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Super Rugby | Sydney
09:40 (GMT) | 23-05-2015
  • 81
We head straight to Perth for the build-up to the next match between the Force and the Highlanders
  • 80
The Tahs gather the restart and flings it our wide to the backline. The recycled ball is kept among the forwards as they eat away at the clock! Nothings comes from the breakdown and that's it! FULLTIME!
  • 79
He picks himself and easily slots the conversion to stretch the lead to 10 points
  • 77
Foley gets the ball at first receiver and puts in a chip kick! It bounces kindly for him in his chase and he gets the bonus point try!
  • 76
STOLEN! Tahs win back possession and Beale opts to boot it up-field. Saders regather possession and begin their attack from their 10 metre line. They can't hold onto the ball long enough and spill it forward to hand the Tahs the scrum feed
  • 75
Carter kicks the penalty into touch to hand the Saders a line-out just outside the Tahs' 22.
  • 74
Skelton knocks the ball on and the Saders are back in possession. PENALTY! Tahs are caught offside!
  • 73
Tahs have to build another attack from the halfway line. Ashley-Cooper makes a few metres with a carry before the ball is recycled to the right. Nadolo attempts to steal the ball but can't hold onto it and the Tahs have a scrum feed on the Saders' 10 metre line
  • 72
Another 5 metre line-out for the Tahs sees them set a maul but the Saders look to push them towards the touchline. The ball is sent to the backline and they come within 5 metres of the try line. Tahs taking the ball through the phases but Foley coughs up possession to allow the Saders to hack it up-field
  • 71
A massive shove from the Tahs sees the Saders cough up possession. McCaw is sent to the sin bin for a side entry after the Saders were penalised earlier for the same offence
  • 70
The Tahs set the maul but it fails to emerge and the Saders come away with the feed to the scrum!
  • 69
Here comes the Tahs now as the backline runs the ball into the Saders half. The forwards take over and makes their way into the 22. PENALTY! The Saders fail to roll away at the breakdown. Foley pops the ball into touch to hand the Tahs a 5 metre attacking line-out
  • 67
Carter makes a tough kick look easy as he sneaks it inside the right upright
  • 66
Once again the maul is set and there's no stopping them this time as Matt Todd emerges with it
  • 65
McCaw cklaims the catch and the maul is set. They rumble their way closer to the line before the Tahs collapse the maul. PENALTY! Saders opt for another line-out.
  • 64
Foley kicks the ball up-field but misses touch and the Saders run the ball back at them. PENALTY! Tahs fail to roll away at the breakdown and Carter decides to kick the ball into touch for a 7metre line-out throw-in
  • 63
Crotty gets the ball at first receiver and gets the Saders onto the Tahs' 22. The recycled ball is knocked on and the Tahs have a chance to clear the ball through a scrum feed
  • 62
The Tahs manage to somehow win back possession but loses possession in the process to hand the Saders a scrum feed
  • 61
It's sloppy by the Tahs who cough up possession and the Saders regain possession just inside the Tahs' 10 metre line.
  • 60
Carter claims back possession following a Tahs kick and decides to kick it into touch on the halfway line for a Tahs throw-in
  • 59
The Tahs pin the Saders back close to their 22 and Drummond is forced to employ a box kick but the kick flies straight into touch. Tahs line-out throw-in just outside the Saders' 22
  • 58
Skelton takes about McCaw in his attempt to go for the ball and is lucky to get away without a yellow card. Carter kicks the penalty into touch on the halfway line for a Saders' line-out
  • 57
Carter pops over the conversion to narrow the gap
  • 56
Carter gets the ball and hands it to Nadolo. He spills it but if\t goes backwards into the hands of McCaw, who scores under the uprights
  • 55
A bit messy by the Tahs to hand the Saders a 5 metre scrum after Folau's attempted clearance is charged down in the in-goal area
  • 54
Foley hits the left upright with his conversion attempt
  • 52
The ball is recycled to the backline and find Naiyaravoro on the right touchline who bursts through the Saders to grab his second try of the match
  • 51
Tahs looking dangerous with ball-in-hand as they run the Saders ragged. Into the 22 they go
  • 50
A kicking battle ensues and the ball eventually finds touch on the halfway line. Tahs will have the throw-in
  • 49
He hooks it left and the Sader's will restart the game with a 22 drop-out
  • 48
It's taken some time for the scrum to be set. PENALTY! The Saders' front row collapses to hand the Tahs a chance to extend their lead through the boot of Foley
  • 45
Saders in possession on their 10 metre line but they remain lateral and make no metres. Tahs knock the ball on in an attempt to steal the ball at the breakdown. Scrum to the Saders on their 10 metre line
  • 44
Foley slots the attempt from right in front for the first points of the second half
  • 42
Skelton straightens the line and gets the Tahs closer to the try line. 5 metres to go for the Tahs. PENALTY! Saders enter the breakdown from the side to hand Foley a chance to extend their lead
  • 41
KICK-OFF! Foley gets the second half underway! Tahs' retain possession from the restart and are in possession on the Saders' 22

Half Time

  • 40
Saders lose the ball forward on the Tahs 10 metre line and that's it for the first half! HALF-TIME!
  • 39
Saders just can't seem to find the killer instinct at the moment as they are caught offside indie the Tahs' 22 to hand Foley a chance to kick the ball into touch on the halfway line for a Tahs line-out. They knock the ball on though to hand the Saders a scrum feed
  • 36
Carter makes a lovely break through the Tahs' defence and gets the Saders to the halfway line. They are oushed back into their half by soe excellent defence and Nadolo is forced to put the ball on his boot and finds touch just inside the Tahs' 22
  • 35
Tahs showing great patience to keep the ball tight. Beale runs an inside line off the back of Foley but knocks the ball on in the tackle
  • 34
Once again the forwards are doing the hard yards and gains another 5 metres before the ball is spread to Beale. He finds Hooper on his inside and the Tahs are now 10 metres from the line
  • 33
The ball is recylceed to the backline and Beale straightens the line to get the Tahs to the Saders' 22.
  • 32
Folau collects a deep kick and takes the ball to the halfway line. Phipps snipes from the back of the ruck and gains 10 metres before the Tahs' forwards are used to do some work.
  • 31
Dennis puts in a huge tackle on the Saders' 22. The Tahs are quick to regain possession and quickly spread the ball left. Foley thinks he has scored in the corner but play is brought back for an earlier knock-on and the Saders are left off the hook
  • 30
It's just not happening for the Saders as they fail to hold onto the ball at the breakdown and hands possession back to the Tahs. play will resume with a Saders line-out close to their 10 metre line
  • 28
Drummond gives a poor pass from the back of the scrum and hands possession back to the Tahs, who kicks the ball into Saders' territory. They return the favour and the Tahs are back in possession close to their 10 metre line.
  • 27
Romano runs onto a short ball and smashes into the referee who did not see it coming! Play to resume with a Saders scrum feed on the Tahs' 22
  • 26
Saders sticking to their plan of running the ball at the Tahs and are in possession on the Tahs 10 metre line
  • 25
An easy conversion attempt for Foley who stretches the Tahs lead
  • 24
Saders showing excellent handling skills. The ball finds Slade who spills the ball and Horne collects it before sprinting half the length of the field for an easy score!
  • 23
Foley gathers the restart and picks itstraight into the hands of Nadolo. The Saders throw the ball around and makes their way into Tahs territory before coughing up possession. Tahs remain in possession on their 10 metre line before Foley puts the ball on the boot once again to hand possession back to the Saders
  • 21
He makes no mistake with the effort and the Tahs regain the lead
  • 20
Slade is hammered in a tackle by Hooper and knocks the ball on. The retreating Saders players picks the ball up and hands the Tahs a penalty for being offside. Foley will have a shot at goal from about 36 metres
  • 19
Saders kicks the penalty into touch for a line-out on their 10 metre line
  • 18
Whitelock is dangerously thrown to the ground by Skelton and Latu after the whistle had been blown. Latu is deemed to have lifted the player past the horizontal and is sent to the bin
  • 17
Beale pushes his 41 metre attempt and fails to regain the lead for the Tahs
  • 16
They take the ball up to their 10 metre line before they are penalised for a side entry at the breakdown. Tahs will have a shot at goal through the boot of Beale
  • 15
Tahs are full confidence with ball in hand as Ashley-Cooper breaks a couple of tackles on the left touchline before the Saders win back possession
  • 14
The Saders look to fling the ball wide to Nadolo on the left wing but the pass goes forward to hand the Tahs the scrum feed just inside the Saders 10 metre line
  • 12
He makes no mistake this time to hand the Saders the lead
  • 11
The maul is set and they inch their way up field. McCaw hangs onto the ball at the back of the maul as they make their way over the line. It's inconclusive but the Saders are awarded a penalty as the Tahs entered the maul from the side. Carter will have a shot at goal
  • 10
PENALTY! Tahs are penalised for entering the breakdown from the side. Carter opts to kick the ball into touch for a line-out about 20 metres from the Tahs try line
  • 9
The Tahs claim the restart and Foley kicks it into touch on the halfway line for a Saders line-out. The Saders spread the ball to the backline and are up to the Tahs' 10 metre line
  • 8
Foley splits the uprights to take the lead
  • 6
Tahs happy to run the ball as well as they make their way to the 5 metre line. The ball is shifted left and quick hands by Beale and Folau finds Naiyaravoro on the right wing - who grabs the Tahs first try of the match
  • 5
Nadolo goes on a run down the left touchline but his inside pass is picked up by Hooper who gets the Waratahs counter- attack going. PENALTY! Crusaders fail to roll away at the breakdown and the Tahs have possession just outside the Saders 22
  • 4
Crusaders claim the restart and look to run the ball out of their 22. Up to the halfway line they go and they throw the ball around with confidence
  • 3
Carter hooks the conversion attempt across the face of the uprights
  • 2
Crusaders keep it tight and are edging their way closer to the try line. The ball is switched to the left and the ball finds Nadolo on the left wing who grabs the opening points of the match
  • 1
Waratahs knocks the ball on from the start and the Crusaders are 12 metres from the try line
  • 0
KICK-OFF! Carter gets the match underway!
  • -10
Five of the last six games between these sides have been settled by seven points or fewer.
  • -15
The last time these sides met was the 2014 final when the Tahs won by a single point and in doing so ended a run of 11 defeats against the Crusaders (including two play-off defeats).
  • -20
Welcome to Match Four of Round 15! The Waratahs are at home to the Crusaders!
Mc waratahs logo 80x50
Mc crusaders logo 80x50
  • 15 Israel Folau
  • 14 Taqele . Naiyaravoro
  • 13 Adam Ashley-Cooper
  • 12 Kurtley Beale
  • 11 Rob Horne
  • 10 Bernard Foley
  • 9 Nick Phipps
  • 8 Wycliff Palu
  • 7 Michael Hooper
  • 6 Stephen Hoiles
  • 5 Dave Dennis
  • 4 Will Skelton
  • 3 Sekope Kepu
  • 2 Tola Latu
  • 1 Benn Robinson
  • 23 Matt Carraro
  • 22 Brendan McKibbin
  • 21 Pat McCutcheon
  • 20 Jack Dempsey
  • 19 Mitchell Chapman
  • 18 Paddy Ryan
  • 17 Jeremy Tilse
  • 16 Hugh Roach
  • 15 Tom Taylor
  • 14 Nafi Tuitavake
  • 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 Ben Funnell
  • 1 Wyatt Crockett
  • 23 Jone Macilai-Tori
  • 22 Israel Dagg
  • 21 Andy Ellis
  • 20 Matt Todd
  • 19 Jimmy Tupou
  • 18 Nepo Laulala
  • 17 Joe Moody
  • 16 Codie Taylor
Mc article ma a nonu hurricanes 630

Preview: S15 Round 15, Part Two

Thu, 21 May 2015 23:37

HOME STRETCH: It seems unlikely anybody will catch Super Rugby's runaway leaders, the Hurricanes. Jan de Koning looks at Saturday's matches.

It seems unlikely anybody will catch Super Rugby's runaway leaders, the Hurricanes. But that won't stop teams from trying to knock them over and claim bragging rights in the home stretch of the tournament's league stages.

The first team that will have a crack at them is the Blues, who host the Hurricanes in Auckland on Saturday.

The Hurricanes will be looking to extend their already burgeoning 14-point overall lead, but opted to rest captain Conrad Smith. All Blacks centre Ma'a Nonu will make a milestone 122nd appearance, equalling the team's record as their most capped player shared with Tana Umaga.

From Auckland it is a quick hop across the Tasman Sea for a replay of last year's contentious Final - the defending champion Waratahs hosting the seven-time champion Crusaders in Sydney. The Waratahs can leapfrog the inactive Brumbies at the top of the Australia conference in they win, while the Crusaders must win to stay in touch with the top six in the run-in to the play-offs.

There is then a trek across Australia, from east to west, where the Western Force will host an ambitious Highlanders outfit in Perth. The Highlanders, like the Chiefs (both on 39), have more points that the Brumbies (in second place) and the Bulls (third), but because of the convoluted conference system are outside the top three.

Our next stop is an 8,000-kilometre trek across the Indian Ocean to central South Africa - where the Cheetahs host the Lions in an all-South African derby. It is a fixture that less than a month ago produced eight tries and promises to be another exciting, all-action affair.

We conclude the weekend's action when the Stormers will hope to reclaim the South African conference lead - depending obviously what happened the day before between the Chiefs and Bulls. The Stormers host the Rebels in a game that will be heavily influence by prediction of rain and both teams' well-known dependence on defence to squeeze out a win.

We look at Saturday's matches!

Saturday, May 23

Blues v Hurricanes
(Eden Park, Auckland - Kick-Off: 19.35; 07.35 GMT)

The Blues will be hard-pressed to repeat last week's heroic win over the Bulls, a rare feat in a season of turmoil.

Not only did they pay a heavy price for the brutal approach in the encounter with the Bulls, the already injury-riddled team losing a few more All Blacks, but the Mexican stand-off over coach John Kirwan's position has become near farcical.

Kirwan has been forced to name his third captain of the season - hooker James Parsons - after injury ruled out Jerome Kaino and Steven Luatua.

Kirwan feels they have it in them to claim another big scalp, in the Hurricanes.

"They are one of the best counter-attacking sides in the competition," he told the NZ Herald.

"They can attack from all over the place so it's really important that we shut them down."

The public spat over Kirwan's position as head coach continues to cast a pall over the team, with some media reports suggesting an intervention into the dispute by New Zealand Rugby is only days away.

The Blues are on a run of seven defeats against fellow New Zealand sides in Super Rugby.

The Hurricanes have looked a class act all season and even without Conrad Smith still have plenty of class in a backline that features devastating runners like Ma'a Nonu, Julian Savea and Cory Jane.

Nonu will make a milestone 122nd appearance for the Hurricanes, equalling the team's record as their most capped player, level with another midfield gem in Tana Umaga.

Recent results:
2015: Hurricanes won 30-23, Palmerston North
2014: Blues won 37-24, Auckland
2014: Hurricanes won 39-20, Wellington
2013: Blues won 28-6, Auckland
2013: Blues won 34-20, Wellington
2012: Hurricanes on 35-19, Wellington
2012: Hurricanes won 26-25, Auckland

Prediction: The Blues are on a run of seven defeats against fellow New Zealand sides in Super Rugby. However, five of these have come on the road. The Hurricanes have lost just once this season and have won their last five away games, a record run on the road for the Wellington-based side. On average Hurricanes' matches this season have seen an aggregate score of 46 points, with their matches going over 50 points on six occasions. The Canes average more tackles per game than any other team (135) whilst the Blues are the third most tackled team (123). The Hurricanes can boast two of Super Rugby's top three try scorers (TJ Perenara - seven & Julian Savea - six) whilst no Blues player has managed more than three this season. Injuries, infighting and a lack of consistency will conspire against the Blues. The Hurricanes to win by at least 15 points.


15 Lolagi Visinia, 14 Ben Lam, 13 Francis Saili, 12 George Moala, 11 Melani Nanai, 10 Ihaia West, 9 Jamison Gibson-Park, 8 Akira Ioane, 7 Blake Gibson, 6 Brendon O'Connor, 5 Josh Bekhuis, 4 Culum Retallick, 3 Ofa Tu'ungafasi, 2 James Parsons (captain), 1 Sam Prattley.
Replacements: 16 Keven Mealamu, 17 Angus Ta'avao, 18, Nic Mayhew, 19 Will Lloyd/Hayden Triggs, 20 Joe Edwards, 21 Jimmy Cowan, 22 Simon Hickey, 23 Matt Vaega.
Hurricanes: 15 Nehe Milner-Skudder, 14 Cory Jane, 13 Rey Lee-Lo, 12 Ma'a Nonu, 11 Julian Savea, 10 James Marshall, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Victor Vito, 7 Ardie Savea, 6 Blade Thomson, 5 James Broadhurst, 4 Jeremy Thrush (captain), 3 Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Chris Eves.
Replacements: 16. Motu Matu'u, 17 Ben May, 18 Tolu Fahamokioa, 19 Mark Abbott/Callum Gibbins, 20 Brad Shields, 21 Chris Smylie, 22 Otere Black, 23 Willis Halaholo.

Referee: Nick Briant
Assistant referees: Ben O'Keeffe, Aki Aso
TMO: Aaron Paterson

Waratahs v Crusaders
(ANZ Stadium, Sydney - Kick-off: 19.40; 21.40 NZ time; 09.40 GMT)

No doubt this will be a cracker, the match of the weekend.

Both teams have attempted to play down the significance, but it is a replay of last year's controversial Final, when South African referee Craig Joubert erroneously awarded the penalty that gifted the Waratahs victory.

No doubt the Crusaders will have revenge on their minds.

This game will also be a true indication of the Waratahs' championship potential.

Veteran centre Adam Ashley-Cooper made no secret of the fact that the outcome of this game could have a significant influence on the Waratahs' prospects of defending their title.

With the current Super Rugby standings - with just four rounds left - a Waratahs win will lift them into top spot on the Australian conference and make the task of the Crusaders reaching the play-offs highly improbable.

"At the end of the day we need to win four from four to really secure our spot and that's the only way you look at it," Ashley-Cooper said.

"Without getting too ahead of ourselves, we've got the Crusaders this week - one of the best teams in the competition and one of the best teams in New Zealand.

"We just have to put all our focus and all of our concentration into that before we can start thinking about points and ladders and finals."

Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder admitted they are playing "a final every week" during the run-in to the play-offs.

The Crusaders face an uphill battle to make the Super Rugby play-offs. They are in ninth place overall, but are fourth in the New Zealand conference, eight points behind the Chiefs and the Highlanders.

"We talked about that on Monday [when the squad resumed training after the bye week]," Blackadder said.

"Every game for us is a final now.

"It's probably a good week, playing the Waratahs who were in last year's Final.

"We'll be well and truly motivated and it's going to be a good challenge."

Recent results:
2014: Waratahs won 33-32, Sydney (Final)
2013: Crusaders won 23-22, Christchurch
2012: Crusaders won 37-33, Sydney
2011: Crusaders won 33-18, Nelson
2010: Crusaders won 20-13, Christchurch
2009: Crusaders won 17-13, Sydney

Prediction: The last time these sides met was the 2014 final when the Tahs won by a single point and in doing so ended a run of 11 defeats against the Crusaders (including two play-off defeats). Five of the last six games between these sides have been settled by seven points or fewer. The Crusaders won their last game against the Reds but have only won back to back games once this season, back in mid-March. The Crusaders have passed the ball more than any other team this season, averaging 172 per game, whilst the Waratahs rank second in that regard (158). Three of the tournament's top four carriers play for the NSW outfit - Kurtley Beale (174), Israel Folau (172) and Bernard Foley (140). The Crusaders may not have been the most consistent team this year, but they have shown glimpses of their potential. A desperate Crusaders team is always dangerous and could pull off an upset - by about eight points.


15 Israel Folau, 14 Taqele Naiyaravoro, 13 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 12 Kurtley Beale, 11 Rob Horne, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Wycliff Palu, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Stephen Hoiles, 5 Dave Dennis, 4 Will Skelton, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Silatolu Latu, 1 Benn Robinson.
Replacements: 16 Hugh Roach, 17 Jeremy Tilse, 18 Paddy Ryan, 19 Mitchell Chapman, 20 Jack Dempsey, 21 Patrick McCutcheon, 22 Brendan McKibbin, 23 Matt Carraro.

Crusaders: 15 Tom Taylor, 14 Nafi Tuitavake, 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 Ben Funnell, 1 Wyatt Crockett.
Replacements: 16 Codie Taylor, 17 Joe Moody, 18 Nepo Laulala, 19 Jimmy Tupou, 20 Matt Todd, 21 Andy Ellis, 22 Israel Dagg, 23 Jone Macilai.

Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen (South Africa)
Assistant referees: James Leckie (Australia), Michael Hogan (Australia)
TMO: Peter Marshall (Australia)

Western Force v Highlanders
(nib Stadium, Perth - Kick-off: 19.45; 23.45 NZ time; 11.45 GMT)

The Western Force may be playing for no more than pride, but it is a key game for the Highlanders.

They are fifth on the ladder on 39 points, equal with the Chiefs (fourth).

Victory could go a long way to cement their place in the play-off zone.

They are up against a Force side coming off a bye and sitting at bottom of the table.

The Force will be high on confidence after their win over the Waratahs, in their last game before the bye. That (18-11) victory in Perth was one of only two triumphs - both over the Tahs.

Force coach Michael Foley said his side will be looking to continue on from their last performance against the Waratahs.

"Our last performance was built on outstanding attitude and discipline in defence and at the breakdown," Foley said.

"In some ways it was a response to the disappointment of the Blues match, but more importantly, it was a reflection of how we play when we focus on our strengths.

"In our remaining four games, we want to deliver more of the same.

"The Highlanders are a team that plays with a lot of spirit, and it's important that we're able to bring that same determined attitude again this weekend."

Recent results:
2014: Force won 31-29, Dunedin
2013: Force won 19-18, Perth
2011: Force won 21-14, Dunedin
2010: Force won 41-27, Queenstown
2009: Force won 33-28, Perth
2008: Force won 36-28, Queenstown

Prediction: The Force ended their worst ever Super Rugby run of 10 consecutive defeats by beating the Tahs last week. Force have won their last six games against the Highlanders, with their last defeat coming back in 2007. The Highlanders have lost 14 of their last 15 away games against Australian opposition. The Force have spent more time in possession than any other team this season on average (17 minutes and 23 seconds), whilst only the Cheetahs have spent less time on the ball than the Dunedin-based side (13 minutes and 50 seconds). Waisake Naholo has made 20 breaks this season, the joint most in the competition. No Force player has managed more than 10 (Luke Morahan - 10). No doubt the Western Force have a realistic chance of victory. However, the Highlanders have too much riding on the result not to be focused and should win by at least 10 points.


Western Force:
15 Dane Haylett-Petty, 14 Luke Morahan, 13 Marcel Brache, 12 Kyle Godwin, 11 Nick Cummins, 10 Sias Ebersohn, 9 Ryan Louwrens, 8 Ben McCalman, 7 Matt Hodgson (captain), 6 Angus Cottrell, 5 Adam Coleman, 4 Steve Mafi, 3 Tetera Faulkner, 2 Nathan Charles, 1 Pekahou Cowan.
Replacements: 16 Heath Tessmann, 17 Chris Heiberg, 18 Guy Millar, 19 Sam Wykes, 20 Kane Koteka, 21 Alby Mathewson, 22 Luke Burton, 23 Brad Lacey.
Highlanders: 15 Ben Smith 14 Waisake Naholo, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Shaun Treeby, 11 Patrick Osborne, 10 Lima Sopoaga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Nasi Manu (captain), 7 John Hardie, 6 Gareth Evans, 5 Mark Reddish, 4 Alex Ainley, 3 Josh Hohneck, 2 Liam Coltman, 1 Brendon Edmonds.
Replacements: 16 Ash Dixon, 17 Daniel Lienert-Brown, 18 Ross Geldenhuys, 19 Tom Franklin, 20 Dan Pryor, 21 Fumiaki Tanaka, 22 Richard Buckman, 23 Marty Banks.

Referee: Andrew Lees
Assistant referees: Rohan Hoffmann, Graham Cooper
TMO:  Ian Smith

Cheetahs v Lions
(Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein - Kick-off: 17.05; 15.05 GMT)

The last time these two teams met, just under a month ago, it was an eight-try thriller in which attack was at a premium and defence took a backseat.

It is likely to be another entertaining affair.

However, there is a bit more riding on the game - especially for the Cheetahs.

It will be the last home game for coach Naka Drotské and forwards mentor Os du Randt, before the veteran duo walk off into the sunset.

Lions coach Johan Ackermann admitted it will add to the motivation for the Cheetahs.

The Lions have their own motivation. They are just one victory away from making this their best season in Super Rugby yet.

However, Ackermann said it is about focusing on improving their own game - in the wake of a disappointing loss to the Brumbies last week - rather than trying to set records.

"We are not chasing a number, wanting to win eight or nine games," he said, adding: "We [also] don't chase play-offs.

"We weren't happy with our performance last weekend and we need to rectify that, if we can do that and walk away with the win that would be our ultimate goal.

"Breaking records and extra achievements will be a bonus, but that is not part of the motivation or the focus."

With only three league matches left for Ackermann's charges, a maximum haul of 15 log points will be foremost in their minds if they are to have any chance of reaching the play-offs in the conference era.

The team from Johannesburg will be encouraged by the notion that the Cheetahs have been their favourite locally based team in the competition, winning seven of their 12 encounters since the two franchises parted ways as the Cats.

"We know we will have to meet fire with fire against the Lions on Saturday," Cheetahs captain Francois Uys said.

"If you allow them to do what they want and not disrupt them at all, it will be easy for them, as they are a good unit and play well together.

"So we will have to play well to beat them, like we did in Johannesburg earlier in the season - when one or two errors in the end probably cost us the game.

"If we stick together as a team, we know we're in with a chance."

Lions captain Warren Whiteley, like his coach, cautioned his teammates against expecting an easy ride in Bloemfontein.

"They are an unpredictable side and we know when they click they are a dangerous side," Whiteley said, adding: "We saw that when we played against them [in Johannesburg last month] and they played great rugby.

"It is really important for us first and foremost to focus for 80 minutes and that is one of our games the last couple of weeks.

"It is important to play the right type of rugby they are a dangerous side on turnover ball and they've got some explosive runners at the back."

Recent results:
2015: Lions won 34-29, Johannesburg
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 Cheetahs have held a half-time lead in four of their last five games against the Lions, but won just one of these matches. Having previously lost 17 out of 18 away games, the Lions have won three of their last five on the road. Seven of the Lions' last eight games have been settled by five points or fewer. The Lions have the best tackle success rate this season (88 percent) whilst the Cheetahs have broken fewer tackles per game than any other team (12.7). The Cheetahs can boast the hooker with the most successful line-out throws (Torsten van Jaarsveld - 117 from 135), whilst replacement Stephan Coetzee's throw success rate of 94 percent is the best of any hooker (minimum 10+ throws). The Cheetahs have been erratic at best this season - a combination of injuries and internal issues. The home side does have the added motivation of it being the last home game of Naka Drotské and Os du Randt. The Lions were just as poor in their last outing. However, the Lions have showed a lot more promise this season and should have just too much class for the Cheetahs - winning by 12 to 15 points.


15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 Francois Venter, 12 Michael van der Spuy, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Francois Brummer, 9 Tian Meyer, 8 Willie Britz, 7 Johannes Prinsloo, 6 Carel Greeff, 5 Francois Uys (captain), 4 Carl Wegner, 3 Nicolaas van Dyk, 2 Torsten van Jaarsveld, 1 Danie Minnie.
Replacements: 16 Stephan Coetzee, 17 Burrie Uys, 18 Ewald van der Westhuizen, 19 Steven Sykes, 20 Henco Venter, 21 Shaun Venter, 22 Coenie van Wyk, 23 Rayno Benjamin.

Lions: 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Ruan Combrinck, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Howard Mnisi, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Francois de Klerk, 8 Warren Whiteley (captain), 7 Warwick Tecklenburg, 6 Jaco Kriel, 5 Martin Muller, 4 Andries Ferreira, 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Robbie Coetzee, 1 Jacques van Rooyen.
Replacements: 16 Armand van der Merwe, 17 Schalk van der Merwe, 18 Julian Redelinghuys, 19 Franco Mostert, 20 Robert Kruger, 21 Ross Cronje, 22 Jaco van der Walt, 23 Harold Vorster.
Referee: Jaco van Heerden (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Jaco Peyper (South Africa), Lourens van der Merwe (South Africa)
TMO: Marius Jonker (South Africa)

Stormers v Rebels
(Newlands, Cape Town - Kick-off: 19.10; 03.10, Sunday, May 24 AEST; 17.10 GMT)

Don't expect a free-flowing try feast. It looks set to be a dour arm-wrestle.

Rebels captain Scott Higginbotham made it clear earlier this week that both teams will rely on their defence to strangle to opposition and secure victory.

Stormers coach Allister Coetzee also said they will look to secure the win first, and worry about the "bonuses" afterwards.

"The Rebels have beaten the Crusaders and the Brumbies away this year, so it shows their capacity as a team," Coetzee said.

"We need to pitch up for this weekend's match - we need to bring attitude and ensure our physicality is spot-on.

"This is much-improved Rebels team. They're a good team, they're well-coached and we know we're in for a tough time of it on Saturday."

The Stormers can claim top spot in the South African conference - depending on what happens in the encounter between the Chiefs and Bulls on Friday.

The Bulls are on tour for the next three weeks, while the Stormers are at home for that same period.

For Coetzee it is about their own game, doing the basics and securing the win.

"We want to be stronger and better against the Rebels this week," he said, adding: "I think we all agree that our line-outs aren't there yet and we're working on that plan.

"The bonus points scenario, if you look at all the teams that have six, seven bonus points, they are teams that have lost narrowly six, seven times.

"We don't want to go and say we must just lose [by less than seven], we want to fight until we win the game and that's the philosophy."

With a bit of rain expected in Cape Town on Saturday, four tries might move even further down the list of priorities.

"It's not going to change our playing style. It's not going to force us to do something that we haven't done," said Coetzee.

Previous results:
2013: Rebels won 30-21, Melbourne
2012: Stormers won 26-21, Cape Town
2011: Stormers won 40-3, Melbourne

Prediction: The Stormers have won their last four against Aussie opposition, despite trailing at half-time in two of these matches. The Rebels are yet to win in South Africa, losing all eight games so far, picking up just two losing points in the process and conceding an average of 40 points per game. The three previous games between these sides have seen an average aggregate score of 47 points. Only the Hurricanes and the Crusaders have a better scrum success than these two sides (92 percent). Damian de Allende has beaten the most defenders this season (49), 23 more than the
top Rebels player (Sean McMahon - 26). Expect lots of scrums, line-outs and mauls - with the Stormers winning by less than 10 points.


15 Cheslin Kolbe, 14 Seabelo Senatla, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Dillyn Leyds, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Duane Vermeulen (captain), 7 Siya Kolisi, 6 Schalk Burger, 5 Manuel Carizza, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Siyabonga Ntubeni, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Replacements: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Ali Vermaak, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Jean Kleyn, 20 Nizaam Carr, 21 Nic Groom, 22 Kurt Coleman, 23 Huw Jones.

Rebels: 15 Mike Harris, 14 Tom English, 13 Dom Shipperley, 12 Mitch Inman, 11 Cam Crawford, 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 Cruze Ah-Nau.
Replacements: 16 Tom Sexton, 17 Keita Inagaki, 18 Laurie Weeks, 19 Cadeyrn Neville, 20 Jordy Reid, 21 Colby Fainga'a, 22 Luke Burgess, 23 Bryce Hegarty.

Referee: Stuart Berry (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Quinton Immelman (South Africa), Rodney Boneparte (South Africa)
TMO: Deon van Blommestein (South Africa)

Compiled by Jan de Koning

Statistical information provided by Opta Sports


Mc article taqele naiyaravoro waratahs try 630

Spiteful Tahs in bonus-point win

Sat, 23 May 2015 11:34

REPORT: The Waratahs moved to the top of the Australian conference and second on the global standings, with a 32-22 win over the Crusaders.

The Waratahs moved to the top of the Australian conference and second spot on the global standings, following their bonus-point (32-22) win over the Crusaders in Sydney on Saturday.

While there is little doubt that the Tahs won, their tactics where questionable and rather spiteful.

The men from Sydney certainly had the good fortune of some very favourable calls and can regard themselves as fortunate not to have played being a man down for more than an hour.

While Silatolu Latu was sin-binned in the 18th minute for his part in the vicious spear tackle on Sam Whitelock, big lock Will Skelton escaped punishment after being as complicit as the hooker.

However, it could (and perhaps should) have been a yellow and a red cards, as Latu was also seen on video replays landing a punch on Wyatt Crockett.

South African referee Marius van der Westhuizen, after consulting his touchline assistant James Leckie (Australia), went upstairs to Australian TMO Peter Marshall. Van der Westhuizen indicated that he felt Skelton was the big culprit, but Marshall suggested it was the hooker. Van der Westhuizen asked about the punch, but Marshall ignored him.

The result was a yellow card to Latu and no action against Skelton.

Skelton was lucky, again, in the 57th minute - when he deliberately charged into the back of Richie McCaw way off the ball. Again the referee and his TMO disagreed on the measure of the punishment - it ended up as a penalty only. And minutes later another Skelton shoulder charge in Whitelock resulted in a penalty only.

It has to been seen in context - with Richie McCaw sin-binned at a crucial stage late in the second half for a side-entry at a ruck when he and his team had hardly been on the wrong side of the laws throughout the game. There may have been a few penalties at quick succession in the red zone, but the number of off-the-ball shoulder charges by the Waratahs that went unpunished made this incident look rather strange.

The irony is that the Waratahs were good enough to win, even without the niggle.

Not even a second-half rally could save a Crusaders team that trailed 8-25 with half-an-hour to go in a thrilling rematch of the 2014 Super Rugby Final.

A brace to Taqele Naiyaravoro, as well as tries to Rob Horne and Bernard Foley gave the Tahs their first four-try bonus point at home this year.
Much had been made of the clash between giant Fijians, Naiyaravoro and Nemani Nadolo. In the opening 10 minutes of the game neither wing disappointed.

Naiyaravoro failed to field the kick-off, gifting Nadolo a try in the corner within the first two minutes. But Taqele made amends five minutes later, when some slick handling from Foley, Kurtley Beale and Israel Folau gave Naiyaravoro the return salvo in the right corner.
And then, in a double blow for the home side, Dan Carter slotted a penalty goal to seize the lead and hooker Tolu Latu was yellow carded in that controversial lifting tackle on Sam Whitelock.
But the Waratahs' defence lifted under pressure, and a crunching tackle from Michael Hooper forced a penalty when Owen Franks scooped up the loose ball from an offside position. Foley stepped up, and gave the home side a two point advantage midway through the half.
And the unrelenting Tahs' defence continued to force errors all over the park. Slade spilt an easy pass and the impressive Rob Horne pounced - sprinting 55 metres for the Tahs' second try. Foley converted from in front, giving the Tahs a 9-point advantage which they carried into the break.           
The big men continued to wreak havoc in the Crusaders' midfield when play resumed. Wycliff Palu and Will Skelton earned Foley his second penalty goal, and then Sekope Kepu punched the ball up the middle to help Naiyaravoro back into the right corner for his second try of the match.
Trailing by 17 points, the seven-time champions called on all their experience to claw their way back into the game. Carter turned the ball back inside to a charging Nadolo, who burst up the middle and fed Richie McCaw. Ten minutes later, a rolling maul pushed replacement flanker Mat Todd into the corner. Dan Carter nailed a sideline conversion and the Crusaders were only three points away from a stunning comeback.
After conceding 14 points in as many minutes, a stunned home crowd was brought right back into the game when perennial villain Richie McCaw was yellow carded for entering a ruck offside with ten minutes to play.
And, unlike the Crusaders, the Tahs were able to sink the boot in while the Crusaders were down. Bernard Foley chipped over the top from a scrum, regathered and secured the win and an all-important bonus point.
The NSW Waratahs must now consolidate their position atop the Australian conference with a crucial road trip to South Africa, where they take on the Lions in Johannesburg on May 30 and the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein on June 5.

Man of the match: Nemani Nadolo tried bravely to spark something with some powerful bursts, while Kieran Read and Richie McCaw also had bursts of energy. Sam Whitelock also worked hard. Israel Folau, as you would expect, had some decent runs. Kurtley Beale (although he also made a few too many errors) and Nick Phipps looked very energetic and threatening with ball in hand. Wycliff Palu was all power, Michael Hooper and Stephen Hoiles were their team's energizer bunnies, while Dave Dennis was one of the unsung heroes. However, our award goes to Waratahs No.10 Bernard Foley, who showed he is now Australia's premier flyhalf. Everything he touched turned to gold.

The scorers:

For the Waratahs:
Naiyaravoro 2, Horne, Foley
Cons: Foley 3
Pens: Foley 2

For the Crusaders:
Nadolo, McCaw, Todd
Cons: Carter 2
Pen: Carter

Yellow cards: Silatolu Latu (Waratahs, 18 - foul play, lifting tackle and punching), Richie McCaw (Crusaders, 71 - professional foul and repeated infringements, side entry at ruck)


15 Israel Folau, 14 Taqele Naiyaravoro, 13 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 12 Kurtley Beale, 11 Rob Horne, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Wycliff Palu, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Stephen Hoiles, 5 Dave Dennis, 4 Will Skelton, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Silatolu Latu, 1 Benn Robinson.
Replacements: 16 Hugh Roach, 17 Jeremy Tilse, 18 Paddy Ryan, 19 Mitchell Chapman, 20 Jack Dempsey, 21 Patrick McCutcheon, 22 Brendan McKibbin, 23 Matt Carraro.

Crusaders: 15 Tom Taylor, 14 Nafi Tuitavake, 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 Ben Funnell, 1 Wyatt Crockett.
Replacements: 16 Codie Taylor, 17 Joe Moody, 18 Nepo Laulala, 19 Jimmy Tupou, 20 Matt Todd, 21 Andy Ellis, 22 Israel Dagg, 23 Jone Macilai.

Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen (South Africa)
Assistant referees: James Leckie (Australia), Michael Hogan (Australia)
TMO: Peter Marshall (Australia)

Taqele . Naiyaravoro (6min), Rob Horne (24min), Taqele . Naiyaravoro (52min), and Bernard Foley (77min)
Nemani Nadolo (2min), Richie McCaw (56min), and Matt Todd (66min)
Bernard Foley (8min), Bernard Foley (25min), and Bernard Foley (79min)
Dan Carter (57min) and Dan Carter (67min)
Bernard Foley (21min) and Bernard Foley (44min)
Dan Carter (12min)
Tola Latu (18min)
Richie McCaw (71min)
VENUE Sydney
REFEREE Marius van der Westhuizen