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Super Rugby | Perth
09:45 (GMT) | 23-05-2015
  • 81
Join us at 14.35 GMT for the build-up to the penultimate match of the round LIVE from Bloemfontein where the Cheetahs host the Lions in a CAT FIGHT!
  • 80
The maul is set but the Landers stop their momentum. The ball is recycled and taken through the phases. They knock the ball on 2 mteres from the try line and that's FULLTIME!
  • 79
Force launch a promising looking attack and have made their way into the Landers' 22. PENALTY! Landers are penalised for a high tackle. Hodgson pops the ball into touch for a 5 metre attacking line-out
  • 78
A Landers attack comes to a quick stop as they knock the ball on close to the halfway line to hand possession back to the Force
  • 77
The Force look to somehow make a comeback and find themselves in possession on the Landers' 10 metre line. They spread the ball to the backline but the Landers are strong in defence and bundle them into touch. Landers throw-in inside their 10 metre line
  • 75
Banks steps up and curls the conversion through the uprights to add the extra points
  • 74
The Landers are back in possession after the Force kicks the ball up-field from the restart. The ball gets into the hands of Marty Banks who breaks through the Force defence! Aaron Smith follows up and gets the pop pass to get over the try line!
  • 72
The Landers gets the line-out ball and Smith finds Sopoaga who attempts a drop goal and it's GOOD!
  • 71
Haylett-Petty gets the ball and kicks it up-field but Ben Smith opts to run it back at them. It is sent quickly through the hands and finds Buckman on the left touchline who gets inside the Force's 22. It gets scrappy and play Force somehow manage to kick the ball into touch outside their 22
  • 70
A long pass is sent to Buckman on the right touchline but he fails to hold onto it to hand possession back to the Force through a line-out 5 metres from their try line
  • 69
Aaron Smith takes a quick tap-penalty and sends the ball to the backline. The Landers are taking the ball through the phases as they inch their way closer to the line.
  • 68
The Landers remain on the attack though and have made their way back to within 54 metres of the try line. The Force are strong in defence again and kno0ck the ball on in an attempt to steal it. Play will restart with a Landers scrum feed, 5 metres from the Force's try line
  • 67
The maul is set but the Force is up to the challenge. The Landers lose the ball and the Force manage to kick it up field and finds touch on their 22
  • 66
The Landers are awarded a penalty after the Force front row goes down under the pressure. Sopoago pops it into touch for an attacking line-out
  • 65
Smith goes on a snipe down the blindside and comes within a metre of the try line. The forwards drive it and inch their way closer to the line. Dixon picks the ball up from the back of the ruck and spins his way out of a tackle but he is held up and the Landers will have another 5 metre attacking scrum
  • 63
The line-out is claimed by the Landers and the ball finds Sopoaga, who launches the ball all the way to the sideline into the hands of Naholo who goes on a run but is well tackled by Cummins. Ebersohn is placed under pressure by Aaron Smith and is forced to knock the ball on in the contact. Scrum feed to the Landers on the Force's5 metre line
  • 62
The Force are under all sorts of pressure 5 metres from their line and Ebersohn decides to kick the ball into touch outside his 22
  • 61
Some more kicking from both sides with Ben Smith winning the territorial battle after finding touch inside the Force's 22
  • 59
Some more kicking ensues with the ball finally finding touch inside the Landers' 22. AAron SMith gets the ball and boots it up field. Morahan claims the catch and he too kicks the ball! Its rolls into the in-goal area and play will restart with a 22 drop-out
  • 57
Sopoaga manages to kick the ball into touch just outside his 22 but the Force now has an ideal attacking opportunity. They claim the line-out and set the maul which takes them inside the Landers' 22. Unfortunately they fail to hang onto the ball and the Landers will have the scrum feed
  • 56
After all the kicking and exchanging possession, the Landers will have a line-out throw-in on their 5 metre line
  • 55
Landers are throwing the ball around with extreme confidence but lose possession as the Force launches a counter-attack of their own. STOLEN! Landers wins the ball back and a Fekitoa kick is picked up by the Force, who kicks it back into Landers territory
  • 53
It's gone scrappy once again and the Force hand the Landers a chance to kick the ball up-field as they enter the breakdown from the side
  • 52
Not much action on the field now as both sides look to gain some territory. Force are in possession through a line-out on their 22
  • 50
Morahan collects a Landers kick and finds touch on the halfway line. Landers throw-in
  • 49
Force in possession on the halfway line. The Landers benefits from a loose pass and find themselves in possession in their 10 metre line
  • 48
Sopoaga lines up the kick and sneaks it inside the left upright
  • 46
The Landers set the maul and makes their way over the line! John Hardie emerges with the ball for the first try of the match
  • 45
Time for a kicking battle with neither side finding touch. Naholo collects the ball and places a neat little chip which he chases down to set up the next phase. Osborne gets the ball and sends a grubber down the line which is taken into touch by the Force
  • 44
He strikes it well and watches it hook to the left
  • 43
Another Landers penalty hands Sopoaga a chance to have a shot at goal from the halfway line!
  • 42
Landers standing strong in defence though and win a PENALTY. Ben Smith takes it quickly and makes 10 metres before he is brought down.
  • 41
KICK-OFF! Ebersohn gets the second half underway!
  • 41
KICK-OFF! Ebersohn gets the second half underway! Ben Smith puts boot to ball early and the Force are in possession on the halfway line. Godwin breaks through a tackle and the Force are on the front-foot. Up to the 22 they go

Half Time

  • 40
Haylett-Petty knocks on a high ball and Aaron Smith collects it. The ball is recycled and the Landers are inside the Force's 22. PENALTY! Sopoaga slots a penalty from right in front to hand the Landers the lead at HALF-TIME!
  • 39
Several resets have once again killed the momentum and flow of the game.
  • 38
Naholo gets the ball in hand and goes on a run but knocks the ball on in the contact to hand possession back to the Force through a scrum on their 22
  • 36
Force have made their way onto the Landers' 10 metre line but they lose the ball and allows Ben Smith to kick the ball into touch just outside the Force's 22
  • 35
A clever grubber-pass by Sopoaga is knocked on by Evans and the Force have the scrum feed on their 10 metre line
  • 33
Fekitoa manages to clean up some scrappy play by the Landers and his kick finds the Honey Badger whose kick rolls into the in-goal area and play will restart with a 22 drop-out
  • 32
Huge shove by the Landers but the Force manage to somehow maintain possession. They launch a promising attack but it comes to nothing as Mafi loses the ball forward in the contact. Scrum feed to the Landers on their 22
  • 31
Force have managed to win back possession after some scrappy play. Play to restart with a Force scrum feed on the Landers' 10 metre line
  • 30
Brache eyes a possible interception but fails to hold onto the ball as the Landers maintain possession just outside the Force's 22.
  • 29
Landers win the line-out and the Force are penalised from the resulting breakdown. Sopoaga finds touch with the kick on the Force's 10 metre line
  • 28
Ben Smith gets the ball at first receiver and exchanges kicks with Haylett-Petty. Sopoaga m makes sure of touch just inside his half to hand the Force the possession
  • 27
Louwrens attempts to grab a low pass but fails to hold onto the ball to hand possession back to the Landers through a scrum feed just outside their 22
  • 26
Hodgson has a go himself but loses the ball to allow the Highlanders to run it out the back! The ball is switched to the right and finds Fekitoa who breaks through the defence but his pass to Naholo is deemed to be forward and the counter-attack is stopped dead
  • 25
The Force attempt to start a maul but the Landers stands off and the Force recycle the ball. Brache gets the f\Force within 2 metres
  • 24
Momemtun in the Force's favour at the moment as they awarded a penalty from the restart after the Landers failed to release the tackled player. Ebersohn finds touch 7 metres from the Landers try line
  • 23
Ebersohn strikes it well and it sails between the uprights!
  • 22
PENALTY! Hardy fails to roll away at the breakdown to hand Ebersohn a chance to level the scores with a 50 metre attempt
  • 21
Force claimes the line-out and sends the ball to Haylett-Petty who finds a good touch just over the halfway line. Force wins back possession after claiming a high ball
  • 19
Sopoaga has a kick charged down on the halfway line but he manages to recover and gives the ball to Ben Smith who puts in a good kick to find touch on the Force's 22
  • 18
Both sides trade kicks but the Force puts it out on the full to hand the Landers the line-out on the halfway line
  • 17
Sopoaga slots the first kick of the match to break the deadlock
  • 16
Even more time wasted to get the scrum set. Force regain possession after the Landers kicks a high ball. PENALTY! Force fails to release the ball at the breakdown and the Landers will have a shot at goal
  • 14
Finally a decent scrum and the Force run the ball at the Landers. Mafi attempts to take a pick and go but loses possession to hand the Landers a scrum feed on their 10 metre line
  • 13
Game comes to an anti-climax with a few resets
  • 11
The ball is spilled and kicked up-field by the Landers. Force retain possession and are back on the attack on the Laders' 10 metre line. Fekitoa knocks the ball on at the breakdown and the Force will have the scrum feed
  • 10
Hodgson breaks down the short side and makes 20 metres before being brought down. The ball is kept among the forwards who takes the ball to about 10 metres from the line
  • 9
A better scrum by the Landers second time around and Ben Smith opts to kick the ball into touch on the halfway line
  • 7
Landers under all sorts of pressure at scrum time. We will have another scrum after a loose ball was knocked on by the Force
  • 6
Ebersohn gets the ball and goes on a run down field, he gets into the Landers' half and puts it on the boot. Brache chases it down but knocks it on with the try line beckoning. Golden opportunity missed by the Force
  • 5
It's thrown left and finds Osborne on the left touchline who makes a few metres before being brought down. Landers maintain possession but lose it forward just in front of the Force's 22
  • 4
It's over thrown and the Highlanders kicks it up-field. Force in possession inside their 22 and kicks it into touch for a highlanders line-out on the 10 metre line
  • 3
It's an early kicking battle that ends with Sopoaga finding touch on the halfway line. Force throw-in
  • 2
Highlanders in possession on the Force's 22 but the forces wins back possession and bots it up-field
  • 0
KICK-OFF! Sopoaga gets the match underway
  • -10
The Highlanders have lost 14 of their last 15 away games against Australian opposition.
  • -15
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.
  • -20
It's Game Five of Round 15 from Perth where the Force host the Highlanders
Mc western force logo 80x50
Mc highlanders logo 80x50
  • 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
  • 6 Angus Cottrell
  • 5 Adam Coleman
  • 4 Steve Mafi
  • 3 Tetera Faulkner
  • 2 Nathan Charles
  • 1 Pek Cowan
  • 23 Brad Lacey
  • 22 Luke Burton
  • 21 Alby Mathewson
  • 20 Kane Koteka
  • 19 Sam Wykes
  • 18 Guy Millar
  • 17 Chris Heiberg
  • 16 Heath Tessmann
  • 15 Ben Smith
  • 14 Waisake Naholo
  • 13 Malakai Fekitoa
  • 12 Shaun Treeby
  • 11 Patrick Osborne
  • 10 Lima Sopoaga
  • 9 Aaron Smith
  • 8 Dan Pryor
  • 7 John Hardie
  • 6 Gareth Evans
  • 5 Mark Reddish
  • 4 Alex Ainley
  • 3 Josh Hohneck
  • 2 Liam Coltman
  • 1 Brendon Edmonds
  • 23 Marty Banks
  • 22 Richard Buckman
  • 21 Fumiaki Tanaka
  • 20 Elliot Dixon
  • 19 Tom Franklin
  • 18 Ross Geldenhuys
  • 17 Daniel Lienert-Brown
  • 16 Ash Dixon
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 force v hghlanders 630

Highlanders win Perth snorefest

Sat, 23 May 2015 13:35

REPORT: The Highlanders cemented their place in the Super Rugby play-off zone with a stuttering 23-3 win over a hapless Western Force team.

The Highlanders cemented their place in the Super Rugby play-off zone with a stuttering 23-3 win over a hapless Western Force team in Perth on Saturday.

The Highlanders held a slender 6-3 lead at half-time in a dour contest, but second-half tries by John Hardie (from a maul) and Aaron Smith (after a Marty Banks break) took the game away from the hosts.

It was a contest marred by bucketloads of errors and even more aimless kicking.

The Highlanders dominated territory and possession after the break.

Flyhalf Lima Sopoaga provided a solid goal-kicking performance with a conversion, two penalties and a drop goal. Replacement Marty Banks kicked the other conversion.

The Highlanders are locked in a battle with the Chiefs for second position in the New Zealand conference behind the Wellington Hurricanes and, following their win over the Force, they join the Chiefs on a 9-4 record.

The Highlanders and the Chiefs meet next weekend in Invercargill.

Meanwhile, the Force remain winless against all Super Rugby teams in 2015 bar the defending champion Waratahs.

The Force didn't make the most of chances to score in the first half and were made to pay with the Highlanders grinding their way to control the game.

"Our boys stuck at it and credit to the Force, they are a hard team to put away," Smith said.

"We had to keep chipping away and we managed to get a bit of territory in the second half and got a few points out of it."

Man of the match: Marcel Brache had his moments, Nick Cummins tried to spark his team. while Ben McCalman and Matt Hodgson were the work-horses of the team - doing all the dirty work. Waisake Naholo and Malakai Fekitoa kept the Force's defence honest. Lima Sopoaga again produced an accomplished performance, while Aaron Smith was the general that kept his forwards on the front foot. Dan Pryor, John Hardie and Gareth Evans were workman-like. However, our award goes to Highlanders fullback and captain Ben Smith, the only real spark in an otherwise dull game.


For the Western Force:

For the Highlanders:
Hardie, A Smith
Cons: Sopoaga, Banks
Pens: Sopoaga 2
DG: Sopoaga


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 (captain), 14 Waisake Naholo, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Shaun Treeby, 11 Patrick Osborne, 10 Lima Sopoaga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Dan Pryor, 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 Elliot Dixon, 21 Fumiaki Tanaka, 22 Richard Buckman, 23 Marty Banks.

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

John Hardie (46min) and Aaron Smith (74min)
Lima Sopoaga (48min) and Marty Banks (75min)
Sias Ebersohn (23min)
Lima Sopoaga (17min) and Lima Sopoaga (40min)
Lima Sopoaga (72min)
REFEREE Andrew Lees