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Blues

FULL-TIME
10     13

Lions

Super Rugby | Auckland
06:35 (GMT) | 07-03-2015
  • 82
We head straight to Queensland now for an Australian derby
  • 81
HUGE scrum from the Lions and they win back possession! FULLTIME! The Lions pull off an unlikely victory in Auckland!
  • 80
The throw-in is not straight and the Blues will have a scrum. The hooter goes and this will be the final play of the match.
  • 79
PENALTY! The Lions put in a huge shove and the Blues concede a penalty! Combrink boots it into touch as time ticks away. The Lions take their time to form the line-out just inside the Blues 10 metre line
  • 77
A promising Blues attack comes to nothing as yet another handling error stops their momentum. Lions will have a scrum close to their 10 metre line
  • 76
West pulls it left of the upright and the Lions hold onto their lead
  • 75
Blues in possession on the Lions 10 metre line. KNOCK ON. Kaino loses it forward and the Lions are back in possession. They kick it back into Blues territory, who returns the favour. PENALTY! Blues win a penalty just outside the Lions 22 for holding onto the ball. West will have a shot at goal from about 40 metres
  • 73
He strikes it well but misses on the right side of the uprights
  • 72
It's all the Lions at the moment as the home crowd is silent and their players have no answer to a massive Lions scrum. PENALTY! Combrink will have a shot at goal from the halfway line
  • 69
PENALTY! The Blues collapse a amaul and De Klerk takes it quickly but runs away from his support players. PENALTY! Lions fail to release the ball at the breakdown and the Blues kick the ball into touch.
  • 68
Blues are penalised for an early shove at scrum time and the Lions opt to kick the ball into touch. Line-out to them just inside the Blues 10 metre line
  • 65
Jantjies lines up the conversion attempt and slots it between the uprights to hand his side the lead
  • 63
Here come the Lions. De Klerk makes a sniping break and gets the Lions on the front foot. Up to the Blues 5 metre line they go. TRY!!!! The ball is quickly recycled and finds Combrink on the left touch line who dives over the line.
  • 61
Blues have possession once again through a line-out on the Lions 10 metre line. The ball is spread to the backline and they take the ball up about 8 metres
  • 59
It's taken an age for the scrum to be taken, after another reset. It eventually comes out and the Lions fail to find touch. Blues in possession just inside the Lions 22
  • 57
No reset is needed this time. Kaino finds West who hands it off to Saili. KNOCK ON! The Lions come away with a defensive 5 metre scrum after the Blues lose the ball forward 2 metres from the try line
  • 55
PENALTY! The Lions are penalised. Kaino takes it quickly. Inches left for the home side. The Lions manage to hold them up once again and we will have another 5 metre scrum to the Blues
  • 54
In keeping with the way the scrums have been going, we have another reset and the teams take their time to setup. The front rows go down on the hit and it's reset once again
  • 52
Blues in possession inside the Lions 22. The forwards rumble it to withing 2 metres from the line. PENALTY! There was no clear release from the Lions defence. Taken quickly by the Blues and they get over the line but the Lions hold them up. 5 metre scrum to the Blues
  • 50
Jantjies makes no mistake and picks up the first points of the half to reduce the deficit
  • 49
The Lions probe the short side but the attack remains lateral! PENALTY! Blues are penalised for playing the scrumhalf without the ball. Jantjies will have a shot at goal
  • 47
The Blues lose it forward in the line-out and we will have another scrum
  • 45
PENALTY! Blues are penalised for scrumming in on an angle but the Lions fail to kick the ball into touch. Blues do them a favour though as they kick it into touch on their 10 metre line. Line-out to the Lions. The throw-in is not straight and the Blues opt for another line-out
  • 42
The Lions in possession inside their half but it's very lateral! KNOCK-ON! An unforced handling error concedes a scrum close to their 10 metre line
  • 41
KICK-OFF! West gets the second half underway

Half Time

  • 40
The hooter goes but the Blues continue their attack as Saili gets them into the Lions 22. The Lions are standing firm in defence and the Blues aren't making too many metres as they are stuck around the 22. West puts in a grubber and Cronje is there to clean up. Jantjies gets the ball and pops it into touch. HALFTIME!
  • 39
The Lions manage to clear the ball up field but only as far as their 10 metre line
  • 38
Blues in possession just inside Lions territory. The grubber is chosen as the option and the ball rolls into touch close to the 5 metre line of the Lions
  • 36
As has been the trend, the scrum is reset. The ball finds Vorster who runs it at the Blues defence. PENALTY! Blues are penalised for having their hands in the ruck and the Lions clear their lines. Throw-in to them on their 10 metre line
  • 34
Piutau finds a half-gap. The ball is spread to the right and the Lions managed to hold up the attacker. TURN-OVER! The ball doesn't emerge as the ref calls a maul and the Lions come away with a scrum 6 metres from their try line
  • 33
Ill-discipline creeping into the Lions game now. First a high tackle then taking the line-out jumper out in the air. It results in a line-out for the Blues on the Lions' 22
  • 31
Easy conversion for West from right in front
  • 30
It's taken a while for the sides to set the scrum. The ball eventually comes out. TRY!!! Kaino gets the first try of the match a massive effort from the forwards
  • 28
Lions are menacing in defence as they keep the Blues forwards at bay. The ball is recycled and reaches Nanai Vai. He is tackled short but is pushed over the try line by his team mates. Unfortunately he is held up and the Blues will have a 5 metre scrum
  • 27
West gets the ball and releases Visinia. Up to the Lions' 5 metre line they go
  • 26
Blues have an ideal attacking opportunity with a scrum feed on the Lions' 22
  • 24
He makes no mistake this time and levels the score
  • 23
After a kicking battle, the Lions are awarded a PENALTY on the Blues' 10 metre line for offside. Jantjies will have a shot at goal
  • 21
West splits the uprights and we have the first points of the game
  • 20
Blues in possession on the Lions 22 as they keep it with the forwards to make some metres. PENALTY! Lions are caught offside at the breakdown. West will have a shot at goal
  • 18
Visinia and Mastriet rise to claim a high ball! Visinia gets highest but loses the ball in the air and Lions have a scrum feed
  • 16
It's getting a little scrappy now as handling errors are creeping in and neither side can hold onto the ball long enough to launch a meaningful attack. The play s stuck inside the Blues' half of the field
  • 14
Golden chance for the Lions to get the first try! Vorster kicks the ball forward and there's nobody home for the Blues but the bounce of the ball favours the retreating Blues players and they manage to snub the danger
  • 12
Once again the Lions kicks the ball up field, only for the Blues to launch another attack. Thus time the Blues puts it on the boot and the Lions will have a line-out close to their 5 metre line
  • 11
West finds a hole in the Lions defence and the Blues go from inside their half, to within 10 metres of the Lions try line! KNOCK-ON! It all comes to nothing as a handling error stops them in their tracks
  • 9
He pushes it left and the score remains deadlocked
  • 7
Lions are happy to kick the ball and attempt to get some territory. PENALTY! Blues are caught offside on their 10 metre line and Jantjies will have a shot at goal
  • 5
The Blues are enjoying majority of the possession but the Lions are holding their own in defence
  • 1
Visinia goes on a run after claiming the kick and gets the home crowd buzzing!
  • 0
KICK-OFF! The Lions gets the game underway
  • -10
It's the basement battle as both sides are yet to record a victory thus far after 3 matches
  • -20
It's a huge occasion for Keven Mealamu as he will run out in his 163rd Super Rugby match and will become the highest capped Super Rugby player of all time!
  • -30
Welcome to the 3rd game of Round 4 of Super Rugby! The Blues have returned home after their South African tour and are hosting the Lions
Mc blues logo 80x50
Blues
Mc lions logo 85
Lions
START LINE UP
  • 15 Michael Collins
  • 14 Matt Duffie
  • 13 George Moala
  • 12 TJ Faiane
  • 11 Melani Nanai Vai
  • 10 Ihala West
  • 9 Augustine Pulu
  • 8 Steven Luatua
  • 7 Blake Gibson
  • 5 Scott Scrafton
  • 4 Gerald Cowley-Tuioti
  • 3 Charlie Faumuina
  • 2 James Parsons
  • 1 Ofa Tuungafasi
RESERVES
  • 23 Rene Ranger
  • 22 Stephen Perofeta
  • 21 Sam Nock
  • 20 Jerome Kaino
  • 19 Joshua Goodhue
  • 18 Sione Mafileo
  • 17 Pauliasi Manu
  • 16 Hame Faiva
START LINE UP
  • 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 Albertus Smith
  • 6 Jaco Kriel
  • 5 Franco Mostert
  • 4 Andries Ferreira
  • 3 Ruan Dreyer
  • 2 Malcolm Marx
  • 1 Jacques van Rooyen
RESERVES
  • 23 Sylvian Mahuza
  • 22 Rohan Janse van Rensburg
  • 21 Francois de Klerk
  • 20 Cyle Brink
  • 19 Lourens Erasmus
  • 18 Johannes Jonker
  • 17 Corne Fourie
  • 16 Armand van der Merwe
Mc article keven mealamu bow and arrow

Preview: S15 Round Four, Part Two

Thu, 05 Mar 2015 22:20

Saturday will be a day of milestones for front row forwards - with Keven Mealamu and Benn Robinson in the spotlight.

Saturday will be a day of milestones for front row forwards - with Keven Mealamu and Benn Robinson in the spotlight.

It will be minor sideshows to the bigger events - a day of intriguing Super Rugby encounters.

However, they will be afforded their respective moments in the spotlight.

Mealamu, the 35-year-old hooker will contest his 163rd Super Rugby match when the Blues host the ions in Albany in the first match of the day, surpassing the mark set by former Reds and Force lock Nathan Sharpe.

Mealamu, who is also the second most capped All Black with 123 Test appearances, made his Super Rugby debut in 2000, when the competition was still known as the Super 12.

Then, as we once again hop across the Tasman Sea, Robinson, 30, will overtake his idol and past captain, Phil Waugh, when he plays his 137th match for the Waratahs against traditional rivals, the Reds, in Brisbane.

After that it is the long trek across the Indian Ocean for two all-South African derbies.

First the Cheetahs host the Bulls in Bloemfontein, before the Stormers and Sharks go head-to-head in Cape Town.

We look at Saturday's matches!

Saturday, March 7

Blues v Lions
(North Harbour Stadium, Albany - Kick-off: 19.35; 06.35 GMT; 08.35 South Africa time)

You wouldn't call either team 'desperate' just yet, but after three rounds neither have been able to record a win.

Not that they were far off.

The Blues lost (24-25) to the Cheetahs after a contentious last-minute penalty last week, while they also pushed the Chiefs all the way in week one, before going down 18-23.

The Lions had a similar experience last week - centre Howard Mnisi having dropped a ball over the line in a late rally, the butchered try resulting in a 19-22 loss to the Stormers. They also dominated for 60 minutes against the Hurricanes, but they dropped their heads and concentration in the final quarter - the Canes eventually winning 22-8.

The Blues, after the disappointment of a loss in Jerome Kaino's 100th appearance, will be looking to give Keven Mealamu plenty of reason to celebrate his record-breaking 163rd Super Rugby match.

Together, Kaino and Mealamu have brought a level of discipline, integrity and resilience to the Blues.

Forwards coach Glenn Moore said that as a unit they are going pretty well.

"The set piece is going well, but I still think there is a bit left in us yet," Moore said of the losses in the first three weeks.

"We're all aware that we are creating opportunities and we've just got to convert those, that's all there is to it," Moore added.

Lions coach Johan Ackermann is banking on scrumhalf Ross Cronje - one of two changes to his team - to provide the spark that will get his team over the line.

"There are certain characteristics that Ross brings as a starting No.9 that we will need and we feel Faf [Francois de Klerk] can bring his sniping and energy later in the game," Ackermann told rugby365 in a teleconference call from Auckland - when asked about the change at No.9, Cronje for De Klerk.

"We feel we will need Ross's steadiness from the start."

Captain Warren Whiteley said they have put the defeats behind them and have worked hard to change their fortunes.

"We learnt some good lessons from the last few weeks and the guys are still very positive,"Whiteley said from Auckland, adding: "We have shifted our focus to the Blues this week."

Recent results:
2014: Lions won 39-36, Johannesburg
2012: Blues won 25-3, Auckland
2011: Blues won 41-32, Johannesburg
2010: Blues won 56-14, Johannesburg
2009: Blues won 36-12, Auckland
2008: Blues won 55-10, Johannesburg

Prediction: Ihaia West has the best goal-kicking success rate (14/15; 93 percent) of any player to attempt more than two shots at goal this season. The Lions rank joint-last for average clean breaks (4), while the Blues rank joint-first in this aspect (nine). The Lions (85) and Blues (89) have averaged the lowest number of completed tackles per game so far, however no team has missed fewer than the Lions (10). The Lions scored more points against the Blues (39) in their meeting last year than in any of their previous 15 meetings with the Auckland-based outfit. This fixture has seen an average aggregate score of over 57 points, with three of the last four clashes between the two yielding 70 or more. Two teams who have an expansive approach and favour the high-risk game over a dour kicking contest. It will be entertaining, with the Blues sneaking it by less than 10 points.

Teams:

Blues: 15 Lolagi Visinia, 14 Frank Halai, 13 Charles Piutau, 12 Francis Saili, 11 Melani Nanai, 10 Ihaia West, 9 Jimmy Cowan, 8 Jerome Kaino, 7 Luke Braid, 6 Steven Luatua, 5 Patrick Tuipulotu, 4 Josh Bekhuis, 3 Charlie Faumuina, 2 Keven Mealamu, 1 Ofa Tu'ungafasi.
Replacements: 16 James Parsons, 17 Sam Prattley, 18 Angus Ta'avao, 19 Hayden Triggs, 20 Brendon O'Connor, 21 Jamison Gibson-Park, 22 Simon Hickey, 23 Hamish Northcott.

Lions: 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Ruan Combrinck, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Harold Vorster, 11 Sampie Mastriet, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Ross Cronje, 8 Warren Whiteley (captain), 7 Warwick Tecklenburg, 6 Jaco Kriel, 5 Martin Muller, 4 Franco Mostert, 3 Julian Redelinghuys, 2 Robbie Coetzee, 1 Corne Fourie.
Replacements: 16 Armand van der Merwe, 17 Jacques van Rooyen, 18 Ruan Dreyer, 19 Robert Kruger, 20 Derick Minnie, 21 Francois de Klerk, 22 Jaco van der Walt, 23 Howard Mnisi.

Referee: Matt O'Brien (Australia)
Assistant referees: Ben O'Keeffe (New Zealand), Brendon Pickerill (New Zealand)
TMO: Glen Newman (New Zealand)

Reds v Waratahs
(Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane - Kick-off: 19.40; 20.40 AEDT; 08.40 GMT)

The Reds may have only one win from three starts, but the Waratahs should not be expecting a walkover.

Not only is there the rich history of the rivalry between the two sides, but the Queenslanders are desperate to put the unsavoury Karmichael Hunt cocaine saga behind them by knocking over the defending champions.

Coach Richard Graham said his team had focused on their own preparations all week, but could not look past the great history of rivalry between Queensland and New South Wales.

"We continue to drive change in our game and are progressing areas each week," Graham said.

"The outcome of the game will be determined by the collective effort of the group, not the actions of an individual.

"The rivalry between the two states goes back over a 100 years. We cannot forget all those past players who have represented Queensland, only 1,300 in total.

"Before Super Rugby this fixture would have been the biggest game most of them played in during their careers and while the current group of players have the opportunity to play a lot more games against many other teams we cannot forget the tradition of this game and those players who put Queensland Rugby on the map.

"It wasn't until James Slipper and I talked after the recent Force match I truly understood how passionate, how devoted Queenslanders are to supporting their teams. After a less than average start against the Brumbies and a week of rain and wind - rusted on supporters, older folk, younger folk, parents with kids all turned out in their Reds kit to cheer the team to victory.

"Their commitment to be there and passion struck me that night as being something special, something Queensland."

The Waratahs are indeed preparing for a hungry and improved Reds outfit.

Coming off a win before last round's bye, the Waratahs will face their traditional adversaries, the Reds, who after beating the Force at home in Round Two, fell seven points shy of the Highlanders in Dunedin last Friday.

In that match, off-season signing, James O'Connor, showcased a number of nice touches in the No.10 jersey in his much anticipated first start for the Reds since signing from French side Toulon.

Not only did the five-eighth register eight points with the boot, but in first Super Rugby match in 18 months, the wiry outside back highlighted his flair when he stormed past three defenders, before eventually being pulled down just short of the try-line.

And despite some rust in O'Connor's overall performance, his efforts in combing with halfback, Will Genia, was enough to put the Waratahs on notice of things to come despite the Hunt drug controversy continuing to cloud the Reds preparation leading into the match.

"I thought for a first hit-out they were relatively good.  They're both world class players and the more they can get front foot-ball, the more you'll likely see them shine," reserve scrumhalf Brendan McKibbin said.

"He's [O'Conner] a threat every time he touches the ball and the more he can play with the guys and the more they can learn their combinations, the more comfortable he'll feel.  We've got to shutdown his time and space and limit his options in that area."

Recent results:
2014: Waratahs won 34-3, Brisbane
2014: Waratahs won 32-5, Sydney
2013: Reds won 14-12, Sydney
2013: Reds won 25-17, Brisbane
2012: Reds won 32-16, Brisbane
2012: Reds won 25-21, Sydney

Prediction: Liam Gill has won at least three more turnovers than any other player so far (nine). Reminiscent of 2014, the 'Tahs rank top for carries, metres, breaks, defenders beaten and passes so far this year. Opponents of the Reds have had a lower scrum success rate (54 percent) than they have against any other team so far. However, opponents of the Waratahs have lost five scrums in two matches. The aggregate score of the two meetings between these traditional rivals in 2014 was 66-8 in favour of the eventual champions. The Waratahs' 34-3 win at Suncorp Stadium was their largest ever win over the Reds. It will be a hard-fought affair tat will go right down to the wire - with the Waratahs winning by about 10 points.

Teams:

Reds: 15 Lachie Turner, 14 Chris Kuridrani, 13 Ben Tapuai, 12 Anthony Fainga'a, 11 Chris Feauai-Sautia, 10 James O'Connor, 9 Will Genia, 8 Jake Schatz, 7 Liam Gill, 6 Adam Thomson, 5 James Horwill, 4 Dave McDuling, 3 Sam Talakai, 2 Saia Fainga'a, 1 James Slipper.
Replacements: 16 James Hanson, 17 Ben Daley, 18 Sef Faagase, 19 Marco Kotze, 20 Curtis Browning, 21 Nick Frisby, 22 Sam Johnson, 23 Campbell Magnay.
 
Waratahs: 15 Israel Folau, 14 Peter Betham, 13 Matt Carraro, 12 Kurtley Beale, 11 Rob Horne, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Wycliff Palu, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Jacques Potgieter, 5 David Dennis (captain), 4 Will Skelton, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 Benn Robinson.
Replacements - from: Tolu Latu, Jeremy Tilse, Paddy Ryan, Sam Lousi, Mitchell Chapman, Stephen Hoiles, Brendan McKibbin, Jono Lance, Taqele Naiyaravoro.

Referee: Glen Jackson (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Rohan Hoffman (Australia), James Leckie (Australia)
TMO: George Ayoub (Australia)

Cheetahs v Bulls
(Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein - Kick-off: 17.05; 15.05 GMT)

It is amazing to think that the Cheetahs have only once before beaten the Bulls in Super Rugby.

That rare feat was a 15-9 triumph in an arm-wrestle in dire conditions in Bloemfontein two years ago.

Bulls coach Frans Ludeke admitted his team - who got their first win of the season in a brutal encounter with the Sharks last week - would be facing a host side with their tails up following two confidence-boosting victories, against the self-same Sharks and the Blues.

"We finally found the momentum we were looking for in the opening rounds of the competition - against the Sharks - and managed four tries," Ludeke said.

"We will need the confidence and rhythm picked up on the weekend against the Cheetahs. They are one of the early front runners and will be full of self-belief."

Cheetahs coach Naka Drotské spoke of the need to raise the bar Eben higher, despite their impressive start.

"We are working to better all aspects of our game that did not work as planned against the Blues," Drotské said.

"We want our defence to be better at stopping guys because the Bulls are one of those sides you can't give an inch on attack.

"If they get momentum, they are nearly impossible to stop. If you want to beat the Bulls, you have to be physical in your approach."

Drotské said against the Bulls it is always important to ensure you stop their driving mauls and be up to standard in the set pieces.

"Defence is also important. If you allow the Bulls to get over the advantage line and get momentum you will have trouble.

"Our one-on-one tackling will have to be vital and we will have to be on top of our game on defence."

Bulls captain Pierre Spies said they will have to duplicate last week's effort against the Sharks.

"We did front up last weekend and for the first time this season, managed to finish when we created try-scoring opportunities," Spies said.

"Training was much easier this week as the belief came back. We had a good week and are again looking for a good result. It will not be easy. They won in Bloem last year, something we need to change."

Recent results:
2014: Bulls won 26-21, Pretoria
2014: Cheetahs won 15-9, Bloemfontein
2013: Bulls won 30-25, Bloemfontein
2013: Bulls won 26-20, Pretoria
2012: Bulls won 40-24, Pretoria
2012: Bulls won 51-19, Bloemfontein

Prediction: Willie le Roux has assisted at least two more tries (five) than any other player this season, despite playing only two matches so far. The Cheetahs have scored 60 points in two outings, despite an average of just 10 minutes 26 seconds in possession of the ball. No other side has averaged less than 13 minutes. The Bulls are yet to cause their opponents to lose a scrum after three outings this season, failing to win the ball on any of the 18 feeds they have faced. The Bulls have won 12 of the last 13 contests between the sides, however their last three wins have been by margins of fewer than seven points. The Cheetahs' sole victory in this run, in Round Two last year, produced fewer points in total (15-9) than any other fixture between these rivals. The Bulls always seem to come up with something special against the Cheetahs, but this year they will arrive in Bloemfontein as underdogs - with the Cheetahs likely to edge a thriller by less than 10 points.

Teams:

Cheetahs: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 Francois Venter, 12 Michael van der Spuy, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Joe Petersen, 9 Sarel Pretorius, 8 Jean Cook, 7 Teboho Mohoje, 6 Johannes Prinsloo, 5 Francois Uys (captain), 4 Carl Wegner, 3 Coenie Oosthuizen, 2 Torsten van Jaarsveld, 1 Danie Mienie.
Replacements: 16 Stephan Coetzee, 17 BG Uys, 18 Nicolaas van Dyk, 19 Tienie Burger, 20 Steven Sykes, 21 Tian Meyer, 22 Willie du Plessis, 23 Johann Sadie.
 
Bulls: 15 Jesse Kriel, 14 Bjorn Basson, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Francois Hougaard, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Rudy Paige, 8 Pierre Spies (captain), 7 Pieter Labuschagne, 6 Deon Stegmann, 5 Victor Matfield, 4 Jacques du Plessis, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1 Morné Mellett.
Replacements: 16 Callie Visagie, 17 Dean Greyling, 18 Marcel van der Merwe, 19 Grant Hattingh, 20 Hanro Liebenberg, 21 Tian Schoeman, 22 Piet van Zyl, 23 Jurgen Visser.
 
Referee: Stuart Berry
Assistant referees: Jaco van Heerden, Lourens van der Merwe
TMO: Johan Greeff

Stormers v Sharks
(Newlands, Cape Town - Kick-off: 19.10; 17.10 GMT)

Brutal is one way to describe some of the recent encounters between these teams.

There is simply no love lost and Saturday will be no different, given what is at stake in this coastal derby.

The return of some key Springboks in both teams will add further spice to a game that is a marketer's dream.

The return of Bok lock Eben Etzebeth from injury - to get a spot in the starting XV - and veteran flank Schalk Burger to the bench are the most significant selections this weekend.

Three Springboks - JP Pietersen, Frans Steyn (like Burger both are back from club duty in Japan) and Willem Alberts (back from injury) - return to the Sharks starting XV.

Stormers coach Allister Coetzee felt home ground advantage could be important.

"First and foremost, it's great to be back home at Newlands, where we will be for the next two weeks before our bye-week and tour," Coetzee said.

"For us, it's all about improving on last week's performance against the Lions, as we were unhappy with a lot of things that came out of the match," he added.

"We're expecting a ferocious onslaught from a powerful and experienced Sharks team, who were unlucky to lose away last weekend.

"We're certainly not reading anything into that defeat to the Bulls, in fact, we know that will only make the Sharks more dangerous."

The Sharks have won just one of their opening three matches, while the Stormers were currently second on the standings - having won every game this season.
 
 "The Stormers are the in-form team in South Africa at present and we are playing them in front of their passionate home crowd," Sharks Director of Rugby Gary Gold said.
 
"We are under no illusions about how tough the challenge is going to be.
 
"This is probably going to be a tougher battle than last week.

"Our squad has had a good training week and are determined to get our campaign back on a winning track."

Recent results:
2014: Sharks won 34-10, Cape Town
2014: Stormers won 21-19, Durban
2013: Stormers won 22-15, Cape Town
2013: Sharks won 12-6, Durban
2012: Sharks won 26-19, Cape Town (semifinal)
2012: Sharks won 25-20, Durban
2012: Stormers won 15-12, Cape Town

Prediction: Dillyn Leyds, Marcell Coetzee and Jacobus Reinach are three of 12 players to score two tries so far this season. Patrick Lambie has notched 58 points in three games, more than anybody else. He has kicked 20 from 24 - more than anybody else. Demetri Catrakilis has kicked the second most goals (15 from 19). The Sharks have averaged more points scored (31) and conceded (30) per game than any other side this year. The last 15 games between these teams have each produced an aggregate score that is less than 50 points. The Stormers are aiming to win their first four matches for the first time since 2012 when they won their opening six. The Sharks have lost two of three matches this season, but have scored 93 points in three matches and no less than 29 in any of these outings. The Stormers have shown some ominous form and the Sharks appear to lack the discipline and tactical presence to overcome the Cape Town team's structured approach. The Stormers to win by about 10 points.

Teams:

Stormers: 15 Cheslin Kolbe, 14 Johnny Kotze, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Dillyn Leyds, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Duane Vermeulen (captain), 7 Siya Kolisi, 6 Nizaam Carr, 5 Manuel Carizza, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Vincent Koch, 2 Siyabonga Ntubeni, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Replacements: 16 Neil Rautenbach, 17 Alistair Vermaak, 18 Frans Malherbe, 19 Jean Kleyn, 20 Schalk Burger, 21 Louis Schreuder, 22 Kurt Coleman, 23 Huw Jones.

Sharks: 15 SP Marais, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 JP Pietersen, 12 Francois Steyn, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Patrick Lambie, 9 Cobus Reinach, 8 Ryan Kankowski, 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 4 Lubabalo Mtyanda, 3 Matt Stevens, 2 Bismarck du Plessis (captain), 1 Thomas du Toit.
Replacements: 16 Kyle Cooper, 17 Dale Chadwick, 18 Lourens Adriaanse, 19 Marco Wentzel, 20 Renaldo Bothma, 21 Conrad Hoffmann, 22 Andre Esterhuizen, 23 Jack Wilson.
 
Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Quinton Immelman (South Africa), Cwengile Jadezweni (South Africa)
TMO: Deon van Blommestein (South Africa)

Compiled by Jan de Koning
@King365ed
@rugby365com


Statistical information provided by Opta Sports

Mc article bleus v lions

Lions win basement battle

Sat, 07 Mar 2015 08:35

MATCH REPORT: The Lions came back from a half-time deficit to edge the Blues 13-10 in their Super Rugby Round Four match.

The Lions came back from a half-time deficit to edge the Blues 13-10 in their Super Rugby Round Four match at the North Harbour Stadium, in Albany, on Saturday.

It was the Lions' first win of the season, after going close last week against the Stormers - only to be denied by a knock-on over the line.

There were no such fumbles this week, as the men from Johannesburg moved off the bottom of the table, past the Blues - who remain winless and now occupy last place.

The come-from-behind win also spoiled the party of Blues and All Black veteran Keven Mealamu, who played in a world record 163rd Super Rugby match.

The Lions' only previous win on New Zealand soil was when they beat the Highlanders 26-22 in Dunedin in 2011. Their predecessors, the Cats, also won twice.

However, this was their second win only in New Zealand, since they split from the Cheetahs in the unhappy Cats marriage.

The statistics heavily weighted in favour of the home team in the first hour.

The Blues had more than 80 percent of the territory, with as much as 10 minutes spent inside the Lions 22 in the first half alone, while they also dominated the possession stakes by a similar margin.

It was not till the final quarter that the Lions saw any kind of quality possession and they showed exactly how dangerous they can be with ball in hand.

The enormous number of scrums - 20-odd in the game - did not contribute to a free-flowing affair. However, the entertainment came in the intrigue of the effectiveness of the Lions' defence - which ultimately won them the game.

The early exchanges were marked by several turnovers, partly due to the greasy conditions as a result of rain before the game.

Just short of the 10-minute mark Elton Jantjies had a chance to put the visitors in the lead, but the Lions flyhalf - from the Blues'10-metre line - hooked his attempt past the left upright.

During these exchanges the Blues constantly pushed the offside envelope and were penalised on a number of occasions for offside.

Just past the 20-minute mark Lions hooker Robbie Coetzee was penalised for offside at a ruck on his 22 and Ihaia West put the first points on the board - the home team leading 3-0.

Minutes later the Blues were penalised, the fourth time in quick succession, for offside and it prompted the referee to have a chat with the home team. Jantjies, again from the home team's 10-metre line, levelled the scores at 3-all after 24 minutes.

On the half-hour mark Jerome Kaino - with the Blues forwards pounding at the line - sneaked over inside a ruck and the first try of the match was awarded, although there is plenty to debate about the Blues' blockers on the Lions' side of the pile of bodies. West added the conversion for a 10-3 lead.

The Blues held that advantage to the half-time break, even though they had a couple of opportunities to extend their lead.

The Lions had the first real scoring opportunity in the second half, with Elton Jantjies closing the gap to 6-10 after 50 minutes.

Despite the Blues having a succession of opportunities inside the Lions 22 - mostly with scrums and the odd penalty 0- the Lions took the lead in the 64th minute - Ruan Combrink getting the try, but a brilliant play sparked by a sublime break from replacement scrumhalf Francois de Klerk and the scoring pass coming from flyhalf Elton Jantjies, who also kicked the conversion - 13-10.

With just under five minutes to go Ihaia West pushed a penalty attempt past the upright and the Lions managed to hang on for a rare and famous win.

Man of the match: You can mention the entire Blues pack for their hard work in the tight exchanges and contact areas, while Jerome Kaino brought his most brutal best form to the game . Kevin Mealamu showed that, despite his relatively small frame and 35 years of age, he can still mix it with the best - not to mention his world record 163rd Super Rugby outing ... even though he was replaced five minutes into the second half. Warwick Tecklenburg produced an enormous workrate and ably assisted by his captain warren Whiteley, especially on defence, while Franco Mostert brought the physicality that was expected of him. Lionel Mapoe also did enormous work on defence against the dangerous Blues' backs. However, our award goes to the entire Lions team - mostly for their enthusiasm and effectiveness on defence, the aspect that won them the game - although a shout-out must go to their scrum as well.

The scorers:

For the Blues:
Try:
Kaino
Con: West
Pen: West

For the Lions:
Try:
Combrink
Con: Jantjies
Pens: Jantjies 2

Teams:

Blues: 15 Lolagi Visinia, 14 Frank Halai, 13 Charles Piutau, 12 Francis Saili, 11 Melani Nanai, 10 Ihaia West, 9 Jimmy Cowan, 8 Jerome Kaino, 7 Luke Braid, 6 Steven Luatua, 5 Patrick Tuipulotu, 4 Josh Bekhuis, 3 Charlie Faumuina, 2 Keven Mealamu, 1 Ofa Tu'ungafasi.
Replacements: 16 James Parsons, 17 Sam Prattley, 18 Angus Ta'avao, 19 Hayden Triggs, 20 Brendon O'Connor, 21 Jamison Gibson-Park, 22 Simon Hickey, 23 Hamish Northcott.

Lions: 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Ruan Combrinck, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Harold Vorster, 11 Sampie Mastriet, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Ross Cronje, 8 Warren Whiteley (captain), 7 Warwick Tecklenburg, 6 Jaco Kriel, 5 Martin Muller, 4 Franco Mostert, 3 Julian Redelinghuys, 2 Robbie Coetzee, 1 Corne Fourie.
Replacements: 16 Armand van der Merwe, 17 Jacques van Rooyen, 18 Ruan Dreyer, 19 Robert Kruger, 20 Derick Minnie, 21 Francois de Klerk, 22 Jaco van der Walt, 23 Howard Mnisi.

Referee: Matt O'Brien (Australia)
Assistant referees: Ben O'Keeffe (New Zealand), Brendon Pickerill (New Zealand)
TMO: Glen Newman (New Zealand)

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Jerome Kaino (30min)
TRIES
Ruan Combrinck (63min)
 
CONVERSIONS
Elton Jantjies (65min)
 
PENALTIES
Elton Jantjies (24min) and Elton Jantjies (50min)
 
PENALTY TRIES
 
DROP GOALS
 
 
 
VENUE Auckland
REFEREE Matt O'Brien