, 11 Eto Nabuli, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 James Tuttle, 8 Scott Higginbotham, 7 George Smith, 6 Hendrik Tui, 5 Lukhan Tui, 4 Izack Rodda, 3 Taniela Tupou, 2 Andrew Ready, 1 Sef Fa’agase
Replacements: 16 Alex Maf, 17 Kirwan Sanday, 18 Sam Talakai, 19 Kane Douglas, 20 Adam Korczyk, 21 Caleb Timu, 22 Nick Frisby, 23 Jake McIntyre

Catch the live scores and chats here

Crusaders v Highlanders

I think New Zealand rugby is getting us Saffas back for all the early morning matches they have to sit through when their teams tour South Africa  laugh , and yes you have seen this important game kicks off at 04:35.

Makes you think back to the 1981 Springboks tour to New Zealand.

This will be a game worth waking up early for with the unbeaten Saders hosting the Highlanders on Saturday. With the New Zealand conference so tightly contested the Highlanders will have to come with everything to secure a win and break the Saders winning streak this year.

The Highlanders head coach Tony Brown also see this as one of those must win games and has made four changes for the clash.

Brown has reinstated Daniel Lienert-Brown to the front row and promoted Gareth Evans to the starting line-up after a number of good performances in recent weeks. James Lentjes comes back on the openside following an elbow injury that sidelined him for three months, taking the place of Dillon Hunt who gets a well-earned break.

The in-form Rob Thompson comes in at inside centre this week pushing utility back Richard Buckman to the left wing; otherwise the starting backline remains the same as the one that performed well against the Waratahs. Plenty of strike power on the bench with All Blacks Elliot Dixon and Lima Sopoaga while Matt Faddes returns as outside back cover.

Captain Ben Smith will play his 128th Super game for the Highlanders and become their most capped player ahead of Anton Oliver.

The Crusaders are a bit in a more comfortable situation leading the New Zealand conference with their coach Scott Robertson has made ten changes to the starting line-up

The entire front row has changed, with Joe Moody, Codie Taylor and Owen Franks starting, and Wyatt Crockett, Mike Alaalatoa and Ben Funnell sitting on the bench.

The other changes in the forwards are at lock, with Luke Romano staring and Quinten Strange shifting to the reserves, and at loose forward with Matt Todd returning at number seven in place of Pete Samu.

In the backs, Mitchell Drummond starts at scrum-half this week.  George Bridge and Seta Tamanivalu take the wings, and Ryan Crotty and Jack Goodhue start at inside centre and outside centre respectively. Bryn Hall will cover scrum-half while Mitchell Hunt and Israel Dagg will cover the rest of the back line.

The last time the Crusaders and Highlanders played each other was in round two of the season, and the Crusaders snatched a last minute win down in Dunedin.  The Crusaders have won every game since, while the Highlanders have dropped just one game since and won their last nine in a row.

Previous results:

Prediction: With the Saders resting so many players makes this a game that the Highlanders can win and which will help them for making the play-offs, Highlanders by 10 points

Teams:

Crusaders: 15 David Havili, 14 Seta Tamanivalu, 13 Jack Goodhue, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 George Bridge, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Mitchell Drummond, 8 Jordan Taufua, 7 Matt Todd, 6 Heiden Bedwell-Curtis, 5 Sam Whitelock (c), 4 Luke Romano, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Joe Moody
Replacements: 16 Ben Funnell, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Michael Alaalatoa, 19 Quinten Strange, 20 Jed Brown, 21 Bryn Hall, 22 Mitchell Hunt, 23 Israel Dagg

Highlanders: 15 Ben Smith (cc), 14 Waisake Naholo, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Rob Thompson, 11 Richard Buckman, 10 Marty Banks, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Luke Whitelock, 7 James Lentjes, 6 Gareth Evans, 5 Tom Franklin, 4 Alex Ainley, 3 Siate Tokolahi, 2 Liam Coltman, 1 Daniel Lienert-Brown
Replacements: 16 Ash Dixon (cc), 17 Aki Seiuli, 18 Siosuia Halanukonuka, 19 Joe Wheeler, 20 Elliot Dixon, 21 Kayne Hammington, 22 Lima Sopoaga, 23 Matt Faddes

Catch the live scores and chats here

Chiefs Waratahs

The Waratahs have started to look more like a the team we expected to pitch up in the beginning of the year so this is no easy game for the Chiefs who has not won a pretty as well for some weeks now.

The end of the tournament do asked more from the players and for teams to keep performing but the Chiefs have been one of the New Zealand teams who has not been convincing.

It looks set that it will be between the Brumbies and the Waratahs who will fight it out for the top spot in the Aussie conference so each match now is a must win for both sides. With the Brumbies playing the easier game this weekend against a struggling Rebels side the Waratahs will have to fight hard to get this important away win against the Chiefs.

Desperation can be even seen as Waratahs coach Daryl Gibson has made only one change to his starting lineup.

Scrum-half Nick Phipps has been ruled out with an ankle injury while Jack Dempsey, who was named this week in the Wallaby squad, has moved on to the reserves bench in a six/two split of forwards and backs.

 

The Chiefs has made two changes to their team as we see Stephen Donald  in jersey number 12 for his 100th match and speedster Toni Pulu start on the right wing.

Of note in the reserves is the inclusion of 22-year-old Bay of Plenty hooker Liam Polwart. The former New Zealand Under-20s representative is in line to make his Super Rugby debut off the bench.

Previous results:

Prediction: Difficult one this one, so going with home side by 8 points.

Teams:

Chiefs: 15 Damian McKenzie, 14 Toni Pulu, 13 Anton Lienert-Brown, 12 Stephen Donald, 11 James Lowe, 10 Aaron Cruden (cc), 9 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 9 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 8 Liam Messam, 7 Sam Cane (cc), 6 Mitchell Brown, 5 Brodie Retallick, 4 Dominic Bird, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Nathan Harris, 1 Kane Hames.
Replacements: 16 Liam Polwart, 17 Siegfried Fisi’ihoi, 18 Atu Moli, 19 Taleni Seu, 20 Mitchell Karpik, 21 Jonathan Taumateine, 22  Tim Nanai-Williams, 23 Solomon Alaimalo.

Waratahs: 15 Israel Folau, 14 Taqele Naiyaravoro, 13 Rob Horne, 12 David Horwitz, 11 Cameron Clarke, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Jake Gordon, 8 Michael Wells, 7 Michael Hooper (c), 6 Ned Hanigan, 5 Will Skelton, 4 Dean Mumm, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Tolu Latu, 1 Tom Robertson
Replacements: 16 Damien Fitzpatrick, 17 Paddy Ryan, 18 Angus Taavao, 19 David McDuling, 20 Jed Holloway, 21 Jack Dempsey, 22 Matt Lucas, 23  Bryce Hegarty

 Catch the live scores and chats here

Brumbies v Rebels

Another important Aussie Derby this weekend, ah well at least for the Brumbies that is as the Rebels have no chance of making any play-offs this year.

The Brumbies and Waratahs are looking to be the two Aussie teams that will play it out for that conference spot this year.

Brumbies head coach Stephen Larkham has made one enforced change to the starting lineup for the clash, prop Nic Mayhew comes into the team in place of the injured Ben Alexander.

Alexander had been set to make Brumbies history by claiming his 143rd cap against the Rebels at GIO Stadium this Saturday, but an injury sustained late in training on Wednesday has put those plans on hold.

Mayhew, who himself was forced to miss the match in Buenos Aires through injury, comes into the team which returns from their around-the-world trip, having gained nine points following excellent victories against the Kings in Port Elizabeth and the Jaguares in Buenos Aires.

Melbourne Rebels welcome back Lopeti Timani from a head knock as Rebels head coach Tony McGahan has made five changes to the starting line-up with the return of Timani, Hugh Sinclair and Mitch Inman, while Ben Volavola and Reece Hodge have shifted positions in the backline.

Timani has passed the concussion protocols after the loose forward missed last weekend’s game following a head knock at training while Sinclair will fill the shoes of injured Sean McMahon at flanker. McMahon is expected to miss six to eight weeks after dislocating his wrist against the Crusaders.

 

Previous results:

Prediction: Brumbies by 30 points

Teams:

Rebels: 15 Reece Hodge, 14 Sefa Naivalu, 13 Tom English, 12 Mitch Inman, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Ben Volavola, 9 Nic Stirzaker (c), 8 Amanaki Mafi, 7 Colby Fainga’a, 6 Hugh Sinclair, 5 Lopeti Timani, 4 Steve Cummins, 3 Tyrel Lomax, 2 James Hanson, 1 Toby Smith
Replacements: 16 Siliva Siliva, 17 Cruze Ah-Nau, 18 Laurie Weeks, 19 Culum Retallick, 20 Will Miller, 21 Ben Meehan, 22 Jackson Garden-Bachop, 23 Jonah Placid

 

Brumbies: 15 Tom Banks, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Kyle Godwin, 11 Aidan Toua, 10 Wharenui Hawera, 9 Joe Powell, 8 Jordan Smiler, 7 Chris Alcock, 6 Scott Fardy, 5 Sam Carter (c), 4 Rory Arnold, 3 Allan Alaalatoa, 2 Josh Mann-Rea, 1 Nic Mayhew.
Replacements: 16 Robbie Abel, 17 Faalelei Sione, 18 Leslie Leulua’Iali’I-Makin, 19 Tom Staniforth, 20 Jarrad Butler, 21 De Wet Roos, 22 Andrew Muirhead, 23 Nigel Ah Wong.

 Catch the live scores and chats here

Force v Hurricanes

The Hurricanes will be looking to keep up the pressure on the Crusaders when they travel to take on the Force in Perth on Saturday.

The Hurricanes are in second position on the New Zealand conference, 11 points behind the Crusaders but having played a game less.

The Hurricanes have won nine of the last meetings with the Force, including the last eight in a row by an average margin of 17.5 points.

Meanwhile, the Force have lost their last seven games when hosting New Zealand opposition, including a record home defeat in their last match in Perth (49 points v Highlanders).

Furthermore, The Hurricanes have won their last 12 games in a row against non-New Zealand opposition, with those victories coming by an average margin of 30.5 points.

This should all make for an uphill battle for the Force who in fairness did well to bounce back from the thumping at the hands of the Highlanders to beat the Reds 40-26 last weekend in a good advert for attacking, running rugby which shows they are more than capable.

However, they must be wary of exposing themselves by committing too many numbers as the ‘Canes possess the most lethal counter-attack in the competition along with the Crusaders and Highlanders.

The Force need to improve their defensive effort if they are to nullify the away side who have a fit-again Beauden Barrett returning and the in-form duo of centres Vince Aso and Ngani Laumape, who lead the Super Rugby try-scoring charts.

And the Perth franchise will be looking to leapfrog the Waratahs and go up to second position in the Australian Conference. They are two points behind the ‘Tahs and a further 11 behind the Brumbies.

Force head coach Dave Wessels said that his team are looking forward to taking on the Hurricanes at home and backing up with another strong performance.

“Our biggest challenge is to learn how to back-up performances,” he said. “We didn’t play well in our last home game. It’s important that we address that this weekend.

“We want to play the way the people of WA will be proud of.”

 

 

Prediction: The Hurricanes should make it nine out of nine against the Force. Hurricanes by 20.

The teams:

Force: 15 Dane Haylett-Petty, 14 James Verity-Amm, 13 Curtis Rona, 12 Bill Meakes, 11 Alex Newsome, 10 Peter Grant, 9 Michael Ruru, 8 Isi Naisarani, 7 Matt Hodgson (c), 6 Ross Haylett-Petty, 5 Adam Coleman, 4 Matt Philip, 3 Jermaine Ainsley, 2 Heath Tessmann, 1 Francois van Wyk
Replacements: 16 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 17 Pek Cowan, 18 Tetera Faulkner, 19 Richie Arnold, 20 Richard Hardwick, 21 Mitchell Short, 22 Luke Burton, 23 Marcel Brache

Hurricanes: 15 Jordie Barrett, 14 Cory Jane, 13 Vince Aso, 12 Ngani Laumape, 11 Ben Lam, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara (c), 8 Brad Shields, 7 Callum Gibbins, 6 Reed Prinsep, 5 Vaea Fifita, 4 Sam Lousi, 3 Ben May, 2 Ricky Riccitelli, 1 Loni Uhila
Replacements: 16 Leni Apisai, 17 Chris Eves, 18 Jeff Toomaga-Allen, 19 Mark Abbott, 20 Ardie Savea, 21 Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, 22 Otere Black, 23 Nehe Milner-Skudder

One of the big games on Saturday is the British and Irish Lions that start their tour against the Provincial Barbarians. A tour that has all the making of a classic and no matter how and when a way to beat the unstoppable All Blacks in their own back yard even if it is the Lions.

The match start at 09:00 on Saturday morning and will be broadcast live on Super Sport HD.

It’s finally here. Still fighting off jet-lag and adjusting to ‘home’ for the next six weeks, the Lions get going on Saturday in Whangarei.

Make no mistake, the Lions preparation time for Saturday’s opening game has not been ideal considering they landed in Auckland on Wednesday morning, but any concerns over that travel fatigue have been dampened down by the strength of the side named by Warren Gatland.

Sam Warburton spoke about itching to get going on tour in the Lions’ first press conference on Kiwi soil and gets his wish, and this first hit-out will be of vital importance for both the Lions captain and an important lieutenant in Alun Wyn Jones, with both short of match fitness.

All three Scots in the 41-man group have been selected, as are both Harlequins props, and there is an air of familiarity in having an all-Welsh back row, an England centre combination and Tommy Seymour and Stuart Hogg, team-mates for club and country, bunched together in the back three.

Unsurprisingly none of those players involved in last weekend’s Premiership and PRO12 finals are involved, with only Johnny Sexton in the starting XV from the domestic semi-finals, in a bid to allow for maximum recovery time.

Perhaps the most excitement has been reserved for the Lions bench, featuring four Saracens who could all start in the Test series in Jamie George, Mako Vunipola, George Kruis and Owen Farrell.

If the Provincial Barbarians are able to keep the contest tight going into the second, then even with having spent close to 24 hours on a plane, the quality of those replacements should be enough to seal the deal.

Opening games on Lions tours are always treated with trepidation given the limited prepartion time and travel factor, and while 2013’s first match was an emphatic 69-17 win over the Force in Perth, there have also been wobbles; the 37-25 win over a ‘Royal XV’ in South Africa in 2009, wearing down Bay of Plenty in 2005.

A repeat of the 114-10 win over Western Australia in 2001 seems unlikely and followers of New Zealand rugby and Sevens will recognise the name of Sam Vaka, who along with former Chiefs midfielder Dwayne Sweeney and Waikato’s try-scoring sensation Sevu Reece all make up a competent back-line.

Lachlan Boshier, part of the Chiefs squad, and of course Blues fly-half Bryn Gatland, son of Lions head coach Warren, will need to be paid close attention also.

Players to Watch

For Provincial Barbarians: Highly regarded by Canterbury, Irish prop Oliver Jager will get the chance to take on his country’s captain Rory Best when the two face off in the scrum. London-born and educated at the famous Blackrock College in Dublin, whose alumni include Lions legends Brian O’Driscoll and Fergus Slattery, Jager is part of the Crusaders’ squad this season and will be understandably be out to make an impression. His Crusaders and former Canterbury coach, Scott Robertson, has suggested he could play for the All Blacks.

For British and Irish Lions: Earning a first chance to make the number eight shirt his own is Taulupe Faletau, who despite the protests of even the most one-eyed of Welsh supporters was considered second choice for the position behind Billy Vunipola until his decision to withdraw. Faletau’s form pleasingly returned towards the end of the season with Bath but it was easily his toughest campaign since bursting onto the scene at the 2011 Rugby World Cup. Widely hailed for his engine, Gatland will be looking for plenty of energy.

 

Prediction: Even in the jet-lag and getting to know each other stage of the tour, the Lions should have too much ability here to be troubled, particularly with those reinforcements from 16 to 23. Lions to win by 30.

Provincial Barbarians: 15 Luteru Laulala (Counties Manukau), 14 Sam Vaka (Counties Manukau), 13 Inga Finau (Canterbury), 12 Dwayne Sweeney (Waikato), 11 Sevu Reece (Waikato), 10 Bryn Gatland (North Harbour), 9 Jack Stratton (Canterbury), 8 Mitchell Dunshea (Canterbury), 7 Lachlan Boshier (Taranaki), 6 James Tucker (Waikato), 5 Keepa Mewett (Bay of Plenty), 4 Josh Goodhue (Northland), 3 Oliver Jager (Canterbury), 2 Sam Anderson-Heather (c) (Otago), 1 Aidan Ross (Bay of Plenty)
Replacements: 16 Andrew Makalio (Tasman), 17 Tolu Fahamokioa (Wellington), 18 Marcel Renata (Auckland), 19 Matt Matich (Northland), 20 Peter Rowe (Wanganui), 21 Richard Judd (Bay of Plenty), 22 Jonah Lowe (Hawke’s Bay), 23 Junior Ngaluafe (Southland)

British and Irish Lions: 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Anthony Watson, 13 Jonathan Joseph, 12 Ben Te’o, 11 Tommy Seymour, 10 Johnny Sexton, 9 Greig Laidlaw, 8 Taulupe Faletau, 7 Sam Warburton (c), 6 Ross Moriarty, 5 Iain Henderson, 4 Alun Wyn Jones, 3 Kyle Sinckler, 2 Rory Best, 1 Joe Marler
Replacements: 16 Jamie George, 17 Mako Vunipola, 18 Tadgh Furlong, 19 George Kruis, 20 Justin Tipuric, 21 Rhys Webb, 22 Owen Farrell, 23 Elliot Daly

Here is a quick look at the tour program for the Lions….

2017 British & Irish Lions tour fixtures

3 June
New Zealand Barbarians  vs British & Irish Lions
Whangarei
09:35
7 June
Blues  vs British & Irish Lions
Auckland
09:35
10 June
Crusaders  vs British & Irish Lions
Christchurch
09:35
13 June
Highlanders  vs British & Irish Lions
Dunedin
09:35
17 June
Maori All Blacks  vs British & Irish Lions
Rotorua
09:35
20 June
Chiefs  vs British & Irish Lions
Hamilton
09:35
24 June
New Zealand  vs British & Irish Lions
Auckland
09:35
27 June
Hurricanes  vs British & Irish Lions
Wellington
09:35
1 July
New Zealand  vs British & Irish Lions
Wellington
09:35
8 July
New Zealand  vs British & Irish Lions
Auckland
09:35

Catch the game scores live here

Sunday it is the time for the Junior’s to show their skills as we move into the second round of matches in this years U20 World Championship.

Here is the schedule for Sundays’s matches……

Argentina v France 11:00 live on SS1 HD

Ireland v Scotland 11:00

Australia v Samoa 13:30 live on SS1 HD

New Zealand v Italy 13:30

South Africa v Georgia 16:00 live on SS1 HD

England v Wales 18:30 live on SS1 HD

Match previews to follow and live score updates on Sunday…

14-man Lions get bonus point win over Kings

1

A 14-man Lions outfit continued their domination of the South African Group following a comfortable 54-10 triumph over the Kings.

Despite the loss of Robbie Coetzee for a knee to the head of Chris Cloete in the first half, the hosts scored eight tries as they easily dispatched their rivals.

Only two of those came before Coetzee’s recklessness, however, when Andries Ferreira and Courtnall Skosan touched down. Instead, the red card revitalised the Lions, who had lost their way after a positive start, with Kwagga Smith (twice), Malcolm Marx, Jacques van Rooyen, Faf de Klerk and Andries Coetzee completing the win.

Luzuko Vulindlu scored a consolation for the Africa 2 Conference’s bottom placed team but it was the hosts that went away with a tenth win in a row.

The Kings’ impressive resurgence had seen them secure three victories in succession before their home defeat to the Brumbies but, against the second best team in the competition, they were unable to make it four in five.

Without the excellent Lionel Cronjé at stand-off, the visitors struggled for continuity in the early stages and the Lions benefited from that front-foot ball.

Ackermann’s men dominated and proceeded to put the Port Elizabeth-based outfit under pressure at the maul. It eventually led to a yellow card for Irné Herbst and, without one of their crucial cogs in the lineout drive, the away side succumbed as Ferreira touched down.

In many respects, that score was atypical of the free-flowing hosts, but they soon displayed the full range of their capabilities by constructing a wonderful try.

Two mainstays of their side came to the fore when Elton Jantjies produced an inch-perfect cross-field kick for new Springbok captain Warren Whiteley to collect.

Whiteley had little time and space to work with but the number eight managed to get his off-load away to Skosan, who crossed the whitewash unopposed.

Pieter-Steyn de Wet then reduced the arrears for the Kings before a moment of stupidity from hooker Coetzee saw the Lions down to 14 men after his knee connected with Cloete’s head.

The flanker was also sent from the field, although he only received a yellow card for two separate offences leading up to Coetzee’s indiscretion.

That should have enabled the visitors a way back into the contest but Ackermann’s team dealt with the setback impeccably.

Tries for Smith and Marx either side of the interval effectively ended the match as a contest before excellent hands allowed Van Rooyen to touch down.

The Lions were rampant and a wonderful run by Marx gave Smith his second try. The replacement hooker went on a barnstorming charge down the right, off-loaded to Coetzee whose pass to the blindside allowed him to cross the line.

By this point only 55 minutes had elapsed but Vulindlu briefly stemmed the haemorrhaging by touching down for the Kings. However, the hosts had the final word via De Klerk and Coetzee as they went away with a dominant victory.

The scorers:

For Lions:
Tries: 
Ferreira, Skosan, Smith 2, Marx, Van Rooyen, De Klerk, A Coetzee
Cons: Jantjies 5, A Coetzee 2
Red Card: R Coetzee

For Kings:
Try: 
Vulindlu
Con: De Wet
Pen: De Wet
Yellow Cards: Herbst, Cloete

Brumbies end tour with win over Jaguares

0

The Brumbies finished their tour in with another win this time over the Jaguares when they beat them 39-15 on Saturday night.

The men from Canberra were keen to build on last weekend’s win over the Kings in Port Elizabeth and were full value for their win, eventually outscoring their hosts by six tries to two.

An impressive first half performance laid the foundation to the Brumbies’ win with brace of tries from Tom Banks and another five-pointer from Sam Carter helping them to a 20-10 lead at half-time with the Jaguares’ only try of the half scored by Tomás Lavanini.

The home side’s discipline let them down badly and they committed a plethora of unforced errors which helped the Brumbies’ cause.

The Brumbies win extends their lead t the top of the Australian Conference table and they now have a nine-point lead over their closest rivals, the Waratahs.

Meanwhile, the Jaguares are still in third spot in the Africa 2 Conference standings, 18 points adrift of the second-placed Sharks.

The Jaguares took an early lead thanks to a third minute penalty from Nicolás Sánchez before the Brumbies struck back 10 minutes later when Sam Carter crossed for the opening try off a driving maul deep inside the home side’s 22.

The Jaguares did not take long to reply – Lavanini barging over from close quarters and with Sánchez off the field for a Head Injury Assessment, Santiago Gonzalez Iglesias added the extras which gave the home side a narrow 8-7 lead by the 20th minute.

The rest of the halkf belonged to the Brumbies and Banks in particular as he crossed for two deserved tries during a five-minute period.

His firsr five-pointer came in the 25th minute when he joined the line at pace and gathered a pass from Wharenui Hawera before dotting down.

Shortly afterwards, Batista Ezcurra dropped a high ball close to his 10-metre line which Chris Alcock picked up. The flanker did well to deliver a perfectly-weighted chip kick which Banks gathered before diving over in the right-hand corner.

Just before half-time, the Jaguares suffered a further blow when their captain, Agustin Creevy, was yellow carded for cynical play on defence deep inside his half.

The second half came alive in the 56th minute when Joe Powell offloaded to Henry Speight, who burst through a gaping hole in the Jaguares’ defence before crossing for their fifth try.

The Brumbies continued to attack in the final quarter and two tries in quick succession from replacement back Andrew Muirhead sealed their win although the Jaguares added some respectabilty to the score when Guido Petti scored their second try shortly before full-time.

The scorers:

For Jaguares:
Tries:
Lavanini, Petti
Con: Iglesias
Pen: Sánchez
Yellow Card: Creevy

For Brumbies:
Tries:
Carter, Banks 2, Speight, Muirhead 2
Cons: Hawera 3
Pen: Hawera

Sharks to strong for Stormers

5

The Sharks got an important win against the Stormers on Saturday when they beat them 22-10

The Sharks was allover the Stormers in the first ten minutes of the match playing a running game putting the ball through the phases and gotten rewarded with a penalty and a try.

The Stormers did start to come back in the game and had a few opertunities but were held off the Sharks line with great defence.

With so much ball in the middl part of that first half the Stormers would have been very dissapointed not to get any points as the went into the last 10 minutes still with no score.

The Sharks were able to get back into the Stormers half and after stealing a Stormers lineout got the ball over the line for their second try and a lead at halftime of 15-0.

The Stormes got on the board in the 44 minute of the game after a penalty from SP Marais which made the Sharks lead 15-3.

The Stormers were also the first to score the first try of the second half and pulled the lead of the Sharks back to 15-10.

Nkosi then run straight through the Stormers backline as he socred the Sharks third try of the match and the lead of 22-10.

The Stormers were quickly back on attack but some brilliant defence from the Sharks kept themout of scoring a try.

The Stormers backline had so much ball but seemed to have no plan that just shifting the ball through the hands which the Sharks easily defended against.

The Sharks at the end were just to good on the night and had an important win over the Stormers.

Scorers:

Sharks – Tries: Johan Deysel. Stephan Lewis, S’bu Nkosi. Conversions: Garth April (2). Penalty: April.
Stormers – Try: SP Marais. Conversion: Marais. Penalty: SP Marais.

Hurricanes secure bonus point win against Bulls

0

The Hurricanes secured a bonus point win at Loftus on Saterday when they beat the Bulls 34-20.

The Bulls had the worst start to the match they could have imagen with Barrett splitting their defence to score under the poles for the first try of the match and a lead of 7-0.

The Bulls did not look bad on attack and a perfect chip kick was gather by Duncan Matthews on debut to score the Bulls first try and level the score at 7 all.

The Bulls had chances in the Hurricanes twenty-two but poor passing left them shy of scoring another try.

The Hurricanes again from a set-piece split the Bulls defence and scored an easy try to take the lead 14-7 after 20 min.

The Bulls slotted over a few penalties to take their score to 13, trailing just with 1 point but that was short lived with the Hurricanes scoring their third try.

The end of the half was a disappointment for the Bulls with them on attack giving the ball away and the Hurricanes working their way down the field and score in injury time to take a 24-13 lead.

The first 17 minutes of the second half was hard to watch as both teams made too many mistakes and could not get phases together for extended periods of time.

It was the Hurricanes that scored first with a penalty in the 58 min to take the lead to 27-13. The Hurricanes quickly extend the lead with yet another try from broken play.

The Bulls had so much possession and territory but could not turned it into points as their attack look average to say the least.

The Bulls did get over the Hurricanes line after 77 min and pulled the score back a bit with the Hurricanes lead only 34-20.

At the end the Hurricanes took the win with a much-needed bonus point as well.

The scorers:

For Bulls: 
Tries: 
Matthews, De Jager
Cons: Schoeman, Jantjies
Pens: Schoeman 2

For Hurricanes:
Tries:
 Barrett, Laumape, Goosen, Abbott, Apisai
Cons: Black 2, Barrett
Pen: Black

Bonus point win for unbeaten Crusaders over Rebels

0

The unbeaten Crusaders marched on with yet another bonus point win over the Rebels on Saturday when they beat them comfortably 41-19.

No one really expect anything else than a huge win for the Crusaders against a struggeling Rebels side even if they were playing at home.

The Crusaders were first to put points on the board with a penalty but quickly turned that into a 10 point lead with the first try of the match.

They did not had it all their own way as the Rebels did held them with some desperate defence but with a man down the Crusaders got over for their second and the lad of 17-0 after 27 min.

Defending against Crusaders with 15 men is difficult enough so one would expect an onslaught when you have a man down.

The Crusaders scored their third try to take the score 24-0 after 31 min.

The Rebels got their first points on the board after a great try from the lineout to close the gap to 24-7 after 34 min.

The Crusaders quickly hit back and scored their forth try with great hands between forwards and backs and extend the lead again this time to 31-7 after 37 min.

This was also the score at the break.

The second half started well for the Rebels as they scored their second try and reduced the lead again this time to 31-14.

The Crusaders did not have to wait long for their first of the second half and extend the lead to 36-14 after 46 min.

The Rebels were next to score after a turnaround in their own half and scored a brilliant try. This mad ethe Crusaders lead only 36-19 after 60 min.

Tries were coming think and fast with the Crusaders getting another to take the lead to 41-19.

The scores stayed at that as both teams were not able to add any more points but it was yet another bonus point win for the Crusaders, still unbeaten.

Scorers:

Rebels 19 (7)

Tries: Marika Koroibete (2), Toby Smith

Conversions: Ben Volavola, Reece Hodge

Crusaders 41 (31)

Tries: Manasa Mataele, Jed Brown (2), Seta Tamanivalu, David Havili, Mitchell Drummond

Conversions: Richie Mo’unga (4)

Penalty: Mo’unga

Highlanders second half to good for Waratahs

0

The Highlanders ran away with the game in second half to take a crucial win against Waratahs at home when they beat them 44-28.

The Waratahs came of a great win last week against the Rebels and they were looking to take the momentum forward to this weekends match against the Highlanders.

At home the Highlanders are no pushover but and they showed that with putting the first points on the board and the first try of the match.

That gave them a 10-0 lead although there was some questions about that first try.

The Waratahs looked good with ball in hand throughout that frist half and took not long to break the Highlanders defence and scored their first try and points.

This made the lead for the Highlanders 10-7. Both teams had chances at the end of the half to score more points but it was the Waratahs that ended the strongerst with a try at the end of the half.

This gave them a 14-13 lead going into the break.

The Second half started with both teams running the ball at all opertunities and play going from end to end in the first 10 minutes of the half.

The Waratahs then lost a player to the bin for lifting a players feet and gave the Highlanders the chance to kick for the lineout and drive over for their second try.

This gave them the lead back 18-14 after 50 min.

With one man down the Waratahs were put under huge pressure and the Highlanders speed up the game to tae advantage of the extra man.

They scored their third try with the perfect kick and strecth the lead to 23-14 after 52 min.

The game stood a bit still for the next 15 minutes as the teams tried very hard to break each others defence.

The Highlanders were next to score and made their lead 30-14 but this was short lived with the Waratahs scoring one of their own and giving them a slimmer of a hope.

With the scores at 30-21 one would have think it would  be a close finish but the Highlanders had other ideas and scored two quick tries to quickly take the score to 44-21 a fter 75 min.

The Waratahs got a peanlty from a scrum and took it quickly to score their third try of the match and reduced the lead of the Highlanders to 44-28.

Scorers:

Highlanders 44 (13)

Tries: Richard Buckman, Liam Coltman, Tevita Li, Rob Thompson, Dan Lienert-Brown, Lima Sopoaga

Conversions: Marty Banks, Lima Sopoaga (3)

Penalties: Banks (2)

Waratahs 28 (14)

Tries: Israel Folau, Taqele Naiyaravoro, Jake Gordon (2)

Conversions: Bernard Foley (4)

Cheetahs break losing streak in Tokyo

0

The Cheetahs broke their losing streak on Saturday when they beat the Sunwolves 47-7 on Tokyo.

The Cheetahs ran in a good few tries from Uzair Cassiem, Niel Jordaan, Niel Marais, Torsten Jaarsveld, Tian Meyer and Sergeal Petersen while the Sunwolves’ solitary try came from Sam Wykes.

It was good to see the Cheetahs dominating upfront which won them the game with great play from the strongmen for the Cheetahs.

For the Sunwolves it was the same old story where they just could not keep up with the tempo of the game and ran out of steam in the second half as well.

With an average of over 40 points per game the Sunwolves season is going downwards quickly and the much expected improvement not looking likely with just a few games to go.

The Cheetahs dominated the possession in the match and were good for the 14-0 lead at halftime.

After the break the Cheetahs scored a magnificent team try immediately after the resumption of the second-half. The Sunwolves kicked off and Petersen collected the ball. Petersen, Rhaymond Rhule and Clayton Blommetjies were all involved with some beautiful running and offloads as the ball found its way to Marais who capped off a wonderfully crafted move.

The Sunwolves showed some character to bounce back when they took the ball through six phases with good tight build-up from their forwards. Captain Wykes profited off a missed tackle to run over unopposed and dot down. Fly-half Yu Tamura added the extras to cut the deficit to 12 at 19-7.

In response the Cheetahs secured a lineout through Oupa Mohoje before taking the ball through seven phases. Once again, it was Cassiem who found himself in space on the right wing to dot down. That gave them a 26-7  lead in the 66th minute.

A few minutes later Van Jaarsveld got over after a superb line break from the industrious Jordaan, he offloaded off the ground and Jordaan burst over as the Sunwolves were powerless to stop a man of that size with that momentum. Marais added two as the Cheetahs made it 33-7.

The Cheetahs got their sixth try of the match with Van Jaarsveld creating a break and good work from Cassiem sent Meyer away to score.

After a great scrum for the forwards, it was good work from Blommetjies as he put the ball on the boot. Petersen showed searing pace to collect the ball and dot down. Francois Uys, a loose forward, kicked a great comversion from the touchline as the match ended 47-7.

This was a good way for the Cheetahs to end a horrible tour.

The scorers:

For Sunwolves:
Try: Wykes
Con: Tamura

For Cheetahs:
Tries: Cassiem 2, Jordaan, Marais, Van Jaarsveld, Meyer, Petersen
Cons: Marais 5, Uys

Force beat Reds in Brisbane

0

The Force took a step forward with a good away win against the Reds on Friday when they beat them 40-26.

Every week we hope we will see more from the Australians but the first half was again dominated by handling errors, bad decision making and penalties as the Force and the Reds struggled against each other.

The Reds showed some great prosprect with ball in hand at first but just too many mistakes stopped their chances of scoring tries.

They were the first to put points on the ball with a great try in the corner with Cooper showing glipses of his magic.

This gave them a 5-0 lead but not much more in that first thrity minutes.

The Force were not playing well at all and the few chances they did get were not taken. They did manage a penalty to make the lead only 5-3.

The Force slowly got back into the game through mistakes by the Reds and took full advantage of that and scored their first try just before the break to take the lead to 13-5.

The second half saw a bit more action and some more tries with the Reds scoring two second half tries and the Force with one.

The Reds kept giving away points with penalties and after 55 min the Force were leading 23-19.

The two teams both started to ran the ball more and scored some tries a piece frirst the Reds through Moore and then the Force came back with one of their own to take a lead of 30-26 after 64 min.

The Force kept scoring and the Reds kept on making mistakes that cost them points.

With the game drawing to a close the Force scored another try and kicked a penalty to end with a great away win of 40-26.

The scorers:

For Reds:
Tries: Paia’aua, L Tui, Moore 2
Cons: Cooper 3
Yellow Cards: Frisby, Nabuli

For Force:
Tries: Haylett-Petty, Penalty try, Brache, Polota-Nau
Cons: Grant 3
Pens: Grant 4

Blues, Chiefs shares the spoils in 16 all draw

0

The Blues and the Chiefs shared the spoils on Friday when they played to a 16 all draw.

A hard match we witness between the Blues and Chiefs on Friday with both teams having to adjust to the rain that came down.

The first half was very even as both teams had almost the same stats on possession and territory and it was the Blues that pulled away somewhat with the first try of the match in the 30th minute.

They took a nice lead of 10-3 and were able to extend that to 13-3 with a few minutes to go.

The Chiefs had a great try through Damian McKenzie who took a big hole in the Blues defence just before halftime to make the score 13-8 at the break.

The second half stated with the Blues extending the lead to 16-8 with a penalty. They game did become scrappy with the rain pouring down.

The Chiefs had a great try from a turnover to make the scores level at 16 all with just 15 minutes to go and both teams throwing everything at each other.

Both teams had opportunities to score in the final few minutes of the game but the weather was the ultimate winner at the end.

Just too many handling errors forced them to take home only a draw.

This is not a great result for the Chiefs nor the Blues as you look at the New Zealand logs and allot of demanding work for both teams to make sure they get to the play-offs.

Both teams will get two log points for the draw.

The scorers:

For Blues:
Try: R Ioane
Con: Francis
Pens: Francis 3

For Chiefs:
Tries: McKenzie, Faauli
Pens: McKenzie, Cruden

Preview Super Rugby Week 14

1

The focus this week for most teams is to bag the last few wins before the June Internationals starts in two weeks time. Super Rugby will take break in June and will finish up with the three rounds in July.

Last week we saw the Lions showing everyone that they are the best chance South Africa had to win the title when they just swept the Bulls aside. They have been as last year the only side in South Africa that are up their with the top New Zealand teams.

The Stormers came back after a terrible tour to New Zealand to win against the Blues but allot of controversy in the match came from how the officials handed the match and dished out cards which did influence the outcome of the match.

The gap between the top teams and the rest just became even wider as we close down on the play-offs of the competitions.

 

Here is the current standings in the different conferences

PosTeamPWLDPts
1118120
298100
311000
4126600
585120
PosTeamPWLDPts
1118120
298100
311000
4126600
585120
PosTeamPWLDPts
1118120
298100
311000
4126600
585120
PosTeamPWLDPts
1118120
298100
311000
4126600
585120

 

This is what we have coming up this weekend in Week 14…..

Friday 26 May 2017

09:36 Blues vs Chiefs Follow the match live here

11:45 Reds vs Force Follow the match live here

Saturday 27 May 2017

07:00 Sunwolves vs Cheetahs Follow the match live here

09:35 Highlanders vs Waratahs Follow the match live here

11:45 Rebels vs Crusaders Follow the match live here

15:05 Bulls vs Hurricanes Follow the match live here

17:00 Sharks vs Stormers Follow the match live here

23:40 Jaguares vs Brumbies

Sunday 28 May 2017

14:30 Lions v Kings

Blues vs Chiefs
Eden Park

The Blues are back in New Zealand and will be hosting the Chiefs on Friday morning to kick of the weekend’s matches for this weekend. The Blues lies on the bottom of the New Zealand conference but have been on the wrong end of some close games.

It will not get any easier against the Chiefs this weekend who are back to winning ways and will want to keep the pressure on for those play-off spots. The Blues hopes are in this game to stay in touch with the leaders in their group and still have a chance to make the play-offs.

The Top spot all looks set to be going to the Crusaders and it will leave the rest of the wild cards spot open to fight for and we can be sure that they will go fully for that.

This will be a game not to be missed and one that should be one of the games of the weekend.

Previous results:

Prediction: Chiefs should have enough by 15 points

The teams:

Blues: 15 Michael Collins, 14 Matt Duffie, 13 George Moala, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Rieko Ioane, 10 Piers Francis, 9 Augustine Pulu, 8 Akira Ioane, 7 Blake Gibson, 6 Steven Luatua, 5 Scott Scrafton, 4 Patrick Tuipulotu, 3 Charlie Faumuina, 2 James Parsons (c), 1 Ofa Tu’ungafasi
Replacements: 16 Hame Faiva, 17 Alex Hodgman, 18 Sione Mafileo, 19 Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 20 Kara Pryor, 21 Sam Nock, 22 Stephen Perofeta, 23 TJ Faiane

Chiefs: 15 Damian McKenzie, 14 Tim Nanai-Williams, 13 Anton Lienert-Brown, 12 Johnny Faauli, 11 James Lowe, 10 Aaron Cruden, 9 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 8 Liam Messam, 7 Sam Cane (c), 6 Mitchell Brown, 5 Brodie Retallick, 4 Dominic Bird, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Nathan Harris, 1 Kane Hames
Replacements: 16 Hika Elliot, 17 Siegfried Fisi’ihoi, 18 Atu Moli, 19 Taleni Seu, 20 Lachlan Boshier, 21 Jonathan Taumateine, 22 Solomon Alaimalo, 23 Shaun Stevenson

Follow the match live here

 

Reds vs Force

Suncorp Stadium

It has been one of the worst seasons for the Australian teams in Super Rugby and matches have been describe as dull and boring which is not a good sign for the Aussie rugby or their national team.

Reds have been earmarked this year as one of he teams to watch but has been very disappointing. There star players as with all other Aussie teams have been poor and did not do the step up this year.

The Force have been one of those teams that sometimes showed to have improved but just as you thought they will step up the next weekend they just go three steps back.

This game is not high on my to do list this weekend and almost feel that highlights will do it rather than to sit through 80 minutes of another boring Aussie match-up.

Both teams will have to make a major improvement to make this a spectacle but it is possible as both teams have some quality players but just have not perform.

Previous Matches:

Prediction: Reds should take this by 10 just because they play at home

Teams:

Reds: 15 Karmichael Hunt, 14 Chris Kuridrani, 13 Samu Kerevi (c), 12 Duncan Paia’aua, 11 Eto Nabuli, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Nick Frisby, 8 Scott Higginbotham, 7 George Smith, 6 Hendrik Tui, 5 Lukhan Tui, 4 Rob Simmons, 3 Sam Talakai, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 Sef Fa’agase
Replacements: 16 Alex Mafi, 17 Kirwan Sanday, 18 Taniela Tupou, 19 Izack Rodda, 20 Adam Korczyk, 21 James Tuttle, 22 Jake McIntyre, 23 Lachlan Maranta

Force: 15 Marcel Brache, 14 James Verity-Amm, 13 Curtis Rona, 12 Bill Meakes, 11 Alex Newsome, 10 Peter Grant, 9 Michael Ruru, 8 Isireli Naisarani, 7 Matt Hodgson (c), 6 Ross Haylett-Petty, 5 Adam Coleman, 4 Matt Philip, 3 Jermaine Ainsley, 2 Heath Tessmann, 1 Francois van Wyk
Replacements: 16 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 17 Pek Cowan, 18 Tetera Faulkner, 19 Richie Arnold, 20 Richard Hardwick, 21 Mitchell Short, 22 Luke Burton, 23 Luke Morahan

Follow the match live here

Saturday 27 May 2017

Sunwolves vs Cheetahs
Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium

It has been a horror time for the Cheetahs on tour in New Zealand as it was for the Stormers as they also came back with no wins. The difference for them is they did not came home straight away they first stop over in Japan to play the Sunwolves.

As with the Southern Kings the Sunwolves have been a much improved side from last year although they do not have as many wins as the Eastern Cape team. Teams coming to play in Japan or Singapore also found it much harder as before to grind out wins.

The Cheetahs have plenty of injuries and a rel lack in form this year and this game can be the Sunwolves second South African win after the already beaten the Bulls a few weeks back.

In right respect the Cheetahs should be able to beat the Sunwolves but we have seen this year already there is not much difference between the middle and lower ranked teams.

Prediction: Can see the Sunwolves to take this win by 8 point

Teams:

Sunwolves: 15 Kotaro Matsushima, 14 Takaaki Nakazuru, 13 Derek Carpenter, 12 Harumichi Tatekawa, 11 Shota Emi, 10 Yu Tamura, 9 Fumiaki Tanaka, 8 Rahboni Warren Vosayaco, 7 Shuhei Matsuhashi, 6 Malgene Ilaua, 5 Sam Wykes, 4 Kotaro Yatabe, 3 Takuma Asahara, 2 Yusuke Niwai, 1 Keita Inagaki
Replacements: 16 Takeshi Hino, 17 Koki Yamamoto, 18 Yasuo Yamaji, 19 Hitoshi Ono, 20 Shokei Kin, 21 Keisuke Uchida, 22 Jumpei Ogura, 23 William Tupou

Cheetahs: 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 William Small-Smith, 12 Clinton Swart, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Niel Marais, 9 Shaun Venter, 8 Henco Venter, 7 Oupa Mohoje, 6 Uzair Cassiem, 5 Carl Wegner, 4 Armandt Koster, 3 Johan Coetzee, 2 Torsten van Jaarsveld (c), 1 Ox Nche
Replacements: 16 Elandré Huggett, 17 Charles Marais, 18 Tom Botha, 19 Francois Uys, 20 Niell Jordaan, 21 Junior Pokomela, 22 Tian Meyer, 23 Fred Zeilinga

Follow the match live here

Highlanders vs Waratahs
Forsyth Barr Stadium

The Highlanders will be hosting the Waratahs on Saturday with both teams coming of good wins last week and pushing for that wild card spot.

The Waratahs had a great game against the Rebels last Sunday after being behind in the first half but then again it was against the Rebels so only after this weekend we will see if they have really turned a corner.

They must be the most disappointing off all the Aussie teams this year and needs to start winning to take the Aussie conference and stand a chance to make the play-offs as it does not look like any Aussie side will yet again qualify as a wild card team.

There test players have been poor to say the least and we say it every week but they have to take some responsibility for the poor results this year.

The Highlanders are chasing that wild card sport and need wins as the only option and at home can not afford to lose this game. They have been good at times, brilliant some times and need to fire on Saturday as the Waratahs will come with all they have as all teams are running out of games.

This is my second match of the weekend which I believe is a game to watch.

Previous Results:

Prediction: Highlanders to win by 9 points

Teams:

Highlanders: 15 Ben Smith (cc), 14 Waisake Naholo, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Richard Buckman, 11 Tevita Li, 10 Marty Banks, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Luke Whitelock, 7 Dillon Hunt, 6 Elliot Dixon, 5 Tom Franklin, 4 Alex Ainley, 3 Siate Tokolahi, 2 Liam Coltman, 1 Aki Seiuli
Replacements: 16 Ash Dixon (cc), 17 Daniel Lienert-Brown, 18 Siosuia Halanukonuka, 19 Joe Wheeler, 20 Gareth Evans, 21 Kayne Hammington, 22 Lima Sopoaga, 23 Rob Thompson

Waratahs: 15 Israel Folau, 14 Taqele Naiyaravoro, 13 Rob Horne, 12 David Horwitz, 11 Cam Clark, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Michael Wells, 7 Michael Hooper (c), 6 Ned Hanigan, 5 Will Skelton, 4 Dean Mumm, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Tolu Latu, 1 Tom Robertson
Replacements: 16 Damien Fitzpatrick, 17 Paddy Ryan, 18 Angus Taavao, 19 David McDuling, 20 Jed Holloway, 21 Jake Gordon, 22 Bryce Hegarty, 23 Irae Simone

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Rebels vs Crusaders
AAMI Park

We have here the best team at the moment in Super Rugby and on the other side of the field we will have one of the worst teams this year.

There will always be some hope of an upset when the great teams face the not so great teams, but I can tell you now it will never happen when the Rebels host the Saders on Saturday.

The Rebels have been fighting for survival on the field and off the field and have not shown anything to suggest that they can upset the Crusaders. The Crusaders on the other hand have not lost a game all season and have been improving with each round.

They look like the complete team and injuries have also not phased them at all with the players coming in doing the job.

The Rebels seems far away from the competitive team they where last year and have struggled all season to play a full 80 minutes and have lost games and their way.

This should all be one way traffic with another huge win for the Crusaders and another heartbreak for the Rebels and their fans, No way we can expect anything else.

Previous Results:

Prediction: Saders to win with 45 points

Teams:

Rebels: 15 Ben Volavola, 14 Sefa Naivalu, 13 Tom English, 12 Reece Hodge, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Jackson Garden-Bachop, 9 Nic Stirzaker (c), 8 Amanaki Mafi, 7 Colby Fainga’a, 6 Sean McMahon, 5 Lopeti Timani, 4 Steve Cummins, 3 Tyrel Lomax, 2 James Hanson, 1 Toby Smith
Replacements: 16 Siliva Siliva, 17 Fereti Sa’aga, 18 Laurie Weeks, 19 Culum Retallick, 20 Hugh Sinclair, 21 Ben Meehan, 22 Mitch Inman, 23 Jonah Placid

Crusaders: 15 David Havili, 14 Israel Dagg, 13 Seta Tamanivalu, 12 Tim Bateman, 11 Manasa Mataele, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Bryn Hall, 8 Jordan Taufua, 7 Pete Samu, 6 Heiden Bedwell-Curtis, 5 Sam Whitelock (c), 4 Quinten Strange, 3 Michael Alaalatoa, 2 Ben Funnell, 1 Wyatt Crockett
Replacements: 16 Andrew Makalio, 17 Joe Moody, 18 Oli Jager, 19 Luke Romano, 20 Jed Brown, 21 Mitchell Drummond, 22 Mitchell Hunt, 23 George Bridge

Follow the match live here

Bulls vs Hurricanes
Loftus Versfeld

The Bulls hosting the Hurricanes on Saturday afternoon will start the South African home matches for the weekend and after last weeks heavy defeat at the hands of the Lions. This has been a terrible year for the Bulls and it does not get any easier when the Hurricanes coming to town to make sure they make the play-offs.

The Hurricanes have had their bad games but are one of the most exciting teams around and have some special player in the team who can turn games around in a matter of seconds.

The Hurricanes, have also one of the best defensive systems in the competition and their kicking game have won them matches all year. After the Crusaders they are one of the best all round teams around and will be a major threat for a struggling Bulls side.

One of the biggest concerns for the Bulls this weekend will be defence again as it has been a major problem for them all season. The Hurricanes can be devastated on attack and even more so on counter-attacking.

The Bulls have the players to play a decent game but seems that they are just badly coach and no improvement have been visible throughout the season. One thing is for sure, if the Bulls wants to win they will have to play the game of their season on Saturday.

Previous Results:

Predictions: Sorry to say but only one winner here Hurricanes by 40 points

Bulls: 15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Duncan Matthews, 13 Jan Serfontein, 12 Burger Odendaal, 11 Jesse Kriel, 10 Tiaan Schoeman, 9 Rudy Paige, 8 Hanro Liebenberg, 7 Jannes Kirsten, 6 Ruan Steenkamp, 5 Lood de Jager, 4 Jason Jenkins, 3 Jacobie Adriaanse, 2 Adriaan Strauss (c), 1 Lizo Gqoboka
Replacements: 16 Jaco Visagie, 17 Pierre Schoeman, 18 Coenraad van Vuuren, 19 Abongile Nonkontwana, 20 Nic de Jager, 21 Ivan van Zyl, 22 Tony Jantjies, 23 Ulrich Beyers

Hurricanes: 15 Jordie Barrett, 14 Wes Goosen, 13 Vince Aso, 12 Ngani Laumape, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara (c), 8 Brad Shields, 7 Ardie Savea, 6 Vaea Fifita, 5 Sam Lousi, 4 Mark Abbott, 3 Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, 2 Ricky Riccitelli, 1 Loni Uhila
Replacements: 16 Leni Apisai, 17 Chris Eves, 18 Ben May, 19 Reed Prinsep, 20 Callum Gibbins, 21 Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, 22 Otere Black, 23 Ben Lam

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Sharks vs Stormers
Kings Park

Definitely one of my matches for the weekend as the Sharks host the Stormers in Durban on Saturday. This will be one of those typical South African derbies and one that battles that will be worth while watching.

The Sharks and the Stormers have gone through a real roller-coaster ride this year with some brilliant matches and other not so much. The Stormers had teh New Zealanders to content with this year and have won two of those matches but both where at home and both could have gone either way.

They have lost badly against the top teams in the competition and that includes a home defeat against the Lions. The Stormers defence have been suspect this whole year and a real up and down season for their fans.

The Sharks have actually disappointing to say the least this year. They had to face the Aussie sides who has been poor and one of the worst teams in the competition got a draw against the Sharks in Durban.

This will give the Stormers confidence that they can be beaten at home and will go hard at them on Saturday. This will be a great match-up between two huge forward packs and some players playing for the same Springbok spots which makes this a great match to look forward too.

We can expect no mercy when they face each other and  a major one to win for more than one reason.

The Sharks have gone through some bad injuries this season and that have impacted them allot. They came of a good win last week fighting all the way against the Sunwolves. This will have give them great motivation after the shocked lost against the Kings the week before.

Previous Results:

Prediction: Difficult one this game and think Stormers may just have too much for the Sharks, Stormers by 13 points.

Sharks: 15 Lwazi Mvovo, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Johan Deysel, 11 Sbu Nkosi, 10 Garth April, 9 Cobus Reinach, 8 Daniel du Preez, 7 Jean-Luc du Preez, 6 Philip van der Walt (c), 5 Stephan Lewies, 4 Ruan Botha, 3 Coenie Oosthuizen, 2 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 1 Thomas du Toit
Replacements: 16 Franco Marais, 17 Beast Mtawarira, 18 Lourens Adriaanse, 19 Etienne Oosthuizen, 20 Tera Mtembu, 21 Michael Claassens, 22 Benhard Janse van Rensburg, 23 Odwa Ndungane

Stormers: 15 SP Marais, 14 Cheslin Kolbe, 13 EW Viljoen, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Dillyn Leyds, 10 Kurt Coleman, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Nizaam Carr, 7 Siya Kolisi (c), 6 Kobus van Dyk, 5 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Oli Kebble
Replacements: 16 Ramone Samuels, 17 Ali Vermaak, 18 Wilco Louw, 19 Chris van Zyl, 20 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 21 Dewaldt Duvenage, 22 Juan de Jongh, 23 Seabelo Senatla

Follow the match live here

Jaguares vs Brumbies
Vélez Sarsfield

More to follow

Sunday 28 May 2017

Lions v Kings
Ellis Park

More to follow

 

Tahs put 50 past Rebels

0

The Waratahs moved up to second spot in the Australian Conference after they beat the Rebels 50-23 at Allianz Stadium on Sunday.

Nick Phipps, Dean Mumm, Ned Hanigan, Israel Folau (2), Michael Hooper, Damien Fitzpatrick and Bryce Hegarty’s tries sealed the maximum.

Amanaki Mafi and Jonah Placid (2) crossed for the Rebels, who remain on just one win this season, with only the Sunwolves on fewer points.

The ‘Tahs led 24-11 at the break and had the bonus point next to their name after scoring tries through Phipps, Mumm, Hanigan and Folau.

Not helping the Rebels’ cause was the sight of centre and captain Reece Hodge being stretchered off after just two minutes after he made a tackle on Folau. That was a blow to not just their midfield attacking options but also long-range goal-kicking as Sione Tuipulotu came on.

Four minutes later it was the Rebels who edged ahead via Volavola’s boot, but the Waratahs responded soon after when Foley’s run after good hands from Sekope Kepu and Tom Robertson led to the fly-half finding Phipps on his shoulder who crossed. Foley added the conversion.

7-3 became 7-6 on 11 minutes thanks to a Volavola penalty and there were several more offences from the ‘Tahs that followed, ultimately leading to hooker Tolu Latu being sent to the sin-bin for going off his feet. Referee Angus Gardner had no option as they had been warned.

The Rebels capitalised quickly when Mafi crossed from a quick tap to move 7-11 in front, with Volavola hitting the upright with his extras.

Fortunately for the Waratahs their discipline improved and on 31 minutes recycled ball went left to where Mumm finished off well for 12-11.

More joy was to come before the break too as quick hands found Hanigan for a run-in and then Taqele Naiyaravoro’s power led to Folau galloping over the whitewash. Suddenly the Waratahs had themselves a 13-point cushion which seemed highly unlikely after the first quarter.

The Rebels were forced to make a change at the break and it paid off on 49 minutes as Placid crossed wide out to cut the gap to seven.

That sparked both teams trading blows on the scoreboard as first the Waratahs hit back five minutes later when full-back Folau reached out for his second try of the game before Placid got his own double on the hour mark following a break from Mafi. That meant it was 29-23.

However, that was a close as the Rebels came as a lovely handling move down the left channel saw Hooper score for the ‘Tahs before hooker Fitzpatrick made it 43-23 with a try on 73 minutes and then Hegarty crossed late to put the seal on just their fourth win of the campaign.

The scorers:

For Waratahs:
Tries: Phipps, Mumm, Hanigan, Folau 2, Hooper, Fitzpatrick, Hegarty
Cons: Foley 5
Yellow Cards: Latu, Foley

For Rebels:
Tries: Mafi, Placid 2
Con: Volavola
Pens: Volavola 2

Thanks to 

Brumbies tame Kings

0

The Brumbies got the job done but were made to work very hard before securing a 19-10 victory over the Kings in Port Elizabeth on Saturday.

The result is a momentous one for the two-time champions as it is the first time an Australian side wins a match in South Africa this year and it also ends the Kings’ three-match winning streak.

In a tight tussle, in which the result was in the balance until late in the final quarter, the Brumbies eventually got the rub of the green and outscored their hosts by three tries to one.

The Brumbies controlled the possession and territorial stakes but they could not capitalise on that dominance and squandered several point-scoring opportunities especially during the first half.

The Kings led 10-5 at the interval thanks to a penalty try and a Lionel Cronje penalty and the Brumbies’ only points of the half came courtesy of a Josh Mann-Rea try.

The result means the Brumbies extend their lead at the top of the Australian Conference standings while the Kings are still at the bottom of the Africa 2 Conference table.

The home side were fastest out of the blocks and were awarded their penalty try as early as the fourth minute.

This came after Makazole Mapimpi did well to kick the ball ahead and just before regathering in front of the Brumbies try-line, he was tackled by Tom Banks who was also yellow carded for his indiscretion.

The Kings continued to dominate and extended their lead in the 17th minute via Cronje’s penalty. But they suffered a setback shortly afterwards when Ross Geldenhuys was yellow carded for a cynical infringement on defence close to his try-line.

Two minutes later, the Brumbies reduced the deficit when Mann-Rea crashed over for their opening try from a line-out drive deep inside the Kings’ 22.

The Brumbies upped the ante on attack after that score and two minutes before half-time Rory Arnold crossed the whitewash but his effort was disallowed after television replays revealed that Sam Carter’s final pass was forward.

The second half was an attritional affair and although both sides tried gallantly to gain the upperhand, we had to wait until the 64th minute for the first points of the half.

This came when Aidan Tou gathered a Joe Powell grubber kick superbly before diving over the whitewash. Wharenui Hawera added the extras which meant the Brumbies held the lead for the first time with the score at 12-10.

The men from Canberra continued to attack in the game’s closing stages and their efforts were rewarded in the 70th minute when Tevita Kuridrani stabbed through a teasing grubber kick before Banks grounded the ball behind the home side’s try-line.

The Kings tried gallantly to reduce the deficit but were kept at bay by a resilient defensive effort from their visitors.

The scorers:

For Kings:
Try:
Penalty Try
Pen: Cronje
Yellow Card: Geldenhuys

For Brumbies:
Tries:
Mann-Rea, Toua, Banks
Cons: Hawera 2
Yellow Card: Banks

Thanks to

 

Lions make statement against Bulls

3

The Lions made a statement of intent when they beat the Bulls 51-14 in their South African derby in Johannesburg on Saturday.

The home side were full value for their win and their free-flowing and fast paced style of play proved a real handful for the Bulls and the Lions eventually outscored their visitors by seven tries to two.

The Lions were superb in the opening half and a brace of tries from Ruan Combrinck and further five-pointers from Kwagga Smith, Ruan Dreyer and Warren Whiteley as well as excellent goalkicking from Elton Jantjies gave them a 39-14 lead at half-time, with the visitors’ points registered via converted tries by Jan Serfontein and Jesse Kriel.

The result means the Lions consolidate their position at the top of the Africa Conference 2 table while the Bulls are still second in the Africa Conference 1 standings albeit way off the pace set by the Stormers.

The Lions were forced into a late change when Sylvain Mahuza was forced to withdraw due to injury but his replacement, Combrinck, made an immediate impact when he scored the game’s opening try as early as the second minute.

The Springbok flyer ran onto a Andries Coetzee pass, midway between the halfway mark and the Bulls’ 22, and delivered a chip kick over the head of Kriel before regathering and diving over.

It did not take long for the visitors to respond and they did so in style when Francois Brummer threw an inside pass to debutant Sibahle Maxwane who beat a couple of defenders before offloading to Serfontein who scored under the posts.

Jantjies added two penalties which meant the Lions led 13-7 midway through the half but the hosts soon doubled their lead courtesy of impressive tries from Smith and Dreyer.

The latter one was particularly impressive as the burly prop showed the cover defence a clean pair of heels after running onto a fine pass from Franco Mostert on the edge of the Bulls’ 22.

The Bulls appeared shellshocked by that opening salvo from the home side but to their credit they struck back via a try by Kriel, who shrugged of challenges from Courtnall Skosan and Smith before powering his way over the try-line.

The Lions struck back on the half-hour mark when Whiteley charged down an attempted clearance kick from Rudy Paige – at a lineout close to the Bulls’ tryline – before diving onto the ball as it rolled over the whitewash.

On the stroke of half-time, Combrinck got over for his second try after stepping past a couple of defenders deep inside the Bulls’ 22 and with the score 39-14, the Lions were in control of proceedings as the teams changed ends at the interval.

The second half was a more subdued affair although the hosts increased their lead three minutes after the restart when Franco Mostert got over for their sixth try.

This after Skosan gathered an inch perfect crossfield kick from Jantjies before offloading to Malcolm Marx who managed to free his arms to get a pass out Whiteley who was stopped just short of the tryline.

The ball was recycled quickly, however, and Mostert barged over from close quarters.

The rest of the half saw plenty of end-to-end action as both sides ran from all areas of the field but both sides battled to score further points.

Just before full-time, the Lions launched one last attack and Lionel Mapoe rounded off a flowing move which Jantjies converted to add the final nail to the Bulls’ coffin.

The scorers:

For Lions:
Tries:
Combrinck 2, Smith, Dreyer, Whiteley, Mostert, Mapoe
Cons: Jantjies 5
Pens: Jantjies 2

For Bulls:
Tries:
Serfontein, Kriel
Cons: Brummer 2

Thanks to

Sharks gets bonus point win over Sunwolves

0

The Sharks bounced back from last week’s shock defeat to the Kings with a 38-17 win over the Sunwolves in Singapore on Saturday.

The Sharks scored through a brilliant hat-trick from Lwazi Mvovo, Ruan Botha and Sbu Nkosi (2) while the Sunwolves’ tries came from Takeshi Hino and Shuhei Matsuhashi.

The Sunwolves were denied back-to-back home wins for the first time in their tenure in only the second ever meeting between the two sides.

Meanwhile, the Sharks consolidated second position on the Africa 2 standings and it is the first time in their Super Rugby history that they have won three games outside of South Africa in succession.

The Sharks played like a team hurting from last weekend and with a point to prove. Beware of the wounded animal, they say, and so it was proven true.

There was a spell in which they looked like they were going to run away with it but the Sunwolves showed character in the second half to pull it back.

However, a late surge from the Sharks ensured the scoreline slightly flattered the visitors.

Sharks full-back Mvovo gave his side the lead when he found space to burst over after just two minutes on the clock. Garth April added a superb conversion from out on the right touchline as the men from Durban took an early 7-0 lead.

From a lineout just inside the Sharks 22 the Sunwolves set up a maul from which the Sharks were penalised for offside.

The hosts took the penalty quickly and went out wide. They changed direction a few times, taking it through the phases before Hino barged over from close range. Fly-half Yu Tamura added the extras to level the scores.

However, the Sharks were soon in the lead by 14-7. After winning a scrum penalty in a kickable position, they opted to go for touch instead. They employed the driving maul and Botha went over. April added another difficult conversion, continuing to impress from the tee this season.

The Sharks turned defence into attack for their third try when Lukhanyo Am pounced on a loose Sunwolves pass to feed Nkosi who raced away to dot down for his first try of the season in the 33rd minute.

Sunwolves flank Matsuhashi got his side’s second try after excellent play from experienced scrum-half Fumiaki Tanaka who was aware of where the space was, putting Matsuhashi through the gap as he raced over to dot down. Tamura added the extras to bring it back to within seven at 21-14. Jumpei Ogura, on as a replacement for Tamura, then kicked a penalty to cut the deficit to four points.

Mvovo bagged his brace to put the game out of reach. It was an excellent try as Mvovo bashed three defenders out of his path on the way to the try-line after he received from Ettiene Oosthuizen who handed one off one defender before offloading to Mvovo.

From a lineout the Sharks went wide. Philip van der Walt couldn’t control the ball and it went backwards. Harumichi Tatekawa got the ball and passed to his outside but the ball was intercepted by Nkosi who had the pace to score his second.

Then from broken play Jean-Luc du Preez found space and gave a beautiful offload pass with a flick out the back of the hand to a onrushing Mvovo whose pace ensured he notched up his hat-trick in the last play of the game.

The scorers:

For Sunwolves:
Tries:
Hino, Matsuhashi
Cons: Tamura 2, Ogura
Yellow Card: Ogura

For Sharks:
Tries: Mvovo 3, Botha, Nkosi 2
Cons: April 3, Janse Van Rensburg

Thanks to

 

Highlanders to good for Force

0

The Highlanders recorded the biggest ever win in their Super Rugby history with 55-6 victory over the Force in Perth on Saturday.

The result represents their highest ever points total outside of New Zealand and means the Highlanders move within two points of the third-placed Chiefs in the New Zealand Conference.

The Highlanders are now on 41 points with the Chiefs and Hurricanes on 43 points but the latter leading because of a superior points difference.

Tries from Tevita Li, Patrick Osborne, Rob Thompson (2), Dillon Hunt, Richard Buckman and Aki Seiuli (2) for the Highlanders meant the Force missed a chance to jump to second on the Australia Conference.

It was a solid performance from the away side and shows their strength in depth as they left Aaron Smith, Waisake Naholo and a fit-again Lima Sopoaga out of the starting lineup.

It is their sixth win in a row against Australian opposition and the Aussie sides have still failed to win against a New Zealand outfit in Super Rugby this season.

The Highlanders have now made it eight wins in a row and are miles ahead of the competition along with the other New Zealand sides barring the Blues.

Li definitely looked as if he had something to prove and was keen to involve himself by coming off the right wing, enjoying a good game in place of the suspended Naholo.

Marty Banks, as usual, gave a masterclass in kicking from the tee while the Highlanders ran in seven tries to the Force’s nil.

It was a cagey opening twenty minutes as both sides kept it tight. A Banks penalty was the only real action of the first quarter.

But the Highlanders began to assert their dominance more and more. Good hands from Malakai Fekitoa and Matt Faddes created the space for Li on the right wing to dot down. Banks converted to make the score 10-0 in the Highlanders’ favour after 21 minutes.

After the Highlanders were punished for being offside, Force scrum-half Ian Prior added the three points from the tee.

Prior soon added another three to cut the deficit to four after his forwards won a morale-boosting scrum-penalty.

From an attacking scrum the Highlanders went for the try-line but Bill Meakes stole it on the ground for the Force. But in his attempt to get the ball away, his errant pass was pounced on by Seiuli who cruised over from close range and could barely believe his luck.

Semisi Masirewa was then sin-binned for a deliberate knockdown by referee Shuhei Kubo before the sides went into the interval with the Force 17-6 down.

Shortly after the interval, Osborne sold the Force defence with a dummy before showing searing pace to run through under the posts from his own try-line. Banks converted to make the score 24-6.

Richie Arnold was then given a yellow card for a shoulder charge on Banks long after the fly-half had passed the ball.

The Highlanders just kept getting over the advantage-line before Seiuli bumped off Force scrum-half Kayne Hammington to grab his second.

Li then turned provider when he sucked in three defenders out on the right by stepping inside and then produced a sublime basketball pass for Thompson to cruise through and dot down in the 60th minute. Banks added a wonderful conversion from out on the touchline to make it 38-6

Thompson then turned provider himself after scything through the Force defence and offloading for Hunt to cruise in under the posts.

The seventh Highlanders try came from a long pass from Bill Meakes that saw Richard Buckman intercept and run the distance to score. That was Meakes’ second intercept pass of the night.

The Highlanders had an attacking scrum in the Force 22 metre line in the final play of the game. The Force stole it and went wide but they dropped the ball and Rob Thompson pounced to score his second of the game.

The scorers:

For Force:
Pens: Prior 2
Yellow Cards: Masirewa, Arnold

For Highlanders:
Tries: Li, Seiuli 2, Osborne, Thompson 2, Hunt, Buckman
Cons: Banks 5
Pen: Banks

Thanks to 

Hurricanes put 60 past Cheetahs

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The Cheetahs crushed to another huge defeat when the Hurricanes bet them 61-7 on Saturday

The Cheetahs hold the Hurricanes well in the first 15 minutes but after trying to play within their own twenty-two the Hurricanes got over for their first try.

It took not long for them to speed up the game and scored their second try when they found the holes in the Cheetahs defence.

This gave them a 14-0 lead after 20 min.

The Cheetahs did hit back midway through the first half with a try of their own to get on the board and make the lead of the Hurricanes only 14-7.

With both teams trying to run the ball the Hurricanes had the better of the possession and scored their third try on the stroke of halftime to take a 21-7 lead at the break

The Hurricanes just dominated play in the second half and run in three quick tries as the Cheetahs defence were being stretch with one man less on the field.

This gave the Hurricanes a 42-7 lead after 60 min.

Although the Cheetahs tried as they could on attack their defence was yet again just not good enough and they let through more tries to give the Hurricanes a 61-7 win.

The scorers:

For Hurricanes:
Tries: Fifita, Aso 3, Savea, Perenara, Lam, Apisai
Cons: Barrett 5, Black 3

For Cheetahs:
Try: Zeilinga
Con: Zeilinga
Yellow Card: Hugget

Stormers fight back to win against Blues

3

Stormers came back to put a gutsy performance in the second half to win the game against the Blues on Friday 30-22

With both team gunning for a win the game started a bit slow and not one team really taking control.

It was the Stormers who scored the first points through a penalty to take a lead of 3-0 after 4 min. They had the territory for the better part of the 10 minutes but could not get passed the Blues defence.

The Blues also lost a player with a yellow card after giving too many penalties away in their own twenty-two but kept the Stormers out.

Good decision making gave the Blues better control of the game and started to play in the right areas of the field.

The game then made a full 180 with Eben Etzebeth being stupid and pushing players after the whistle which earned him a yellow card.

This allowed the Blues and extra man and they took full advantage and scored two tries while Etzebeth were off the field to take a lead of 12-3 after 36 min

The Stormers did get back into the game when Etzebeth returned and were able to score a their first try just as the hooter sounded for halftime.

This made the halftime score 12-10 for the Blues with both teams having to come out much better than what they have produced in the first half.

The Blues started well and quickly moved back into the Stormers half as they easily got over for their third try of the match.

This gave them a 19-10 lead.

With the Stormers with more ball in hand they got to the Blues twenty-two and kept them pinned down there. They finally got over after a kick penalty from Leyds.

This gave the Stormers a 20-19 lead.

Diffie then dived on Kolbe while he was on the ground with his knees and got his second yellow card which then made it a red.

This gave the Blues fourteen players for the rest of the game and still chasing the game.

We then had some more controversy with referee Van Heerden awarding a try to the Stormers with the help of his TMO. De Allende clearly had a double movement before Notshe went from his knees to score the try.

This gave the Stormers a 27-19 lead with 10 minutes to go

The Blues did hit back with a penalty to make the score 27-22 with 7 minutes to go.

The Stormers with an extra man made the most of the ball and kept the pressure on the Blues to take a hard-fought win of 30-22.

Stormers

Tries: Siya Kolisi, Dillyn Leyds, Sikhumbuzo Notshe

Conversions: SP Marais (3)

Penalties: SP Marais (3)

Blues

Tries: George Moala, James Parsons, Blake Gibson

Conversions: Piers Francis (2)

Penalty: Bryn Gatland

Sader still unbeaten after win over Chiefs

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The Crusaders have kept their unbeaten record in tack after beating the Ciefs in Fiji on Friday with 31-24.

It was again a great performance from the Super Rugby leaders as they showed again their dominance in the competition this year. The Chiefs had their changes but at the end of the game two poor lineouts stop them from stealing a draw out of the match.

The Chiefs led at the break with 17-13 which was a closely contested match as we expected between these to top teams in the competition.

With the late withdraw of Matt Todd the Crusaders scored three tries through Bedwell-Curtis, Havili and Funnel while they added two conversions and four penalties through the boot of  Mo’unga.

The Chiefs replied with four tries of their own with Nnai-Williams, Lowe, Hames and Cruden going over the whitewash. Cruden boot let him down on the night and his general play was not as good as we used to and maybe the difference.

With this win the Crusaders took another four points on the log and 11 points clear of the second place New Zealand team.

The scorers:

For Chiefs:
Tries: Nanai-Williams, Lowe, Hames, Cruden
Cons: Cruden 2, McKenzie

For Crusaders:
Tries: Bedwell-Curtis, Havili, Funnell
Cons: Mo’unga 2
Pens: Mo’unga 4

Preview Vodacom Super Rugby Week 13

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Week 12 was all but boring and we saw some great games and not so much. The standout match must be the Kings v Sharks match on Saturday when the the Southern Kings got their first ever win over an South African team in Super Rugby.

They not just beat the Sharks but also outscored them with 4 tries to two. The Sharks have serious problems blowing hot and hot cold all year long so far but what would have been worrying was the fact that the much smaller pack of forwards from the Kings bullied the Sharks and dominated the set pieces.

The Lions ended their three week tour in Australia with yet another win and is back at home this week against the struggling Bulls. Struggling is maybe putting it lightly as we saw another poor performance from the Bulls against the Highlanders. When last did we saw a Bulls side that cannot play Bulls rugby at Loftus in the rain.

Interesting week lies ahead for us as we move into week 13, lucky for some and not so lucky for others maybe….

Here is a look at the logs after week 12…..

PosTeamPWLDPts
1118120
298100
311000
4126600
585120
PosTeamPWLDPts
1118120
298100
311000
4126600
585120

This is what we have coming up this weekend in Week 13…..

Friday 19 May 2017

09:36 Chiefs v Crusaders Follow the match live here

19:00 Stormers v Blues Follow the match live here

Saturday 20 May 2017

09:35 Hurricanes v Cheetahs Follow the match live here

11:45 Force v Highlanders Follow the match live here

13:55 Sunwolves v Sharks Follow the match live here

17:00 Lions v Bulls Follow the match live here

19:00 Kings v Brumbies Follow the match live here

Sunday 21 May 2017

08:05 Waratahs v Rebels Follow the match live here

 

The Crusaders and the Chiefs have moved the battlefield to Fiji for this weekend’s important New Zealand derby and it will be one that we are all look forward to.

The Crusaders have been unstoppable this year so far and even the much talented Hurricanes team could not break the winning streak the Crusaders are on right now last week. The Chiefs, off course asked totally new questions and will be a different bunch the Crusaders will have to contend with if they want to stay unbeaten.

They do have their captain back for this match as Whitelock return after his suspension and replace injured Barrett. Whitelock is a huge return for the team not just for his captaincy but also his great form he has been in this year.

Fijian-born uncle and nephew, Seta Tamanivalu and Manasa Mataele, storming down the wing will no doubt be something that the local fans will be looking forward to, with Mataele set to come off the bench in the second-half. In other changes Drummond and Hall are rotated for the match as well.

The Chiefs will welcome back Cruden which makes this a brilliant lineup to face the Crusaders. Although Rennie have made five changes from the team that defeated the Reds in Round 11, this is one of the best possible teams he could have picked against the Crusaders.

Nathan Harris making his first start of the year at hooker. 25-year-old Harris, who re-signed this week with the Chiefs until 2019, made a welcome return to Super Rugby two weeks ago following a long injury layoff.

There are four changes to the backs with co-captain Aaron Cruden returning to start at fly-half. Anton Lienert-Brown, who also re-signed with the Chiefs this week, moves to inside centre from 13. Sam McNicol is promoted from the bench to start in jersey 13 and Tim Nanai-Williams has fully recovered from a shoulder injury sustained against the Hurricanes in Round 3 to start on the right wing.

This will be yet another big New Zealand clash and one we hope will live up to expectations.

Previous Matches…..

 

Prediction: I will stay on the Saders train at the moment as I think they are just too good for any other team at the moment, Saders by 9

Teams:

Chiefs: 15 Damian McKenzie, 14 Tim Nanai-Williams, 13 Sam McNicol, 12 Anton Lienert-Brown, 11 James Lowe, 10 Aaron Cruden (cc), 9 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 8 Michael Leitch, 7 Sam Cane (cc), 6 Mitchell Brown, 5 Brodie Retallick, 4 Dominic Bird, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Nathan Harris, 1 Kane Hames

Replacements: 16 Hika Elliot, 17 Siegfried Fisi’ihoi, 18 Atu Moli, 19 Taleni Seu, 20 Liam Messam, 21 Jonathan Taumateine, 22 Stephen Donald, 23 Shaun Stevenson

Crusaders: 1. Joe Moody, 2. Codie Taylor, 3. Owen Franks, 4. Luke Romano, 5. Sam Whitelock (C), 6. Pete Samu, 7. Matt Todd (VC), 8. Jordan Taufua, 9. Bryn Hall, 10. Richie Mo’unga, 11. George Bridge, 12. Ryan Crotty (VC),13. Jack Goodhue, 14. Seta Tamanivalu
15. David Havili

Replacements: 16. Ben Funnell, 17. Wyatt Crockett, 18. Michael Alaalatoa, 19. Quinten Strange, 20. Heiden Bedwell-Curtis, 21. Mitchell Drummond, 22. Mitchell Hunt, 23. Manasa Mataele

Follow the match live here

 

 

The Stormers return to action this week at home against the Blues at Newlands after a bye week.

The last couple of weeks have been difficult for Stormers fans as they have now lost four matches in a row starting with the home lost to the Lions a month ago. It was not pretty for the Stormers with their tour to New Zealand as they lost all three matches and got over 150 points against them in the three matches on tour.

This was in contrast to the great start the Stormers had to this years Super Rugby tournament winning all their games up to then. Robbie Fleck had to content with a few injury problems and could not once pick the same backline for two matches in a row. This can maybe be the reason for their poor defensive record but surely not an excuse as Super Rugby is not just about the fifteen on the field but the whole squad.

Defence have been the Stormers biggest problem letting teams scoring too many tries against them. The Blues is a difficult team to plan against as they are much like the French of old, you never know which Blues side will pitch up on the day.

The Blues are the last of the New Zealand teams the Stormers will face in the group stages and need to come back with a win after their disastrous tour.

Coach Fleck had to change up his backline yet again with Leyds starting in the number ten jersey. Some will see this as a huge gamble but Leyds are one of the quality players in South African rugby these days and did play in this position at school. It is not ideal but one never know if you are discovering a star in cases like this.

The Stormers also welcome back Etzebeth and Du Toit upfront which will give their pack a huge boost against the Blues. This week also see the return of Springbok prop Frans Malherbe to the starting lineup with Oli Kebble also getting a start.

At the back, Senatla will be starting on the wing after an injury layoff with experience De Allende on the bench.

DHL Stormers Head Coach Robbie Fleck said that having a number of senior players back in the fold since returning from injury has been a big boost this week.

It is great to have all of these players back in the mix and the players are determined to lift our game following the bye week. We have prepared well for this game and want to make the most of the opportunity to play in front of our fans at DHL Newlands again,” he said.

The Blues will welcome back All Black star Sonny Bill Williams this week at Newlands. Williams missed lats weeks match due to concussion and were cleared by the medical team to play this week against the Stormers.

Fellow All Black Ofa Tu’ungafasi gets his second start of the season after his man-of-the-match performance coming on for the injured Pauliasi Manu in the win over the Cheetahs at Eden Park last weekend.

The only other change from the starting line-up that beat the Cheetahs sees Gerard Cowley-Tuioti return to partner fellow in-form lock Scott Scrafton with All Black Patrick Tuipulotu to add real thrust off the bench.

Previous Matches

Prediction: I a m a bit down the middle here as the Stormers are playing at home but their form is not good at the moment, for that reason Blues by 9 points

Teams:

DHL Stormers: 15 SP Marais, 14 Cheslin Kolbe, 13 EW Viljoen, 12 Shaun Treeby, 11 Seabelo Senatla, 10 Dillyn Leyds, 9 Dewaldt Duvenage, 8 Nizaam Carr, 7 Siya Kolisi (captain), 6 Kobus van Dyk, 5 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 4 Eben Etzebeth (vice-captain), 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Oli Kebble.

Replacements: 16 Ramone Samuels, 17 Ali Vermaak, 18 Wilco Louw, 19 Jan de Klerk, 20 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 21 Jano Vermaak, 22 Brandon Thomson, 23 Damian de Allende.

Blues: 15 Melani Nanai, 14 Matt Duffie, 13 George Moala, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Rieko Ioane, 10 Piers Francis, 9 Augustine Pulu, 8 Akira Ioane, 7 Blake Gibson, 6 Steven Luatua, 5 Scott Scrafton, 4 Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 3 Charlie Faumuina, 2 James Parsons (captain), 1 Ofa Tu’ungafasi

Replacements: 16 Hame Faiva, 17 Alex Hodgman, 18 Sione Mafileo, 19 Patrick Tuipulotu, 20 Kara Pryor, 21 Sam Nock, 22 Bryn Gatland, 23 Michael Collins

Follow the match live here

 

The Cheetahs are seemingly following the footsteps of the Stormers on their New Zealand tour and will have to face the Hurricanes this weekend which could result in another huge loss.

With the fun and run attitude that the Cheetahs have stick to this year we can expect a high scoring game but defensively one has to think that the Cheetahs will yet again get a hammering against last years Champions.

Quality is all around when it comes to the Hurricanes team and the lost last weekend will not sit nicely with them so we can expect a huge performance from the Hurricanes as they chase for a play-off spot. It is very difficult for New Zealand franchises as their are only three spots available for them if they have enough log points.

Winning against other than New Zealand teams is a must for those who want that play-off spot and the Hurricanes will be very difficult to beat at home with a struggling Cheetahs side trying to cause an upset.

The Cheetahs have had some moments this year and came close in winning matches against New Zealand teams but they always fade away in the second half and their defence was never good enough to handle the onslaught the New Zealand teams have in the second forty of matches.

The Cheetahs are scoring tries but given twice as many away and that seems to be the trend they live by this year.

For the Hurricanes we see Beauden Barrett starting at fullback this weekend with Black coming in at the number ten jumper in a reshuffled Hurricanes side.

The coach has made four changes to his team that started against the Crusaders last week which also see lock Sam Lousi set to make his starting debut in the second row.

Black will make his second start of the season in the No.10 jersey, Wes Goosen replaces Cory Jane on the right wing, and Ben May returns at loose head prop for Chris Eves.

Jordie  Barrett will have a well-earned spell on the bench in his first season of Super Rugby. Jordie Barrett has appeared in every match in 2017 and started the past seven.

With a tough tour to South Africa and Perth coming up, Boyd said it was important to manage some of his player’s workloads. “We have some guys who have shouldered a particularly big load through the first ten matches, and other guys who, through injury have not had a lot of time.”

The Cheetahs are a particularly dangerous team that can score tries from anywhere and also have a big forward pack up front. We know they will bring a lot to the match.”

In fact, the Cheetahs have averaged 31 points in their past three matches against the Crusaders, Highlanders and Blues.

Cheetahs coach Franco Smith has made several changes to the team that went down 50-32 against the Blues in Auckland last week.

In the front row, Ox Nche replaces Charles Marais at loosehead prop, Elandre Huggett comes in at hooker for Torsten van Jaarsveld and Johan Coetzee replaces Tom Botha at tighthead.

In the second row, Carl Wegner will wear the No 5 jersey, with Armandt Koster at No 4 as Francois Uys drops down to the bench.

In the loose trio, Uzair Cassiem replaces Niell Jordaan at flank.

In the backline, Shaun Venter starts at scrumhalf in place of Tian Meyer, while Clinton Swart starts at inside centre in place of William Small-Smith.

Ruan van Rensburg will be providing backline cover on the bench.

Previous Matches 

Predictions: Cannot see the Cheetahs upset here…Hurricanes to win by +20 points

Teams: 

Hurricanes: 15 Beauden Barrett, 14 Wes Goosen, 13 Vince Aso, 12 Ngani Laumape, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Otere Black, 9 TJ Perenara (c), 8 Brad Shields, 7 Ardie Savea, 6 Reed Prinsep, 5 Vaea Fifita, 4 Sam Lousi, 3 Jeff To’omaga-Allen, 2 Ricky Riccitelli, 1 Ben May

Replacements: 16 Leni Apisai, 17 Mike Kainga, 18 Loni Uhila, 19 Mark Abbott, 20 Callum Gibbins, 21 Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, 22 Jordie Barrett, 23 Ben Lam

Cheetahs: 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Francois Venter (captain), 12 Clinton Swart, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Fred Zeilinga, 9 Shaun Venter, 8 Henco Venter, 7 Oupa Mohoje, 6 Uzair Cassiem, 5 Carl Wegner, 4 Armandt Koster, 3 Johan Coetzee, 2 Elandre Huggett, 1 Ox Nche

Replacements: 16 Torsten van Jaarsveld, 17 Charles Marais, 18 Tom Botha, 19 Francois Uys, 20 Niell Jordaan, 21 Tian Meyer, 22 Niel Marais, 23 Ruan van Rensburg

Follow the match live here

This should be a very interesting match-up come Saturday when the Force host the Highlanders as both teams come to Perth from touring the Republic and the Force making a stopover in Argentina last weekend.

The Force have been the lonely star for me in a struggling Aussie conference  this year although their log position does not show it. They have played some exciting rugby and they were the one Aussie team that have not stop trying to improve every week.

On the other side we have the Highlanders who is coming of two close wins from the Republic and have not really shown us the class that made them champions a few years ago. They are still in the running for a play-off spot but they have been a up and down side this year with indifferent performances.

Playing at Perth will assist the Force and the much unexpected win last week against the Jaguares in Argentina will help allot for the Aussie side. They have lost some close matches this year and could have easily have been on the other side of a few results.

They have been a very hard nut to crack in Perth this year and we can expect he great match between the two sides.

The Highlanders have played some strange game plans this year but most of the times had the means to get a win. They will take this game very serious as one to get more points on the road.

The Force expect a blue sea of supporters as they return home. Tatafu Polota-Nau returns as the starting hooker after missing the Jaguares match last week while Jermaine Ainsley will start at tighthead prop after recovering from an elbow injury he suffered against the Crusaders in Round 5.

Brynard Stander is the only change in the back row, as the ferocious ball runner is set to start at openside flank.

Veteran Peter Grant will start at flyhalf after an impressive performance in Buenos Aires last week while Jono Lance will miss the game with an injured hand.

Inside centre Bill Meakes will captain the side for the first time and becomes the 12th player to do so, as he lines up next to centre partner Curtis Rona.

In the back three, Luke Morahan returns from a fractured cheekbone and will start at fullback.

Previous Matches 

Prediction: I am going for an upset here and Force to win by 10 points

Teams:

Force: 15 Luke Morahan, 14 Semisi Masirewa, 13 Curtis Rona, 12 Bill Meakes (c), 11 Alex Newsome, 10 Peter Grant, 9 Ian Prior, 8 Richard Hardwick, 7 Brynard Stander, 6 Ross Haylett-Petty, 5 Adam Coleman, 4 Richie Arnold, 3 Jermaine Ainsley, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 Pek Cowan
Replacements: 16 Anaru Rangi, 17 Francois van Wyk, 18 Tetera Faulkner, 19 Matt Philip, 20 Lewis Carmichael, 21 Isireli Naisarani, 22 Michael Ruru, 23 James Verity-Amm

Highlanders: 15 Matt Faddes, 14 Patrick Osborne, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Richard Buckman, 11 Tevita Li, 10 Marty Banks, 9 Kayne Hammington, 8 Elliot Dixon (c), 7 Dillon Hunt, 6 Gareth Evans, 5 Tom Franklin, 4 Alex Ainley, 3 Siate Tokolahi, 2 Liam Coltman, 1 Daniel Lienert-Brown
Replacements: 16 Ash Dixon, 17 Aki Seiuli, 18 Guy Millar, 19 Joe Wheeler, 20 Jackson Hemopo, 21 Aaron Smith, 22 Lima Sopoaga, 23 Rob Thompson

Follow the match live here

 

It was not a good week for Sharks fans or the players as they had to except the lost against the Kings from last week with many fans pretty upset in the way the Sharks have played not just last week but this season so far.

Games they supposed to win big they do not win or scrap through and there was even a draw. Stories coming out pf the Sharks camp also suggest the players mindset is not right almost as if the change room have been lost by management.

Well the only way this can be fixed is to get back on the horse and start winning and this week the Sharks have to do it against the Sunwolves in Singapore.

Are they beatable? Yes they are but they are no longer just a pushover as they have shown this year throughout the season and one feels it is just that they can not last the full 80 minutes that is preventing them from a few more upsets.

They will not be an easy team to face in Singapore and the Sharks will have to bring their A-game if they do not want to be involved in another upset this year.

Robert du Preez had made a few changes to the team with some of them being for injuries. The first name missing from this Sharks team is Springbok Pat Lambie who are again on the sideline after yet another bump to the head.

That means that April will start the game at flyhalf with Reinach partnering up with him. Upfront the coach have picked Thomas du Toit for Beast Mtawarira, Chiliboy Ralepelle and Franco Marais swap jerseys and Lourens Adriaanse replaces Coenie Oosthuizen, who has been rested in line with the Springbok rest protocol.

Stephan Lewies comes in for Etienne Oosthuizen in the second row in the final change to the pack, with the loose forward trio of captain Philip van der Walt and the Du Preez twins, Jean-Luc and Daniel, remaining intact for this match.

With an unfortunate injury toll hitting the backline, there are a number of changes made for this week.

Fullback Rhyno Smith (pectoral muscle tear), centre Jeremy Ward (broken nose) and Pat Lambie (concussion symptoms) have all been replaced.

Johan Deysel takes over at inside centre for Ward and Lwazi Mvovo has be moved from wing to fullback to accommodate the loss of Smith.

This opens the door for S’busiso Nkosi to start his second match for the Sharks after making his debut two weeks ago against the Western Force at Kings Park.

This match also marks the starting debut for centre Johan Deysel who has represented the Sharks off the bench previously, but now gains selection into the starting XV.

Prediction: The Sharks should take this game but the way they have been playing anything can happen, still have it for Sharks with 20 points.

Teams:

Sunwolves

15 Kotaro Matsushima, 14 Shota Emi, 13 Ryohei Yamanaka, 12 Harumichi Tatekawa (captain), 11 Kenki Fukuoka, 10 Yu Tamura, 9 Fumiaki Tanaka, 8 Willem Britz, 7 Shuhei Matsuhashi, 6 Yoshitaka Tokunaga, 5 Noahiro Kotaki, 4 Sam Wykes, 3 Yasuo Yamaji, 2 Shota Horie, 1 Keita Inagaki

Substitutes: 16 Takeshi Hino, 17 Masataka Mikami, 18 Takuma Asahara, 19 Hitoshi Ono, 20 Rahboni Warren Vosayaco, 21 Keisuka Uchidam 22 Jumpei Ogura, 23 Yasutaka Sasakura

Sharks

15 Lwazi Mvovo, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Johan Deysel, 11 S’busiso Nkosi, 10 Garth April, 9 Cobus Reinach, 8 Daniel du Preez, 7 Jean-Luc du Preez, 6 Philip van der Walt (captain), 5 Stephan Lewies, 4 Ruan Botha, 3 Lourens Adriaanse, 2 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 1 Thomas du Toit

Substitutes: 16 Franco Marais, 17 Tendai Mtawarira, 18 John-Hubert Meyer, 19 Etienne Oosthuizen, 20 Tera Mtembu, 21 Rowan Gouws, 22 Benhard Janse van Rensburg, 23 S’bura Sithole

Follow the match live here

 

The big one from a South African perspective will be our Saturday afternoon match between the Lions and the Bulls. Be sure that it does not matter how good or bad any of these two teams are it is always a great spectacle one way or the other.

The Bulls have been struggling all season long and they were just not able to pick them up this season yet. Just as you think they are turning the wheel they come back the next weekend and put a poor performance together.

One of the biggest problems identified for the Bulls this season is their forward pack who has not lived up to the expectations. The question then need to be asked if they are just poor or are they poorly coached?

If one look at the names like De Jager, Strauss, Trevor, Jenkins, Liebenberg, Kirsten and Gqoboka you tend to lean to the fact that this team is just poorly coached. Hard words to say with a coach like Nollis but there can be no excuses for the poor performances anymore this yer.

Coming up against the best South African side is not going to be easy to turn things around and more so when they have to travel to Johannesburg on Saturday.

Nollis have made some changes to the team with Maxwane who will get a change on the wing. Jan Serfontein and Francois Brummer will start with Kriel going to fullback. The only change upfront is Lood De Jager coming in for RG Snyman

The Lions have named their strongest side for the clash with the only changes coming to the front row as Van Rooyen, Marx and Dreyer comes in to start the match. On the bench Faf de Klerk will warn the seat as Ross Cronje will start the match.

This will be a massive clash between these two side and one can expect a great spectacle

Previous Matches 

Prediction: The battle will be great but at the end the Lions will run away with this, Lions by 20 plus points

Teams:

Lions

15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Sylvian Mahuza, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Harold Vorster, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Ross Cronje, 8 Warren Whiteley (captain), 7 Ruan Ackermann, 6 Kwagga Smith, 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Andries Ferreira, 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Jacques van Rooyen

Substitutes: 16 Akker van der Merwe, 17 Corne Fourie, 18 Johannes Jonker, 19 Lourens Erasmus, 20 Cyle Brink, 21 Faf de Klerk, 22 Jacques Nel, 23 Anthony Volmink

Bulls

15 Jesse Kriel, 14 Jade Stighling, 13 Jan Serfontein, 12 Burger Odendaal, 11 Sibahle Maxwane, 10 Francois Brummer, 9 Rudy Paige, 8 Hanro Liebenberg (captain), 7 Jannes Kirsten, 6 Ruan Steenkamp, 5 Lood de Jager, 4 Jason Jenkins, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Jaco Visagie, 1 Lizo Gqoboka

Substitutes: 16 Edgar Marutlulle, 17 Pierre Schoeman, 18 Coenraad van Vuuren, 19 Abongile Nonkontwana, 20 Nic de Jager, 21 Ivan van Zyl, 22 Tony Jantjies, 23 Warrick Gelant

Follow the match live here

Definitely one of the teams that have gained a huge number of supporters not just because of  three great wins for the Kings in the last couple of weeks but more the way they have played and there attitude towards it.

Even with the ax hanging over their heads for next years Super Rugby this team from Davids have shown more heart than almost all the South African teams this year.

They almost remind one of the Lions a few years back when nobody gave them any change but they stick to their plan and develop as a team and as players.

Allot has been said this week about coach Davids and his management team but at the end the players must get the biggest credit as they still have to take that to the field which they did.

This week will be another big asked for the Kings as they come up against the log leaders from Australia, the Brumbies. The Brumbies have quality written all over their side but have been under performing this year and are struggling to get those wins.

Coming to PE will not be easy for them and they will face a team on a high and a crowd that have been growing with each game. The crowd last week let me think back to the old EP games at the Boet Erasmus stadium and it was never an easy hunting ground for visiting teams.

Coach Davids was forced to make changes to his team with Cloete and Banda not available for this game. Wilhelm van der Sluys also withdrew with a groin injury.

This made way for Stefan Willemse, who has been on the bench for the Southern Kings’ last two matches who will wear the No 6 jersey as a replacement for Cloete, while Namibian international Chrysander Botha will start at fullback in Banda’s place.

Lubabalo Mtyanda will don the No 5 jersey as a replacement for Van der Sluys.

Mzwanele Zito will slot in on the bench as lock cover, while Thembelani Bholi makes a return to the team as loose-forward cover.

I think we had a good week, but unfortunately we lost a bit of continuity with some of our players out with injury. However, I am happy for the guys that will now get an opportunity, and they are quite eager to get this chance. It is up to them to show that they can step up,” Davids said.

Cloete’s performances speak for themselves – he is a quality player. It will be difficult to get the exact same performance from any other player, but different players bring different attributes. In this case, Stefan Willemse, combining with Andy (Andisa Ntsila) will bring something different.”

Van der Sluys has been a key man for us in the lineout. We have used Tyler Paul there before and also Giant (Lubabalo Mtyanda) is an experienced guy. I don’t think there will be too many distractions, I think they can pull it off.

Previous Matches

Predictions: One would like to think with the heart and not the brain here, so on paper the Brumbies should win this one but the Kings have been so great this year…mmhh still going with Kings by 6 points

Teams:

Kings: 15 Chrysander Botha, 14 Alshaun Bock, 13 Berton Klaasen, 12 Luzuko Vulindlu, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Lionel Cronje (captain), 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Andisa Ntsila, 7 Tyler Paul, 6 Stefan Willemse, 5 Lubabalo Mtyanda, 4 Irne Herbst, 3 Ross Geldenhuys, 2 Martin Bezuidenhout, 1 Schalk van der Merwe

Replacements: 16 Kurt Haupt, 17 Chris Heiberg, 18 Dayan van der Westhuizen, 19 Mzwanele Zito, 20 Thembelani Bholi, 21 Johan Steyn, 22 Pieter-Steyn de Wet, 23 Stokkies Hanekom

Brumbies: 15 Tom Banks, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Kyle Godwin, 11 Aidan Toua, 10 Wharenui Hawera, 9 Joe Powell, 8 Jordan Smiler, 7 Chris Alcock, 6 Scott Fardy, 5 Sam Carter (c), 4 Rory Arnold, 3 Allan Alaalatoa, 2 Josh Mann-rea, 1 Ben Alexander
Replacements: 16 Robbie Abel, 17 Nic Mayhew, 18 Leslie Leulua’iali’i-makin, 19 Blake Enever, 20 Jarrad Butler, 21 De Wet Roos, 22 Andrew Muirhead, 23 Andrew Smith

Follow the match live here

more to follow…..

Follow the match live here

 

Force beat poor Jaguares

0

The Force picked up only their third victory of the season on Saturday as they shocked the Jaguares, winning 16-6 at Vélez Sarsfield.

Victory remarkably gives the Force renewed hope in the Australian Conference as they are now six points off the pace-setting Brumbies.

Tries came from wing Alex Newsome and replacement lock Isireli Naisarani while Ian Prior kicked two penalties to beat a poor Jaguares.

After last week’s 46-39 win over the Sunwolves, to witness a first-half that saw just three points scored was a shock in Buenos Aires.

Those points came via a Prior penalty as the Force held their own against an international-filled home side, who made too many mistakes.

The Jaguares did look to flex their muscles early on with a line-out drive but good defensive work from the Force foiled their first attempt.

The Force then grew into the game, taking an attacking scrum five metres out. However number eight Richard Hardwick fumbled over the line, much to his dismay, as this time it was the Jaguares who dodged a bullet. So with 20 minutes gone there was still no score to speak of.

A yellow card for Force lock Richie Arnold for tackling Batista Ezcurra early – coming after Tomás Lezana’s strong run – hinted that the drought might be nearing its end for the Jaguares. But again the line-out drive didn’t work and the Force repelled them with somewhat ease.

In fact the Australians would go down to the other end of the field and nail a penalty after a ruck offence on 36 minutes, making it 3-0, before Jaguares full-back Joaquín Tuculet came close to scoring a try on the left wing in the last play but for centre Curtis Rona’s fine tackle.

The second 40 began in controversial fashion as half-time replacement James Verity-Amm, who came on for Lance, was denied a try after referee Ben O’Keefe adjudged Tetera Faulkner to have blocked Tuculet as he was attempting to regather his own kick earlier in the play.

Undeterred the Force almost crossed again three minutes later when Hardwick went close, being tackled and then held up over the line.

The Jaguares responded and finally put points to their name on 49 minutes after a high shot on Martín Landajo led to Hernández kicking a penalty. Prior was unable to chalk that off soon after from wide out, after Jaguares tighthead prop Ramiro Herrera was penalised for a push.

Force scrum-half Prior was successful, however, on the hour as a powerful scrum on the Jaguares ten-metre saw him make no mistake for 6-3. This time though it was the turn over the Jaguares to try and respond soon after and Hernández had a simple effort to make it 6-6.

With time ticking on it seemed the clash was set to remain try-less, but that prospect ended on 68 minutes when a smart break from Prior led to him offloading to Newsome who finished well on the right wing. Prior missed the conversion attempt so it was only an 11-6 cushion.

But the result was sealed on 75 minutes when replacement lock Naisarani forced his way over to make it 16-6, which was how it remained.

The scorers:

For Jaguares:
Pens: Hernández 2

For Force:
Tries: Newsome, Naisarani
Pens: Prior 2
Yellow Card: Arnold

Brilliant Kings beat Sharks

1

The Southern Kings did the impossible and beat the Sharks in a great game of rugby outscoring them with 4 tries to two as well. The final score was 35-32 at the end.

It was the perfect start for the Kings as they were controlling the game in the first ten minutes of the match and first up succeeding with a long-range penalty.

They kept the pressure on the Sharks and speed up the game with Bock at the right end of a perfect cross kick from Cronje to score the first try and a lead f 8-0.

The Sharks then had the ball in hand and kept the Kings pinned in their own twenty-two and was rewarded with a penalty which Lambie kicked over for their first points.

Both teams tried to play in the others half and it was the Sharks who forced yet another penalty which Lambie kicked over to make the lead only 8-6 to the Kings.

The Sharks kept the Kings in their own half and from a lineout Daniel Du Preez used his strength to go over for the Sharks first try and the lead of 13-8 after 24 min.

With minutes to go in the first half the Kings produced some magic with a great break from Bock again who send Cronje over for their second try and the lead of 18-16.

The Sharks got a double whammy with Smith also being send off with a yellow card for a high dangerous tackle on Cronje while he went over to score the try.

That gave the Kings the lead of 18-16 going into the break.

The Kings had the perfect start to the second half with Bock once again running down the touchline to score his second 0of the match and extend the lead of the Kings to 25-16.

The game was on a knife edge with both teams going at each other and a yellow card for the Kings gave the Sharks their first points in the second half with a penalty from April.

The Sharks kept the pressure on the Kings with one man down and score a brilliant team try to take the lead 26-25 after 59 min.

The Kings hit back with a penalty to retake the lead 28-26 with the Sharks very lucky not to have lost April for the side meters out from Sharks line

The Sharks got the lead back with another penalty 29-28.

The Kings was not finished and scored a brilliant try with a minute to go to take the lead 35-32. They hold their nerves and won the game and well deserved as well.

Scorers:

Kings – Tries: Alshaun Bock (2), Lionel Cronjé, Pieter-Steyn de Wet. Conversions: Lionel Cronjé (3). Penalties: Lionel Cronjé (2). Drop goal: Cronjé.
Sharks – Tries: Daniel du Preez, Lwazi Mvovo. Conversions: Pat Lambie, Garth April. Penalties: Lambie (2), April (3).

Highlanders win scrappy game against Bulls

0

The Highlanders won a scrappy game against the Bulls on Saturday with 17-10.

The weather did not play its part on Saturday at Loftus but then again neither teams showed any class as well.

It was much of a ‘kick and pray” tactic from both teams but neither really had a plan with these kicks. Handling errors was in the order of the day and poor decision making when on attack and did actually not kicked.

The Bulls was first on the board with and easy penalty but it was the Highlanders that scored the first try through a kick which the Bulls could not control.

They quickly added to the try with a penalty which was the halftime score 0f 10-3/

The second half started much of the same as the first with both teams just kicking the ball at every opportunity and hope the other one make a mistake.

The Bulls scored their first try after the Highlanders could not control a kick from the Bulls to make the scores 10 all after 50 min.

The was turned around a bit when Naholo got a red card for a late shoulder against the head which gave the Bulls a motivation.

Change at nine with Paige coming in also gave the Bulls better forward ball and momentum.

The Bulls then did the same with Snyman going in with the shoulder against a Highlanders head and got a red card.

The Highlanders then stole a Bulls lineout and scored a seven pointer to take the lead 17-10 after 77 min.

That is also how the game ended.

The scorers:

For Bulls:
Try: Gelant
Con: Schoeman
Pen: Schoeman

For Highlanders:
Tries: Faddes, Fekitoa
Cons: Smith, Banks
Pen: Smith
Red card: Naholo

Reds beat Rebels

0

The Reds claimed their third victory of the Super Rugby season on Saturday as they beat the Rebels 29-24 in an entertaining derby in Melbourne.

Tries for the Reds from Samu Kerevi, Eto Nabuli and Stephen Moore were countered by three Reece Hodge penalties which gave the visitors a 17-9 lead at the interval.

The win moves the Reds into second position on the Australian Conference table, two points ahead of the Waratahs who have played one match less.

Although the Rebels should be commended for launching a superb second-half fightback, the men from Brisbane were the more enterprising side and eventually outscored their hosts by five tries to two with Kerevi sealing their win with his second try in the game’s closing stages.

The Rebels opened the scoring as early as the second minute via a Hodge penalty after George Smith infringed at a ruck but the visitors struck back with Kerevi’s try shortly afterwards.

This, after Quade Cooper got a long pass out to Eto Nabuli deep inside the Rebels’ 22 and the flyer did well to throw an inside pass to his captain who got over the whitewash untouched.

Cooper failed with the conversion attempt and five minutes later Hodge slotted his second penalty which meant the Rebels led 6-5 after 10 minutes.

The Reds suffered a setback midway through the half when Karmichael Hunt was sent to the sin bin for slowing the ball down cynically at a ruck close to his side’s try-line.

But despite being reduced to 14 men, they continued to attack and they were rewarded in the 26th minute when Nabuli dotted down after Smith, Cooper and Scott Higginbotham laid the foundation in the build-up.

Cooper added the extras and two minutes before half-time, Moore crossed for the visitors’ third try from the back of a driving maul deep inside the Rebels’ 22.

On the stroke of half-time, Hodge landed his third penalty which meant the Rebels were still very much in the game although they were trailing by eight points on the scoreboard.

Three minutes into the second half, Hodge added his fourth penalty after Smith strayed offside on defence.

Shortly afterwards, the Reds pounced on a poor clearance kick from Sefa Naivalu and Scott Higginbotham had a clear run down the left-hand touchline before crossing for his side’s fourth try.

Five minutes later, Tom English set off on a mazy run deep inside the Reds’ half and managed to free his arms in contact to offload to Will Miller who crossed for the Rebels’ opening try.

The Reds thought they had crossed for another try when Hunt dotted down in the 65th minute but his effort was disallowed when television replays revealed that Smith had delivered a forward pass in the build-up.

Four minutes later, the Rebels struck back when Marika Koroibete crossed for his side’s second try, despite the attentions of two defenders. and with the score level at 24-24, the match was set for a thrilling finish.

Higginbotham had a chance to clinch the result for the Reds but failed to gather a Nick Frisby cross-field kick while crossing the whitewash in the 74th minute.

Kerevi spared his blushes when he showed great determination before crossing for the matchwinning try in the 80th minute.

The scorers:

For Rebels:
Tries:
Miller, Koroibete
Con: Hodge
Pens: Hodge 4

For Reds:
Tries:
Kerevi 2, Nabuli, Moore, Higginbotham
Cons: Cooper 2
Yellow Card: Hunt

Crusaders keep winning ways against Huricanes

0

The Crusaders stayed unbeaten when they beat the Hurricanes 20-12 on Saturday.

It was a game that was made up as the game of the weekend with two top teams facing off in New Zealand.

The first half was a tight affair with both teams having opportunities but defensive systems from both good enough to hold both teams without a try in the first forty minutes.

The Crusaders did look better with ball in hand and had most of the ball as well in the first half which gave them more opportunities as well.

At the end, it was the boots that dominated the scoreboard as both teams went into the break with 9 point all.

The Crusaders dominated the set pieces and used it to significant effect throughout the match.

The second half was much about the same as the Crusaders seemed to get better and controlled the game.

They score the first try after a great drive from an attacking lineout to take the lead 14-9.

The Hurricanes kept struggling to get their hands on the ball for extended periods of time and making some handling errors which gave the Crusaders ball to attack from.

The Crusaders extended their lead after 58 min with a penalty to 17-9.

The Hurricanes finally got on their first points in the second after 60 min with a penalty to reduce the lead to 17-12.

The Hurricanes seemed to force everything they do in the match and it was all about the pressure the Crusaders have put them under with brilliant defence.

The Crusaders made the score 20-12 after yet another penalty with just a few minutes to go.

The Hurricanes just could not get pass the defence from the Saders and the Crusaders well deservedly won the game.

Scorers:

Crusaders – Try: Matt Todd. Penalties: Richie Mo’unga (5).
Hurricanes – Penalties: Jordie Barrett (4).

Lions makes it three wins on tour

0

The Lions made it three out three on tour in Australia when they beat the Brumbies 13-6 in a scrappy game on Friday

A game that not many was to worried about for the Lions and expected them to win and get their second win on tour in Australia but you do not just arrive and beat the Brumbies at home.

It was the Brumbies with the better start to the game putting pressure on the Lions for the first 6 min keeping the Lions pinned down in their own twenty-two.

They did go over for the first try but it was disallowed by the TMO after he saw a knock-on in the leadup to the try.

The Brumbies kept the pressure on the Lions and stayed in their twenty-two calling on the Lions to defend for that first 14 minutes.

The two teams held each other well in the rest of the half which kept the score to 3-0 at the break.

The second half stayed much the same as the first with the Brumbies doing most of the attack and the Lions defending as well as they could.

Both teams had opportunities but mistakes in handling and not protecting the ball made these attempts come to nothing to show on the board.

The Lions where first to score in the second half through a penalty but neither teams could score a try yet.

It was the Lions with Kwagga Smith that broke the dam wall when he sprinted for a good 80 meters to score the first try of the match and the lead for the Lions 10-3 after 56 min.

That was the game breaker for the Lions as they kept each other close and only a late penalty gave the Lions the final score of 13-6.

Scorers:

Brumbies

Penalties: Wharenui Hawera (2)

Lions

Try: Kwagga Smith

Conversion: Elton Jantjies

Penalties: Jantjies, Andries Coetzee

Blues thrash Cheetahs in Auckland

2

The Blues thumbed the Cheetahs with 8 tries to 4 on Friday when they beat them 50-32.

The game started as expected with both teams willing to run with the ball and socre tries. It was the Cheetahs that got the first through Francois Venter and a lead of 5-0.

It took the Blues not long to get over for their first try and took the lead from the Cheetahs 7-5.

It seems to have been changing scoreboards in the first twenty minutes as the Cheetahs got their second from a perfect drive from the lineout just for the Blues to take the lead back with their second try 14-12.

Defence again letting the Cheetahs down in both the Blues tries.

Cheetahs were evertime putting themselves under pressure when the Blues had ball in hand through bad defence. Cheetahs catch-up and adjusting tacklers not in synch at all. The Cheetahs continually made wrong decisions, not trusting each other in defence.

The Blues scored another try just before halftime with the Cheetahs kicking over two penalties to make the halftime score 24-18.

The Second half was not a good one for the Cheetahs fans again with the Blues scoring tries at will and quickly moved their score to 45-25 after 60 min of the game.

The Cheetahs did manage to score a try of their own in this period but it almost felt that they have given up again with poor defensive effort all around.

The Blues kept defending well keeping the Cheetahs out and score another try to make it 50-25 with 10 minutes to go.

The Cheetahs could score one more try in the 77 minute to get their score tally up to 32 points.

At the end a very disappointing outing for the Cheetahs and another great win for the Blues.

Scorers:

Blues 50 (24)

Tries: Rieko Ioane (2), Scott Scrafton, Akira Ioane, Patrick Tuipulotu, Steven Luatua, Augustine Pulu, Melani Nanai

Conversions: Piers Francis (2), Ihaia West (3)

Cheetahs 32 (18)

Tries: Francois Venter, Torsten van Jaarsveld, Elandre Huggett (2)

Conversions: Fred Zeilinga (3)

Penalties: Zeilinga (2)

Preview Vodacom Super Rugby Week 12

0

Week 11 was not one of the greatest weeks for South African teams but we did have good wins from the Lions and Sharks over the weekend but it was dreadful to watch the Stormers, Cheetahs and Bulls play.

The Stormers again got hammered in New Zealand, with the Cheetahs giving three tries away in the last 7 min to lose against Highlanders. The Bulls ended the weekend for us with the humiliation of the Crusaders biggest win ever at Loftus.

We hear fans asking for coaches to be fired this week and coaches trying to give answers but at the end it was just not good enough.

Here is how the logs look after Round 11

PosTeamPWLDPts
1118120
298100
311000
4126600
585120
PosTeamPWLDPDPts
1118121540
298101350
31100570
412660440
58512330

Here is our schedule for the weekend….

Friday 12 May ,

09:35 BLUES vs CHEETAHS  Follow the match live here

11:45 BRUMBIES vs LIONS Follow the match live here

Saturday 13 May,

09:35 CRUSADERS vs HURRICANES  Follow the match live here

11:45 REBELS vs REDS Follow the match live here

15:05 BULLS vs HIGHLANDERS Follow the match live here

17:15 KINGS vs SHARKS Follow the match live here

23:40 JAGUARES vs FORCE Follow the game live here

The Cheetahs will be hurting after the defeat against the Highlanders last week and to then pick yourself up again on tour in New Zealand will not be easy.

The Blues is no pushover, although they are missing some big names in their lineup for this weekend. The Cheetahs coach earlier this week said that they know they can beat the New Zealand teams but everyone these days knows to do that you need to play for 80 min plus.

Defensively the Cheetahs were better on the defence at times against the Highlanders but at the end to let 6 tries through is just not good enough in this competition. We know the Cheetahs can score tries and they can score them from everywhere but if they can not sort out the defence they will get another trumping by another New Zealand team this weekend.

The Blues have been again slowly progressing throughout the tournament and it seems they build an innings rather than go full throttle in it. They had some tough matches over the last two weekend but they secure the wins and the points and will be happy to face the Cheetahs at home this Friday.

That this could be a highly entertaining match we have no doubt over, only concern is how bad will the mistakes be this time around.

Previous Matches

Predictions: I do not see the Cheetahs overcome their defensive problems, Blues by 20 points

Teams: 

Blues: 15 Melani Nanai, 14 Declan O’Donnell, 13 George Moala, 12 TJ Faiane, 11 Rieko Ioane, 10 Piers Francis, 9 Augustine Pulu, 8 Akira Ioane, 7 Blake Gibson, 6 Steven Luatua, 5 Scott Scrafton, 4 Patrick Tuipulotu, 3 Charlie Faumuina, 2 James Parsons (c), 1 Pauliasi Manu
Replacements: 16 Hame Faiva, 17 Alex Hodgman, 18 Ofa Tu’ungafasi, 19 Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 20 Kara Pryor, 21 Sam Nock, 22 Ihaia West, 23 Michael Collins

Cheetahs: 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Francois Venter (c), 12 William Small-Smith, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Fred Zeilinga, 9 Tian Meyer, 8 Henco Venter, 7 Oupa Mohoje, 6 Niell Jordaan, 5 Francois Uys, 4 Carl Wegner, 3 Tom Botha, 2 Torsten van Jaarsveld, 1 Charles Marais
Replacements: 16 Elandre Huggett, 17 Ox Nche, 18 Johan Coetzee, 19 Armandt Koster, 20 Uzair Cassiem, 21 Shaun Venter, 22 Niel Marais, 23 Clinton Swart

Follow the match live here

Brumbies versus Lions could be a great match if the Brumbies decide to pitch up for the game on Friday.

With the Lions starting their tour with a bonus point win last week they will want to make sure that this game does not slip through their fingers. The Brumbies can be a very difficult side to face at home and the Lions will have to be at their best.

As the only South African side that are showing some kind of mentality to take on sides away from home they will press hard as a top spot at the end of the season have many perks.

The Lions coach did made some few rotational changes to the side but this should not stop the Lions to go for another full house of points against the Brumbies who has been not at their best this season.

Australian sides have been struggling and it will be a huge win for the Brumbies if they can get passed the Lions. Brumbies rugby is normally known for ball in hand and running rugby which makes this a game to look forward to.

Previous matches

 

Prediction: The Lions should be too good for the Brumbies but expect a close one, Lions by 7 points

Teams:

Brumbies: 15 Aidan Toua, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Kyle Godwin, 11 James Dargaville, 10 Wharenui Hawera, 9 Joe Powell, 8 Jordan Smiler, 7 Jarrad Butler, 6 Scott Fardy, 5 Sam Carter (c), 4 Rory Arnold, 3 Allan Alaalatoa, 2 Josh Mann-Rea, 1 Ben Alexander
Replacements: 16 Robbie Abel, 17 Nic Mayhew, 18 Leslie Leulua’iali’i-Makin, 19 Blake Enever, 20 Ben Hyne, 21 De Wet Roos, 22 Jordan Jackson-Hope, 23 Tom Banks

Lions: 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Sylvian Mahuza, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Harold Vorster, 11 Courtnal Skosan, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Ross Cronjé, 8 Warren Whiteley (c), 7 Ruan Ackermann, 6 Kwagga Smith, 5 Francois Mostert, 4 Andries Ferreira, 3 Johannes Jonker, 2 Robbie Coetzee, 1 Corné Fourie.
Replacements: 16 Malcolm Marx, 17 Jacques van Rooyen, 18 Ruan Dreyer, 19 Lourens Erasmus, 20 Robert Kruger/Cyle Brink, 21 Dillon Smit, 22 Jacques Nel, 23 Anthony Volmink

Follow the match live here

This will be the game of the weekend as they Crusaders will host the Hurricanes and see if they can keep their winning record this season.

There is so much quality in these two teams and one can be sure it will have everything a rugby fan are searching for in a Super Rugby clash. Both teams are most properly the two favorites to lift the trophy at the end of the season which makes this match even more exciting.

The Crusaders have come back from the republic with two huge wins over the Cheetahs and the Bulls which have them on top of the log at this stage and one do have the feeling if their is a team that can stop the Crusaders then it can only be at this stage the Hurricanes. It is very difficult to go so long not losing a game in this competition and most feel that it is gonna happen to the Crusaders this weekend.

They have had a slow start this season scraping through some matches but at the end they won their matches and got better. They are almost what one can call a complete team which can mix up their game if needed but they are devastated like most New Zealand teams on the counter and when they move the ball around.

The Hurricanes play such a clever game with Barrett at ten and have the forwards to get them great ball to let the two Barrett brother dictate matches. They have perfected the cross kick and moving the ball to get pass opponents defensive systems. This is one aspect I look forward to the most this weekend is to see how the two teams shape up on defence.

The Crusaders will welcome back their vice captain Ryan Crotty with Mataele covering on the bench. Elsewhere, the side takes on a similar shape to that which smashed the Bulls without the injured Kieran Read or suspended Sam Whitelock.

Test loosehead Joe Moody replaces veteran Wyatt Crockett, with Codie Taylor and Owen Franks making up the remainder of the front row.

Luke Romano and Scott Barrett – also both capped by the All Blacks – sit behind them as locks, while Matt Todd will once again captain the side as No.7.

Mitch Drummond has been preferred to Bryn Hall as halfback, and Richie Mo’unga will hope to continue his recent positive form as first-five.

Israel Dagg’s ongoing knee issues continue to keep David Havili in the No.15 jumper, with George Bridge and Seta Tamanivalu on either side of him.

The Crusaders have lost four of their past five matches against the Hurricanes, but couldn’t head into the match in better form.

The Cantabrians are unbeaten in Super Rugby this season despite suffering plenty of injury woes, and have scored more than 40 points in each of their last six matches.

For the Hurricanes Prinsep will start against his former team at blindside flank with Ardie Savea moving back to his favoured openside and Brad Shield to number eight.

Callum Gibbins was ruled out with a shoulder injury suffered against the Stormers.

Loosehead prop Chris Eves gets the nod in the run-on side for Ben May who drops to the bench.

Prop Loni Uhila returns from an eight week absence with a calf injury, while lock Sam Lousi and outside back cover Wes Goosen join the reserves.

All Blacks hooker Dane Coles was ruled out with ongoing concussion worries.

Previous matches

 

Prediction: I believe the Canes are the team to stop the Crusaders run, Canes by 11 points

Teams:

Crusaders: David Havili, Seta Tamanivalu, Jack Goodhue, Ryan Crotty, George Bridge, Richie Mo’unga, Mitchell Drummond, Jordan Taufua, Matt Todd (c), Pete Samu, Scott Barrett, Luke Romano, Owen Franks, Codie Taylor, Joe Moody.

Replacement: Ben Funnell, Wyatt Crockett, Michael Alaalatoa, Quinten Strange, Heiden Bedwell-Curtis, Bryn Hall, Mitchell Hunt, Manasa Mataele

Hurricanes: C Eves, R Riccitelli, J To’Omaga-Allen, M Abbott, V Fifita, R Prinsep, A Savea, B Shields, T Perenara (c), B Barrett, J Savea, N Laumape, V Aso, C Jane, J Barrett

Replacements: L Apisai, B May, L Uhila, S Lousi, T Halafihi, T Tciroa, O Black, W Goosen

Follow the match live here

Not one of the games this weekend that let you think that will be special but that has been the story of most of the Aussie derbies this year. Australian rugby is struggling more than South African rugby at the moment and anyone trying to talk away the bad form from the Aussie sides in Super Rugby should stop watching the game.

I see this week Australian coach Cheika is also saying he is not worrying…He may be saying one thing but he is surely worried about the state of Australian rugby at the moment. The problem is that it is not the young inexperience players that are bad but his key national players who looks like club players.

The Rebels and the Reds have also not been a side that too many teams worried about this year. The Rebels one can understand with all the calls for court cases and problems within the franchise but the Reds should be ashamed of what they have dished up with quality players in their squad who just simple have not perform this year.

At least the Reds players are not as bad as the overrated Waratahs team who has been the worst of the Aussies teams this year.

I am sure most fans will start lighting the fire and have one eye maybe on the TV on Saturday when the Rebels host the Reds. The Reds have been a side that have come with some kind of progress at-least but inconstant every week doe snot help their cause to build a team that compete in this competition.

So do not expect too much from this game and the best we can hope is that the two teams actually keep ball in hand and score some tries but if you like me….This is the time that you give the remote to the wife and kids so that you can have it back at 15:00.

Previous matches 

Prediction:  Do believe the Reds will be able to win against the troubled Rebels team, Reds by 10.

Teams: 

Melbourne Rebels: 15 Reece Hodge, 14 Sefa Naivalu, 13 Tom English, 12 Mitch Inman, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Ben Volavola, 9 Ben Meehan, 8 Amanaki Mafi, 7 Colby Fainga’a (c), 6 Hugh Sinclair, 5 Dominic Day, 4 Steve Cummins, 3 Laurie Weeks, 2 James Hanson, 1 Toby Smith
Replacements: 16 Siliva Siliva, 17 Fereti Sa’aga, 18 Tyrel Lomax, 19 Culum Retallick, 20 Sean McMahon, 21 Harrison Goddard, 22 Will Miller, 23 Jack Maddocks

Reds: 15 Karmichael Hunt, 14 Campbell Magnay, 13 Samu Kerevi (c), 12 Duncan Paia’aua, 11 Eto Nabuli, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Nick Frisby, 8 Scott Higginbotham, 7 George Smith, 6 Hendrik Tui, 5 Lukhan Tui, 4 Rob Simmons, 3 Sam Talakai, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 Sef Fa’agase
Replacements: 16 Alex Mafi, 17 Kirwan Sanday, 18 Taniela Tupou, 19 Izack Rodda, 20 Adam Korczyk, 21 Moses Sorovi, 22 Hamish Stewart, 23 Izaia Perese

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A massive mountain lies in front of the Bulls this weekend when they host the Highlanders at Loftus on Saturday.

Coming of a record defeat against the Crusaders last week at Loftus this Bulls team have to turn it around against another New Zealand team that seems to have found their mojo and are playing some brilliant rugby.

There is not much anybody can say about the Bulls performance last week and how they will be able to turn things around no one knows. It is not just an aspect of fixing defence or small little things, the Bulls was poor in all aspects of the game and some even say  that they looked like a side who is not coached properly.

That is a bit hard on Nollis but one has to face facts that their performances this year has been poor and they have not change much to improve this so far.

The Highlanders is a difficult team to play against as they have a solid pack, good back line and some excellent game breakers. To make them an even more difficult opponent, they have a brilliant kicking game as well.

The one thing the Highlanders shown is that they can run away with a game from the set go or come from behind to take the win. This will be a difficult game for the Bulls to control as they have already have their backs against the wall and have the added pressure on having to win.

Nollis Marais named Hanro Liebenberg to lead the side to face New Zealand outfit, the Highlanders, in Pretoria on Saturday. Liebenberg will hence become the 19th player to lead the Vodacom Bulls since the inception of the Vodacom Super Rugby competition.

The former Junior Springboks captain missed out on last weekend’s defeat against the Crusaders due to a hamstring strain and comes back into the team in place of Renaldo Bothma.

Liebenberg takes over the captain’s armband from Adriaan Strauss, who has a foot injury. Strauss will undergo scans to determine the extent of his injury.

Travis Ismaiel and Jacques Potgieter has also been ruled out from last week’s team. They will be replaced by Jade Stighling and Jannes Kirsten respectively. Kirsten played off the bench last weekend, but it will be a debut for Stighling, who turns 24 later this month.

The winger, who was schooled at Hans Moore High in Benoni, has represented the Vodacom Blue Bulls at age group level and Currie Cup since 2013, but now gets a first start for the Vodacom Bulls.

Marais made a number of personnel changes to the pack. Jaco Visagie (for Strauss), Lizo Gqoboko (for Pierre Schoeman), RG Snyman (for Lood de Jager) and a fit-again Ruan Steenkamp (for Nick de Jager) will all start this week.

Edgar Marutlulle is also back in the match 23 to fill the vacancy left by Visagie, while Coenraad van Vuuren was named as back-up tighthead. He takes over from Jacobie Adriaanse. Van Vuuren joined the Vodacom Bulls on tour in New Zealand, but did not play, so could make his debut for the team if he takes to the field.

There is also a potential debut for flyhalf Tony Jantjies, who was named on the bench in place of injured Francois Brummer. The 25-year old Jantjies will make his Vodacom Bulls and Vodacom Super Rugby debut, should he take to the field.

Previous matches

Predictions: Can only see it one way…Highlanders with 30 points

Teams:

Highlanders: 15 Matt Faddes, 14 Waisake Naholo, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Richard Buckman, 11 Patrick Osborne, 10 Marty Banks, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Gareth Evans, 7 Dillon Hunt, 6 Elliot Dixon, 5 Tom Franklin, 4 Alex Ainley, 3 Siosuia Halanukonuka, 2 Ash Dixon (c), 1 Aki Seiuli
Replacements: 16 Greg Pleasants-Tate, 17 Daniel Lienert-Brown, 18 Siate Tokolahi, 19 Joe Wheeler, 20 Jackson Hemopo, 21 Kayne Hammington, 22 Fletcher Smith, 23 Teihorangi Walden

Bulls: Warrick Gelant (13, 5), Jade Stighling (0, 0), Jesse Kriel (39, 20), Burger Odendaal (27, 15), Jamba Ulengo (19, 35), Tian Schoeman (30, 105), Piet van Zyl (76,65), Hanro Liebenberg (c, 15, 15), Jannes Kirsten (22, 10), Ruan Steenkamp (5, 0), RG Snyman (21, 10), Jason Jenkins (22, 15), Trevor Nyakane (78, 15), Jaco Visagie (14, 0), Lizo Gqoboka (20, 5).

Replacements: Edgar Marutlulle (29, 20), Pierre Schoeman (18, 5), Coenraad van Vuuren (0, 0), Lood de Jager (47, 10), Nick de Jager (13, 5), Rudy Paige (42, 5), Tony Jantjies (0, 0), Jan Serfontein (54, 80).

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A few weeks back in Durban the Sharks just won the game against this Kings side and everyone expects a great match when the Sharks travel to PE to face the Kings for the second time this season.

Both sides have improved since they last met and are playing much better rugga’s in the last couple of weeks even more so the Kings. The Sharks will knwo they will have to be at their best to get past the Kings as they are playing with allot of confidence.

The Kings have never beaten the Sharks. They are a much-improved outfit from previous seasons and a testament to this is the fact they have recorded a club best two-match winning streak and are desperate to make it three out of three against the Sharks on Saturday. They were excellent in their last games, beating the Waratahs and then smashing the Rebels in a wonderful advertisement for running rugby.

They possess the turnover King in flank Chris Cloete and it is from turnovers on the counter-attack that they like to score tries. Lionel Cronje is assured at fly-half bringing purpose and direction to a dangerous backline.

The Sharks will be without their own fly-half Curwin Bosch who has joined up with the Baby Boks. However, Patrick Lambie brings a wealth of experience to the pivot position as well as a tried and trusted right boot.

The Sharks will themselves be desperate to keep up the good momentum they have going after bouncing back from that dour 9-9 draw against the Rebels with a good win over the Jaguares away followed by a win over the Kings in which they were disappointed not to get a bonus point.

The Kings have won their last two matches, against the Waratahs and Rebels, and will hope to make it three against the Sharks in Port Elizebeth.

It is all about bragging rights in this traditional derby and the Sharks will be keen to avoid the taunts of the underdogs from the Eastern Cape. The pressure is on the Sharks here and the Kings have nothing to lose. Expect the Kings to throw everything they have at the Sharks on attack. But also expect the Sharks to be stubborn on defence.

While the Kings look to run the ball more often than not, the Sharks look to the sticks more than any other side in the competition, kicking a league-high 3.8 penalty goals on average per game this season.

The Sharks know it is imperative they win this game to consolidate their position at number 2 on the Africa conference 1 standings and keep themselves on a course for a place in the play-offs. Especially because the Jaguares are likely to win against the Force and keep up the pressure on Robert Du Preez’s men.

 

Previous results: 

The teams:

Kings: 15 Masixole Banda, 14 Wandile Mjekevu, 13 Berton Klaasen, 12 Luzuko Vulindlu, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Lionel Cronjé (c), 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Andisa Ntsila, 7 Tyler Paul, 6 Chris Cloete, 5 Wilhelm van der Sluys, 4 Irne Herbst, 3 Ross Geldenhuys, 2 Martin Bezuidenhout, 1 Schalk van der Merwe
Replacements: 16 Kurt Haupt/Tango Balekile, 17 Chris Heiberg, 18 Dayan van der Westhuizen, 19 Lubabalo Mtyanda, 20 Stefaan Willemse, 21 Johan Steyn, 22 Nicolaas Hanekom, 23 Pieter-Steyn de Wet

Sharks: 15 Rhyno Smith, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Jeremy Ward, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Patrick Lambie (c), 9 Michael Claassens, 8 Daniel du Preez, 7 Jean-Luc du Preez, 6 Philip van der Walt, 5 Ruan Botha, 4 Etienne Oosthuizen, 3 Coenie Oosthuizen, 2 Franco Marais, 1 Beast Mtawarira
Replacements: 16 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 17 Thomas du Toit, 18 Lourens Adriaanse, 19 Stephan Lewies, 20 Tera Mtembu, 21 Cobus Reinach, 22 Garth April, 23 Sbu Nkosi

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A first-ever meeting between the Jaguares and Force will finish off Round 12 of Super Rugby when the two teams clash on Saturday.

After a bright start to the year the Jaguares have suffered a crucial mid-season dip, losing key ground on the in the South African Group as they head into the weekend eight points adrift of the Sharks.

Last Saturday’s dramatic victory over the Sunwolves went some way to fixing that situation, although the fact that the Jaguares scored over 40 points and came out on top of the Japanese franchise should not gloss over the issues they faced in the match.

Worked over at the breakdown and cut open in defence, Raúl Pérez and his coaching staff will have had plenty of work to do this week.

Fix those areas and the Jaguares are a well-rounded outfit, who showed off the power of their set-piece with two rolling maul tries against the Sunwolves finished off by captain Agustín Creevy.

The hooker and Argentina captain, as was the case last year, has been his side’s outstanding player once again Super Rugby. His match-up with Tatafu Polota-Nau would have been the pick of the weekend’s one-on-one battles, but the Wallaby has been rested by Force coach Dave Wessels.

Under a cloud all season of being cut from the competition, the Force have been a far better outfit in 2017 than many of their Australian counterparts.

Close-run defeats at home suggested that the Force were competitive, making last weekend’s 37-12 loss away in Durban to the Sharks a disappointment.

No Polota-Nau and no Matt Hodgson, both rested, puts the Force on the backfoot somewhat against a tough Jaguares pack. But then a number of players for the Perth franchise have come out of left field to make an impact for the Force this season, including Isireli Naisarani, who this week starts from the bench.

Without those two leaders the trip to Buenos Aires feels like a demanding task. If the Jaguares can find better fluidity in attack and cut down on those handling errors, then this game could prove highly rewarding.

 

Prediction: Plenty of travel time and the absence of key starters makes this a difficult trip for the Force. Jaguares to win by 15.

The teams:

Jaguares: 15 Joaquín Tuculet, 14 Santiago Cordero, 13 Matias Orlando, 12 Jerónimo de la Fuente, 11 Batista Ezcurra, 10 Juan Martín Hernández, 9 Martín Landajo, 8 Benjamin Macome, 7 Juan Manuel Leguizamón, 6 Tomás Lezana, 5 Matías Alemanno, 4 Guido Petti, 3 Ramiro Herrera, 2 Agustín Creevy, 1 Santiago Garcia Botta
Replacements: 16 Julían Montoya, 17 Lucas Noguera Paz, 18 Felipe Arregui, 19 Tomás Lavanini, 20 Leonardo Senatore, 21 Gonzalo Bertranou, 22 Joaquín Díaz Bonilla, 23 Manuel Montero

Force: 15 Peter Grant, 14 Semisi Masirewa, 13 Curtis Rona, 12 Billy Meakes, 11 Alex Newsome, 10 Jono Lance, 9 Ian Prior, 8 Richard Hardwick, 7 Onehunga Havili, 6 Ross Haylett-Petty, 5 Adam Coleman, 4 Richie Arnold, 3 Tetera Faulkner, 2 Heath Tessmann (c), 1 Francois van Wyk
Replacements: 16 Anaru Rangi, 17 Pek Cowan, 18 Shambeckler Vui, 19 Lewis Carmichael, 20 Brynard Stander, 21 Isireli Naisarani, 22 Mitchell Short, 23 James Verity-Amm

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More to follow

Stormers set loose Du Preez

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DHL Stormers flyhalf Robert du Preez has been ruled out with a torn pectoral muscle and will undergo specialist opinion regarding possible surgery.

Du Preez was the only major casualty from the DHL Stormers final tour game against the Hurricanes in Wellington.

Centre Dan du Plessis and flank Cobus Wiese have both successfully undergone surgery on dislocated shoulders which have put them out of action for the next four months.

Centre Damian de Allende (ankle) and wing Seabelo Senatla (foot) will both return to full training this week after lengthy lay-offs, along with locks Eben Etzebeth (calf) and Pieter-Steph du Toit (knee) who have recovered from minor niggles.