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Can New Zealand be beaten?

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JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, 05 October 2013 : Kieran Read of the All Blacks celebrates the victory with his try during the Castle Lager Rugby Championship test match between SOUTH AFRICA and NEW ZEALAND at ELLIS PARK  in Johannesburg, South Africa on 05 October 2013. The All Blacks won the trophy by beating the Boks 38-27. © Anton de Villiers / PHOTOSPORT
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, 05 October 2013 : Kieran Read of the All Blacks celebrates the victory with his try during the Castle Lager Rugby Championship test match between SOUTH AFRICA and NEW ZEALAND at ELLIS PARK in Johannesburg, South Africa on 05 October 2013. The All Blacks won the trophy by beating the Boks 38-27.
© Anton de Villiers / PHOTOSPORT

The old enemies will be at it again and this time in the Rugby World Cup for the first time since 2003. In the last few years the All Black have got one over us and bar the penalty Pat Lambie struck to snatch a win. The Springboks have only tasted victory over New Zealand once in the last four years. Do we ride on the myth that as the All Blacks biggest rivals we can beat them and are the only side capable of giving them a headache? New Zealand have been in scintillating form and have managed to score countless tries in the last few games passing the fourty mark four times. Daniel carter has rediscovered his form, Ma’a Nonu has been on the rise and they managed to kick the poor french back to France.

What do the Boks need to do? I look at three of many areas the Springboks will need to be on their guard.

  1. Stop Julian Savea– The bus as he is known has failed to score against South Africa ever but the winger has just rediscovered his tormenting form and has been on a rampage. A natural try score who has 38 tries in 39 games (more than Lomu). He is the top try scorer in the World Cup and impressively, has done well both out wide, in the middle and when the All Black winger’s new tactic of doing pick and go’s. They have been able to use their wingers on the fringes which has seen opposition sucked in and you will see a loose forward or hooker having to deal with either one or scoring on the wing or a Savea using his power and explosiveness to not only just gain vital yards but score. It will be interesting to see if they will be out to use this tactic against the Springbok wingers that are among the biggest in the world. Will they test the Bok forwards as well? Springboks defense on the fringes has to be organized. On the attack the side has to be able to manipulate the space down the middle of the All Black ruck as the defending champions have a habit of stepping back from rucks.
  2. Dan Carter & Nehe Milner-Skudder brilliance– Dan was at his mercurial best this weekend and is clearly on an upward trajectory. The man was easily the general, kicking with aplomb and creating tries in such mesmerizing manner. Nehe Milner Skudder? Can you defend X-factor? It has been done before majority of the winger’s tries are pretty much a step out side and a dart inside(vs -Australia, France,Tonga & Namibia). It’s not as easy as that but the winger has a habitual action which was handled well by the Highlanders in the Super Rugby final. The Springboks will need to have their defensive game up to scratch and will need to have Duane Vermeulen and Bismarck du plessis in wrecking mode as they look to impose themselves physically. It will be important to note how Carter had two or three defenders around him, resulting in created space outside or back door pass in his last few games. South Africa’s 10-12-13 axis has a habit of being sucked in and will need to be shepherded well by a leader. A defensive leader must stand up this weekend.
  3. Kicking game – Probably the best kicking game in the land. NZ have been exceptional when it comes to kick and chase and the catch by Ben Smith last week brings back nightmares of Dan Biggar’s leap against Willie le Roux.The Bok’s high ball skills will need to be on their A-game but more importantly their overall kicking game has to improve or they will be punished. Handre Pollard’s 5/8 kicking was just enough and in any other knock out game would have been not good enough.New Zealand where at hand to score of a charge down through Brodie Retallick and unless Fourie du Preez (who was charged down recently) is protected or the rest of the kicking options practice perfection. They will be punished.

Variety will be the order of the day. South Africa can not afford a one-dimensional approach and will need to re-enact the performances of 2013 and 2015, but must also look to sustain this pressure. South Africa – New Zealand clashes have been decided by the superior fitness of the kiwis and their mental ability to dominate the second half and more importantly the last 20 minutes of a clash. In the two side’s last 20 clashes the All Blacks have outscored South Africa on 17 occasions in the last 20 minutes. The last time was 2009 when South Africa outscored NZ 6-3.

Will the men in green be able to produce a performance of the ages? In Jerome Garces, they have a bogey referee from France and the Springboks have tasted defeat a couple of times when they have officiated their games. The injury cloud over the likes of Lood, Bismarck du Plessis and Victor Matfield will have many worried particularly Lood de Jager. Meyer is believed to be contemplating throwing young Pieter-Steph du Toit in or Willem Alberts at lock should the locks fail to recover. Physical, accurate, smart and a controlled aggression approach can win this clash for South Africa.

Adding a bit of variation and surprising the All Blacks will assist in beating their biggest rivals. What they have shown over the last few weeks will not worry New Zealand. A brand new Springbok must play on Saturday and not the timid, average side that has shown character but scrapped through the World Cup.

Average score over the last 7 games has been 27-18 to the All Blacks. It promises to be a clash to remember or to forget.

Mealamu back for Blues

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Blues head coach Sir John Kirwan has made two changes to the starting XV for Friday night’s clash with the Highlanders at Eden Park (kick-off 7.35pm).

Highlanders team for Reds

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Highlanders’ Head Coach, Jamie Joseph, has made three changes to the starting team that played the Chiefs in Hamilton last Friday night.

In the forwards, Highlanders Captain Andrew Hore makes his return after suffering a rib injury against the Hurricanes in round five.  Tony Woodcock also returns to the starting XV. Liam Coltman and Ma’afu Fia both move to the reserves.

In the backs, Kade Poki has been ruled out with a rib injury, so Buxton Popoalii moves into the starting XV.

On the reserves bench, Coltman and Fia are joined by TJ Ioane and Fumiaki Tanaka – who both come back into the 22.

Highlanders v Reds, Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin – Friday 29 March, 7.35pm (NZ Time).

1. Tony Woodcock

2. Andrew Hore (Captain)

3. Chris King

4. Brad Thorn

5. Josh Bekhuis

6. Jarrad Hoeata

7. John Hardie

8. Elliot Dixon

9. Aaron Smith

10. Colin Slade

11. Hosea Gear (Vice-captain)

12. Ma’a Nonu

13. Jason Emery

14. Buxton Popoalii

15. Ben Smith

Reserves

16. Liam Coltman

17. Ma’afu Fia

18. TJ Ioane

19. Tim Boys

20. Fumiaki Tanaka

21. Lima Sopoaga

22. Phil Burleigh

Highlanders: Joseph wields the axe

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Highlanders’ Head Coach, Jamie Joseph, has named his team to play the Hurricanes at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin tomorrow night (7.35pm NZT).

Canes team for Landers derby

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The Hurricanes will face their third New Zealand based team in round four of the Investec Super Rugby competition on Friday evening. The side will travel this week to Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin to meet the Highlanders.

Highlanders 19, Cheetahs 36

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The Cheetahs tour is not getting any easier as they travel to Dunedin to face the Highlanders.

Hore returns for Landers against Cheetahs

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Highlanders’ Head Coach, Jamie Joseph, has named his team to play the Cheetahs at Rugby Park Stadium in Invercargill on Saturday night (7.35pm NZT).

In the forwards, Andrew Hore returns to the Highlanders after missing the first Highlanders match of the 2013 season due to suspension.  He will be joined by Highlanders debutants Brad Thorn and Jake Paringatai who both make their first start on Saturday for the Southern franchise.

Changes in the run-on XV also see a number of changes on the reserves bench. Brayden Mitchell and Jarrod Hoeata drop out of the starting XV and are joined by Chris King and Colin Slade; who are both returning from injuries.  Shaun Treeby also joins the reserves in place of Buxton Popoalii.

Highlanders v Cheetahs, Rugby Park Stadium, Invercargill – Saturday 9 March, 7.35pm (NZ Time).

1. Tony Woodcock

2. Andrew Hore (Captain)

3. Ma’afu Fia

4. Brad Thorn

5. Josh Bekhuis

6. Joe Wheeler

7. John Hardie

8. Jake Paringatai

9. Aaron Smith

10. Lima Sopoaga

11. Hosea Gear (Vice-captain)

12. Ma’a Nonu

13. Phil Burleigh

14. Kade Poki

15. Ben Smith

Reserves

16. Brayden Mitchell

17. Chris King

18. Jarrad Hoeata

19. Tim Boys

20. Fumiaki Tanaka

21. Colin Slade

22. Shaun Treeby

Brussow starts from the bench

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Cheetahs coach Naka Drotské has resisted the temptation to rush Springbok Heinrich Brüssow straight back into his starting XV.

Landers name team for Chiefs

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Highlanders’ Head Coach, Jamie Joseph, has named his team to play the Chiefs at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin tomorrow.

Chiefs announce team for Highlanders match

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The Chiefs have announced their team to play the Highlanders in their first game of the Investec Super Rugby competition in Dunedin on Friday.

Woodcock, Nonu, Smith starts for Landers

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Highlanders’ Head Coach, Jamie Joseph, has named his starting XV to play the Crusaders at Whitestone

Highlanders 2013 Super Rugby squad

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The Highlanders squad has a number of new faces and this will make for a very exciting season in 2013.

Highlanders confirm Woodcock signing

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World Cup winning All Black, Tony Woodcock, has today signed with the Highlanders for a two-year period and will join the franchise for the 2013 Investec Super Rugby competition.

Highlanders team named

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Highlanders’ Head Coach, Jamie Joseph, has named his team to play the Blues at Eden Park in Auckland tomorrow.

Lam benches Ali, Weepu & Nonu

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Ali Williams looks set to play his 100th Super Rugby game off the bench after he and fellow All Blacks Piri Weepu and Ma’a Nonu were relegated to the reserves for Saturday’s match against the Highlanders at Eden Park.

Landers make 4 changes for Bulls

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Highlanders’ Head Coach, Jamie Joseph, has named his team to play the Bulls at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin tomorrow.

Greyling, Potgieter & Olivier back for Bulls

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The Vodacom Bulls recalled experienced midfielder Wynand Olivier, loose forward Dewald Potgieter and prop Dean Greyling for Saturday’s Super Rugby clash against the Highlanders in Dunedin.

Highlanders 20 v Hurricanes 26

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This NZ derby promises to be a cracker.  Landers are on a bit of a slide while the Canes are gaining confidence every week.

Highlanders change 3 for Canes

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Highlanders’ Head Coach, Jamie Joseph, has named his team to play the Hurricanes at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin tomorrow night.

Landers change 2 for Sharks

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Highlanders’ Head Coach, Jamie Joseph, has named his team to play the Sharks in Durban on Saturday.

Stars return for Sharks

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The Sharks will welcome back a host of stars when they host the Highlanders in Durban this Saturday.

Haskell suspended for 3 weeks

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The SANZAR Duty Judicial Officer Mike Heron has accepted a guilty plea from James Haskell of the Highlanders for contravening Law 10.4 (a) Punching or Striking after he was Cited during a Super Rugby Match at the Weekend.

Highlanders make one change

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Highlanders’ Head Coach, Jamie Joseph, has named his team to play the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein on Saturday.

Goosen back at 10 for Cheetahs

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Super Rugby’s top point’s scorer, Johan Goosen, is back in the number 10 jersey for the Cheetahs clash against the Highlanders this weekend.

Highlanders change 2 for Blues

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Highlanders’ Head Coach, Jamie Joseph, has named his team to play the Blues in Dunedin tomorrow night.  He has made two changes to the run-on team that played the Stormers in Dunedin at Easter.

Cowan gets his ton against Stormers

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Highlanders’ Head Coach, Jamie Joseph, has named his team to play the Stormers in Dunedin.

Only 1 change for Stormers

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Fresh off their victory over the Bulls last week, the DHL Stormers have announced a team with only one change to take on the Highlanders in their first game on tour.

Vuna cited

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Cooper Vuna of the Rebels has been cited for alleged foul play during a Super Rugby match at the weekend.

Crusaders, Highlanders teams named

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The Crusaders have named their team to take on the Lions at Coca-Cola park this weekend.

Highlanders team for Brumbies named

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Highlanders’ Head Coach, Jamie Joseph, has named his team to play the Brumbies in Canberra tomorrow night.

Highlanders change 2 for Tahs

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Highlanders’ Head Coach, Jamie Joseph, has named his team to play the Waratahs at Forsyth Barr Stadium tomorrow night.

Barnes back for Tahs

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Berrick Barnes will return to the HSBC Waratahs starting line up for this Saturday’s round three Super Rugby clash against the Highlanders in Dunedin.

Crusaders team announced

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The Crusaders announced their team to take on the Highlanders.

Rugby News (Wed): Hougaard will play for the Bulls

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We bring you the latest rugby titbits from around the world.

Rugby News (Mon): Jackson to make his debut

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Here is the latest rugby news from around the world.

Chiefs 20, Highlanders 7

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The Chiefs can make the lives of some SA franchises much easier as they host the Highlanders.

Rugby News (Thu): Kanko ruled out

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Latest rugby news from around the world.

The perfect fit

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Exactly what enables a team of no-hopers or perennial losers to turn things around?

Highlanders 10, Blues 15 (Full time)

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The high-flying Highlanders will host the conference-leading Blues in what promises to be a great match.

Crusaders 18, Highlanders 26 (Final score)

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This all NZ derby sees both teams without some of their star players which will make this very interesting.

Highlanders 24, Cheetahs 21 (full time)

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The Cheetahs finish their Australasia tour with a match against the tough Highlanders, can they secure their second win on tour?

Highlanders 26, Brumbies 20 (Final Score)

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First game of week 7 sees the much troubled Brumbies travel to the intimidating surroundings of Dunedin as they look to end their bad run of form against the Highlanders.

DHL Stormers 18 v Highlanders 6 (Full Time)

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The DHL Stormers will be hoping for a far better display at home when they host the Highlanders.

Stormers have strike power – Thompson

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How to take pressure off yourself lesson 1:  Talk up the opposition!

Attitude adjustment

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The Bulls impressive home record was dashed this weekend by the most unlikely team.

Re-think, not re-invent

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JJ Harmse reports that the Bulls, although devastated by a shock loss over the weekend, does not plan to change their plans.

Bulls 28, Highlanders 35 (Full time)

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A win over the Highlanders on Saturday would see the Vodacom Bulls record a 21st successive home victory and move  one step closer to eclipsing the Vodacom Super Rugby competition record of the Crusaders.

Highlanders 23, Chiefs 13 (Full time)

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Dunedin plays host to the match-up between the surprise package the Highlanders, and the perenial slow-starters, the Chiefs.

Hurricanes 9, Highlanders 14 (full time)

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The Highlanders open their Super 15 campaign against one of the more successfull Super rugby franchises as they travel to Wellington.

Chiefs 27, Highlanders 21

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The Chiefs have won their last six matches against the Highlanders, but need to make it seven on end to stay in the hunt for a semifinal position. That says it all about this game.