||Join us for more live coverage of Super Rugby as the Bulls take on the Reds coming up next.|
||Zeilinga's radar is off and the Ref blows for FULL-TIME as the Lions win the South African derby.|
||The Sharks receive a penalty off the kick-off and Zeilinga quickly kicks for touch. The Sharks set-up a line-out and rumble a maul up to the 50m line. Stuart Berry awards a penalty and the Sharks have an opportunity to win the game with Zeilinga's boot from about 60m out with the angle.|
||Zeilinga makes quick work of the conversion to add take the Sharks within 2 points.|
||The Sharks rumble the maul forward and reach 7m out. Bothma is taken into touch and the Lions are relieved with a line-out but are pinned with a short-arm for taking too long. Reinach takes it quickly, and Du Toit crashes over for his first Super Rugby try.|
||The Sharks secure the line-out but as reinach passes to Bothma he knocks on. the Lions play the advantage as Whiteley spreads the ball wide. The Lions move up to the halfway but knock-on. The Sharks have a scrum in the middle of the park. They are awarded a penalty from the scrum and Zeilinga boots the ball into touch on the 22m of the Lions.|
||Lions attacking from 30 meters out as Jantjies spreads wide. Botha wins a penalty as he gets over the tackler and the Lions are penalised for holding on. Zeilinga kicks for touch and the Sharks have a line-out on the halfway line.|
||The Sharks penalised again at scrum time as Monde Hadebe's leg was on the ground. Lions opt for touch and form a maul from the line-out. The drive it 20 metres as the Sharks are desperately defending their line. A vital turnover from the Sharks gives Zeilinga a chance to clear for touch.|
||The Sharks are under the cosh as the Lions continue to attack. Jantjies decides to go wide and Vorster throws a skip pass to Minnie but he leaves it behind and the Sharks are granted a scrum.|
||Jantjies opts for touch as the Lions are in search of a bonus point. The Lions have a line-out on the Sharks 5m. The Lions make a hash of the line-out and Reinach clears relieving some pressure for the Sharks.|
||Reinach clears from the base and the Lions will have a line-out on the Sharks 10m. The home-side forms a driving maul and are making big meters. They are awarded a penalty for Bothma coming through the side of the maul.|
||The Lions have opted for touch and they secured the line-out. The Lions quickly spread wide to try and take advantage of their extra man in the backline. Mapoe breaks down the touch-line and pops to Tecklenburg who dives over the try line but through accidental off-side. Sharks have a scrum on their own 5m as a result.|
||Zeilinga relieves some pressure with a Sharks line-out on the 22m. They win the line-out and reinach boots further down field. the Sharks quickly regain possession through Sithole, but the Sharks have lost it forward. Stuart Berry has gone upstairs for a late-tackle and Esterhuizen is given a Yellow card.|
||Zeilinga's 22m drop-out has gone directly out and the Lions have an attacking scrum on the Sharks 22m. Lions go blind as Jantjies attacks the gain line. The Lions are peeling round to the right with continuous attacks at the line. Reinach eventually makes the steal on the ground to win the Penalty as the Lions are holding on at the ruck.|
||Whiteley opts for poles, but Jantjies can't add the extra 3 points.|
||Lions regather from the 22 restart and Coetzee breaks up the touchline. Lions are linking well and playing with their tails up. Play is brought back for a late tackle on De Klerk.Lions awarded a penalty.|
||Sharks have a penalty 45m out for Tecklenburg not rolling away. Zeilinga will have a shot at goal, but he misses to the left.|
||Jantjies misses the attempted conversion.|
||Mnisi is taken out in the air off the kick-off and the Lions are given a penalty. Jantjies opts for touch and takes play up to the Sharks 10m. Lions go wide off the line-out and make meters. Jantjies controlling the line Mnisis switches with Vorster who breaks the line and beats Ndungane with foot-work and races to the line for a try.|
||Jantjies adds the extras to extend the lead for the Lions.|
||Sharks go blind from the scrum with Reinach but his pass to Bothma is dropped. Lions now with a scrum. The Lions spread wide as Mapoe takes it to the line. Lions now go wide to the opposite side as Combrinck throws a dummy and busts straight through and he steps off the right twice to make it all the way to the 5m line as he is desperately tackled. De Klerk picks up at the base and dives over under the poles for a try.|
||The Lions run run it back from the restart, but Combrink eventually knocks on. The Sharks have a scrum wide-out on the 50m.|
||KICK-OFF: Sharks flyhalf Fred Zeilinga gets the half underway.|
||Jantjies shanks the conversion to the left and that brings us to HALF-TIME.|
||Lions secure the line-out and rumble forward with Kriel. De Klerk controlling at the breakdwon and the Lions continue to peel of the ruck until De Klerk spreads to Jantjies who passes inside to Mnisi who finishes well for a try.|
||Lions are awarded a penalty from the scrum as Chadwick collapses again. Jantjies punts to touch for a Lions line-out in the Sharks 22m.|
||Lions now with a line-out on the Sharks 10m but it is stolen from Wentzel. Chadwick finds a hole close to the ruck as he moves up the touchline for 20m before De Klerk brings him down. The Sharks tail's are up but Marcell Coetzee tries to make an off-load, which is above his weak skill level, and the Sharks knock it on. Scrum for the Lions on their 10m.|
||Zeilinga adds the extras with a great strike from the corner to raise the flags.|
||Play will restart with a scrum, and the Sharks play a set-move in the backline as they move it through the hands and a well-weighted pass from Ndungane puts Mvovo away as he shows a clean pair of heels to run 40m for a try in the corner.|
||Reinach feeds the scrum, and the Sharks receive a short-arm. Zeilinga puts it high and Coetzee is composed under the high ball. The Lions reply with a sneaky chip as Richards chases down but gets absolutely mowed-over by Alberts as they collide in contact. Richards is being stretchered off as he is knocked out cold. Mnisi will replace the wing. Richards was brave to contest the ball.|
||Jantjies clears after the line-out and takes play the Lions 10m. Sharks lose the line-out and De Klerk hoists one high but Richard's follow up has lost it forward for a Sharks scrum in the visitors half.|
||Sharks win the scrum as Zeilinga plays Sithole coming in hard. They are working the blind-side now but Ndungane is squeezed into touch for a Lions throw.|
||Whiteley now with the ball but throws a pass to nobody into touch. Sharks win a line-out and Zeilinga puts it high, Richards is under it and the rookie spills it under pressure. Sharks have an attacking scrum on the 22m.|
||Zeilinga adds the extras.|
||Sharks win a line-out on the 50m as they maul it forward. Zeilinga puts Esterhuizen through a gap as he slices straight though. He off-loads to Murray in support who takes it to the 5m line. Bothma picks up and muscles his way over for the try.|
||Jantjies lines up for 3 points, and he converts the penalty.|
||Jantjies play Vorster from the scrum, as he off-loads nicely to Kriel who put De Klerk in space again. The Lions now up to the 22m but Coetzee makes a vital turnover, however Esterhuizen kicks out on the full undoing Coetzee's good work bringing play back for a line-out inside the Sharks 22m. Lions receive a penalty after a misguided line-out, as Whiteley does good work on the ground.|
||Lions restart with a 22m and Reinach puts a kick through behind the Lions but it goes to far and play will come back for a scrum to the Lions.|
||Zeilinga misses with his first attempt.|
||Sharks regather off the kick-off through Reinach taking a great catch. They spread wide but Mvovo knocks-on on the touchline and the Lions have a scrum in their 22m. Its a tight-head and Bothma picks up and drives. Sharks playing with penalty advantage as Zeilinga spots an opening, but no advantage as the Sharks are given a penalty for the Lions guilty of off-sides. Zeilinga will have a shot at goal.|
||Jantjies makes no mistake this time as he opens the scoring for the Lions.|
||Lions are given a penalty at scrum-time from Chadwick folding in. Whiteley points to the uprights for another attempt at 3 points.|
||Sharks restart deep from Zeilinga, and Coetzee counters breaking defenders streaking up the field. De Klerk spreads wide and play is disrupted from a pass going into Referee Stuart Berry. The Lions will have an attacking scrum in the Sharks 22m.|
||Jantjies misses the opportunity to take the Lions in front.|
||De Klerk feeds and plays Jantjies who gives it Mapoe flat. De Klerk shows a dummy at the ruck and completely sells the Sharks pillars as he snipes straight up the middle of the field making 60 meters. Sithole is penalised at the breakdown and the Lions will go for poles.|
||Lions regain possession straight-away but Kriel looses the ball forward for a Sharks scrum. Sharks run it from deep with a slick off-load from Ndungane putting Mvovo through a hole. Sharks are linking up well taking play to the Lions 22m but Botha spills the ball and the scrum is awarded to the Lions deep in their own half.|
||KICK-OFF: Lions flyhalf Elton Jantjies gets the game underway.|
||Conditions are superb at Ellis Park with clear skies. This fixture has traditionally seen plenty of points on the board, so we hope to witness some running rugby displayed from both teams.|
||The Lions have beaten the Sharks just once in their last 11 attempts (which also includes a draw), with their average losing margin across those nine defeats sitting at 15 points.|
||Welcome to live coverage of Super Rugby Round 9 with the Sharks taking on the Lions from Ellis Park stadium in Johannesburg.|
There will be a lot of desperation on display in the second half of the weekend's Super Rugby matches. Jan de Koning reports.
There will be a lot of desperation on display in the second half of the weekend's Super Rugby matches.
We start this part of our preview in Perth, where the Cheetahs - on a five-match losing streak - will be chasing a first overseas win in 2015 when they close out their Australasian tour against the Western Force - a team who is on a six-match losing streak.
The Cheetahs know they have been well below par this season, with their leaky defence one of their biggest issues. The Force, in stark contrast, maintains the best tackling success rates (90 percent) this year.
The Lions, who still have play-off ambitions, will host a Sharks team in total turmoil.
The Lions have hit back since losing their first three matches in South Africa - winning three games on their Australasian tour and downing the Bulls at Ellis Park last weekend.
The Lions are 10th on the standings with 17 points, but only three points separate them and the sixth-placed Bulls.
The Sharks and Bulls lead the South African conference, with the Bulls facing the beleaguered Reds in Pretoria in the final match of the round.
The Reds have lost six of their seven games and left former Wallaby skipper James Horwill at home, after he received a one-match ban for punching an opponent last week.
We look at the second half of the weekend's matches!
Saturday, April 11
Western Force v Cheetahs
(nib Stadium, Perth - Kick-off: 19.45; 13.45 SAST; 11.45 GMT)
The Australians just love a bit of hype and the Western Force have wasted no time in trumpeting the significance of this match.
The Force entered the Super Rugby competition with the Cheetahs in 2006, with the Western Australian franchise recording their first tournament victory against the Bloemfontein-based side in Kimberley that same year.
This will mark the ninth Super Rugby encounter between the two teams since 2006. The Western Force is leading with five wins to the three wins of the Cheetahs. It will also be the fourth time the teams meet Down Under since the first Perth encounter on 27 April 2007.
The last time the Force hosted the Cheetahs, on 23 March 2013, the visitors won 19-10. The Force, however, won the last match between the two - in May last year in Bloemfontein, 23-16.
Force coach Michael Foley said the match is an important occasion for both the team and franchise.
"We're excited about returning home and starting the second half of our season," he said of their winless two-match tour of South Africa - where they suffered heartbreaking defeats to the Sharks (9-15) and Bulls (24-25).
"Having six of our final nine matches at home provides an opportunity to display the character of the team - as we strive to move our game up a level.
"While aspects of our performances against the Sharks and Bulls were pleasing, we know combining passages of good play into wins comes down to our attitude to retain and recycle quick ball at the breakdown and physicality in defence.
"Saturday is also an opportunity for the franchise to acknowledge those who have supported the Force over the past 10 years, and to recognise their role in providing us with the opportunities we now have."
The Cheetahs, who have been comprehensively beaten in their last five matches this season, are clinging to a glimmer of hope that they could still reach the play offs.
However, coach Naka Drotské admitted it will require significant improvements in many aspects of their game.
He spoke of the improvements in terms of their "discipline".
"I feel we have too many soft moments and we have to eliminate that," Drotské told rugby365 in an interview.
He pointed out that they have played the Sharks twice already, they have also faced the Chiefs, Crusaders and Brumbies, while they have also played the Bulls.
"Those are all teams in contention for a top six finish," Drotské said, adding that a win will go a long way towards getting their campaign back on track.
2014: Force won 23-16, Bloemfontein
2013: Cheetahs won 19-10, Perth
2012: Cheetahs won 17-13, Bloemfontein
2010: Cheetahs won 29-14, Bloemfontein
2009: Force won 16-10, Perth
2008: Force won 16-15, Bloemfontein
Prediction: After winning their opening game this season, the Force have since lost six in a row and have not lost seven in a row since losing the opening nine matches of their first season in Super Rugby. The Force have faced the Cheetahs eight times in total with six of those games being decided by fewer than 10 points; each of those six games saw fewer than 40 points scored combined. The Cheetahs have lost their last five and have not lost six in a row in a single season since the beginning of 2009. The South African side has shipped 180 points in those five defeats which have been at an average margin of over 21 points and no fewer than 10. The Cheetahs have averaged fewer carries (76.9) than any other team this season, while opponents of the Force have averaged the fewest as well (86.6). While the Cheetahs have averaged the most missed tackles (22.6) this term, opponents of the Force maintain the best tackling success rate (90 percent). Australian referee Rohan Hoffmann's tract record against South African teams this year and his grossly incompetent performance in the Hurricanes versus Stormers game last week suggest a very long day at the office for the Cheetahs. The Western Force will get back on the winning track and with Hoffman in the picture the margin could be well beyond 10 points.
Western Force: 15 Dane Haylett-Petty, 14 Luke Morahan, 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 Angus Cottrell, 20 Chris Alcock, 21 Ian Prior, 22 Zack Holmes, 23 Marcel Brache.
Cheetahs: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 Johann Sadie, 12 Francois Venter, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Joe Pietersen, 9 Sarel Pretorius, 8 Willie Britz, 7 Johannes Prinsloo, 6 Heinrich Brüssow, 5 Francois Uys (captain), 4 Carl Wegner, 3 Coenie Oosthuizen, 2 Torsten van Jaarsveld, 1 Burrie Uys.
Replacements: 16 Stephan Coetzee, 17 Danie Mienie, 18 Nicolaas van Dyk, 19 Steven Sykes, 20 Tienie Burger, 21 Tian Meyer, 22 Willie du Plessis, 23 Ryno Benjamin.
Referee: Rohan Hoffmann
Assistant referees: Will Houston, Graham Cooper
TMO: Ian Smith
Lions v Sharks
(Ellis Park, Johannesburg - Kick-off: 17.05; 15.05 GMT)
The reputation of Lions coach Johan Ackermann is growing with each significant win his team achieves.
However, he moved swiftly to play down talk of his team being play-off contenders or being favourites against the troubled Sharks outfit.
"We've achieved nothing yet,"Ackermann told a media briefing this week, when asked about his team's run of four wins in their last five matches.
"We've got to keep grinding out results, week after week.
"If you get ahead of yourself now then you're on the wrong path," Ackermann added.
Sharks Director of Rugby Gary Gold this week spent more time answering questions about his team's discipline and having to rest key Springboks than he would have liked.
The Sharks, despite their troubled and patchy season, are still just outside the play-off zone - with the same points as the South African conference leaders, the Bulls, but below them on points difference.
However, Gold knows the quality of their performances need to show a sharp improvement or they will quickly become also-rans.
"Our performance last weekend [a 10-52 loss to the Crusaders] was unacceptable and we have taken full responsibility for the result and are determined to fix it this weekend," Gold told a media briefing in Durban.
"The Lions are playing some fantastic rugby and have come off a great tour.
"We are under no illusions about the toughness of the task on Saturday.
"However, in saying that, we have worked extremely hard this week and are determined to get our campaign back on track."
The Lions coach, Ackermann, is aware that the Sharks will throw everything but the kitchen sink at them.
However, he is confident the character that has been a trademark of the Johannesburg-based outfit's campaign so far will again come to the fore.
"We are playing with good discipline in recent times and I am pretty sure the players will keep on doing that," he said.
"We have created a culture of responsibility in our group and players know what we expect from them. The best way to stay out of trouble is always to keep your focus on executing the gameplan."
2015: Sharks won -29-12, Durban
2014: Sharks won 25-12, Johannesburg
2014: Sharks won 37-23, Durban
2012: Lions won 38-28, Johannesburg
2012: Sharks won 32-20, Durban
2011: Lions and Sharks drew 30-all, Johannesburg
2011: Sharks won 27-3, Durban
Prediction: The Lions have beaten the Sharks just once in their last 11 attempts (which also includes a draw), with their average losing margin across those nine defeats sitting at 15 points. The Sharks have won just two of their last six away games, however both those away wins came in South Africa. The Lions have won four of their last five matches, though all of these wins came by
margins fewer than five points. The Sharks have scored the most tries in the second quarter of matches this season (seven), while the Lions have scored the joint-fewest (one) in the same segment of their games. The Sharks are the only side yet to score a try in a possession that has lasted seven-plus phases. They have conceded five tries when possession has gone seven-plus phases, only
the Reds (six) fare worse in this department. Nobody will laugh at you if you back the Lions. In fact the bookmakers have made the Lions favourites. However, this is more of an even match and all the turmoil may just galvanise the Sharks enough to sneak a win by less than 10 points.
Lions: 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Ruan Combrinck, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Harold Vorster, 11 Mark Richards, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Francois de Klerk, 8 Warren Whiteley (captain), 7 Warwick Tecklenburg, 6 Jaco Kriel, 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Andries Ferreira, 3 Julian Redelinghuys, 2 Robbie Coetzee, 1 Jacques van Rooyen.
Replacements: 16 Armand van der Merwe, 17 Corne Fourie, 18 Ruan Dreyer, 19 Robert Kruger, 20 Derick Minnie, 21 Lohan Jacobs, 22 Marnitz Boshoff, 23 Howard Mnisi.
Sharks: 15 Odwa Ndungane, 14 Sibusiso Sithole, 13 Waylon Murray, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Fred Zeilinga, 9 Cobus Reinach, 8 Ryan Kankowski, 7 Renaldo Bothma, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Marco Wentzel (captain), 4 Mouritz Botha, 3 Lourens Adriaanse, 2 Franco Marais, 1 Dale Chadwick.
Replacements: 16 Monde Hadebe, 17 Thomas du Toit, 18 Matt Stevens, 19 Etienne Oosthuizen, 20 Willem Alberts, 21 Conrad Hoffmann, 22 Lionel Cronje, 23 Jack Wilson.
Referee: Stuart Berry (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Jaco van Heerden (South Africa), Rodney Boneparte (South Africa)
TMO: Deon van Blommestein (South Africa)
Bulls v Reds
(Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria - Kick-off: 19.10; 03.10 Sunday, April 12 AEST; 17.10 GMT)
The Bulls have been cautious this week, constantly talking up the Reds - despite the Australian outfit's dire situation.
They are second from last on the standings, with just one win in seven starts.
They've also had to deal with the Karmichael Hunt cocaine sage. In fact Hunt will make his first start for the Reds since his six-week ban, when he dons the No.15 jersey against the Bulls at Loftus Versfeld.
Bulls captain Pierre Spies is well aware just how "desperate" The reds will be to get their season going.
"Teams like that are always dangerous," Spies told a media briefing.
"They have some classy players in their team and if they are on song on the day, they can destroy you in a blink.
"We will have to play all the big moments well, but will also have to force our style of play on them and dictate the terms.
"That will require commitment and discipline."
The Reds' track record in Pretoria is not great. The last of their two wins at Loftus Versfeld happened over a decade ago - in 2001.
Reds coach Richard Graham remains confident they can put their poor form and troubled season behind then.
"Pretoria is always a fantastic challenge," Graham told a media briefing.
"The Bulls have made Loftus a fortress over the years and no Australian side has won there since 2007.
"That is a piece of history that the group would love to contest."
They will be without star Wallaby playmakers Quade Cooper (shoulder injury) and James O'Connot (calf strain), but the return of Hunt gives them some game-breaking ability at the back.
However, Graham said the collective will win the game, not individuals.
"We need to continue working collectively and the rewards will come," the coach said.
"The squad has trained well in the early stages of the week, the intensity has been very good. We need to continue that as we get closer to the game.
"Discipline is a necessity. The Bulls have kicked the highest percentage of penalty goals."
2013: Reds won 23-18, Brisbane
2012: Bulls won 61-8, Pretoria
2011: Reds won 39-30, Brisbane
2010: Reds won 19-12, Brisbane
2009: Bulls won 33-20, Pretoria
2008: Reds won 40-8, Brisbane
Prediction: The Bulls have lost just twice at home since the start of last year. The Reds have won three of the last four meetings between the sides. The Queensland side have lost their last five away to the Bulls, including their heaviest Super Rugby loss of all-time, and the Bulls' largest win (92-3, May 2007). The Bulls scored 61 points in their last home meeting with the Reds and in a run of
five consecutive home victories over the Queenslanders, they have mustered 257 points; an average of over 51 per game. Conversely,
the Reds have scored just 50 points in their last five games combined, all of which ended in defeat. Opponents of the Bulls maintain a better scrum success rate (95 percent) than against any other team. Opponents of the Reds average a 76.9 percent ball retention rate at scrum time, while only the Stormers (73.9 percent) and Chiefs (76.7 percent) have forced their opponents into losing possession more often. You will get good odds on a reds win, but it is likely to be wasted money. The Bulls to win comfortably - by 15 points or more.
Bulls: 15 Jesse Kriel, 14 Francois Hougaard, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Burger Odendaal, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Jacques-Louis Potgieter, 9 Rudy Paige, 8 Pierre Spies (captain), 7 Arno Botha, 6 Deon Stegmann, 5 Grant Hattingh, 4 Jacques du Plessis, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Callie Visagie, 1 Dean Greyling.
Replacements: 16 Jaco Visagie, 17 Morné Mellett, 18 Marcel van der Merwe, 19 Flip van der Merwe, 20 Hanro Liebenberg, 21 Piet van Zyl, 22 Tian Schoeman, 23 Jurgen Visser.
Reds: 15 Karmichael Hunt, 14 Lachie Turner, 13 Samu Kerevi, 12 Anthony Fainga'a, 11 Chris Feauai-Sautia, 10 Nick Frisby, 9 Will Genia, 8 Adam Thomson, 7 Liam Gill, 6 Curtis Browning, 5 Rob Simmons, 4 Dave McDuling, 3 Greg Holmes, 2 Saia Fainga'a, 1 James Slipper.
Replacements: 16 James Hanson, 17 Ben Daley, 18 Sef Faagase, 19 Marco Kotze, 20 Tom Murday, 21 Adam Korczyk, 22 Ben Tapuai, 23 Chris Kuridrani.
Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Quinton Immelman (South Africa), Lesego Legoete (South Africa)
TMO: Shaun Veldsman (South Africa)
Compiled by Jan de Koning
Statistical information provided by Opta Sports
REPORT: The Lions came back after conceding two first-half tries to beat the Sharks 23-21 at Ellis Park on Saturday and keep up their winning run.