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Super Rugby | Sydney
08:40 (GMT) | 28-03-2015
  • 81
Join us again later for more live coverage of Super Rugby with the Sharks taking on the Force at Kings Park in Durban!
  • 80
The Blues get the ball back after a kick down field and Halai breaks free from a tackle as he makes his way into the Waratahs half. The ball goes out into touch for a Blues line-out. They go wide for one last attack and take it through a number of phases before the home side counter rucks. Beale kicks but the Blues win it back. They then knock it n and Betham boots it out for FULL-TIME: Waratahs 23-11 Blues
  • 79
They go towards the midfield from the line-out and after a few phases they win a penalty. They take it quickly and Moalo is in space. He passes to O'Connor who cannot grab the pass and the Waratahs have the line-out
  • 78
From a line-out on their own 10m metre line, the Blues lose it and Horne makes some metres towards the Blues 22. The Blues get a penalty after Hooper runs an obstruction and the away team has a line-out on their own 10m line
  • 76
Foley adds the CONVERSION and the Waratahs lead 23-11
  • 75
The Waratahs' win the restart after a partial charge down. It goes wide and Betham is tackled in the Blues 22. Beale is nearly through now before it goes wide again and Betham is in for the TRY!
  • 73
Beale lines-up the kick for polls about 50m out after a brief delay but it is well wide and short and the score remains 16-11
  • 72
Kaino gets a YELLOW CARD for a high tackle earlier on Dave Dennis
  • 72
The Blues now have the ball in the Waratahs half. They go wide but Betham intercepts. Dennis is hit hard in the tackle before it goes wide with Betham again making metres. The Waratahs have a penalty on halfway after Culum Retallick is guilty of being offside.
  • 69
The home team chooses the three points and Foley converts the Penalty and the Waratahs lead 16-11
  • 68
The Waratahs are dominant in the scrum and they go wide but play is brought back for a penalty at the scrum and they take it quickly. Beale tries to wiggle his way through but play is stopped for the penalty with Kaino playing the ball on the ground
  • 66
The Blues, from a scrum 5m from their 22, go wide but Halai is tackled hard by Taqele. Naiyaravoro. They come back the other way but they lose the ball forward and the Waratahs have an attacking scrum outside the Blues 22
  • 63
Piutau runs it back from a Waratah's kick, but the Waratahs' turn it over. They go wide to Taqele Naiyaravoro but he lose it forward just outside the Blues 22 and the away team will have a defensive scrum
  • 61
Dennis decides to go for polls to get the lead. Foley sets-up the kick about 8m from the Blues 22 and he converts the PENALTY and the Waratahs lead 13-11
  • 60
The Blues win a line-out on halfway but the home side counter rucks and find themselves on the Blues' 10m line. Skelton is in a half gap before it goes wide. Play is brought back for a Waratahs penalty just outside the Blues 22
  • 58
The Waratahs win a penalty just outside the Blues 22 after Kaino was held in the tackle. Foley lines up the kick to reduce the margin and he converts the PENALTY and it is now 11-10
  • 56
Bowden misses the CONVERSION and the Blues lead 11-7
  • 54
The Blues attempt to run it out from their own half before they send a high ball and they win the ball back in the 'Tahs half. They go wide and Piutua finds some space in the Waratahs 22 - he passes to Saili who is in for the TRY!
  • 53
The Waratahs run it back from the restart with Foley. It goes wide to Skelton and he holds up two Blues tacklers on his way to the Blues 22. It then goes wide again and this time Potgieter loses the ball forward and the Blues have a scrum in their own 22.
  • 51
The home side, from a scrum about 10m from the Blues' tryline, gets a penalty after the Blues' front row collapses it. Foley lines up the kick for polls but misses the penalty and the score remains 7-6
  • 49
The Waratahs win the line-out and find themselves in the Blues 22 after a good drive by Palu. They are just 7m out from the Blues tryline after Horne makes some ground. They go wide and Hooper is almost through now. After 14 phases they are still 5m out before the Blues turn it over. But the Tahs will gets a scrum after a Blues knock on
  • 46
The decision is reversed and the Blues get a scrum in their own 22. Cowan clears from the scrum and Folau runs it back towards halfway. play is brought back for a penalty with Brendon O'Connor joining the ruck from the side and the 'Tahs have a line-out just outside the Blues 22
  • 43
Foley is now trapped with the ball in inside his own half, but the Waratahs' manage to come away with it. The get a penalty on halfway with Charlie Faumuina not rolling away and they will have a line-out inside the Blues' 22. The home side forms a maul before Hooper break away. It goes wide the both teams lose it forward, but the Tahs get the scrum
  • 41
SECOND HALF: Waratahs flyhalf Bernard Foley gets the second half under way!

Half Time

  • 40
The Blues, from the scrum 5m from their own tryline, are under pressure, but Kaino picks it up and places it and Cowan boots the ball out for HALF-TIME: Waratahs 7-6 Blues
  • 39
The Waratahs win another penalty at the scrum after Charlie Faumuina collapse it. They call for another 5m scrum and they lose the ball after the ref called them to use it and the Blues will get the scrum now 5m from their own tryline
  • 37
From a defensive scrum, the Blues are under pressure and they hold onto the ball and the Waratahs get the penalty. The home side calls for a scrum with just 5m standing between them and the Blues' tryline.
  • 35
After a brief kicking duel, the Waratahs have the ball back in their half before Taqele Naiyaravoro is in space. The 'Tahs are now in the Blues 22 and they go wide with Carraro in space before his pass is lost forward by Folau in the tackle and the Blues have a scrum 5m from their own tryline
  • 33
The Blues go to the short side with Cowan from the scrum. Halai takes it up, but it is lost and the 'Tahs come away with it before Beale kicks down field. The Blues knock it on on halfway and Beale is through with Phipps making metre towards the Blues 22 before it is lost
  • 31
From the restart the Blues take it up but are tackled back and the 'Tahs have it now about 10m from the Blues 22. The Blues turn it over after Palu is held-up in the tackle and the away team will have a scrum 5m outside their 22
  • 29
Bowden will have a shot for the three points after after the infringement, but he misses it and the score remains 7-6
  • 28
Bowden gives his team a line-out in the Waratahs 22 after the high tackle. Kaino takes and they form the maul but the ball is lost into touch for a Blues line-out. This time they form the maul right and they win a penalty with Latu coming in from the side.
  • 26
Foley kicks out on the full from the restart and the Blues have a scrum on halfway. The away team is put under pressure at the back but they recover and win a penalty after a high tackle from Palu.
  • 24
Bowden converts the PENALTY and it is now 7-6 to the Waratahs
  • 23
The Blues get a penalty on halfway with Latu kicking the ball out of the ruck while he is offside and Bowden gives his team a line-out 5m from the Waratahs 22. From the line-out they go to the midfield and they win another penalty, Bowden points to the polls
  • 22
The Blues, from the scrum, are put under pressure before Piutau kicks the ball out and gives the Waratahs an attacking line-out five metres from the Blues 22. Latu throws it in skew and the Blues will have the scrum now. Kaino pick it up at the back with the Blues running it out
  • 20
The Waratahs form the maul from the 5m line-out and they slowly drive towards the Blues tryline. They go wide and Taqele Naiyaravoro is in for the try in the corner. However, they lost the ball forward earlier and play is brought back for a Blues scrum 5m from their tryline
  • 18
After a number of phases the Blues are now just 5m from the Waratah's 22 before a wild pass is sent to Halai. They lose the ball and the Waratahs get a penalty with Foley being held back. He gives his team a line-out 7m from the Blues tryline with a good kick
  • 16
The Blues attempt to run it from their own 22 before Bowden finds touch towards the 10m line. From the Line-out the Waratahs go wide but they lose it forward and the Blues now have the ball on the Waratahs 10m line
  • 14
From the scrum, Saili takes it up before Piutau makes some good metres into the Waratahs half. They win the penalty on the Waratahs 10m line after Latu is found offside. Bowden sets-up the kick for the polls and he converts the PENALTY with the score now 7-3
  • 11
The Waratahs have the ball now in their own half with Beale almost through a gap. Foley now takes it over halfway with a good run before Skelton loses it forward and the Blues will have a scrum on their own 10m line.
  • 8
Foley adds the CONVERSION and the Waratahs lead 7-0
  • 8
The Waratahs go to the midfield from the line-out and Hooper finds space and is in the gap. he passes to Phipps who runs in under the polls for the TRY!
  • 8
Beale picks up a loose pass and Horne is nearly through. The Waratahs are just five metres out with Skelton doing more good work. They are over the tryline, but it is held-up and they will get the scrum. The Blues win a tighhead at the scrum and Bowden clears towards the Blues 10m line
  • 6
Bowden gives the Blues a line-out on halfway and they form a driving maul before it goes to Bowden. The Blues lose the ball at the next phase and the Waratahs run it out with Latu and Skelton breaking off tackles as they find their way in the Blues half
  • 4
The Blues win the line-out and take it through the phases. They cannot do anything with it and Bowden sends a forward pass to Triggs. The Waratahs from a scrum on the Blues' 10m line, go to to the short side with Folau beating a defender. They spread the ball again but give away a penalty on the Blues 22m line.
  • 2
The Blues have the ball inside their own but it is lost forward but play is brought back a penalty after a high tackle from Skelton. They cannot find touch and the Waratahs bang it down into touch on the Blues 10m line
  • 0
KICK-OFF: Blues flyhalf Dan Bowden gets the game under way
  • -5
The 'Tahs have been beaten by margins greater than seven points in each of their last three defeats to the Auckland-based side.
  • -15
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.
  • -30
Welcome to live coverage of Round Seven of Super Rugby with the Waratahs taking on the Blues at the Allianz Stadium in Sydney.
Mc waratahs logo 80x50
Mc blues logo 80x50
  • 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 Dave Dennis
  • 4 Will Skelton
  • 3 Sekope Kepu
  • 2 Tola Latu
  • 1 Benn Robinson
  • 25 Peter Betham
  • 24 Jono Lance
  • 23 Brendan McKibbin
  • 21 Mitchell Chapman
  • 20 Sam Lousi
  • 19 Paddy Ryan
  • 18 Jeremy Tilse
  • 16 Hugh Roach
  • 15 Charles Piutau
  • 14 Frank Halai
  • 13 George Moala
  • 12 Francis Saili
  • 11 Melani Nanai Vai
  • 10 Dan Bowden
  • 9 Jimmy Cowan
  • 8 Jerome Kaino
  • 7 Brendon O'Connor
  • 6 Steven Luatua
  • 5 Patrick Tuipulotu
  • 4 Hayden Triggs
  • 3 Charlie Faumuina
  • 2 James Parsons
  • 1 Tony Woodcock
  • 23 Pita Ahki
  • 22 Simon Hickey
  • 21 Jamison Gibson-Park
  • 20 Luke Braid
  • 19 Culum Retallick
  • 18 Angus Taavao-Matau
  • 17 Ofa Tu'ungafasi
  • 16 Keven Mealamu
Mc article jj engelbrecht bulls traini

Preview: S15 Round Seven, Part Two

Thu, 26 Mar 2015 22:54

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."

Recent results:
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."

Recent results:
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."

Recent results:
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."

Recent results:
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."

Recent results:
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

Mc article waratahs v blues 630

Waratahs edge willing Blues

Sat, 28 Mar 2015 10:35

REPORT: The Waratahs closed the gap on Australian conference leaders the Brumbies with a hard-earned 23-11 win of the Blues.

The Waratahs closed the gap on Australian conference leaders the Brumbies with a hard-earned 23-11 win of the Blues in Sydney on Saturday.

The scoreline two-tries-to-one win does not reflect just how hard the Waratahs had to work for this win - which left the Blues without a victory in 2015.

It was not till the 75th minute that a converted try by Peter Betham made the game safe for the home team.

Going into the final quarter the Blues were clinging to a 11-10 lead, with an upset a distinct possibility.

The last-placed Blues showed some real fight, but the loss will continue to pile pressure on under-fire coach John Kirwan - as the seventh successive defeat means it is their worst start and worst run in the history of Auckland-based franchise.

Scrumhalf Nick Phipps and replacement Peter Betham scored tries and flyhalf Bernard Foley kicked 13 points, as the Waratahs collected their fourth win of the campaign.

The Waratahs were not at their best, with a number of attacks breaking down through bundled passes, but they managed the game better in the second half to overcome the Super Rugby basement dwellers.

Scrumhalf Phipps crossed for the first try in the eighth minute after the television match official ruled Michael Hooper's questionable final pass had not gone forward.

The Blues, though, refused to buckle and two Dan Bowden penalties sent them in at halftime only a point back at 7-6 after some tough tackling in defence.

Their renewed fight was rewarded with a try to Francis Saili in the 53rd minute, after the Waratahs failed to cope with a high clearance kick and a neat offload from Charles Piutau sent the inside centre over.

Foley and the Waratahs responded with three penalties after pinning the Blues back in their own half and applying pressure in the right areas.

The hosts denied Kirwan's side a losing bonus point in the final five minutes when Betham finished a nice move, including a Will Skelton offload, to cross for the second try.

Man of the match: Dan Bowden show he still has the skill and hunger to compete at Super Rugby level, after several years abroad. Jerome Kaino was busy and Steven Luatua worked hard. Kevin Mealamu looked like a spring chicken when he came on in the second half. For the Waratahs there were the usual suspects - Israel Folau, Kurtley Beale, Bernard Foley, Michael Hooper, Will Skelton and even rookie hooker Tolu Latu. However, our award goes to Waratahs flank Jacques Potgieter for his amazing workrate - be that as a support player, ball carrier or defender. At times it seemed there were three of him on the field.

The scorers:

For the Waratahs:
Phipps, Betham
Cons: Foley 2
Pens: Foley 3

For the Blues:
Pens: Bowden 2

Yellow card: Jerome Kaino (Blues, 72 - foul play, high tackle)


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: 16 Hugh Roach, 17 Jeremy Tilse, 18 Paddy Ryan, 19 Sam Lousi, 20 Mitchell Chapman, 21 Stephen Hoiles, 22 Brendan McKibbin, 23 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)

Nick Phipps (8min) and Peter Betham (75min)
Francis Saili (54min)
Bernard Foley (8min) and Bernard Foley (76min)
Bernard Foley (58min), Bernard Foley (61min), and Bernard Foley (69min)
Dan Bowden (14min) and Dan Bowden (24min)
Jerome Kaino (72min)
VENUE Sydney
REFEREE Jaco Peyper