||Join us again shortly for more live coverage of Super Rugby when the Highlanders take on the Stormers in Dunedin!|
||Willie du Plessis adds the CONVERSION bit it is the Chiefs who win 37-27 - FULL-TIME|
||The Cheetahs now win a penalty near halfway and Pietersen gives his team a line-out in the Chiefs 22. They form a maul and make a few metres. They get another penalty after a side entry by the Chiefs and opt for a 5m line-out. They form a maul and win another penalty after a few phases. Brussow takes it quickly and dives over for the TRY!|
||Cruden adds the CONVERSION and the Chiefs lead 37-20|
||The Chiefs. from a scrum 10m out from the Cheetahs 22, find a huge gap with Pulu breaking before passing to Horrell in the 22 and he stays strong in the tackle and drives over for the bonus point TRY!|
||From the line-out the Chiefs form a maul before going to the midfield with Horrell. They lose the ball and Hendricks kicks down field, The Chiefs get the ball back before Pulu sends a high ball and the Chiefs get the ball back. They make their way into the Cheetahs half before Cruden kicks and Blommetjies kick goes dead.|
||The home side is dominant in the scrum and they win the penalty. Cruden gives his team an attacking line-out just inside the Cheetahs half of the field with a poor kick.|
||The Chiefs go onto the attack again but Messam loses it in the Cheetahs half before Venter kicks down field. The Chiefs run it back and Pulu pass is intercept by Van der Spuy but the Cheetahs cannot do anything with it after a pass is lost forward near the Chiefs 10m line|
||Cruden adds the CONVERSION and the Chiefs lead 30-20|
||The Chiefs opt for a scrum from the penalty. Leitch picks it up and goes short side where he passes to Sam Cane who dives over for the TRY!|
||From the scrum, the Chiefs win the ball with Leitch brought down short. They go with one-off runners and the Cheetahs give away a penalty and Brussow is YELLOW CARDED for offside.|
||Francois Venter intercepts but he loses and the Chiefs are now in the Cheetahs 22 and Tamanivalu sprints to the corner and he passes to Marshall who loses it forward and the Cheetahs have a scrum 5m from their own tryline|
||The Cheetahs now win a penalty on their 10m line and Pietersen gives his team a line-out in the Chiefs 22 after a good kick. The throw is over-thrown and the Chiefs come away with it with Sonny Bill Williams in space. They make their way into the Cheetahs half|
||From a scrum 5m from their tryline, the Cheetahs give away a penalty with the front row collapsing. Cruden converts the PENALTY and the Chiefs lead 23-20|
||The Chiefs now have the ball on the Cheetahs 10m line before Weber finds space and sprints towards the Cheetahs 22. After losing some ground McKenzie finds space. They are just 5m from the tryline with Sonny Bill Williams almost through but it is lost forward. Cheetahs get the scrum|
||Pietersen adds the CONVERSION ad it is 20-20|
||Brussow is in for the TRY! after Cruden loses the ball forward after retrieving McKenzie's charged down kick 5m from his own tryline!|
||After a few reset scrums, the Cheetahs give away another penalty and Cruden gets chance to extend his teams lead. He converts the PENALTY and the Chiefs lead 20-13.|
||From a line-out on the Cheetahs 10m line, Sonny Bill Williams takes it over the advantage line with a good run. They go wide but they lose the ball forward and the Cheetahs have a scrum near their own 22|
||Blommetjies sends a high ball but McKenzie takes it well in his 22. He takes it quickly and the Chiefs make their way to The Cheetahs 22 after good work by Williams. The home side are now in the 22 after good work bu Messam who breaks and Weber. They lose the ball and the Cheetahs clear their lines.|
||Cruden converts the PENALTY and the Chiefs lead 17-13.|
||The Chiefs take it up from the line-out. They form a maul on the Cheetahs 10m line but they lose their bind and the Cheetahs get a scrum. The Chiefs win a nother penalty and it is again Van Dyk who is penalised. Cruden will go for polls.|
||From the restart the Chiefs keep ball in hand, But Sam Cane loses the ball forward on the ground just outside the 22 and the Cheetahs have an attacking scrum. The Chiefs win the penalty with Van Dyk scrumming at and angle and the home side has a line-out in the Cheetahs half|
||SECOND HALF: Cheetahs' flyhalf Joe Pietersen starts the second half!|
||The Cheetahs win a line-out near the Chiefs 10m line. Pietersen sends a high ball but McKenzie takes it well in his 22, He takes it quickly and the Chiefs come away with it. Cruden sends a chip in the Cheetahs half, Rhule picks it up and is into space, He is tackled in the Chiefs 22. The Cheetahs have a scrum after a Chiefs knock on. The Cheetahs win a penalty after the Chiefs pulled out of the scrum. Pietsersen misses the kick to polls and the score remains 14-13 at HALF-TIME!|
||The Chiefs lose the ball after going wide from the line-out. The Cheetahs now lose the ball after taking it through a few phases and they give away a penalty. Cruden gives his team a line-out deep in the Cheetahs half. Manu takes it up from the line-out but it has been ripped from them in the next phase and the Cheetahs clear|
||From the scrum the Cheetahs are dominant with their extra men in the forward pack and they win a penalty with the Chiefs collapsing. The away team asks for another scrum. But Prinsloo gives away a penalty after passing into the face of Venter and picking the ball up from an offside position. Cruden gives his team a line-out near their 10m line|
||The Cheetahs form a maul in the Chiefs 22 before Pietersen sends a cross-kick and Hendricks wins it. The Chiefs turn it over but they lose the ball and the Cheetahs will have a scrum about 5m out from the Chiefs tryline|
||The Cheetahs from a a maul and make a couple of metres and they win a penalty after Ben Tameifuna comes in from the side and he gets a YELLOW CARD|
||The home side now has the ball just outside the Cheetahs 22 and they lose the ball and give away the penalty after holding on. Pietersen finds touch with near the Chiefs 10m with a good kick.32|
||Pietersen adds the CONVERSION and it is now 14-13 to the Chiefs|
||From the line-out the Cheetahs form the maul and Prinsloo score the TRY! after the Chiefs tried to not confront the maul.|
||From a Chiefs clearance the Cheetahs have a line-out and they maul their way towards the Chiefs 22 and they win the penalty with the Chiefs continuing to come in from the side. Pietersen gives his team a line-out in the Chiefs 22|
||This time it is not a good throw and the Chiefs come away with it. Lowe kicks down field and the Cheetahs attampt to run it out from their 22 but Van der Spuy is tackled hard and loses theball. The Chiefs run it back but they give away a penalty but Pietersen cannot find touch.|
||The Cheetahs opt for a 5m line-out from the penalty and they form the maul and Messam is penalised for joining the maul incorrectly. The Cheetahs go for the line-out and go for another maul. Prinsloo is nearly through but play is brought back for a penalty at the maul and Michael Fitzgerald is YELLOW CARDED!|
||From a line-out near halfway the Cheetahs go wide before Benjamin kicks down field. Cruden gets it and he kicks before Pietersen returns it. The home side has the ball in their own half before Cane loses it and Hendricks finds some space and the Cheetahs are in the 22 and win the penalty with the Chiefs offside at the ruck|
||Cruden adds the CONVERSION and the Chiefs lead 14-6|
||The Chiefs sends the ball to Tamanivalu from the line-out. In the next phase Messam breaks from a maul and sprints about 25m for the Chiefs second TRY!|
||From the scrum, the Cheetahs sends a high ball through Pietersen and Marshall takes it well. Cruden kicks down field before Pietersen finds touch and the Chiefs have an attacking line-out between the Cheetahs 10m and 22m line|
||From the line-out the Cheetahs run it from their own half and Hendricks is in space, He passes to Venter who tries a reverse pass but it is kicked into touch. The Chiefs kick down field and the Cheetahs run it back. The away team now has a scrum near halfway after the home side took an incorrect line-out.|
||The home side make their way up to the Cheetahs 22 after a good spell with ball in hand from their own half. Cane and Manu are strong in the tackle but it is lost forward and Pietersen clears. The Chiefs take a quick line-out and the Cheetahs will have a line-out in their own half after a kick by Cruden|
||The Cheetahs from a line-out in their own half forms a maul before Venter kicks. The away team wins the ball back after good work from Hendricks and they win a penalty on the Chiefs 10m line. Pietersen sets the kick up and and coverts the PENALTY with the score at 7-6|
||Pietersen converts the PENALTY from in front and it is now 7-3|
||The Cheetahs are put under pressure but they win the penalty after an illegal wheel by the Chiefs and Pietersen gives them a line-out 15m out from the Cheetahs 22. The Cheetahs opt for a maul and make their way into the Chiefs 22 with an amazing drive. Prinsloo takes it up and they win a penalty after the home team did not roll away.|
||From a line-out on the Cheetahs 10m line the Chiefs form a driving maul but good work from the Cheetahs forwards see them unable to use it and the away team wins the scrum.|
||Cruden adds the CONVERSION and the Chiefs lead 7-0|
||The Chiefs are just inside the Cheetahs half on the attack before Weber breaks. The home side are now in the away team's 22. Sonny Bill Williams is in a half gap and he passes to Michael Leitch who breaks through for the TRY!|
||KICK-OFF: Chiefs flyhalf Aaron Cruden gets the game under way|
||The last meeting between the sides provided the highest-scoring draw in Super Rugby history; the match finished 43-all in Bloemfontein.|
||The Chiefs' last home match against the Cheetahs provided their largest ever Super Rugby winning margin (42 points).|
||Welcome to live coverage of Round Seven of Super Rugby with the Chiefs taking on the Cheetahs at Waikato Stadium in Hamilton.|
Can we match last Saturday for sheer drama? The quality of the play was below par, but the drama was befitting of a Hollywood script.
Can we match last Saturday for sheer drama? The quality of the play may have been somewhat below par, but the drama was befitting of a Hollywood script.
The ingredients are there to make this Saturday another delectable day.
It starts with two teams desperate to bounce back from last week's disappointments - the fourth-placed Chiefs hosting the Cheetahs in Hamilton. The Chiefs come off a one-point loss to the Sharks and had to travel all the way from Durban. The Cheetahs were handed a 43-point drubbing by the Crusaders in Christchurch.
Then it is off to the South Island, where Highlanders, fresh from a disappointing loss to the table-topping Hurricanes, host a Stormers team coming off a bye.
We hop across the Tasman Sea to Sydney where the defending champion Waratahs will look to build on the momentum gained from last week's demolition job on the Brumbies when they face the winless Blues.
The Sharks have had to deal with plenty of off-field drama in the wake of their win over the Chiefs - with captain Bismarck du Plessis suspended and utility back Francois Steyn facing a re-trial after initially being cleared by a disciplinary hearing. They Western Force could feel their wrath in Durban on Saturday.
We conclude the weekend's action with what could be the match of the round - the three-time champion Bulls looking to add to their three-match winning streak, while the seven-time champion Crusaders have won three of their last four matches and are equally nervous about the outing in Pretoria.
We look at Saturday's matches!
Saturday, march 28
Chiefs v Cheetahs
(Waikato Stadium, Hamilton - Kick-off: 16.30; 05.30 SAST, 03.30 GMT)
The Chiefs have an abundance of world class talent and the potential to win a third title.
However, two defeats in their last three outings suggest they don't have the consistency to get the most out of their very impressive roster.
Fortunately they are up against a Cheetahs team that has been iffy for the past month and capitulated in dramatic fashion against the Crusaders last week.
All Black flank Sam Cane said despite the visitors' shockingly poor showing last week they are expecting another big physical battle against the Cheetahs - their third South African opponents in a row.
Add in the fact that the Chiefs had just returned from a trip to the Republic and the anxiety and disquiet in the home team's camp are understandable.
The Cheetahs are often rated as the most expansive team in the South African conference, but Cane feels the Chiefs have the defensive skill to plug any holes.
"Our defence, to be honest, has been pretty sharp this season and we've got to make sure we keep building on that," Cane told the Waikato Times.
He said the Chiefs' attack remains a vital weapon, although they made about 30 handling errors at the weekend.
"It's about eliminating some of that sort of stuff, and bringing the performance together of the backs and forwards which we know we can do."
2014: Chiefs and Cheetahs drew 43-all, Bloemfontein
2013: Chiefs won 45-3, Hamilton
2012: Chiefs won 39-33, Bloemfontein
2010: Chiefs and Cheetahs drew 25-all, Hamilton
2009: Chiefs won 28-10, Kimberley
2008: Chiefs won 22-20, Hamilton
Prediction: The Chiefs' last home match against the Cheetahs provided their largest ever Super Rugby winning margin (42 points). The last meeting between the sides provided the highest-scoring draw in Super Rugby history; the match finished 43-all in Bloemfontein. It was also the third draw in nine meetings between the teams. The Chiefs have the best tackling success rate in the competition (89 percent), while the Cheetahs' is the third worst (84 percent). These two sides' try-scoring records are identical in second, third and fourth quarters of matches this season, but the Chiefs have scored two more (four) in the opening 20 minutes of matches. The Cheetahs' defence seems patchy and their set pieces were under pressure - be that from illegal tactics or not - last week. The Chiefs are just the kind of team that will make you pay if you leak like sieve. The Chiefs could win by 20 points or more.
Chiefs: 15 Damian McKenzie, 14 Bryce Heem, 13 Charlie Ngatai/Seta Tamanivalu, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Tom Marshall, 10 Aaron Cruden, 9 Brad Weber, 8 Michael Leitch, 7 Sam Cane, 6 Liam Messam (captain), 5 Michael Fitzgerald, 4 Matt Symons, 3 Ben Tameifuna, 2 Quentin MacDonald, 1 Pauliasi Manu.
Replacements: 16 Rhys Marshall, 17 Siate Tokolahi, 18 Mitchell Graham, 19 Michael Allardice, 20 Johan Bardoul, 21 Augustine Pulu, 22 Andrew Horrell, 23 Marty McKenzie.
Cheetahs: 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 Johann Sadie, 12 Michael van der Spuy, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Joe Pietersen, 9 Shaun Venter, 8 Johannes Prinsloo, 7 Jean Cook, 6 Heinrich Brüssow, 5 Francois Uys (captain), 4 Steven Sykes, 3 Nicolaas van Dyk, 2 Stephan Coetzee, 1 BG Uys.
Replacements: 16 Torsten van Jaarsveld, 17 Caylib Oosthuizen, 18 Danie Mienie, 19 Carl Wegner, 20 Willie Britz, 21 Tian Meyer, 22 Willie du Plessis, 23 Ryno Benjamin
Referee: Craig Joubert (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Stuart Berry (South Africa), Brendon Pickerill (New Zealand)
TMO: Glenn Newman (New Zealand)
Highlanders v Stormers
(Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin - Kick-off: 19.35; 08.35 SA time; 06.35 GMT)
Both teams are coming off a loss, determined to put their campaigns firmly back on track - after what was decidedly underwhelming performances.
The Highlanders were not as clinical or energetic when they went down (13-20) to the Hurricanes last week, while the Stormers - who are coming off a bye - were also well below their best in a 19-28 loss to the Chiefs.
Highlanders coach Jamie Joseph said his side need to show a bit more patience and get the ball in good field positions.
''We have to remember, you win the game in the last minute, not the first minute," he told the Otago Daily Times.
''We know we can play and we just have to make sure we get some field position and apply some pressure.''
Stormers head coach Allister Coetzee said there was lots of energy in training this week and he hopes that translates into form on the field.
Coetzee, speaking in a teleconference call from the team's training base in the holiday resort of Queenstown, said the game is "massively important" for his team.
"However, there are processes we have to get right," he said.
"Once our set pieces function well, the line-outs work and we put pressure on the scrums, then the result will take care of itself.
"We are playing against a very good counter-attacking team a team that punishes you if you are inaccurate, so we will have to look after possession."
2014: Stormers won 29-28, Cape Town
2012: Stormers won 21-6, Dunedin
2011: Stormers won 16-6, Cape Town
2010: Stormers won 33-0, Cape Town
2009: Stormers won 18-11, Dunedin
2008: Stormers won 26-16, Cape Town
Prediction: The Highlanders have lost their last six against the Stormers, a run which was preceded with nine wins from 12 meetings between the sides. The New Zealanders picked up a losing bonus point in just two of those six losses, losing by an aggregate margin of 78 points. Though they have thrown fewer line-outs than any other side, only the Brumbies (91 percent) have a better throw success rate than the Highlanders (90.9 percent). Opponents of the Stormers have averaged the second fewest passes (107.6) so far, whilst opponents of the Highlanders have averaged the fewest kicks from hand (15.8). The elusive Highlanders have forced the worst tackling success rate from their opponents (82 percent) so far this season. The Stormers have forced the worst scrum success rate from their opponents (69 percent) in the competition, with the South Africans stealing more scrums against the head than any other team this year on average. The Stormers will have to return to their defence-orientated game if they are to pull off a win, because the Highlanders have a showed a vulnerability when they are put in a choke-hold. The Stormers by less than 10 points.
Highlanders: 15 Ben Smith (co-captain), 14 Waisake Naholo, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Shaun Treeby, 11 Patrick Osborne, 10 Lima Sopoaga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Nasi Manu (co-captain), 7 James Lentjes, 6 Elliot Dixon, 5 Joe Wheeler, 4 Tom Franklin, 3 Josh Hohneck, 2 Ash Dixon, 1 Brendon Edmonds.
Replacements: 16 Liam Coltman, 17 Daniel Lienert-Brown, 18 Pingi Tala'apitaga, 19 Mark Reddish, 20 Dan Pryor, 21 Fumiaki Tanaka, 22 Marty Banks, 23 Jason Emery.
Stormers: 15 Cheslin Kolbe, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Juan de Jongh (captain), 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Dillyn Leyds, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Nizaam Carr, 7 Schalk Burger, 6 Siya Kolisi, 5 Manuel Carizza, 4 Jean Kleyn, 3 Vincent Koch, 2 Siyabonga Ntubeni, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Replacements: 16 Mbongeni Mbonambi, 17 Oliver Kebble, 18 Frans Malherbe, 19 Eben Etzebeth, 20 Michael Rhodes, 21 Louis Schreuder, 22 Kurt Coleman, 23 Huw Jones.
Referee: Rohan Hoffmann (Australia)
Assistant referees: Mike Fraser (New Zealand), Ben O'Keeffe (New Zealand)
TMO: Chris Wratt (New Zealand)
Waratahs v Blues
(Allianz Stadium, Sydney - Kick-off: 19.40; 21.40 NZ time; 08.40 GMT)
There is no doubt the word 'desperation' is synonymous Blues coach John Kirwan.
Not only has Kirwan drafted in seasoned flyhalf Dan Bowden, who will play his first Super Rugby match in five years, but he also opted against resting All Blacks Charlie Faumuina, Charles Piutau and James Parsons - in line with New Zealand Rugby Union's World Cup strategy.
The reason is simple. The winless Blues, last on the 15-team standings, are in a dire position.
"The original plan was the Waratahs and possibly another away game, but we've had to rethink that and take our season one game at a time," Kirwan said.
"We're under a little bit of scoreboard pressure so we have to get back on the winning track first."
The 28-year-old Bowden is back from spells in the English premiership and Japan, having previously played for the Highlanders and Crusaders from 2008 to 2010.
"He [Bowden] has been through it before so I just said to him: 'Get out there and empty the tank'," Kirwan said.
"It's his experience that we're looking for and that doesn't leave you, so he's pretty relaxed about it."
The Waratahs are well aware that there's backlash likely to come for a desperate Blues outfit.
That is why coach Michael Cheika has demanded a repeat of the quality and intensity that saw them demolish the Brumbies - aggression and an 'edge' at the collision.
"It's always going to be a challenge with the Blues, they're a big team - with [front row forwards] Charlie Faumuina, Patrick Tuipulotu, All Blacks there - that lead their go forward in the pack," Waratahs lock Will Skelton told the Sydney Morning Herald.
"And they got us last year, in the same position. We'd just come off a good win and going into them probably underestimated the Blues and they took advantage.
"They will be looking to bully us around but we're up for it."
2014: Blues won 21-13, Auckland
2013: Waratahs won 30-27, Sydney
2011: Blues won 26-13, Auckland
2011: Blues won 31-17, Auckland
2010: Waratahs won 39-32, Sydney
2009: Waratahs won 27-22, Auckland
Prediction: The Blues have won three of the last four matches between these sides. The last five matches between the sides have been won by the home side on the day. The Blues have picked up a losing bonus point in their last three defeats to the Waratahs. The 'Tahs have been beaten by margins greater than seven points in each of their last three defeats to the Auckland-based side. With regard to turnovers won, the Waratahs (4.6) and Blues (5.2) are the worst and third worst performing teams respectively. The Blues (16 minutes 25 seconds) and the Waratahs (16 minutes 11 seconds) rank first and third respectively for average time spent in possession this season. Only the Round Six leaders, the Hurricanes (seven), have scored more final quarter tries than the Waratahs (six), while the Blues have scored the joint-fewest in the same timeframe (one). The Blues will eventually win, but it is unlikely to be this weekend. The Waratahs by 15 points or more.
Waratahs: 15 Israel Folau, 14 Taqele Naiyaravoro, 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 Tolu Latu, 1 Benn Robinson.
Replacements - from: Hugh Roach, Tatafu Polota-Nau, Jeremy Tilse, Paddy Ryan, Sam Lousi, Mitchell Chapman, Stephen Hoiles, , Brendan McKibbin, Jono Lance, Peter Betham.
Blues: 15 Charles Piutau, 14 Frank Halai, 13 George Moala, 12 Francis Saili, 11 Melani Nanai, 10 Dan Bowden, 9 Jimmy Cowan, 8 Jerome Kaino (captain), 7 Brendon O'Connor, 6 Steven Luatua, 5 Patrick Tuipulotu, 4 Hayden Triggs, 3 Charlie Faumuina, 2 James Parsons, 1 Tony Woodcock.
Replacements: 16 Keven Mealamu, 17 Ofa Tu'ungafasi/Sam Prattley, 18 Angus Ta'avao, 19 Culum Retallick, 20 Luke Braid, 21 Jamison Gibson-Park, 22 Simon Hickey, 23 Pita Ahki.
Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Andrew Lees, Damien Mitchelmore (Australia)
TMO: Peter Marshall (Australia)
Sharks v Western Force
(Kings Park, Durban - Kick-off: 17.05; 15.05 GMT; 23.05 AWST; 02.05 AEDT Sunday, March 29)
The Sharks have faced bigger challenges off the field than on it this past week, and the end is not in sight yet.
How they manage to put the Bismarck du Plessis and Frans Steyn sagas behind them will be key when the Sharks face a lowly Force team that has lost five consecutive matches after an opening-round loss.
The Sharks, before this week's setbacks, were gaining some handy momentum - having won the last two games, following a two-match losing streak.
"I feel we are gaining a bit of momentum, but we are just going to take it week by week," Sharks fullback SP Marais told a media briefing in Durban.
"Although we won last weekend, I wouldn't say it was a pretty affair, and the two red cards meant that we put ourselves under a lot of pressure.
"But we are very happy to have come away with a win. We are super glad but we can't dwell on it because this weekend is another challenge."
Despite their lowly position, 13th, on the standings, the Perth-based outfit remains threat.
"The Force have definitely improved over the last few years, especially if you take where they started and where they are 10 years later," Marais said.
"They have a good pack and some quick backs and looking at their record in this year's competition, I don't think we can take them too lightly, it's going to be a different challenge and it's sure to be difficult.
"They will play a very different game to the Chiefs and we're preparing for that. We've done our analysis and I think they will bring a different challenge to the Chiefs - who threw the ball around a lot more. The Force keep it tight, and as soon as you are sucked in, they take it out wide. We have to be sharp.
"We had to be way more defensive against the Chiefs because of the two red cards, so hopefully this weekend we can play with 15 guys and run a bit more."
2013: Sharks won 23-13, Perth
2012: Sharks won 53-11, Durban
2011: Sharks won 39-12, Perth
2010: Sharks won 27-22, Durban
2009: Sharks won 22-10, Perth
2008: Sharks won 17-10, Durban
Prediction: The Sharks' six-match winning streak against the Force is their current second best winning streak against a single opponent. The Force have taken a losing bonus point in two of their four trips to Durban. The Sharks (84 percent) have the worst tackling success rate in the competition, while the Force tackle at just 85 percent. The Force have averaged the fewest line-out steals (0.3), while the Sharks have come up with the most (2.2 average). The Force have the worst scrum success rate in the competition (73 percent). The Force came close last week because the Bulls were poor. The Sharks are likely to present a different challenge and should with by about 15 points.
Sharks: 15 SP Marais, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 JP Pietersen, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Frans Steyn, 9 Conrad Hoffmann, 8 Ryan Kankowski, 7 Jean Deysel (captain), 6 Renaldo Bothma, 5 Marco Wentzel, 4 Mouritz Botha, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Kyle Cooper, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Replacements: 16 Monde Hadebe, 17 Thomas du Toit, 18 Lourens Adriaanse, 19 Lubabalo Mtyanda, 20 Daniel du Preez, 21 Stefan Ungerer, 22 Fred Zeilinga, 23 Waylon Murray.
Western Force: 15 Luke Morahan, 14 Marcel Brache, 13 Kyle Godwin, 12 Luke Burton, 11 Nick Cummins, 10 Sias Ebersohn, 9 Alby Mathewson, 8 Ben McCalman, 7 Kane Koteka, 6 Steve Mafi, 5 Adam Coleman, 4 Sam Wykes (captain), 3 Tetera Faulkner, 2 Nathan Charles, 1 Pekahou Cowan.
Replacements: 16 Heath Tessmann, 17 Chris Heiberg, 18 Oliver Hoskins, 19 Wilhelm Steenkamp, 20 Angus Cottrell, 21 Ian Prior, 22 Zack Holmes, 23 Dane Haylett-Petty.
Referee: Nic Briant (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Jason Jaftha (South Africa), Quinton Immelman (South Africa)
TMO: Marius Jonker (South Africa)
Bulls v Crusaders
(Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria - Kick-off: 19:10; 06.10 NZST, 17.10 GMT)
The Bulls may be on a three-match winning streak, but last week's streaky one-point (25-24) win over the hapless Western Force produced enough evidence to suggest they are far from an in-form team.
Coach Frans Ludeke, always the optimist, saw positives in the close win over the Force.
However, he was also pragmatic enough to acknowledge dangers pose by a Crusaders team that demolished both the Lions and Cheetahs in the past fortnight.
"We did a lot of things well against the Force, but our execution and defence were lacking," Ludeke said.
"We failed to deliver the knock-out punch when they had 13 men on the field.
"It is a mindset as well, but few challenges are greater than beating the Crusaders, so I am pretty sure the guys will be up for it. It certainly showed in this week's training."
Bulls captain Pierre Spies echoed similar sentiments,.
"We did some good things, but also played poorly at times and that nearly cost us the match," Spies said.
"It is just not good enough at this level. We need to show we are the championship side we believe we are.
"Hopefully we will have the crowd support this week.
"This Crusaders team is a good one, but this is our turf and we need to defend it," Spies added.
"We have lost twice at home and we cannot allow it to happen again. I think we have turned the corner and is keen to lead the guys onto the field."
Crusaders assistant coach Tabai Matson, in a teleconference call from the team's base in Pretoria, described it as a "critical game" in their campaign.
"It will be an immense physical battle, a real arm-wrestle," Matson said of a Bulls team renowned for its abrasive approach.
All Black veteran Kieran Read also spoke of the huge challenge awaiting them in Pretoria.
He said nothing can be assumed with the Bulls.
"We will expect them to be on their game. They have a few guys in there that are a lot more experienced in their tight five."
2013: Crusaders won 41-19, Christchurch
2012: Crusaders won 28-13, Christchurch (preliminary knock-out match)
2012: Bulls won 32-30, Pretoria
2011: Crusaders won 27-0, Timaru
2010: Bulls won 39-24, Soweto (semifinal)
2010: Bulls won 40-35, Pretoria
2009: Bulls won 36-23, Pretoria (semifinal)
Prediction: The Crusaders hold the record for the most points scored in a single match against the Bulls; they beat them 75-27 in 2000. The last eight contests between the sides have been won by the home side on the day, with each side collecting four triumphs apiece. The Crusaders have scored more tries that originated from scrums (6) than any other side so far, whilst the Bulls are one of four sides yet to score a try from a possession that originated with a scrum. The Crusaders have scored five tries after winning a turnover, more than any other team. Only the Crusaders (28.6) have averaged more points per game than the Bulls (27.4) so far this season. The Crusaders have won more scrums per game (8.2) at a better success rate (95 percent) than any other side this season. It is going to be the most intriguing and closely contested encounter of the weekend - with the Bulls sneaking a win by less than 10 points.
Bulls: 15 Jesse Kriel, 14 Francois Hougaard, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Rudy Paige, 8 Pierre Spies (captain), 7 Arno Botha, 6 Deon Stegmann, 5 Victor Matfield, 4 Jacques du Plessis, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1 Morné Mellett.
Replacements: 16 Jaco Visagie, 17 Dean Greyling, 18 Marcel van der Merwe, 19 Grant Hattingh, 20 Hanro Liebenberg, 21 Piet van Zyl, 22 Tian Schoeman, 23 Jurgen Visser.
Crusaders: 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Kieron Fonotia, 13 Ryan Crotty, 12 Tom Taylor, 11 Nemani Nadolo, 10 Dan Carter, 9 Andy Ellis, 8 Kieran Read (captain), 7 Richie McCaw, 6 Jordan Taufua, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Luke Romano, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Ben Funnell, 1 Joe Moody.
Replacements: 16 Codie Taylor, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Nepo Laulala, 19 Jimmy Tupou, 20 Matt Todd, 21 Mitchell Drummond, 22 Colin Slade, 23 David Havilli.
Referee: Angus Gardner (Australia)
Assistant referees: Marius van der Westhuizen (South Africa), Stephan Geldenhuys (South Africa)
TMO: Deon van Blommestein (South Africa)
Compiled by Jan de Koning
Statistical information provided by Opta Sports
REPORT: The Chiefs cemented their place in the top six of Super Rugby with a convincing 37-27 win over the Cheetahs on Saturday.
The Chiefs cemented their place in the top six of Super Rugby with a convincing 37-27 win over the Cheetahs in Hamilton on Saturday.
The home side outscored the Cheetahs, still winless on their Australasian tour, by four tries to three.
However, the margin does not tell the full story of the Chiefs' second-half dominance, after they took a narrow one-point lead into the break and lead 37-20 with time officially up - a late consolation try giving the visitors' scoreline some respectability.
The first half was a mess, a penalty haul of 12 to two against a Chiefs team seemingly devoid of any discipline. While the Chiefs will have plenty of reason to complain about the Cheetahs' first try - which was clearly an illegal move missed by the referee - it was nowhere near as disgraceful as the Chiefs' deliberate illegal tactics.
It resulted in two players - Michael Fitzgerald and Ben Tameifuna - being sent to the sin bin, as the tournament's most carded team added two more to the list of bad boys. And those 12 first-half penalties were equal to what they have been averaging per game in the first six rounds.
This behaviour detracted from the good play that produced two great tries and a 14-13 lead.
After the break that trend changed dramatically, as a string of scrum penalties early in the second half turning the tide against a willing - but sadly outclassed - Cheetahs team.
The Chiefs, the most penalised team in the competition, avoided the pitfall of fatigue that often hits New Zealand sides returning from South Africa, but they could not avoid the wrath of referee Craig Joubert.
Playing without regular hooker Hika Elliott, who was red-carded in last week's loss to the Sharks in Durban, the Chiefs gave away 15 penalties including two yellow cards.
But when the Chiefs gained control up front Aaron Cruden was able to capitalise on a string of scrum penalties to go with their four tries.
"We've been training a different way and the Cheetahs have a fantastic maul and it took us a while to adapt to that," Chiefs captain Liam Messam said of the penalty count.
The bonus point win kept the Chiefs second behind the Hurricanes in the New Zealand conference, with five wins from seven games, while the Cheetahs remain at the bottom of the South African conference.
The Chiefs hit the front minutes after the kick-off when Mike Leitch, the New Zealander who captained Japan, gathered in a Sonny Bill Williams off-load to score handy to the posts.
Cruden added the extras before the penalties started to mount against the Chiefs, with Joe Pietersen landing two three-pointers to narrow the gap to one point.
Messam rammed his way through a maul to run 25 metres for the Chiefs' second try, again converted by Cruden before Johannes Prinsloo scored off a line-out drive with Pietersen landing the conversion.
Pietersen was astray with a penalty on half-time that would have given the Cheetahs the lead and they conceded two scrum penalties soon after the resumption to let the Chiefs pull away to a 20-13 lead.
When Pietersen converted the first of Heinrich Brüssow's two tries the scores were briefly level before the Chiefs pulled away with a further penalty by Cruden, who also converted tries by Sam Cane and Andrew Horrell.
With time on the clock Brüssow scored his second try but it was not enough to get the Cheetahs in the points and they leave New Zealand with two losses after going down to the Canterbury Crusaders last week.
Man of the match: Heinrich Brüssow was the Cheetahs' most influential player, his yellow card aside, Just a pity there wasn't that enthusiasm from all of his teammates. Sonny Bill Williams was at his creative and entertaining best, Liam Messam was aggressive with ball in hand and on defence, while Sam Cane worked hard, even though he was penalised on few occasions for his overly enthusiastic play. Our award goes to Chiefs flyhalf and co-captain Aaron Cruden - for the way he directed traffic, created opportunities for those around him, his work on cover defence and his flawless goal-kicking.
For the Chiefs:
Tries: Leitch, Messam, Cane, Horrell
Cons: Cruden 4
Pens: Cruden 3
For the Cheetahs:
Tries: Prinsloo, Brüssow 2
Cons: Pietersen 2, Du Plessis
Pens: Pietersen 2
Yellow cards: Michael Fitzgerald (Chiefs, 24 - repeated infringements, sacking the support player in a line-out), Ben Tameifuna (Chiefs, 32 - repeated infringements, illegally sacking a maul), Heinrich Brüssow (Cheetahs, 66 - professional foul, offside at a ruck)
Chiefs: 15 Damian McKenzie, 14 Bryce Heem, 13 Seta Tamanivalu, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Tom Marshall, 10 Aaron Cruden, 9 Brad Weber, 8 Michael Leitch, 7 Sam Cane, 6 Liam Messam (captain), 5 Michael Fitzgerald, 4 Matt Symons, 3 Ben Tameifuna, 2 Quentin MacDonald, 1 Pauliasi Manu.
Replacements: 16 Rhys Marshall, 17 Siate Tokolahi, 18 Mitchell Graham, 19 Michael Allardice, 20 Johan Bardoul, 21 Augustine Pulu, 22 Andrew Horrell, 23 Marty McKenzie.
Cheetahs: 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 Johann Sadie, 12 Michael van der Spuy, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Joe Pietersen, 9 Shaun Venter, 8 Johannes Prinsloo, 7 JWillie Britz, 6 Heinrich Brüssow, 5 Francois Uys (captain), 4 Steven Sykes, 3 Nicolaas van Dyk, 2 Stephan Coetzee, 1 BG Uys.
Replacements: 16 Torsten van Jaarsveld, 17 Caylib Oosthuizen, 18 Danie Mienie, 19 Carl Wegner, 20 Tienie Burger, 21 Tian Meyer, 22 Willie du Plessis, 23 Ryno Benjamin
Referee: Craig Joubert (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Stuart Berry (South Africa), Brendon Pickerill (New Zealand)
TMO: Glenn Newman (New Zealand)