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Super Rugby | Pretoria
17:10 (GMT) | 28-03-2015
  • 81
Join us again next week Friday for some more mouth-watering Super Rugby live coverage.
  • 80
The Crusaders tap-and-go but Carter uncharacteristically knocks-on. FULL-TIME, and the Bulls are victorious in a cracking game.
  • 79
The 'Saders set a maul and are inches from the try-line. Big defence from the Bulls but the Crusaders keep pushing with penalty advantage, as they go wide, Nadolo throws a forward pass, but they come back for the offside penalty.
  • 78
Scrum to the Crusaders on the 50m as Drummond feeds. Penalty advantage to 'Saders from scrum-time for collapsing. Carter punts for touch, and the Crusaders have a line-out right on the Bulls 5m line.
  • 77
Crusaders get the ball back from the line-out and have moved into the Bulls half. The 'Saders move it wide again but great rush defence from the Bulls force another loose pass and the Bulls have a line-out. Won by Spies, and they set a drive, Van Zyl makes a rookie error and knocks the ball on from the maul.
  • 74
Pollard narrowly misses penalty shot, and the Crusaders start a counter-attack. The away team sends it wide and they make a loose pass as the ball goes out.
  • 72
Bulls win a penalty at scrum-time, Crockett scrumming in. Pollard is going to have another shot at goal.
  • 71
Van Zyl feeds the scrum and Bulls keep it close with the forwards. The Bulls now move it wide and Nadolo knocks on an attempted intercept. Scrum for the Bulls just inside the'Saders 10m line.
  • 68
Bulls with the ball on the halfway, sloppy brealdown, and Crusaders get the ball back but immediately lose it in the backs. Scum to the Bulls in the centre of the field on the 'Saders 22m.
  • 66
Pollard adds the extras.
  • 65
Crusaders take a quick-tap penalty and a running the ball from their own half and Hattingh with the intercept. The lock forward gallops 50 meters to score a great TRY.
  • 63
Bulls whole backline offside and Crusaders get a penalty in front. Carter points to the poles. He raises the flags and CONVERTS the penalty.
  • 62
Bulls scrum, from the forward pass, deep in their half. Flat pass to Odendaal for the exit strategy. Pollard kicks deep and Nadolo takes a quick line-out. The Crusaders counter well and have possession in Bulls territory. Nadolo destructive with the ball as he beats tacklers along the touch-line.
  • 58
The Bulls steal a line-out on the halfway and they go wide. Kriel cutting in and they set up a ruck on the halfway. Paige turns the Crusaders with a good kick behind them. Crusaders take the ball up to the halfway and are on the attack. Nadolo busting through defence and releases Colin Slade who runs under the poles. The Ref is referring to the TMO for a potential forward pass. The pass was deemed forward therefore no try.
  • 55
Pollard with another long-range attempt from the halfway line. He converts the PENALTY. Superb strike.
  • 54
Bulls now playing rugby in their own half, Paige puts a shocking box-kick up but the Bulls manage to regain it. Paige slow at the breakdown and gets caught by Crotty. Slow ball for the bulls and McCaw gives a penalty away.
  • 52
Pollard makes the kick for the extra 3 points.
  • 51
Bulls upping the tempo now themselves and they win a penalty just inside the 'Saders half. Pollard lines up a long one for goal.
  • 50
The Bulls playing just outside their own 22m. Big pressure from the Crusaders as the Bulls get trapped in their 22m. Kriel relieves the pressure with a kick to touch. 'Saders line-out on the 50m. They move it wide quickly from Carter but the spill the ball forward. Scrum for the Bulls on their 10m.
  • 48
Nyakana with another steal on the ground playing like a flank. Pollard kicks for touch and the Bulls have a line-out on the opposition 10m. Liebenberg takes it up and The Crusaders win a penalty on the ground as they take it quickly upping the tempo. Another turnover and the Bulls come away with it but quickly give the ball back to the 'Saders. Kncok-on and the Bulls get a scrum.
  • 45
Paige feed and Spies makes a hash of it at the base of the scrum and he plays the ball on the ground. Penalty given to the Crusaders as Carter finds touch with a banana kick. 'Saders win the ball and go wide with Carter on the loop finding some space. Nyakana steals the ball at the ruck and the bulls now with possession. Pollard kicks down field and the Crusaders begin a counter.
  • 42
Bulls with an early penalty, and Pollard kicks down field for the line-out. Bulls win the line-out and Paige kicks a grubber through finding touch. Matfield steals the line-out and the Bulls are awarded a scrum. just outside the Crusaders 22m.
  • 41
SECOND-HALF: Carter gets the second-half under way

Half Time

  • 40
HALF-TIME, as the bulls manage to keep the Crusaders out at the last minute.
  • 39
Bulls get a penalty for a dangerous tackle and Pollard kicks for touch. Bulls line-out 30m out. The Bulls lose the line-out and Crusaders relieve with a kick. Hougaard collects and the Bulls launch an attack. Pollard lines up a drop kick from halfway and is charged down, the crusaders are charging as Ellis collects. Frantic defence from the Bulls.
  • 37
Pollard makes the PENALTY as the bulls regain the lead.
  • 36
Bulls on attack at the Crusaders 22m line. The Bulls win a penalty at ruck time for the tackler not rolling away. Pollard lines up a much easier kick just out to the right of the poles.
  • 35
Pollard looking to regain the lead for the Bulls but he misses.
  • 34
Scrum to the 'Saders just inside their own half, and the Bulls win a scrum penalty, Franks dropping his bind and folding. Bulls pointing to the posts.
  • 32
Carter CONVERTS the penalty to take the lead by one.
  • 31
Ellis feeds the ball in the scrum and plays Carter, a loop move from the Crusaders backline and they win a penalty at the ruck as Spies is off his feet. Carter goes for goal.
  • 29
Bulls now with possession in midfield, and Odendaal stabs a grubber through, and upon gathering it he knocks-on showing some nerves. Crusaders with a scrum on their own 22m. They go wide and put a high kick up, Jesse Kriel jumps high to catch but spills it. Scrum 'Saders on the 50m line.
  • 26
Pollard converts the PENALTY to take the lead.
  • 25
Crusaders now have the lead, but give a penalty away inside their half for a ruck infringement by McCaw.
  • 24
Carter up against the touchline makes the CONVERSION.
  • 23
Pollard kicks out and the Bulls have a line-out on the crusaders 10m line. Stolen line-out by the 'Saders. They go wide and Dagg makes another half bust. They set-up and go wide the other direction. Some nifty hands from Reid releases Nadolo and breaks the shocking attempted tackle from Kriel to bust his way over for a TRY in the corner.
  • 21
Bulls have possession as Paige plays Pollard from the ruck who gives it to Odendaal brushing off defenders. The Crusaders have a scrum on halfway, and they go blind with Carter breaking the advantage line. Bulls have turned it over and they win a Penalty for off-side in their 22m.
  • 19
Carter makes the PENALTY kick to make it a six point game.
  • 18
Scrum to the Crusaders on the Bulls 5m line. Ellis feeds after a couple of resets, and a penalty awarded to the Crusaders for the Bulls collapsing. Carter points to the poles.
  • 16
Israel Dagg makes another clean line-break, he makes 30 meters and finds Ellis in support. McCaw makes great follow up play and Basson makes a try-saving tackle on McCaw. Electric game so far!
  • 14
Carter, composed as ever, kicks the PENALTY over for the 3 points.
  • 13
High tackle on Basson from the restart. Bulls get the penalty and Pollard boots it out down field. The home team wins the line-out, and Paige puts another box kick up. Ellis collects and the Crusaders launch a counter. Carter plays read who takes it up. Israel Dagg clean through the Bulls defence and the Bulls give a penalty away for off-side on the 22m in front of the poles. Carter lines up a shot for goal.
  • 10
Pollard attempts the kick from out wide and he makes the CONVERSION
  • 9
TRY for Odendaal as he gallops down the touchline to score in the corner. The Bulls are firing.
  • 8
Bulls have a scrum on their 10m line as Spies picks up from the base. Paige with a box-kick and Dagg takes it cleanly. Charge down from the Bulls and they regain possession. 5 phases for the bulls now as they look to spread it early. Kriel looking an attacking threat early.
  • 5
Pollard misses the conversion attempt from the corner.
  • 4
Bulls playing with advantage, as they spread the ball wide, great distribution from the backline and Jesse Kriel draws the defence as Hougaard trots over for an easy TRY!
  • 2
Early attack from the Bulls gets them a penalty and they don't hesitate to go for touch. The Bulls set a drive from the line-out. The ball comes out and Pollard tries to chip over but is charged down. No advantage as the Bulls receive another penalty, they go for touch again.
  • 0
KICK-OFF: Pollard gets the game under way with a high kick, secured by Kieran Reid.
  • -3
There is a late change in the Bulls team with Serfontein moving out of the match day 22, resulting in Odendaal getting his first start.
  • -5
Conditions are clear and dry in Pretoria for this mouth-watering clash between these two super-powers.
  • -10
Welcome to live coverage of Round Seven of Super Rugby with the Bulls taking on the Crusaders at the Loftus Versveld in Pretoria.
Mc bulls logo 80x50
Mc crusaders logo 80x50
  • 15 Jesse Kriel
  • 14 Francois Hougaard
  • 13 JJ Engelbrecht
  • 12 Burger Odendaal
  • 11 Bjorn Basson
  • 10 Handre Pollard
  • 9 Rudi Paige
  • 8 Pierre Spies
  • 7 Arno Botha
  • 6 Deon Stegmann
  • 5 Victor Matfield
  • 4 Jacques du Plessis
  • 3 Trevor Nyakane
  • 2 Adriaan Strauss
  • 1 Morne Mellett
  • 23 Jurgen Visser
  • 22 Tiaan Schoeman
  • 21 Piet van Zyl
  • 20 Hanro Liebenberg
  • 19 Grant Hattingh
  • 18 Marcel van der Merwe
  • 17 Dean Greyling
  • 16 Jaco Visagie
  • 15 Israel Dagg
  • 14 Kieron Fonotia
  • 13 Ryan Crotty
  • 12 Tom Taylor
  • 11 Nemani Nadolo
  • 10 Dan Carter
  • 9 Andy Ellis
  • 8 Kieran Read
  • 7 Richie McCaw
  • 6 Jordan Taufua
  • 5 Sam Whitelock
  • 4 Luke Romano
  • 3 Owen Franks
  • 2 Ben Funnell
  • 1 Joe Moody
  • 23 David Kaetau Havili
  • 22 Colin Slade
  • 21 Mitchell Drummond
  • 20 Matt Todd
  • 19 Jimmy Tupou
  • 18 Nepo Laulala
  • 17 Wyatt Crockett
  • 16 Codie Taylor
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 bulls v crusaders 630

Bulls outmuscle Crusaders in cracker

Sat, 28 Mar 2015 18:57

REPORT: The Bulls outmuscled the Crusaders in a cracking game in Pretoria on Saturday, to win this Super Rugby Round Seven encounter 31-19.

The Bulls outmuscled the Crusaders in a cracking game in Pretoria on Saturday, to win this Super Rugby Round Seven encounter 31-19.

As at the wedding party in Cana of Galilee, the best was saved for last in this thrilling last match of this weekend's Super Rugby, a match that was all the more gripping for being unpredictable.

It was unpredictable in so many ways - the way the Bulls ran from the start, in the turnovers that produced many surprises and in both sides' enthusiastic approach to getting advantage from the other side's mistakes.

The line-outs were unpredictable, the scrums less so after a week of speculation and accusations in New Zealand of the Crusaders' cheating.

The Bulls held their own in the scrums, something they have been unused to doing in recent times. It was a surprise that the Crusaders, usually so calm and calculated, made basic handling errors and expensive errors of judgement.

It was a surprise that the Bulls outscored  the Crusaders by three tries to one and that none of those tries were scored from mauls; two were scored by three-quarters and the third after a  run of over 50 metres. Unpredictability is the life of sport just as plodding predictability  is its death.

This game in its unpredictability, energy and intensity was a gem.

The first two Bulls' tries each  had itsorigin in a charge-down. The Bull's teenage flank, Hanro Liebenberg, playing just his second Super Rugby match twice charged down attempted clearing kicks by 31-year-old  Andy Ellis, a veteran of 126 Super Rugby matches and 26 Tests. The fearless exuberance of youth outplayed the mechanical processes of experience.

Both charge-downs were deep in Crusader territory on the Crusaders' right.

It all happened so quickly. Handré Pollard kicked off, the Crusaders caught the ball and a ruck formed. The ball came back to Ellis who kicked to clear and Liebenberg charged the kick down. The Bulls attacked, Ellis was offside and the Bulls kicked out for a line-out even though the kick at goal was an easy one. The Crusaders were penalised again and again the Bulks kicked out. This time they bashed and then went right where Jesse Kriel pulled in defenders and set Francois Hougaard free and the wing strolled nonchalantly over for a try in the right corner. 5-0 after 3 minutes.

The second charge-down was not long in coming. Again Liebenberg charged down an attempted clearing kick by Ellis. This time 10 phases followed as the Bulls attacked. Then they went wide right where Kriel broke and Hougaard did some sleight of hand to get a magical pass to debutant Burger Odendaal, playing after the late withdrawal of Jan Serfontein. Burly Odendaal raced down the touchline. Ellis tried to tackle him but missed, but Odendaal tumbled to ground, his momentum taking him over for a try in the right corner. From touch Pollard converted. 12-0 after 9 minutes.

Loftus was an exciting place to be but it was only 14 minutes later that the euphoria evaporated as the Crusaders took the lead.

In that time there were two magnificent breaks by Israel Dagg that would have been easy tries for the calm efficient Crusaders of the recent past. But Dagg hung on instead of passing and Kriel and JJ Engelbrecht got to him and the attack was thwarted.  The second time he did pass but Bjorn Basson caught the 'no longer so speedy' Richie McCaw from behind and again the Bulls kept the great Crusaders out. Instead of 14 points they got six from penalties, one at a tackle, the other at a five-metre scrum. 12-6 after 18 minutes.

Ellis then raced away and a try beckoned but again the Bulls held out.

In the first half the Crusaders took two line-outs when the Bulls threw in, not a regular occurrence for Victor Matfield's boys. From the first one on their left, the Crusaders  went wide right and then came back left on advantage  till they got the ball to massive Nemani Nadolo on the left wing. He ran over Kriel and then, with Adriaan Strauss hanging onto his shirt tails, got the ball down in the left corner. From touch on his wrong side, Dan Carter converted. 13-12 after 23 minutes.

Pollard goaled two penalties, each when McCaw was penalised at a tackle, and between the two Carter goaled one when Spies was penalised at a tackle. That made the half-time score 18-16 to the Bulls.

Two Pollard penalties, the second from inside his own half, stretched the lead to 24-16 with 25 minutes to go.

The Crusaders dominated this period in terms of possession and territory but in that time they scored only three points to the Bulls' seven.

The Crusaders thought they had a try when Colin Slade took an inside pass from Nadolo and swept round to 'score', but that did not stand as Nadolo's pass was seen to be forward.

A penalty for offside in front of the Bulls' posts and five metres from their line gave Carter three easy points. 24-19 with 18 minutes to play.

Then came a rare Loftus treat for their fans.

The Crusaders were attacking inside the Bulls' half when Carter turned a pass back to the inside. Tall lock/flank Grant Hattingh stuck out a long arm and knocked the ball up in a little juggle, caught it and strode 54 straining metres down the middle of the field as desperate Sam Cane and David Havilli closed in on him. Hattingh scored and rose up to great the delight of his team-mates and other fans as he strove to get his breath back. 31-19 with 15 minutes to play. That was the final score.

Man of the Match: The romantic says Israel Dagg for the excitement he brought to an exciting match. The pragmatist says Handré Pollard for his bravery in general play, his calm method in directing play, the soundness of his judgement and his metronomic goal-kicking, a young man playing against one of the greats of the game. The fact is that even this supreme team game it was Handré Pollard who made the biggest contribution to a team's success and so he is our Man of the Match.

The scorers:

For the Bulls:
Hougaard, Odendaal, Hattingh
Cons: Pollard 2
Pens: Pollard 4

For the Crusaders:
Con: Carter
Pens: Carter 4


Bulls: 15 Jesse Kriel, 14 Francois Hougaard, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Burger Odendaal, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Rudy Paige, 8 Pierre Spies (captain), 7 Hanro Liebenberg, 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 Arno Botha, 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)

Francois Hougaard (4min), Burger Odendaal (9min), and Grant Hattingh (65min)
Nemani Nadolo (23min)
Handre Pollard (10min) and Handre Pollard (66min)
Dan Carter (24min)
Handre Pollard (27min), Handre Pollard (38min), Handre Pollard (52min), and Handre Pollard (55min)
Dan Carter (14min), Dan Carter (19min), Dan Carter (32min), and Dan Carter (63min)
VENUE Pretoria
REFEREE Angus Gardner