ad link


30     24


Super Rugby | Dunedin
07:35 (GMT) | 18-04-2015
  • 82
He head straight to Canberra for game four of Round 10!
  • 81
Piutau makes a breaks but he is snapped up. PENALTY! A great tackle by Sopoaga sees him being awarded a penalty. The ball is kicked into touch. That's FULLTIME!
  • 80
The Landers keep the ball among the forwards as they eat away at the clock. TURNOVER! The Blues steal it at the breakdown and sends it to the backline.
  • 79
The Blues run the ball out of their 22 from the restart and Saili breaks through tacklers at will to get the Blues to the halfway line. A cheeky kick is attempted but the ball rolls into touch to hand possession back to the Landers
  • 78
West steps up and slots an important conversion to bring the deficit down to just six points
  • 77
The forwards do the hard work once again and Mealamu has a crack at the line. Tanaka attempts to get his hand under the ball but to no avail as the legendary hooker grabs a double
  • 76
Cowen once again places Tanaka under all sorts of pressure to regain possession for the Blues. PENALTY! The Landers are at sixes and sevens in defence. The Blues opt for the tap-and-go
  • 75
Tanaka is placed under all sorts of pressure and the Blues manage to win the ball back. A forward pass stops them in their tracks though as the Landers regain possession through a scrum feed
  • 74
Cowen is knocked back by a massive Dixon tackle and the flank works hard to hand the Landers the scrum feed after he forces the turnover
  • 73
Kaino and Piutau link up beautifully to get the play to the 22. The ball fails to emerge from the breakdown and play will resume with a Blues scrum on the 22
  • 72
The Landers steal the line-out but a needless kick hands the possession back to the Blues on the halfway line who use their forwards to take the ball up to the 10 metre line
  • 71
The throw misses its jumper but the Blues maintain possession at the back of the line-out. Up to the 10 metre line they go. PENALTY! The Landers fail to release the tackled player. Bowden kicks the ball into touch just short of the Landers' 22
  • 70
Cowen puts in a box kick and is claimed by Naholo, who passes it to Sopoaga. He puts in a monster kick and gets a favourable bounce as the ball crosses the line in the Blues' 22
  • 69
It's taken some time to get a proper hit at the scrum but the A Smith eventually manages to kick the ball up-field, only for the Blues to run it back. Up to the halfway line they go
  • 67
The Blues are in possession on the halfway line as they look to find an opening. They unfortunately lose the ball in the contact to hand the Landers the scrum on their 10 metre line
  • 65
Sopoaga maintains his 100 percent kicking record as he extends the home side's lead by sneaking the ball inside the right upright
  • 64
Cowen manages to find Moala but his run is stopped after O'Connor crosses in front of him. Sopoaga will have a shot at goal
  • 63
The Landers spread the ball to Fekitoa but his inside pass to B Smith is ever so slightly forward and the Blues will restart the game with a scrum feed
  • 62
The Blues recycle the ball and attempts to find some territory but the ball rolls too far and goes over the dead ball line. Play will resume with a Landers scrum just inside the Blues' 10 metre line
  • 60
The Landers continue to run the ball at the Blues despite being a man down but as they approach the 22, they cough up possession and the Blues have a chance to run the ball up with Saili taking them just short of the halfway line
  • 59
Bowden finally slots a kick at poles as he adds the extra points
  • 58
A 5 metre Blues line-out gets the game back underway as the forwards do the hard work. Mealamu picks the ball up from the back of the ruck and dives over under the uprights!
  • 57
The forwards take it to within 7 metres from the try line. PENALTY! The Landers are once again offside and they are testing the ref's patience. Wheeler is given his marching orders for a tip tackle earlier in the build-up
  • 56
The Blues enjoy some nice front-foot ball as they make their way close to the 22. Moala gets the ball and goes on a run which takes the Blues inside the 22
  • 55
Bowden kicks the ball into touch close to the Landers' 10 metre line
  • 54
After a few restarts, A Smith probes the blindside but B Smith plays the ball on the ground and the Blues have a PENALTY
  • 52
The Landers knock the ball on from the restart and the Blues have a scrum feed close to their 10 metre line. The Blues launch the attack and spread the ball wide but they are stopped in their tracks by a forward pass
  • 50
Bowden misses yet another kick at goal. This was probably the easiest of the night
  • 49
The Blues forwards work the ball up and Tuipulotu straightens the line and breaks through a few tacklers to reach for the line and get the Blues' second try of the match
  • 48
The Landers are penalised at scrum time for collapsing the scrum which hands the Blues the chance to kick the ball into touch for a line-out 8 metres from the Landers' try line
  • 47
Cowen attempts to get the Blues on the front foot but he is well tackled and fails to release the ball at the breakdown. He then decides to have a work with the ref and the PENALTY is advanced 10 metres. The kick fails to find touch and the Blues kick it back into Landers territory, who kicks it back into the Blues half
  • 46
The sniper strikes once again as he finds his target to add the three points
  • 45
The Blues are caught offside following a knock-on from the restart and Sopoaga will have a crack at extending the lead
  • 43
Bowden's kick is pulled so far left, his next shot will be in the other fairway
  • 42
As has become the norm, the first scrum needs to be reset. The Blues have the ball and finds George Moala who has a go on the outside of Dixon but the big man powers his way over the line to get the Blues on the board
  • 41
KICK-OFF! Bowden gets the second half underway. Wheeler rises to claim the ball but loses it on his way down to hand the Blues a scrum on the Landers' 22

Half Time

  • 40
The Landers claim the restart as the HALFTIME hooter sounds. A Smith gets the ball at the back of the ruck and kicks it into touch as the teams head for the dressing rooms
  • 39
Sopoaga slots another conversion to increase the lead
  • 38
After a few resets, the Landers have a short-arm penalty. A Smith takes it quickly and hands it to the backline. Bowden finds Fekitoa who steps his way through three Blues defenders for another try
  • 36
The throw-in is not straight and the Landers will have the scrum feed 7 metres from the Blues' try line
  • 35
The ball is quickly handed to Sopoaga whose high ball is excellently claimed by Osborne and the Landers find themselves 5 metres from the line. However, the Blues somehow manage to get the ball kicked upfield before Sopoaga reclaims the ball and a cheeky grubber rolls into touch 7 metres from the Blues try line
  • 34
Their counter-attack makes it to the halfway line before a handling error hands the Landers the scrum feed in the middle of the field
  • 33
The Landers manage to get the ball all the up to the halfway line. Osborne hands a nifty offload to Emery who is brought down on the 22. TURNOVER. The Blues win the ball back thanks to excellent work at the breakdown by Ioane
  • 31
Kaino claims the ball at the back of the line-out but his pass to Gibson-Park goes forward and the Landers have a lucky escape. 5 metre defensive scrum to the Landers
  • 30
They manage to get the ball to the 5 metre line before Bowden releases Piutau but he is held up short. The ball is recycled and another long ball to the left bounces into touch. PENALTY! Once again the Landers are offside and once again the Blues opt for a line-out, 5 metres from the try line
  • 29
They claim the line-out but lose some ground as they are driven back by the Landers. It's kept among the forwards to work the ball closer to the line
  • 28
The maul is set but the Landers are up for the challenge. Tu'ungafasi breaks off the back but is stopped inches short. Bowden places a cross-kick with a huge overlap on the left but the ball takes a wicked bounce after landing in the try zone and ends up on the 5 metre line. The Landers were offside though and the Blues once again opt for a 5 metre line-out
  • 27
Bowden opts to pop the ball into touch for a line-out 5 metres from the Landers' try line
  • 26
The Blues are building a little momentum now as they run the ball up the field and find themselves on the Landers' 22. It's a tad bit lateral at the moment but the ref brings them back for a PENALTY after the Landers were caught in an offside position
  • 25
The Landers are throwing the ball around the field with amazing confidence as they edge their way closer to the Blues' 22 but Ioane wins the ball clean at the breakdown
  • 24
A Bowden kick fails to find touch and Osborne claims it and boots it back inside the Blues' 22. They now attempt to run it and make it to their 10 metre line but an accidental obstruction stops them in their tracks and hands the Landers the scrum feed in the middle of the field
  • 22
The Blues now attempt a counter attack of their own. PENALTY! The Landers are caught on the wrong side of the ruck and Bowden boots the penalty into touch on the halfway line
  • 21
The Blues have managed to scramble the ball out of their half but it is soon returned as Osborne collects a B Smith high ball. The Landers recycle the ball and spread it to the right but the Blues scramble in defence and manage to turn the ball over
  • 20
The Blues can't seem to get their hands on the ball and a clever box kick by A Smith gets the ball to bounce and roll into touch 10 metres from the Blues' try line
  • 19
Sopoaga slots yet another kick, this time splitting the uprights
  • 17
The Landers claim it cleanly and the forwards have taken the ball to the 5 metre line. The ball is quickly sent out to the backline into the hands of Naholo who is tackled by Kaino but the Blues captain can only fling the wing over the try line for a score
  • 16
The line-out is well claimed and gets shiftes to Piutau whose clearance kick comes off the side of his boot and goes into touch 10 metres from his try line
  • 15
The Landers are in the ascendency as they take the attack to the Blues. The recycled ball, after an excellent turn over at the breakdown by Sopoaga, sees B Smith place a kick in behind the Blues defence for a line-out inside their 22
  • 14
The Blues hold onto possession form the restart and have made their way close to the Landers' 22 but great defence by the home side sees them bundle the Blues into touch
  • 12
Sopoaga once again sneaks a kick in to add the extra points
  • 11
They quickly spread the ball wide into the hands of Naholo who gets past two tacklers before releasing Fekitoa on the outside for a core in the corner!
  • 10
The scrum is once again reset and the second one is a massive scrum from the Landers which forces the Blues to get rid of the ball but they kick it away and hands the Landers possession.
  • 9
Excellent defence by the Blues sees them hold the Landers up to force the maul. The ball fails to emerge and the Blues will have the scrum feed
  • 8
The first scrum of the match has to be reset after the front rows go down on contact. The second one is a lot better and the Highlanders spread the ball to the backline who takes the ball into the Blues' 22
  • 7
The Landers are kept at bay by the Blues and play will resume with a Highlanders scrum feed on the Blues' 10 metre line
  • 6
After a few phases, Sopoaga puts a little grubber in and is well chased by Reddish who secures possession for the home side on the Blues' 10 metre line
  • 5
He pushes it horribly to the right and Ben Smith collects it and decides to go on a run.
  • 4
A high ball is well chased by Halai as he recovers possession for the Blues, who go on the attack on the Landers' 10 metre line. They recylce the ball and take up another phase. PENALTY! Fekitoa is caught in an offside position to hand Bowden a chance to have a shot at goal
  • 3
Sopoaga's first kick is a good one as he sneaks it inside the left upright
  • 2
Nothing too extravagant in the opening minutes as the teams get a feel of each other. Play remains in-and-around the halfway line. PENALTY! Blues are caught in front of the kicker to hand Sopoaga a chance to have a shot at goal from about 35 metres - close to the right touchline
  • 0
KICK-OFF! Sopoaga gets the game underway
  • -10
In the previous six matches between the sides, the Highlanders have won four while the Blues managed to claim two wins of their own. The most recent result being a 30-12 victory to the Blues in Auckland
  • -20
The Highlanders have won their last three matches at home to the Blues - but lost the previous three before that - and have never won four on the bounce at home to the Auckland-based side.
  • -30
Welcome to match three of Round 10! The Highlanders welcome the Blues to Dunedin
Mc highlanders logo 80x50
Mc blues logo 80x50
  • 15 Ben Smith
  • 14 Waisake Naholo
  • 13 Malakai Fekitoa
  • 12 Jason Emery
  • 11 Patrick Osborne
  • 10 Lima Sopoaga
  • 9 Aaron Smith
  • 8 Nasi Manu
  • 7 James Lentjes
  • 6 Elliot Dixon
  • 5 Joe Wheeler
  • 4 Mark Reddish
  • 3 Josh Hohneck
  • 2 Liam Coltman
  • 1 Kane Hames
  • 23 Richard Buckman
  • 22 Marty Banks
  • 21 Fumiaki Tanaka
  • 20 Dan Pryor
  • 19 Tom Franklin
  • 18 Pingi Talaapitaga
  • 17 Brendon Edmonds
  • 16 Ash Dixon
  • 15 Charles Piutau
  • 14 Frank Halai
  • 13 Pita Ahki
  • 12 George Moala
  • 11 Melani Nanai Vai
  • 10 Dan Bowden
  • 9 Jamison Gibson-Park
  • 8 Jerome Kaino
  • 7 Brendon O'Connor
  • 6 Akira Ioane
  • 5 Patrick Tuipulotu
  • 4 Josh Bekhuis
  • 3 Angus Taavao-Matau
  • 2 James Parsons
  • 1 Ofa Tu'ungafasi
  • 23 Francis Saili
  • 22 Ihaia West
  • 21 Jimmy Cowan
  • 20 Blake Gibson
  • 19 Hayden Triggs
  • 18 Charlie Faumuina
  • 17 Tony Woodcock
  • 16 Keven Mealamu
Mc article crusaders training general

Preview: S15 Round 10, Part One

Thu, 16 Apr 2015 01:22

Two delectable north-south derbies in New Zealand, a trans-Tasman showdown and an all-Australian encounter is what we look at.

Two delectable north-south derbies in New Zealand, a trans-Tasman showdown and an all-Australian encounter.

That is what we look at in the first half of our Round 10 preview- as Super Rugby's league stages moves into the second half of the season.

They don't get much better than the seven-time champion Crusaders hosting the two-time champion Chiefs in Christchurch.

And that is our opening match of the weekend - also the only Friday outing.

Saturday starts with the very intriguing trans-Tasman encounter between the unbeaten Hurricanes against the defending champion Waratahs.

Can the men from Sydney, currently 10th on the standings, get their campaign back on track by becoming the first team this season to the table-topping Hurricanes?

The Highlanders face a tricky encounter against a Blues outfit that finally broke their duck when they beat the Brumbies last week. At least the fifth-placed Highlanders will have homeground advantage.

We bring this part of our preview to a conclusion when we look at the all-Australian derby between a Brumbies team desperate to bounce back from last week's disappointment and the Rebels coming off a bye.

Friday, April 17

Crusaders v Chiefs
(AMI Stadium, Christchurch - Kick-off: 19.35; 07.35 GMT)

There was a lot of talk about "attitude" this week. It is obvious there will be plenty of 'feeling' out on the park on Friday, especially from a Crusaders team desperate to stay in the play-off race.

The game is almost a must-win for the seven-time champion Crusaders, who are eighth on the ladder after four wins and four loses.

Despite their erratic from, Chiefs coach Dave Rennie still rates the Christchurch-based outfit very highly.

"The Crusaders are a quality side," Rennie said.

"Our previous encounters with them have been of test match intensity and this is a must win game for both sides to remain in touch with the Hurricanes."

Crusaders scrumhalf Andy Ellis made no secret of the fact that the Crusaders need to bring the "right attitude" if they are to avenge their Round Three loss to the Chiefs.

"That was frustrating but it probably was a kick in the pants for us and got us refocused," the veteran scrumhalf told the New Zealand media.

"We've made some good growth since then although we're still a bit up and down."

Ellis said the keys to victory over the Chiefs were intensity in attitude and defence for 80 minutes.

"We've got to give it everything because we know they will," he said.

"It will come down to being smart on attack and making good decisions."

Both teams are capable of playing some entertaining and expansive rugby, but the Crusaders may be set for a more tactical approach - given that Dan Carter and Colin Slade will play next two each other.

Also of interest will be the head-to-head battle between Carter and Sonny Bill Williams at inside centre.

Recent results:
2015: Chiefs won 40-16, Hamilton
2014: Crusaders won 18-17, Hamilton
2014: Chiefs won 18-10, Christchurch
2013: Chiefs won 20-19, Hamilton (semifinal)
2013: Crusaders won 43-15, Christchurch
2013: Chiefs won 28-19, Hamilton

Prediction: Since the start of 2012, the Chiefs have maintained a 66 percent win rate against the Crusaders. Eight of the last 10 encounters between the sides have been settled by margins fewer than 10 points. Indeed, a losing bonus point has been scored in four of the last six meetings between these sides hosted by the Crusaders. The Crusaders have failed to hit double figures in the first   half of their last four encounters against the Chiefs and managed no more than 10 second half points in each of those games too. These two sides are the worst disciplined in the competition so far. Only the Chiefs (12.4) have averaged more penalties than the Crusaders (12.3). Both sides have been shown six yellow cards apiece, more than any other team. The Crusaders and Chiefs rank last and second last for ruck success rate this season (both 93 percent). The Crusaders are the best side when in possession at scrum time, winning 96 percent of their feeds and more than any other side. It is a tough call to make, as the teams appear evenly matched. The Chiefs don't have any problems winning in Christchurch, but we're going to take a punt on the Crusaders and say they will win by seven points or less.


Crusaders: 15 Israel Dagg, 14 David Havili, 13 Kieron Fonotia, 12 Dan Carter, 11 Nemani Nadolo, 10 Colin Slade, 9 Andy Ellis, 8 Kieran Read (captain), 7 Richie McCaw, 6 Jordan Taufua, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Luke Romano, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Ben Funnell, 1 Wyatt Crockett.
Replacements: 16 Codie Taylor, 17 Joe Moody, 18 Owen Franks, 19 Jimmy Tupou, 20 Matt Todd, 21 Mitchell Drummond, 22 Tom Taylor, 23 Nafi Tuitavake.

Chiefs: 15 Tom Marshall, 14 Tim Nanai-Williams, 13 Charlie Ngatai, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 James Lowe, 10 Aaron Cruden, 9 Brad Weber, 8 Michael Leitch, 7 Sam Cane, 6 Liam Messam (captain), 5 Brodie Retallick, 4 Matt Symons, 3 Ben Tameifuna, 2 Hika Elliot, 1 Mitchell Graham.
Replacements: 16 Quentin MacDonald, 17 Siate Tokolahi, 18 Pauliasi Manu, 19 Mike Fitzgerald, 20 Liam Squire, 21 Augustine Pulu, 22 Andrew Horrell, 23 Bryce Heem.

Referee: Nick Briant (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Kane McBride (New Zealand), Brendon Pickerill (New Zealand)
TMO: Ben Skeen (New Zealand)

Saturday, April 18

Hurricanes v Waratahs
(Westpac Stadium, Wellington - Kick-off: 16.30; 14.30 AEST; 04.30 GMT)

The question on everybody's lips is: How long will the Hurricanes remain unbeaten?

The men from Wellington have looked near unstoppable - with the coaching combination of Chris Boyd and John Plumtree adding some real forward grunt to compliment the obvious backline class.

On the flip side there is a desperate Waratahs heading to Wellington, the defending champions looking to return to the winners circle and keeping their play-off hopes alive.

Last weekend the New South Welshmen went down to the Stormers (18-32) in an end-to-end contest in Sydney.

The Waratahs have won four of seven fixtures this season and stalwart centre Adam Ashley-Cooper believes they need to find some form if they want to compete with the Hurricanes, who currently lead the overall conference by six points.

"One, they're playing really good football at the moment and two, it's over in New Zealand so the travel is going to be a challenge. It will be a real test of character," Ashley-Cooper said in an interview on the Australian Rugby Union website.

Waratahs assistant coach Daryl Gibson considers the New Zealand heavyweights to be genuine title contenders in 2015.

"The Hurricanes look very hungry this year and you can see that by the way Conrad Smith is leading the team, they have a very experienced backline and the forwards to me, look like they have transformed into a hard-working pack," Gibson said

"They have always been a very good team from unstructured play, they can score long-range tries and they have showed that this season," Gibson said.

Hurricanes assistant coach Richard Watt said they are confident that last week's bye won't break the team's rhythm, but admitted the Waratahs pose a massive threat.

"They are a team that's a bit wounded at the moment," Watt told The dominion Post.

"That loss last week [to the Stormers] has probably stung them and they'll be desperate for some championship points.

"If you look where they're sitting on the table I think they're tenth at the moment, so they will come here pretty fired up.

"They're playing through champs, a lot of international players, that forward pack is pretty much an Aussie pack.

They are a big forward pack and they've got a lot going on [in attack]. They're pretty direct when they want to be and create space for themselves."

Recent results:
2014: Waratahs won 39-30, Sydney
2013: Hurricanes won 41-29, Wellington
2012: Hurricanes won 33-12, Sydney
2010: Waratahs won 32-16, Sydney
2009: Waratahs won 26-22, Wellington
2008: Waratahs won 20-3, Sydney

Prediction: A losing bonus point has been netted in just one of the last seven meetings between the sides. The Tahs have won five of those seven matches. The last five meetings between the sides have all seen 45+ points on the board in total and an average of 56 per game. The Hurricanes have equalled their best ever run of form in this competition (seven wins). Four of those wins have come via a margin of a converted try or less. The Tahs have produced fewer kicks from hand per game (13.7) than any other team, while The Hurricanes have been the beneficiaries from the fewest kicks from hand from their opponents; an average of 14.9. Only the Hurricanes (9) have scored more last quarter tries than the Tahs (7). This may well be the match that send the Waratahs into a nosedive and out of the play-off race. The Hurricanes to win by about 16 points.


Hurricanes: 15 Nehe Milner-Skudder, 14 Cory Jane, 13 Conrad Smith (captain), 12 Ma'a Nonu, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Brad Shields, 7 Ardie Savea, 6 Callum Gibbins, 5 James Broadhurst, 4 Jeremy Thrush, 3 Ben Franks, 2 Motu Matu'u, 1 Reggie Goodes.
Replacements: 16 Brayden Mitchell, 17 Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, 18 Chris Eves, 19 Mark Abbott, 20 Adam Hill, 21 Frae Wilson, 22 Rey Lee-Lo, 23 James Marshall.

Waratahs: 15 Israel Folau, 14 Peter Betham, 13 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 12 Kurtley Beale, 11 Rob Horne, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Wycliff Palu, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Pat McCutcheon, 5 Dave Dennis (captain), 4 Will Skelton, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Tolu Latu, 1 Benn Robinson.
Replacements - from: Tatafu Polota-Nau, Jeremy Tilse, Paddy Ryan, Jacques Potgieter, Mitchell Chapman, Stephen Hoiles, Brendan McKibbin, Matt Carraro, David Horwitz, Jed Holloway.

Referee: Glen Jackson (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Shane McDermott (New Zealand), Jamie Nutbrown (New Zealand)
TMO: Glenn Newman (New Zealand)

Highlanders v Blues
(Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin - 19.35; 07.35 GMT)

The Blues will be keen to prove last week's win over the Brumbies, their first of the season, was not a one-off fluke.

However, injuries have not been kind to the men from Auckland - who will be without Luke Braid (concussion), while prop Tony Woodcock, left wing Melani Nanai and inside centre George Moala have all been bracketed pending a decision on their fitness to be made on Friday.

Coach John Kirwan was adamant he has the depth to cover the setbacks.

"You have got to trust the squad," Kirwan told

"There is no use playing guys that are a little bit injured."

The coach added that the Blues had put last week's win behind them and are looking to gather some momentum.

"We haven't taken too much notice of it," he said of their 16-14 triumph in Auckland - secured when Ihaia West slotted a 75th-minute penalty and Nic White hooked his last-minute attempt past the uprights.

"We have dropped that pretty quick and we are focusing on the Highlanders.

"We know they are an in-form team at the moment.

"They are playing exceptionally well."

The Highlanders, with back-to-back wins over the Stormers and Crusaders, will fancy their chances at home.

Hooker Liam Coltman, prop Kane Hames and lock Mark Reddish all start in a changed tight five that gives the home team a solid foundation.

Recent results:
2014: Blues won 30-12, Auckland
2014: Highlanders won 29-21, Dunedin
2013: Highlanders won 38-28, Dunedin
2013: Blues won 29-18, Auckland
2012: Highlanders won 27-20, Auckland
2012: Highlanders won 30-27, Dunedin

Prediction: Seven of the Highlanders' last eight matches have been settled by a losing bonus-point margin. The Landers have won their last three at home to the Blues but lost the previous three before that; they have never won four on the bounce at home to the Auckland-based side.  The last seven clashes between the sides have seen an average of 51 points on the board and no fewer than 42, which was in their most recent meeting last year. The last three visits of the Blues to the Highlanders have produced 173 points; an average of 57 per match.  The Highlanders' opponents have won more scrums at a better success rate (93 percent) than against any other side. However, the Dunedin-based team has forced the lowest tackling success rate (82 percent) from their opponents. Both these sides have scored just one opening quarter try this season. The Blues have scored the fewest final quarter tries too (one). The Blues may have some confidence after their maiden win for the season, but the Highlanders have been more consistent and that will be crucial. The Highlanders to win by at least 10 points.


Highlanders: 15 Ben Smith (co-captain), 14 Waisake Naholo, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Jason Emery, 11 Patrick Osborne, 10 Lima Sopoaga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Nasi Manu (co-captain), 7 James Lentjes, 6 Elliot Dixon, 5 Joe Wheeler, 4 Mark Reddish, 3 Josh Hohneck, 1 Liam Coltman, 1 Kane Hames.
Replacements: 16 Ash Dixon, 17 Brendon Edmonds, 18 Pingi Tala'apitaga, 19 Tom Franklin, 20 Dan Pryor, 21 Fumiaki Tanaka, 22 Marty Banks, 23 Richard Buckman.

Blues: 15 Charles Piutau, 14 Frank Halai, 13 Pita Ahki, 12 George Moala/Francis Saili, 11 Melani Nanai/Tevita Li, 10 Dan Bowden, 9 Jamison Gibson-Park, 8 Jerome Kaino (captain), 7 Brendon O'Connor, 6 Akira Ioane, 5 Patrick Tuipulotu, 4 Josh Bekhuis, 3 Angus Ta'avao, 2 James Parsons, 1 Ofa Tu'ungafasi.
Replacements: 16 Keven Mealamu, 17 Tony Woodcock/Sam Prattley, 18 Charlie Faumuina, 19 Hayden Triggs, 20 Blake Gibson, 21 Jimmy Cowan, 22 Ihaia West, 23 Francis Saili.

Referee: Chris Pollock (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Ben O'Keeffe (New Zealand), Mike Lash (New Zealand)
TMO: Vinny Munro (New Zealand)

Brumbies v Rebels
(GIO Stadium, Canberra - Kick-off: 19.40; 09.40 GMT)

The Rebels will arrive in Canberra rested and fresh after their bye in Round Nine.

They will be met by a Brumbies team under a cloud of injury.

After easing through the first month of Super Rugby with just the one significant injury, the Brumbies depth is being tested - with another three starting players injured last week.

Along with Test stars Matt Toomua (ankle) and Scott Sio (knee), versatile outside back James Dargaville (foot) all went down during the narrow two-point (14-16) loss to the Blues and all are expected to spend lengthy periods recovering.

But despite the three joining a long list of injured players - which include Wallaby outside centre Tevita Kuridrani, Fotu Auelua and Jesse Mogg - Wallaby utility forward Scott Fardy is optimistic that the Brumbies team will have the depth to bounce back from last week's disappointment.

"We've had so much faith in what the guys off the bench have done this year," Fardy said in an interview on the Brumbies website.

"I think the guys you saw in Auckland - those we brought guys off the bench - did a great job.

"I'm really excited for those guys [who will start in place of the injured players].

"I look at it more as an opportunity; you've got to take those things, when guys get injured you've got to see it as an opportunity to increase your depth and see how guys are.

"I'm really excited about the potential players who are about come in and see what they're going to do for us."

One player in line to replace injured prop Scott Sio for the Brumbies important local derby with the improving Rebels is South African-born JP Smith and Fardy said that his fellow Brumbies were excited to see the newly awarded Australian citizen start.

"Yeah [it's a] big opportunity for him [Smith], he was one of those guys that came off the bench last week and was really impressive," Fardy said.

"When he came on I think he made about 14 tackles in half an hour and he was incredible.  He's someone who just needs an opportunity and obviously with Scotty's injury he gets that so we're looking forward to watching how he plays."

Saturday's match against the 10th placed Rebels serves as a vitally important match for the Brumbies, who in the coming weeks face the difficult propositions of facing the Highlanders and Waratahs at home before a two week tour of South Africa.

Recent results:
2015: Brumbies won 20-15, Melbourne
2014: Brumbies won 37-10, Canberra
2014: Rebels won 32-24, Melbourne
2013: Brumbies won 39-17, Canberra
2013: Brumbies won 30-13, Melbourne
2012: Brumbies won 27-19, Melbourne
2012: Brumbies won 37-6, Canberra

Prediction: The Brumbies have won all four of their meetings with the Rebels in Canberra; scoring 32, 37, 39 and 37 points during the course of these meetings. The aggregate score in those matches is 145-50, with the Rebels' smallest losing margin in this run sitting at 15 points. The Brumbies have won their last 11 home games, equalling their best run of its kind since winning their first 13 at home between 1996 and 1998. The Brumbies have the best line-out success rate (91 percent) this season, while the Rebels' is the worst (78 percent).  The ACT-based side has conceded fewer (9.3) and won more (12.6) penalties per game than any other team this year.  The Brumbies have scored eight tries and conceded just one in the 20 minutes following half-time. The Rebels have scored two and conceded five in the same timeframe. The Brumbies will have been stung by last week's loss and the Rebels could feel the brunt of their frustrations. The Brumbies to win by 15 points or more.


Brumbies: 15 Robbie Coleman, 14 Lausii Taliauli, 13 Henry Speight, 12 Nigel Ah Wong, 11 Joe Tomane, 10 Christian Lealiifano, 9 Michael Dowsett, 8 Jarrad Butler, 7 David Pocock, 6 Scott Fardy, 5 Sam Carter, 4 Rory Arnold, 3 Ben Alexander, 2 Stephen Moore (captain), 1 JP Smith.
Replacements: 16 Josh Mann-Rea, 17 Allan Alaalatoa, 18 Ruan Smith, 19 Blake Enever, 20 Ita Vaea, 21 Jordan Smiler, 22 Nic White, 23 Rodney Iona.

Rebels: 15 Mike Harris, 14 Tom English, 13 Tamati Ellison, 12 Mitch Inman, 11 Sefanaia Naivalu, 10 Jack Debreczeni, 9 Nic Stirzaker, 8 Scott Higginbotham (captain), 7 Scott Fuglistaller, 6 Sean McMahon, 5 Lopeti Timani, 4 Luke Jones, 3 Paul Alo-Emile, 2 Pat Leafa, 1 Toby Smith.
Replacements: 16 Tom Sexton, 17 Cruze Ah-Nau, 18 Tim Metcher, 19 Cadeyrn Neville, 20 Colby Fainga'a, 21 Jordy Reid, 22 Luke Burgess, 23 Bryce Hegarty.

Referee: Angus Gardner (Australia)
Assistant referees: James Leckie (Australia), Federico Anselmi (Argentina)
TMO: George Ayoub (Australia)

Compiled by Jan de Koning

Statistical information provided by Opta Sports

Mc article fekitoa hand off630

Highlanders hold off charging Blues

Sat, 18 Apr 2015 09:19

The Highlanders held off a resurgent Blues side to pick up a hard-fought 30-24 victory in Dunedin.

The Highlanders held off a resurgent Blues side to pick up a hard-fought 30-24 victory in Dunedin.
The visitors scored four unanswered tries in the second half and ended with two bonus points, as the Highlanders were forced to hold out under pressure despite dominating the first half.
While the Highlanders improved their season to six wins from eight games, the Blues slumped to their eighth loss from nine outings.
Questions will be asked in the Blues camp about the gamble to keep their All Blacks front row - Keven Mealamu, Tony Woodcock and Charlie Faumuina - on the bench through the first half.
It was a move that backfired as Highlanders forwards took early control and the home side were up 17-0 inside the first quarter.
When Blues coach John Kirwan unleashed his cavalry in the second half, Faumuina had an immediate impact paving the way for one try before Mealamu followed up with two of his own. But they had left their run too late.
The home side took control early on, starting the ball rolling with a penalty from Lima Sopoaga and following it up with two tries which put them 17-0 up after 20 minutes.
The first was a classic counter-attack, with the ball worked wide to Malakai Fekitoa, and the second showed the finishing ability of prolific wing Waisake Naholo which left the Blues stunned.
The visitors responded by camping deep in Highlanders territory, but they were not able to finish a number of opportunities as the home side's defence held firm.
Instead it would be the Highlanders to score next as they gave the Blues a lesson in finishing, with Fekitoa going over for his second try from a quick tap.
That saw them take a 24-0 lead into half-time, and the Blues headed into the break for a tongue-lashing from coach John Kirwan.
The Blues finally got on the scoreboard early in the second half with a try from George Moala, and after a Sopoaga penalty they had another as lock Patrick Tuipulotu powered his way over to make it 27-10.
Things got tougher for the Highlanders when Joe Wheeler was sent to the sin bin for a dangerous tackle, and the Blues made the most of it with Mealamu forcing his way over between the poles.
The veteran All Black hooker scored again at the death to give the Blues three minutes to try and snatch an unlikely win, but it was not to be as the Highlanders held on for the win.
Man of the match: George Moala, Jerome Kaino and Keven Mealamu all played a major role in the Blues' comeback, Lima Sopoaga was steady and kicked everything but the player who had the biggest influence on the match was Highlanders centre Malakai Fekitoa.
The scorers:
For the Highlanders:
Tries: Fekitoa 2, Naholo
Cons: Sopoaga 3
Pens: Sopoaga 3
For the Blues: 
Tries: Moala, Tuipulotu, Mealamu 2
Cons: Bowden, West
Yellow card: Joe Wheeler (Highlanders, 56 - Dangerous tackle)
Highlanders: 15 Ben Smith (co-captain), 14 Waisake Naholo, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Jason Emery, 11 Patrick Osborne, 10 Lima Sopoaga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Nasi Manu (co-captain), 7 James Lentjes, 6 Elliot Dixon, 5 Joe Wheeler, 4 Mark Reddish, 3 Josh Hohneck, 1 Liam Coltman, 1 Kane Hames.
Replacements: 16 Ash Dixon, 17 Brendon Edmonds, 18 Pingi Tala'apitaga, 19 Tom Franklin, 20 Dan Pryor, 21 Fumiaki Tanaka, 22 Marty Banks, 23 Richard Buckman.
Blues: 15 Charles Piutau, 14 Frank Halai, 13 Pita Ahki, 12 George Moala, 11 Melani Nanai, 10 Dan Bowden, 9 Jamison Gibson-Park, 8 Jerome Kaino (captain), 7 Brendon O'Connor, 6 Akira Ioane, 5 Patrick Tuipulotu, 4 Josh Bekhuis, 3 Angus Ta'avao, 2 James Parsons, 1 Ofa Tu'ungafasi.
Replacements: 16 Keven Mealamu, 17 Tony Woodcock, 18 Charlie Faumuina, 19 Hayden Triggs, 20 Blake Gibson, 21 Jimmy Cowan, 22 Ihaia West, 23 Francis Saili.
Referee: Chris Pollock (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Ben O'Keeffe (New Zealand), Mike Lash (New Zealand)
TMO: Vinny Munro (New Zealand)
Malakai Fekitoa (11min), Waisake Naholo (17min), and Malakai Fekitoa (38min)
George Moala (42min), Patrick Tuipulotu (49min), Keven Mealamu (58min), and Keven Mealamu (77min)
Lima Sopoaga (12min), Lima Sopoaga (19min), and Lima Sopoaga (39min)
Dan Bowden (59min) and Ihaia West (78min)
Lima Sopoaga (3min), Lima Sopoaga (46min), and Lima Sopoaga (65min)
VENUE Dunedin
REFEREE Chris Pollock