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Super Rugby | Christchurch
07:35 (GMT) | 25-04-2015
  • 81
Join us immediately as we begin the build-up to the next match between the Waratahs and the Rebels for an all-Australian derby
  • 80
They've taken some time to set the scrum. The ball is hacked forward and the Blues retrieve the ball inside their 22 and opt to have a run at the Crusaders. They unfortunately run out of space and ate tackled into touch. FULL-TIME!
  • 79
The Blues are in full attack mode right now but the Crusaders once again somehow manage to get their hands on the ball and kicks it up-field. Play will resume with a Crusaders scrum on the halfway line close to the left touchline
  • 78
Crusaders set the maul from the line-out before Ellis puts in the kick. PENALTY! Funnell is cught in-front of the kick to hand the Blues a penalty. The ball is kicked into touch on the Crusaders' 22
  • 77
Ellis fails to find touch yet again with his clearance kick and the Blues are back in possession on the Crusaders' 10 metre line. Nadolo puts in a decent tackle to bundle the Blues into touch
  • 75
West takes a quick penalty and the ball is swung to the left. However, the Crusaders manage to put enough pressure on the Blues to force a line-out on their five metre line
  • 74
The throw misses its jumper and the Crusaders are back in possession. Carter uses his left foot to kick the ball up-field but it fails to find touch and the Blues launch a counter-attack. Back up to the Crusaders' 22 they go
  • 73
After a reset, The Blues opt to run it out of their 22 and have made their way to the 10 metre mark. They continue to run it up field and make it into the Crusaders' half before being handed a penalty. West kicks the ball into touch for a line-out on the Crusaders' 22
  • 72
The throw is not straight and the Blues will have the scrum feed on their 22
  • 71
The Crusaders take a short line-out and run the ball up to the halfway line before Slade puts in a deep kick. Visinia returns the favour and finds touch on his 22. Excellent attacking chance for the Crusaders
  • 69
The ball makes its way out of the scum but a Slade kick fails to find touch and here come the Blues once again. A promising attack comes to nothing as a Saili pass misses its intended recipient and flies into touch
  • 68
The Blues are keeping it among the forwards and are inching their way closer to the try line but their momentum hits the wall as they lose the ball forward to hand the Crusaders the scrum feed
  • 67
The Blues have found a second wind and take advantage of some indecision by the Crusaders' backline. They are back in possession inside the 22
  • 66
Bowden hooks the kick left to leave the try unconverted
  • 65
Saili find Moala on the outside who places a neat inside pass to O'Connor for the flank to score
  • 64
T Taylor claims a high ball but the Blues rip the ball in contact and are in possession on the Crusaders' 22
  • 62
After a few resets, Read makes a break down the blindside off the back of the scrum. He passes it to Ellis, who puts in a grubber but it's claimed by the Blues. Play will resume with a Blues line-out just outside their 22
  • 60
The Blues lose possession via a knock-on from the restart and the Crusaders will have the scrum feed on their 10 metre line
  • 59
Slade misses his first kick of the night as he pushes his kick to the right of the right upright
  • 58
The Crusaders have numbers on the left and the ball is quickly shuffled that way. T Taylor shows excellent strength as he takes the home side to within inches of the try line. The ball is quickly shifted to the right and C Taylor has a huge gap to run through for the bonus point
  • 57
The ball somehow finds its way to Saili who puts in a huge kick to take the play inside the Crusaders' half
  • 56
Bowden is in at scrumhalf for the scrum and as the ball emerges from the back, he kicks the ball into touch just outside his 22
  • 54
The Crusaders keep the ball among the forwards who power their way to the five metre line. The ball is picked off the back of the ruck by Romano who has a dive for the line but he loses the ball forward in the attempt. Scrum to the Blues on their five metre line
  • 53
Halai makes a wonderful break to get the blues to the Crusaders' five metre line. But they cough up possession and the Crusaders run the ball back up field. They make their way up to the 22 before Jamison Gibson-Park makes the tackle. He fails to release the tackled player and is sent to the bin for the cynical infringement
  • 52
Both sides are happy to run the ball at their opponents as they go ins search of more points. The Blues' attack is snuffled by the Crusaders as they bundle the ball into touch. The Blues will have possession via a line-out on the Crusaders' 22
  • 49
The Crusaders win back possession and run the ball up-field. They have made their way to the Blues' 10 metre line. The ball is shifted left as Nadolo kicks the ball ahead. The Blues breathe a sigh of relief as McCaw is penalised for being in front of the kicker. Play resumes with a Blues line-out on the halfway line
  • 47
Cowan makes a break and gets the Blues close to the Crusaders' 22. They keep it among the forwards but the Crusaders are standing firm in defence
  • 46
Whitelock steals the ball and the Crusaders are in possession on the halfway line. The ball finds Nadolo on the left who makes some metres but the Blues steal back possession and they run the ball back at the Crusaders. Up to the halfway line they go. The ball eventually finds the hands of the Crusaders and T Taylor puts the ball into touch in his 10 metre line
  • 44
It's a tight contest at the breakdowns but the Blues wins this round as play will resume with a Blues line-out on the Crusaders' 22
  • 43
It's another successful kick for Slade as he splits the uprights
  • 42
The ball is shifted to the left and finds Nadolo on the touchline. He bursts through a tackler, brused off another before passing the ball on the inside to T Taylor who gets an easy run-in
  • 41
KICK-OFF! Slade gets the second half underway! The Blues claim the restart and kicks the ball into touch to hand the Crusaders a line-out throw-in on the Blues' 10 metre line

Half Time

  • 40
The Crusaders collects the restart and T Taylor kicks it up field. The ball is eventually scrambled into touch and that is HALF-TIME
  • 39
The Crusaders win the line-out once again and takes the play through the phases before being awarded a penalty in-front of the uprights on the Blues' 22. Salde makes no mistake with the kick to increase the lead
  • 38
Slade pops an excellent short pass to C Taylor who gets the home side to the five metre line. O'Connor does excellent work at the breakdown to snuffle the attack and allows Cowan to boot the ball into touch
  • 37
The ball is sent through the backline and fins Taylor who kicks it all the way into the Blues' 22 before they too opt for a kick and finds touch on the halfway line. The Crusaders collects the ball and sends it to the left which takes them to the Blues' 22
  • 35
The Blues are keeping it tight among the forwards but they make very little ground before Cowan opts to kick it up-field. Kicks are traded before Taylor collects it inside the Crusaders' 22. He makes a few metres before being tackled. The ball fails to emerge from the breakdown and the Crusaders will have the feed to the scrum just outside their 22
  • 33
Bowden sneaks the kick inside the right upright to add the extra points
  • 32
A solid scrum from the Blues allows the ball to be shifted through the hands and finds Saili who runs a perfect angle to cut through the Crusaders defence and sprint his way over the try line
  • 31
The Blues have some front foot ball and have made their way to the Crusaders' 22 as the forwards link up well with the backline. A massive tackle tackle by Crockett sees him knock the ball on in the tackle to hand the Blues the scrum feed 23 metres from the Crusaders' try line
  • 29
The ball flies out the back of the scrum and the Crusaders will have to launch their attack from the 22 metre line. Halai steals the ball at the breakdown and kicks it upfield, only to have it kicked back. Bowden eventually kicks the ball into touch on the Blues' 10 metre line
  • 27
Another solid scrum but as the Crusaders attempt to put in a shove, the front rows pop up and the scrum will be reset
  • 25
A good, solid scrum by the Crusaders allows the home side to get the ball sent to the left but the Blues are caught in an offside position and give away another penalty. Once again, the Crusaders opt for a scrum
  • 24
The ball is kept among the forwards and with just two metres to go, the Blues desperately attempt to slow the ball ball down and concede a penalty right in front of the uprights. They opt for the scrum in a very attacking position
  • 23
The Blues allow the ball to bounce from the restart and have put themselves under all sorts of pressure. A relieving kick is put in but fails to find touch and allows the Crusaders to launch a counter-attack. The ball is kept tight and taken through the phases with the Crusaders seven metres from the try-line
  • 22
Bowden splits the uprights to put the Blues on the scoreboard
  • 21
The Blues keep it among the forwards and takes the ball through the phases. PENALTY! The Crusaders go off their feet at the breakdown and the Blues will have a shot at goal
  • 19
A kicking battle ensues after the restart and is eventually kicked into touch by the home side to hand the Blues a line-out just outside their 22
  • 17
Slade makes no mistake with the extra points to extend the Crusaders' lead
  • 16
The ball is shifted to left and after some scrappy passes, Nadolo gets the ball in his hands and hands a nifty inside pass to Taufua who canters over the line and puts in a huge dive for the five pointer
  • 15
The Blues fail to roll way at the breakdown and hands the home side a chance to kick the ball into touch just inside their 22 for an attacking line-out
  • 14
The Blues are under all sorts of pressure at scrum time but Cowen manages to clear the ball and finds touch just short of the halfway line
  • 13
The line-outs from both sides have been nothing short of poor thus far in the match. Play resumes with a Blues scrum feed just inside their 22 after Taylor 's throw-in was not straight
  • 12
The Blues attack remains lateral and the Crusaders turns the ball over at the breakdown. It's quickly shuffled to Nadolo who puts in a chip kick and forces Saili to run the ball into touch inside his 22
  • 10
Taufua is penalised at the breakdown and the Blues opt to put it into touch for a line-out just inside the Crusaders' 22
  • 9
The home side are keeping it among the forwards but fail to make any significant ground before they cough up possession and the Blues are back in possession. Cowen opts for territory but fails to put it into touch. Slade collects the kick before showing Cowen how it is done
  • 7
After a kicking battle, play will resume with a Crusaders line-out on the halfway line
  • 6
The Crusaders run the ball out of their half and gets as far as the Blues' 22 before they are bundled into touch
  • 5
Blues are in possession and looks confident with ball in hand. They swing the ball to the left and gets inside the Crusaders' 22 but the home side stands firm in defence to shuffle the Blues into touch
  • 4
Slade adds the extra points with his first successful kick of the night
  • 3
The counter-attack works it's magic! Nadolo darws three defenders before giving it to Crotty, who finds Mitchell Drummond to have an easy run-in for the first score
  • 2
The Blues steal the line-out ball and is kicked up-field, only for the Crusaders to run it right back at them
  • 1
First penalty of the match goes the way of the Crusaders as the the Blues fail to release the ball after being tackled. The ball is kicked into touch for a line-out just short of the Blues' 22
  • 0
KICK-OFF! Dan Bowden gets the match underway!
  • -5
A touching tribute in remembrance of ANZAC Day. It marks the anniversary of the first major military action fought by Australian and New Zealand forces during the First World War.
  • -10
Despite losing 10 of their last 11 matches, the Blues' heaviest defeat in this run was a 11-23 loss to the Waratahs and they have snared losing bonuses in seven of these games.
  • -20
The hosts are on a two-match losing streak and one more loss would equal their worst ever sequence. They have lost three matches in a row in a single campaign on just five occasions.
  • -30
Welcome to match Three of Round Eleven! The inconsistent Crusaders host the Blues in what is sure to be a massive New Zealand derby in Christchurch
Mc crusaders logo 80x50
Mc blues logo 80x50
  • 15 Tom Taylor
  • 14 David Kaetau Havili
  • 13 Ryan Crotty
  • 12 Dan Carter
  • 11 Nemani Nadolo
  • 10 Colin Slade
  • 9 Mitchell Drummond
  • 8 Kieran Read
  • 7 Richie McCaw
  • 6 Jordan Taufua
  • 5 Sam Whitelock
  • 4 Luke Romano
  • 3 Owen Franks
  • 2 Codie Taylor
  • 1 Wyatt Crockett
  • 23 Nafi Tuitavake
  • 22 Kieron Fonotia
  • 21 Andy Ellis
  • 20 Matt Todd
  • 19 Jimmy Tupou
  • 18 Nepo Laulala
  • 17 Joe Moody
  • 16 Ben Funnell
  • 15 Lolagi Visinia
  • 14 Frank Halai
  • 13 Francis Saili
  • 12 George Moala
  • 11 Melani Nanai Vai
  • 10 Dan Bowden
  • 9 Jimmy Cowan
  • 8 Steven Luatua
  • 7 Brendon O'Connor
  • 6 Akira Ioane
  • 5 Hayden Triggs
  • 4 Josh Bekhuis
  • 3 Charlie Faumuina
  • 2 Keven Mealamu
  • 1 Tony Woodcock
  • 23 Tevita Li
  • 22 Ihaia West
  • 21 Jamison Gibson-Park
  • 20 Blake Gibson
  • 19 Culum Retallick
  • 18 Angus Ta'avao
  • 17 Ofa Tu'ungafasi
  • 16 Matt Moulds
Mc article stormers training general 630

Preview: S15 Round 11, Part Two

Thu, 23 Apr 2015 22:25

Saturday will truly be a derby day. However, it is at Newlands were the spotlight will shine brightest. Jan de Koning shares his predictions.

Saturday will truly be a derby day. However, it is at Newlands were the spotlight will shine brightest.

They don't come much bigger than this, the ultimate north-south derby - rich in tradition and steeped history.

When the Stormers and Bulls go head-to-head in Cape Town there will be plenty of passion and brutality, but most of all they will be playing for first place in the South African conference.

The Bulls, top of the SA conference and second in the global standings, are just two points ahead of the Stormers - second in SA and sixth overall.

There is plenty riding on the outcome of this one.

However, that is not going to be the only cracker on Saturday.

It all starts in Christchurch where the Crusaders host the Blues - two teams desperate to get their seasons back on track.

This is New Zealand's big north-south derby, although the waning fortunes of the two team have taken some of the gloss off this one.

We then hop across the Tasman Sea to Sydney, where the defending champion Waratahs take on an improving Rebels side.

Our next trip takes us across the Indian Ocean to Johannesburg for a real cat fight, the Lions - everybody favourite second team - hosting the hapless Cheetahs.

Only then do we get to watch the Stormers versus Bulls at Newlands.

We also have a match on Sunday - when the Reds host a Hurricanes team desperate to put last week's disappointing first loss of the season behind them.

We look at Saturday and Sunday's matches!

Saturday, April 25

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

There is no doubt that the Blues versus Crusaders once rivaled the Bulls versus Stormers as Super Rugby's biggest derby.

It is a traditional contest that has its foundation in the encounters between Auckland and Canterbury in the 1980s and 1990s.

While the Crusaders still make the play-offs every year - they were reduced to runners-up by a controversial late penalty in the Final last year - the Blues have been on the slide for the past four years, finish no higher than 10th.

The men from Auckland are currently second from last - with just one win from nine starts.

The Crusaders are not much better off this season, sitting 10th on 20 points - six points shy of the top six.

They have lost five of their nine games, a record that would be more respectable if they had stopped coughing-up so many turnovers, struggled with basic skills or been so predictable with their attack.

Blues coach John Kirwan, who's spent most of the year under the cosh, admitted both teams are under pressure to appease the growing band of disgruntled fans.

Spectators started leaving the stadium long before the final whistle in the Crusaders' demoralising 9-26 loss to the Chiefs last week.

However, Kirwan feels the Crusaders still have al the qualities to be play-off candidates.

"It's always going to be tough down there [in Christchurch]," he said.

"They're a proud side and they were embarrassed about last week.

"We're getting them on the hop, when they're hurting and that's a dangerous time to get them.

"It will be a classic derby. They're under pressure, we're under pressure, so it makes for an interesting match."

Recent results:
2014: Crusaders won 21-13, Christchurch
2014: Blues won 35-24, Auckland
2013: Crusaders won 23-3, Christchurch
2013: Blues won 34-15, Auckland
2012: Crusaders won 59-12, Christchurch
2012: Crusaders won 19-18, Auckland

Prediction: The Crusaders' 59-12 defeat of the Blues in May 2012 stands as the latter's record defeat. The home side on the day has won the last five instances of this fixture - three of those victories going to the Crusaders. The hosts are on a two-match losing streak and one more loss would equal their worst ever sequence. They have lost three matches in a row in a single campaign on just five occasions. Despite losing 10 of their last 11 matches, the Blues' heaviest defeat in this run was a 11-23 loss to the Waratahs and they have snared losing bonuses in seven of these games. The Crusaders have scored the most tries from scrums (8) this season, with the Blues ranking in joint-second with six. The winner will be the team most desperate to salvage something from a disastrous season. The Crusaders may just be that team, but won't win by more than 10 points.


Crusaders: 15 Tom Taylor, 14 David Havilli, 13 Ryan Crotty, 12 Dan Carter, 11 Nemani Nadolo, 10 Colin Slade, 9 Mitchell Drummond, 8 Kieran Read (captain), 7 Richie McCaw, 6 Jordan Taufua, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Luke Romano, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Wyatt Crockett.
Replacements: 16 Ben Funnell, 17 Joe Moody, 18 Nepo Laulala, 19 Jimmy Tupou, 20 Matt Todd, 21 Andy Ellis, 22 Kieron Fonotia, 23 Nafi Tuitavake.
Blues: 15 Lolagi Visinia, 14 Frank Halai, 13 Francis Saili, 12 George Moala, 11 Melani Nanai, 10 Dan Bowden, 9 Jimmy Cowan, 8 Steven Luatua, 7 Brendon O'Connor, 6 Akira Ioane, 5 Hayden Triggs, 4 Josh Bekhuis, 3 Charlie Faumuina, 2 Keven Mealamu (captain), 1 Tony Woodcock.
Replacements: 16 Matt Moulds, 17 Ofa Tu'ungafasi, 18 Angus Ta'avao, 19 Culum Retallick, 20 Blake Gibson, 21 Jamison Gibson-Park, 22 Ihaia West, 23 Tevita Li.

Referee: Chris Pollock (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Glen Jackson (New Zealand), Jamie Nutbrown (New Zealand)
TMO: Vinny Munro (New Zealand)

Waratahs v Rebels
(ANZ Stadium, Sydney - Kick-off: 19.55; 09.55 GMT)

The Waratahs received a timely boost this week withy the news that captain Dave Dennis had re-signed with the defending champions until the end of 2017.

Dennis will lead the Waratahs in Sydney when his side takes on an in-form Rebels team, sitting four points adrift of the Waratahs after consecutive wins against the Reds and Brumbies.

Dennis said his side was looking forward to putting in a strong performance in front of their home crowd, but was well aware that the Rebels would pose a significant test - especially after they pushed the Waratahs all the way in a Round Two fixture in Melbourne back in February.

"We've disappointed our home fans twice this year, which isn't good enough," Dennis said of the 18-32 loss to the Stormers a fortnight ago and the 13-25 loss to the Western Force in Week One.

"So it's very important that we show that style we showed last week and I'm really expecting the boys to perform to a high level this week," he said.

"It's a really good test for us.  The Rebels are playing really well as a team and they're playing consistently, so it's going to be a good test."

Saturday's match is the first time that the Waratahs have played at ANZ Stadium since their historic win over the Crusaders in last year's Super Rugby Final.

The Rebels are backing themselves to cause another upset on the road, having recorded three of their four wins away from home - including last week's 13-8 triumph over the Brumbies in Canberra.

Scrumhalf Nic Stirzaker, who will go head-to-head with former Rebels teammate Nick Phipps, admitted the Waratahs pose a much bigger threat than last week's opponents.

"They are starting to hit their straps, especially after that win last week over the table-topping Hurricanes," Stirzaker said.

"However, we go into it every week thinking we are good enough to win the game."

Recent results:
2015: Waratahs won 38-28, Melbourne
2014: Waratahs won 41-19, Melbourne
2014: Waratahs won 32-8, Sydney
2013: Rebels won 24-22, Melbourne
2013: Waratahs won 31-26, Sydney
2012: Waratahs won 30-21, Sydney
2012: Waratahs won 35-19, Melbourne

Prediction: This fixture has only failed to produce 40+ points once and averages 50. Eight of the nine contests between these state rivals have produced Waratah victories and just one losing bonus point for the Rebels. However, the Rebels' last six matches have produced over 40 points on just one occasion and have averaged 36. The Rebels have won their last two matches, but have never won three in a row. Michael Hooper (100) and Sean McMahon (96) are among the top tacklers this season. They are ranked fourth and fifth respectively behind Warren Whiteley (129), Warwick Tecklenburg (108) and Johannes Prinsloo (103). The Tahs have scored six tries from possessions that have gone seven-plus phases, a competition joint-high.  The Rebels have managed five. The Rebels have improved in recent weeks, but you still can't see them beat the Waratahs - who should win by at least 10 points.


Waratahs: 15 Israel Folau, 14 Peter Betham, 13 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 12 Kurtley Beale, 11 Rob Horne, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Dave Dennis (captain), 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Jacques Potgieter, 5 Mitch Chapman, 4 Will Skelton, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 Benn Robinson
Replacements: 16 Tolu Latu, 17 Jeremy Tilse, 18 Paddy Ryan, 19 Wycliff Palu, 20 Stephen Hoiles, 21 Brendan McKibbin, 22 Matt Carraro, 23 Taqele Naiyaravoro.
Rebels: 15 Mike Harris, 14 Dom Shipperley, 13 Tamati Ellison, 12 Mitch Inman, 11 Sefanaia Naivalu, 10 Jack Debreczeni, 9 Nic Stirzaker, 8 Scott Higginbotham (co-captain), 7 Scott Fuglistaller (co-captain), 6 Sean McMahon, 5 Lopeti Timani, 4 Cadeyrn Neville, 3 Paul Alo-Emile, 2 Pat Leafa, 1 Toby Smith.
Replacements: 16 Tom Sexton, 17 Cruze Ah-Nau, 18 Tim Metcher, 19 Sam Jeffries, 20 Colby Fainga'a, 21 Luke Burgess, 22 Jordy Reid, 23 Bryce Hegarty.

Referee: Rohan Hoffman
Assistant referees: James Leckie, Ed Martin
TMO: George Ayoub

Lions v Cheetahs
(Ellis Park, Johannesburg - Kick-off: 17.05; 15.05 GMT)

The Lions are just one win short of beating setting a new franchise benchmark - five consecutive wins. They won four on the trot in 2007 and have equalled that with four victories in their last four games.

However, coach Johan Ackermann has warned his team to keep their eye on the proverbial ball and not get distracted by the sideshows.

The Cheetahs, ravaged by injuries, have won just one of their last seven matches.

Yet, Ackermann sounded a warning to those who suggest the men from Bloemfontein are easy-beats.

"These teams which people write off and on the table it appears they are not having a good season, they are the most dangerous," Ackermann said.

"However, if you look closer you'll see how unfortunate they were. They are certainly a team you can't write off."

The Lions mentor said the biggest threats come in the form of the Cheetahs' wings and centres, while they also possess a solid set of forward with plenty of experience.

"Francois Uys, Johannes Prinsloo and Willie Britz are first-class players," Ackermann said, adding: "The results don't always do them justice.

"If you analyse them you see the good things they do and what qualities they have as a team.

"If we are anywhere below our best we will be in for a long day at the office.

"We will have to play very well if we want to secure the win."

Cheetahs coach Naka Drotské said made it clear his outfit is not ready to throw in the towel just yet.

Springboks Coenie Oosthuizen (prop, back), Heinrich Brüssow (flank, fractured arm), Willie le Roux (fullback, ankle), Raymond Rhule (wing, hamstring), Lodewyk de Jager (lock, elbow) and Teboho Mohoje (flank, groin) are all sidelined with injuries.

Apart from the long list of international stars who have been ruled out, the Cheetahs are also without Coenie van Wyk (fullback, ankle), Jean Cook (flank, abdominal muscle) and Burry Uys (prop, back).

"There's nothing you can do about injuries, so we're not going to sit and worry about it," Drotské told a media briefing this week.

"It's a reality that guys like Willie [le Roux], Coenie [Oosthuizen], Oupa [Mohoje], Lood [de Jager] and Heinz [Brüssow] are key players, but we can't use it as an excuse.

"The Lions are playing very good rugby and have a settled group for the last three, four years now.

"They've also been lucky with injuries and therefore must be favourites.

"However, we're not going to lie down. We still believe 100 percent that we can beat them."

Recent results:
2014: Lions won 60-25, Johannesburg
2014: Lions won 21-20, Bloemfontein
2012: Cheetahs won 26-5, Welkom
2012: Lions won 27-25, Johannesburg
2011: Cheetahs won 53-19, Johannesburg
2011: Lions won 25-20, Bloemfontein

Prediction: The Lions are on a club record-equalling run of four victories. The Lions' matches this season have averaged 37 points in total and are yet to produce 45+. The Cheetahs' last three games have produced fewer than 40 points each. The last meeting between these sides produced the Lions' largest ever victory (60-25). The Cheetahs' 59-10 defeat of the Lions in May 2010 represents their largest win. The instances of this fixture have either produced a losing bonus point (seven occasions) or a final points difference of more than 20 points (four occasions). There is no doubt the Lions are favoured to win. And if they keep their focus the winning margin could be 20 points.


Lions: 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Ruan Combrinck, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Harold Vorster, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Francois de Klerk, 8 Warren Whiteley (captain), 7 Warwick Tecklenburg, 6 Jaco Kriel, 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Andries Ferreira, 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Armand van der Merwe, 1 Jacques van Rooyen.
Replacements: 16 Robbie Coetzee, 17 Corne Fourie, 18 Julian Redelinghuys, 19 Luvuyiso Lusaseni, 20 Robert Kruger, 21 Ross Cronje, 22 Marnitz Boshoff, 23 Howard Mnisi.
Cheetahs: 15 Joe Pietersen, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 Johann Sadie, 12 Francois Venter, 11 Ryno Benjamin, 10 Willie du Plessis, 9 Sarel Pretorius, 8 Willie Britz, 7 Johannes Prinsloo, 6 Tienie Burger, 5 Francois Uys (captain), 4 Carl Wegner, 3 Nicolaas van Dyk, 2 Torsten van Jaarsveld, 1 Danie Mienie.
Replacements: 16 Stephan Coetzee, 17 Caylib Oosthuizen, 18 Ewald van der Westhuizen, 19 Steven Sykes, 20 Carel Greeff, 21 Tian Meyer, 22 Michael van der Spuy, 23 Clayton Blommetjies.
Referee: Jaco van Heerden
Assistant referees: Marius van der Westhuizen, Ben Crouse
TMO: Johan Greeff

Stormers v Bulls
(Newlands, Cape Town - Kick-off: 19.10; 17.10 GMT)

These encounters are always spicy, full of passion and worth every cent of the entrance fee.

It is likely to be sell-out affair.

Stormers coach Allister Coetzee said this big north-south derby will be similar to a Test match atmosphere.

The Bulls currently top the standings in the South African Conference with 28 points, with the Stormers narrowly behind on 26 points.

However, the Bulls still have to tour Australasia and only two of their final seven encounters are at home. The Stormers on the other hand play five of their remaining seven matches at home.

Saturday's clash could therefore go a long way in determining the winner in the SA Conference.

"I don't think there will be any lack of motivation for either side," Coetzee told a media briefing at Newlands.

"We have a proud record at Newlands and we want to keep it that way.

"There are still a lot of games to be played, in terms of our planning it is another home game and winning your home games is always important.

"Conference games are massively important, if you want to get to play-offs the first and foremost thing is that you have got to win your conference.

"We are on track, it doesn't matter what happens on Saturday which you can't predict, but we are well prepared and looking forward to this one.

"We all know a game against the Bulls is a battle of attrition, it is going to be physical and that is the first question before any tactical questions will be asked."

Bulls captain Pierre Spies also spoke of the importance of the occasion and the quality of the opposition.

"It will be a great game," Spies said, adding: "The Stormers are coming off a couple of great wins [over the Waratahs and Western Force]."

The Bulls No.8 said there is very little to choose between the teams at this stage.

He felt that, despite the importance of the occasion, there will be plenty of excitement.

"Both teams have shown they can play expansive rugby.

"However, it will be a game of opportunities.

"There won't be too many opportunities, so the key will be about using those that come your way.

"It is important that we pitch up on Saturday."

Recent results:
2015: Stormers won 29-17, Pretoria
2014: Stormers won 16-0, Cape Town
2014: Bulls won 28-12, Pretoria
2013: Stormers won 30-13, Cape Town
2013: Bulls won 25-17, Pretoria
2012: Stormers won 19-14, Pretoria
2012: Stormers won 20-17, Cape Town

Prediction: A losing bonus point has not been scored in any of the last five meetings between these South African rivals. The Bulls were to blame for the Stormers' record defeat (14-75; May 2005). The last time the Stormers hosted the Bulls, the hosts won 16-0; this marking the lowest scoring game either side has been involved in. That was the third time the Stormers had reduced a side to nil and the fourth time the Bulls had not scored a point. Prior to a 13-6 win in Perth last week, the Stormers' previous nine games all produced over 40 points in total. Jessie Kriel is the top metre-maker (877) this term, while Damian de Allende tops the charts for defenders beaten (38). Both these sides have conceded 17 tries this season. The Stormers have conceded the most second-quarter tries (nine, six more than the Bulls), while the Bulls have conceded the joint-most third-quarter five-pointers (eight). It is going to be a brutal, but entertaining contest in which the Stormers will sneak a late winner - by five points or less.


Stormers: 15 Cheslin Kolbe, 14 Johnny Kotze, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Pat Howard, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Duane Vermeulen (captain), 7 Siya Kolisi, 6 Schalk Burger, 5 Ruan Botha, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Mbongeni Mbonambi, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Replacements: 16 Siyabonga Ntubeni, 17 Oliver Kebble, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Jean Kleyn, 20 Nizaam Carr, 21 Louis Schreuder, 22 Kurt Coleman, 23 Huw Jones.

Bulls: 15 Jesse Kriel, 14 Francois Hougaard, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Piet van Zyl, 8 Pierre Spies (captain), 7 Jacques du Plessis, 6 Deon Stegmann, 5 Grant Hattingh, 4 Flip van der Merwe, 3 Marcel van der Merwe, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1 Dean Greyling.
Replacements: 16 Callie Visagie, 17 Morné Mellett, 18 Trevor Nyakane, 19 Arno Botha, 20 Lappies Labuschagne, 21 Akona Ndungane, 22 Tian Schoeman, 23 Jurgen Visser.
Referee: Jaco Peyper
Assistant referees: Jason Jaftha, Francois Pretorius
TMO: Shaun Veldsman

Sunday, April 26

Reds v Hurricanes
(Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane - Kick-off: 16.05; 18.05 NZST, 06.05 GMT)

The Reds could be on the receiving end of an angry Hurricanes team, determined to make amends for their first loss of the season - a disappointing 24-29 loss to the Waratahs in Wellington last week.

For the The Hurricanes it will be their final Super Rugby round-robin match of the season outside of New Zealand.

The Hurricanes have made it clear this week they are determined to resume their winning ways and maintain their lead at the top of both the New Zealand conference and overall standings, after last week's loss.

The Reds are returning to Brisbane from South Africa, where they beat the Cheetahs by a point in Bloemfontein in the last round to keep their faint play-off hopes alive.

With just 11 competition points, this match appears to be a must-win for the 2011 Super Rugby champions, so with their desperation and the Hurricanes' hunger, this fixture will be one to watch.

The Hurricanes head to Brisbane with a good recent record against the Reds. They've won five of their past six games over the Reds, and won this fixture 35-21 in Wellington last year, scoring five tries to two.

The Reds won 18-12 the last time they met in Brisbane in 2013.

Hurricanes - Reds matches are always fast-paced and frenetic, with the contest for recycled ball often the decisive area, and the match-ups in the loose forwards and at halfback looking important.

Reds coach Richard Graham admitted the Hurricanes will take to the field as favourites.

"Everyone knows how capable they are with the ball in hand, but it is obvious they have worked hard on their defence and breakdown leading in to this season," Graham said.
"Their scrum is also improved and they are one of the best at providing quality ball to their backline.
"The game this weekend should be a cracker.

"The weather conditions look great, it is a Sunday fixture and we're playing the competition leaders.
"It doesn't get much better for the players involved or the people supporting."

Recent results:
2014: Hurricanes won 35-21, Wellington
2013: Reds won 18-12, Brisbane
2011: Hurricanes won 28-26, Wellington
2010: Hurricanes won 44-21, Wellington
2009: Hurricanes won 37-28, Brisbane
2008: Hurricanes won 23-18, Wellington

Prediction: The Reds are aiming for back-to-back victories for the first time since June last year. Since then, they have lost nine of 11. The Hurricanes have won 10 of the last 12 clashes between the sides. The Canes equalled their club record for consecutive victories (7) until defeat to the Waratahs in Round 10 but have not lost consecutive matches since March 2014. Only the Bulls (27.3) have averaged more points than the Hurricanes (27) this season. The Reds have scored the fewest, an average of 12.3. The Reds' try difference is -13 so far, compared to +14 by the Canes. Obviously the Reds have a chance to win, but the smart money will be on a Hurricanes victory and it won't be a massive surprise if it the margin is well into double digits.


Reds: 15 Lachie Turner, 14 Chris Feauai-Sautia, 13 Samu Kerevi, 12 Anthony Fainga'a, 11 James O'Connor, 10 Nick Frisby, 9 Will Genia, 8 Adam Thomson, 7 Liam Gill, 6 Adam Korczyk, 5 James Horwill, 4 Rob Simmons, 3 Greg Holmes, 2 James Hanson, 1 James Slipper (captain).
Replacements: 16 Andrew Ready, 17 Sef Faagase, 18 Sam Talakai, 19 Marco Kotze, 20 Lolo Fakaosilea, 21 Scott Gale, 22 Campbell Magnay, 23 Chris Kuridrani.

Hurricanes: 15 James Marshall, 14 Matt Proctor, 13 Conrad Smith, 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 Chris Smylie, 22 Rey Lee-Lo, 23 Cory Jane.
Referee: Nick Briant
Assistant Referees: Matt O'Brien, Damien Mitchelmore
TMO: Ian Smith

Compiled by Jan de Koning

Statistical information provided by Opta Sports

Mc article crusaders v blues 630

Crusaders blow Blues away

Sat, 25 Apr 2015 09:24

REPORT: The Crusaders kept alive their Super Rugby play-off hopes with an impressive 29-15 win over the Blues Christchurch on Saturday.

The Crusaders kept alive their Super Rugby play-off hopes with an impressive 29-15 win over the Blues Christchurch on Saturday.

Although the Blues fought hard and at one stage in the first half had closed the gap to just four points, it was a 14-point blitz in the first quarter proved to be the difference.

The Crusaders outscored the Blues by four tries to two, with the bonus-point win keeping them in touch with the teams in the play-off zone.

Giant Fijian wing Nemani Nadolo was a central figure in the victory, creating the space and firing the last pass for three of the Crusaders four tries.

All Blacks Richie McCaw and Ryan Crotty also made considerable contributions as the Crusaders produced a much improved effort after losing their last two games, both of them at home.

McCaw claimed turnovers that lead to two tries and Crotty, who missed last week's 26-9 loss to the Waikato Chiefs, added punch in the centres.

However, McCaw's match finished early after he was forced from the field with a head knock midway through the second half.

The Crusaders now have five wins from 10 games with captain Kieran Read noting the seven-times champions had kept their play-off chances alive but had a lot of work to do.

"It's a start but we can't too carried away, we've just got to keep working at it," he said.

"It wasn't perfect but a big step up from last week."

The Blues, who have now lost nine of 10 games this year, made eight changes to their side which included the omission of All Blacks Jerome Kaino, James Parson and Charles Piutau.

With 20 minutes remaining and the Crusaders up 29-10, All Blacks props Tony Woodcock and Charlie Faumuina were replaced leaving them with a novice look.

The Crusaders made a flying start with tries to Mitchell Drummond and Jordan Taufua both scored following incisive runs by Nadolo in moves which originated with McCaw turnovers.

The Blues weathered further pressure as the red-and-blacks spurned kickable penalties in pursuit of a third try, struck back with a penalty by Dan Bowden and a try to Francis Saili before a Colin Slade penalty left the Crusaders ahead 17-10 at half-time.

Nadolo was immediately in the action at the start of the second half when he busted past two Blues defenders before unloading an inside pass to Tom Taylor for the try.

Hooker Codie Taylor ensured the bonus point for the Crusaders when the Blues ran out of defenders with replacement scrum-half Jamison Gibson-Park sent to the sin-bin for a professional foul only a minute after taking the field.

The Blues struck back with a well-constructed try to Brendon O'Connor to close the gap to 29-15 with 15 minutes remaining.

But although they had plenty of possession in the closing 15 minutes their error count was too high to make any further impression.

Man of the match: Akira Ioane again showed why he is so highly rated, twice in one move handing off All Black captain Richie McCaw. Steven Luatua tried hard and Jimmy Cowan had his moments. Brendon O'Connor and Francis Saili are also worth mentioning. Jordan Taufua may have played with a No.6 on his back, but he was all over the park and by some distance the Crusaders' most productive player in the first half. Richie McCaw showed he has plenty left in those old legs, although there will be concern about the concussion he suffered midway through the second half. Kieran Read's form is also improving. You can always bank on Sam Whitelock to produce a high workrate and be effective in the tight exchanges. However, or award goes to Fijian flyer and Crusaders wing Nemani Nadolo. He showed he is not just brute force, with some sublime touches - also setting up two tries.

The scorers:

For the Crusaders:
Drummond, Taufua, T Taylor, C Taylor
Cons: Slade 3
Pens: Slade

For the Blues:
Saili, O'Connor
Cons: Bowden
Pens: Bowden

Yellow card: Jamison Gibson-Park (Blues, 53 - professional foul, not releasing the tackled player or ball)


Crusaders: 15 Tom Taylor, 14 David Havilli, 13 Ryan Crotty, 12 Dan Carter, 11 Nemani Nadolo, 10 Colin Slade, 9 Mitchell Drummond, 8 Kieran Read (captain), 7 Richie McCaw, 6 Jordan Taufua, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Luke Romano, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Wyatt Crockett.
Replacements: 16 Ben Funnell, 17 Joe Moody, 18 Nepo Laulala, 19 Jimmy Tupou, 20 Matt Todd, 21 Andy Ellis, 22 Kieron Fonotia, 23 Nafi Tuitavake.
Blues: 15 Lolagi Visinia, 14 Frank Halai, 13 Francis Saili, 12 George Moala, 11 Melani Nanai, 10 Dan Bowden, 9 Jimmy Cowan, 8 Steven Luatua, 7 Brendon O'Connor, 6 Akira Ioane, 5 Hayden Triggs, 4 Josh Bekhuis, 3 Charlie Faumuina, 2 Keven Mealamu (captain), 1 Tony Woodcock.
Replacements: 16 Matt Moulds, 17 Ofa Tu'ungafasi, 18 Angus Ta'avao, 19 Culum Retallick, 20 Blake Gibson, 21 Jamison Gibson-Park, 22 Ihaia West, 23 Tevita Li.

Referee: Chris Pollock (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Glen Jackson (New Zealand), Jamie Nutbrown (New Zealand)
TMO: Vinny Munro (New Zealand)

Mitchell Drummond (3min), Jordan Taufua (16min), Tom Taylor (42min), and Codie Taylor (58min)
Francis Saili (32min) and Brendon O'Connor (65min)
Colin Slade (4min), Colin Slade (17min), and Colin Slade (43min)
Dan Bowden (33min)
Colin Slade (39min)
Dan Bowden (22min)
Jamison Gibson-Park (53min)
VENUE Christchurch
REFEREE Chris Pollock