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Super Rugby | Tokyo
04:15 (GMT) | 27-02-2016
  • 80
THATS FULL-TIME ! The Lions take this one 26-13 ! Thank you for joining for this match. Be sure to join us for the next game as the Crusaders take on the Chiefs!
  • 79
Coetzee feeds the scrum, Whiteley has a crack but the Sunwolves defend well. The Lions crash over the line but the ball is held up!
  • 78
Lions on the attack inside their own half as Ruan Combrinck does well. A kick is put through and the Sunwolves lose the ball forward and the Lions have a scrum deep inside the Sunwolves 22.
  • 77
Lions clear the ball and the Sunwolves attack from deep through Harumichi Tatekawa. Good defense again by the Lions as they hold up the ball carrier and force a scrum put-in.
  • 76
Throw not straight by the Sunwolves. Scrum to the Lions . That was a bit of a missed opportunity for the home side.
  • 75
Penalty for the Sunwolves , they decide to kick for touch to set up an attacking lineout on the Lions 22.
  • 74
Sunwolves win the lineout and attack through flank Andrew Durutalo who has had a fantastic game today.
  • 73
Whiteley has been on fire for the Lions. Lions just 5 meters from the Sunwolves line before being pinged at the breakdown. Penalty for the Sunwolves which they opt to kick for touch.
  • 71
Been a lovely game of rugby so far. Fast paced, good spirit. Lovely debut from the Sunwolves.
  • 70
Sunwolves win the penalty and they decide to tap and go . Massive break by prop Keita Inagaki who makes a hardworking 15 meters before the Lions turn the ball over and Jantjies clears the ball.
  • 69
Scrum is reset a couple times.... Front rankers catching their breathe in the fast paced match
  • 68
Whiteley breaks the line for the Lions, great play by the skipper before scrumhalf Faf de Klerk coughs up the ball and the Sunwolves have the scrum put on on their own try line
  • 67
Conversion is good by Jantjies
  • 66
TRY! Malcolm Marx breaks the line for the Lions and offloads to Mapoe who scores! The reserve front rankers for the Lions are doing some incredible work.
  • 65
Tusi Pisi receives a yellow card for intentional foul play at the breakdown. Thats going to hurt the Sunwolves.
  • 64
Lions set up the lineout , win it and attack through Mapoe who makes a good run near the halfway line. Dylan Smith makes a great run before the Sunwolves turn the ball over once again and clear the ball.
  • 63
Play goes back and forth . The Sunwolves on the attack again as Andrew Durutalo makes a halfbreak. The Sunwolves were looking good before Warwick Tecklenburg forces a penalty for the Lions. Lions on the ropes, Sunwolves looking good.
  • 61
Lions scrum , ball is fed by De Klerk and the Lions attack wide through Coetzee before the Sunwolves turn the ball over
  • 59
Conversion is good by Pisi! The Sunwolves are back in this!
  • 58
TRY! Horie crosses the line and the crowd go crazy!
  • 57
Sunwolves steal the ball at the lineout and are on the attack in the Lions 22.
  • 56
Sunwolves win the lineout before Ed Quirk is bundled into touch. Lions have the lineout
  • 55
Penalty to the Sunwolves for a high tackle by Lions prop Ruan Dreyer. Center Yu Tamura kicks the ball into touch to set up an attacking lineout deep inside Lions territory.
  • 54
Sunwolves on the attack through Moli but the Lions defense is solid.
  • 53
Horie makes a good run for the Sunwolves, the crowd got excited there as winger Yasutaka Sasakura made a good run but the linesman has his flag up and the Lions will have a lineout throw.
  • 52
16 phases in the Sunwolves lose the ball forward and the Lions have a scrum put in just outside the Sunwolves 22.
  • 51
Solid defense by the Lions as the Sunwolves lose ground while attacking
  • 50
Sunwolves up to the halfway line now , they are into their 8th phase.
  • 49
Sunwolves win the lineout and centre Yu Tamura bashes the ball up from first phase ball.
  • 48
What a scrum from the Sunwolves as they push the Lions off their own ball and win the penalty. That was a fantastic effort! Pisi will put the ball into touch
  • 47
Lions in another penalty from the scrum as Shinnosuke Kakinaga gets pinged for dropping his bind. Lions choose to scrum again!
  • 46
Lions choose to scrum from the penalty just 5 meters from the line. This is going to be a mighty task for the Sunwolves big boys up front.
  • 45
Penalty to the Lions, Elton Jantjies will put this into the corner to set up a lineout inside the Sunwolves 22. Coetzee finds his jumper and the Lions are on the attack through Mnisi . Lions win another penalty for foul play from the Sunwolves. The ref gives a final warning to the Japanese side.
  • 44
Lions on the attack again, they have come out firing for the second half.
  • 43
Conversion kick is good by Elton Jantjies
  • 42
TRY! Robbie Coetzee finds his jumper in Andries Ferreira. The Lions set the maul before attacking wide and Kriel busts through the line and scores a wonderful try!
  • 41
Second half underway ! Pisi kicks off and the Lions take the kick-off well and win the penalty for Jaco Kriel being tackled in the air. Jantjies will plug this into touch

Half Time

  • 40
THATS HALF-TIME! See you all in a bit! The Lions wont be happy with their first half display and the Sunwolves will be satisfied at the way they have played so far . The second half should be a cracker!
  • 39
Lions attack from deep as Franco Mostert breaks the line and makes 30 meters before Ed Quirk makes another great pilfer and the Sunwolves are awarded a penalty which is put into touch.
  • 38
Pisi hits the ball from 40 meters out, the ball sails through the middle and the Sunwolves close the gap!
  • 36
Penalty awarded to the Sunwolves - Pisi will have a shot at goal.
  • 35
Sunwolves on the attack inside the Lions half.
  • 34
Lovely conversion kick from out wide by Elton Jantjies. He will be happy with that one
  • 32
TRY! Great short ball thrown by Jantjies as winger Skosan penetrates the defense and crosses the line in the corner for the Lions. Great try!
  • 30
Penalty attempt missed and the Lions decide to counter through Kriel. Great play here by the Lions as they make their way into the Sunwolves 22 before Sunwolves number 8 Ed Quirk forces a penalty . Great play by the former Reds player
  • 29
Lions win the lineout and attack wide through Mnisi before the Sunwolves win a penalty. Viljoen will have a long range shot at goal.
  • 28
Referee pings Andrew Durutalo as the Sunwolves flank thought he was through . The ref judged he was part of the ruck and the Lions are awarded a penalty which is put into touch.
  • 27
Sunwolves finally penetrate the defence as they make their way into the Lions 22, a couple lovely runs by fullback Viljoen. The Sunwolves are looking mightily impressive here as they build into their 18th phase of attack!
  • 26
Horie finds his jumper and the Sunwolves are on the attack on the halfway line. Defence is solid from the Lions as Moli attempts to break the stubborn defensive line
  • 25
Penalty to the Sunwolves as flank Andrew Durutalo does great work for the Japanese side. Pisi clears the ball into touch to relieve the pressure
  • 24
Lions on the attack inside the Sunwolves 22
  • 23
Atsushi Hiwasa feeds the scrum for the Sunwolves and they win the ball, great play by the Sunwolves as Harumichi Tatekawa breaks the line from a lovely set piece before the ref calls obstruction and the Lions are awarded a penalty which Jantjies plugs into the corner to set up a lineout inside the Sunwolves 22.
  • 21
Lineout for the Sunwolves, Whiteley steals the ball and the Lions are on the attack again through lock Andries Ferreira before the ball is coughed up and the ref calls a scrum for the Sunwolves
  • 19
Lions on the attack from deep before De Klerk hoists the up and under.
  • 18
Conversion attempt hits the upright and is not successful
  • 17
TRY!!! Another penalty for the Lions, Jantjies sets up a 5 meter lineout, Coetzee finds his jumper and claims the maul before crashing over for the try
  • 16
Lions win a penalty and set up a lineout just outside the Sunwolves 22. Hooker Coetzee finds his jumper and the Lions attack through skipper Warren Whiteley.
  • 15
Lions on the attack through Coetzee before the ball is turned over once again by the Sunwolves. A lovely grubber kick is put through but the ball is dotted down by winger Ruan Combrinck. Lions struggling to build a couple phases in attack.
  • 13
Lions attack from deep through winger Skosan. The Sunwolves turn the ball over and a kick is put through which rolls over the dead ball line. We go all the way back to the halfway line for a Lions scrum put in .
  • 12
Jantjies pulls the penalty attempt, 22 dropout for the Sunwolves
  • 11
The Lions absolutely demolish the Sunwolves pack again and are awarded a penalty. Elton Jantjies will have a pop at goal to level things up.
  • 10
Lions have a scrum put in just inside the Sunwolves half. They will be looking to dominate as they did at the first scrum.
  • 9
Oh my..... Elton Jantjies has missed the penalty from in front of the poles. He wont be happy with that one. 22 dropout to the Sunwolves
  • 8
Lions opt to have a shot at goal from the penalty
  • 7
Lions on the attack through Dreyer followed by Whiteley , De Klerk has a go, Kriel has a go. Great momentum going forward here as the Lions are just 10 meters short before they are awarded a penalty for the Sunwolves being offside
  • 6
The penalty kick is good, the Sunwolves have their very first points in Super Rugby!
  • 5
Sunwolves on the attack just outside the Lions 22 through winger Yasutaka Sasakura whos been busy in the early stages of the match. The Sunwolves are awarded a penalty and Tusi Pisi will have a shot at goal.
  • 4
Exciting start so far, both teams struggling to keep possession but the early signs would suggest this is going to be a open game
  • 3
The Lions opt to kick for touch from the penalty, from the lineout the ball is turned over by the Sunwolves and Tusi Pusi counter attacks through winger Yasutaka Sasakura who makes 30 meters.
  • 2
Straight from the kick-off the ball is lost forward from lock Ono, the Lions have a scrum put in just outside the Sunwolves 22. The Lions absolutely demolish the Sunwolves pack and are awarded a penalty. This could be a long afternoon for the Japanese side.
  • 1
First half underway! Elton Jantjies kicks off for the Lions!
  • -5
Teams come out the tunnel, its almost time to rock and roll!
  • -10
The Lions have won eight of their last 11 Super Rugby matches and are undefeated in their last three (two wins and a draw)
  • -15
For the Lions it is all about overcoming the external factors - foreign conditions, a poor pitch with very little grass and chilly weather.
  • -20
This is the first ever Super Rugby match for the Sunwolves
  • -30
Welcome to this Super Rugby clash between the Sunwolves and the Lions in Tokyo , Japan!
Mc lions logo 85
  • 15 Riaan Viljoen
  • 14 Akihito Yamada
  • 13 Harumichi Tatekawa
  • 12 Yu Tamura
  • 11 Yasutaka Sasakura
  • 10 Tusi Pisi
  • 9 Atsushi Hiwasa
  • 8 Ed Quirk
  • 7 Andrew Durutalo
  • 6 Liaki Moli
  • 5 Hitoshi Ono
  • 4 Tim Bond
  • 3 Shinnosuke Kakinaga
  • 2 Shota Horie
  • 1 Keita Inagaki
  • 23 Hajime Yamashita
  • 22 Carpenter Derek
  • 21 Kaito Shigeno
  • 20 Yoshiya Hosoda
  • 19 Shinya Makabe
  • 18 Yamamoto Koki
  • 17 Takeshi Kizu
  • 16 Masataka Mikami
  • 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
  • 7 Warwick Tecklenburg
  • 6 Jaco Kriel
  • 5 Franco Mostert
  • 4 Andries Ferreira
  • 3 Julian Redelinghuys
  • 2 Robbie Coetzee
  • 1 Ruan Dreyer
  • 24 Rohan Janse van Rensburg
  • 23 Harold Vorster
  • 22 Jaco van der Walt
  • 21 Ruan Ackermann
  • 20 Robert Kruger
  • 19 Jacques van Rooyen
  • 17 Dylan Smith
  • 16 Malcolm Marx
Mc article tendai mtawarira   steven sykes 800


Thu, 25 Feb 2016 22:44

IN THE SPOTLIGHT. Jan de Koning looks at the Saturday matches in Part One of Super Rugby's Round One.

History will be made in Tokyo on Saturday, when the Sunwolves make their Super Rugby debut against the Lions at the Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium.

With the focus so heavily on the home team, the visitors from Johannesburg have managed to 'fly under the radar' so far.

But the tranquility will not last long.

In fact Lions coach Johan Ackermann revealed that his team will not just step into the unknown, but are expecting to play on a Tokyo cabbage patch.

The pitch is not in great condition and - unlike their lush home turf at Ellis Park - there is only a smattering of grass on the surface.

However, the Lions mentor is determined that his team avoid getting distracted by external factors and focus on a game against a tricky opponent in their season opener.

The Sunwolves are an unknown quantity to everybody, but Ackermann believes he saw enough of them in their only pre-season game, against a Top League XV, to know that they want to play a high-tempo game.

"However, we are comfortable with such a game," the Lions coach said in a teleconference from Tokyo.

There are five other matches on Saturday - all domestic derbies.

The seven-time champion Crusaders are at home to the two-time champion Chiefs, then the 2014 champion Waratahs play the Reds, the Western Force host the Rebels, before we cross the Indian Ocean to South Africa - where the Southern Kings make their comeback after a two-year absence and play the Sharks, before the weekend's action is concluded with the traditional north-south derby when the Stormers host the Bulls.

We look at the Saturday, February 27, matches below!

Sunwolves v Lions
(Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium, Tokyo - Kick-off. 13.15; 06.15 SA time; 04.15 GMT)

Lions coach Johan Ackermann said they have really flown under the radar since their arrival in Tokyo on Wednesday, with very little attention paid to them.

Whatever focus there has been, has been on the tournament newcomers - the Sunwolves.

And the pressure will be on the home team to produce a surprise equal in magnitude to when Japan beat South African in the World Cup last year.

The media have given limited space to the team and if they hope to raise the game's profile, only victory will suffice.

The Sunwolves' New Zealand coach, Mark Hammett, is confident that they will not just be a novelty and that the Sunwolves are the real deal.

"I'm very motivated by this challenge," Hammett said of Japan's historic entry into Super Rugby.

"Japan has a long history, 125 years in rugby, and now to get to this point, it will be nice to set foot on the Super Rugby fields, probably the hardest competition in the world."

For the Lions it is all about overcoming the external factors - foreign conditions, a poor pitch with very little grass and chilly weather.

"We have to make peace with whatever surface we get," Ackermann said in a teleconference call from Tokyo.

"We have to make sure we don't get distracted by external factors."

He said, despite the presence of a New Zealand coach that will bring a slightly different mentality, the traditional Japanese style is of a fast-paced, expansive game.

"They will come with their low tackles and a loose game," Ackermann said.

"We have to ensure we maintain a tempo with which we are comfortable with. The set pieces, scrums and line-outs, will play a major role.

"We must avoid the trap of throwing the ball around, because they would want an unstructured game."

Recent results.
These teams have never met before

Prediction. The Lions have won eight of their last 11 Super Rugby matches and are undefeated in their last three (two wins and a draw), though seven of those eight victories came by margins of five points or fewer. With wins in their last two matches outside of South Africa the Lions will be aiming for three straight victories outside of their home nation for the first time in Super Rugby history. The Lions conceded only two tries when the opposition went through more than seven phases of play last season, the fewest of any team. The 2015 Super Rugby season saw South African teams travel abroad on 20 occasions of which they won only seven. Of those seven wins, the Lions accounted for three. The Lions starved their opposition of possession more than any other team in the 2015 Super Rugby season, allowing their opponents an average of only 14 minutes and 20 seconds in control. The Sunwolves may cause some early mayhem with their unstructured game, but expect the Lions to take control in the final quarter and easy to a 20-point win.


Sunwolves: 15 Riaan Viljoen, 14 Akihito Yamada, 13 Harumichi Tatekawa, 12 Yu Tamura, 11 Yasutaka Sasakura, 10 Tusi Pisi, 9 Atsushi Hiwasa, 8 Edward Quirk, 7 Andrew Durutalo, 6 Liaki Moli, 5 Hitoshi Ono, 4 Timothy Bond, 3 Shinnosuke Kakinaga, 2 Shota Horie (captain), 1 Keith Inagaki.
Replacements: 16 Masataka Mikami, 17 Takeshi Kizu, 18 Koki Yamamoto, 19 Shinya Makabe, 20 Yoshiya Hosoda, 21 Kaito Shigeno, 22 Derek Carpenter, 23 Hajime Yamashata.

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 Franco Mostert, 4 Andries Ferreira, 3 Julian Redelinghuys, 2 Robbie Coetzee, 1 Ruan Dreyer.
Replacements: 16 Malcolm Marx 17 Dylan Smith, 18 Jacques van Rooyen, 19 Robert Kruger, 20 Ruan Ackermann, 21 Jaco van der Walt, 22 Harold Vorster, 23 Rohan Janse van Rensburg.

Referee: Ben O'Keeffe (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Shuhei Kubo (Japan), Aki Aso (Japan)
TMO: Takeshi Hareda (Japan)

Crusaders v Chiefs
(AMI Stadium, Christchurch - Kick-off. 19.35; 06.35 GMT)

The Crusaders need to overcome their no infamous slow starts to the season if they hope to end a seven-year drought and win their first Super Rugby title since 2008.

And they are looking at seasoned All Blacks like Kieran Read, at No.8, lock Samuel Whitelock and prop Owen Franks to provide the spark.

And then there is their leaky defence that contributed to their humiliation at the hands of the Hurricanes in last week's final pre-season outing.

Crusaders assistant coach Tabai Matson said that much of the focus this week had been on the defence around the set-piece.

"To be honest it was a bit of a shock, the outcome," Matson told

"When you go back and review it there are a couple of key areas we had to tidy up.

"The Hurricanes backline punished us from scrums, fundamentally."

The Chiefs, in contrast, are not reading much into last week's result and are expecting the Crusaders to bounce back strongly in Christchurch.

Chiefs coach Dave Rennie feel the Crusaders' All Black-laden pack holds the key.

"We feel that the set-piece is something that the Crusaders will try and attack us in," Rennie told

Recent results:
2015: Chiefs won 26-9, Christchurch
2015: Chiefs won 40-16, Hamilton
2014: Crusaders won 18-17, Hamilton
2014: Chiefs won 18-10, Christchurch
2013: Chiefs won 20-19, Hamilton (semifinal)
2013: Crusaders won 43-15, Christchurch
2013: Chiefs won 28-19, Hamilton

Prediction. The Chiefs have won seven of their last 10 matches against the Crusaders, including wins in three of their last four away games against them. The Crusaders finished their 2015 Super Rugby campaign with three straight wins, scoring above 30 points on each occasion. The Chiefs have won only two of their last seven Super Rugby fixtures, though four of those five losses in that period came against the Final combatants (Highlanders and Hurricanes). The Chiefs conceded the most penalties (12.3), yellow cards (0.8) and turnovers (18.4) in Super Rugby last season. The Chiefs conceded just three tries where possession originated in the opposition half, the fewest of any side, only the Reds (18) conceded more such tries than the Crusaders (14). The Crusaders are notorious for their slow starts and the Chiefs could make them pay. The smart money is on a Chiefs win, by 10 points or less.


Crusaders: 15 David Havili, 14 Jone Macilai, 13 Sean Wainui, 12 Kieron Fonotia, 11 Nemani Nadolo, 10 Richie Mo'unga, 9 Andy Ellis, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Tim Boys, 6 Jordan Taufua, 5 Samuel Whitelock (captain), 4 Scott Barrett, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Joe Moody.
Replacements: 16 Ben Funnell, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Mike Alaalatoa, 19 Jimmy Tupou, 20 Reed Prinsep, 21 Leon Fukofuka, 22 Ben Volavola, 23 Johnny McNicholl.

Chiefs: 15 Damian McKenzie, 14 Shaun Stevenson, 13 Seta Tamanivalu, 12 Charlie Ngatai, 11 James Lowe, 10 Aaron Cruden (co-captain), 9 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 8 Tom Sanders, 7 Sam Cane (co-captain), 6 Taleni Seu, 5 Brodie Retallick, 4 Michael Allardice, 3 Hiroshi Yamashita, 2 Rhys Marshall, 1 Pauliasi Manu.
Replacements: 16 Nathan Harris, 17 Mitchell Graham, 18 Siate Tokolahi, 19 Maama Vaipulu, 20 Johan Bardoul, 21 Brad Weber, 22 Anton Lienert-Brown, 23 Latu Vaeno.

Referee: Chris Pollock (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Jamie Nutbrown (New Zealand), Kane McBride (New Zealand)
TMO: Glenn Newman (New Zealand)

Waratahs v Reds
(Allianz Stadium, Sydney - Kick-off: 19.45; 08.45)

The Waratahs would have gone into this game as favourites, no matter what.

However, the scales tipped even further in their favour this week as the Reds suffered another crucial injury.

Reds coach Richard Graham lost his best player, Liam Gill, for a month - having already been without the Wallabies duo of James Slipper and Kane Douglas.

At least there is the excitement of high-profile Japanese import Ayumu Goromaru to look forward to when he comes off the bench.

Despite all the injury issues, Graham remained adamant that his players are not pushovers.

"We've put in a lot of hard work as a group over the last three and a half months - building a physical foundation, developing our game play and coming together as a squad," he said in a media release.

"We've spent the pre-season focused very much on ourselves and what we want to get out of the new season.

"This Saturday is our first opportunity to demonstrate that and the squad are looking forward to the occasion down in Sydney this weekend.
"While we have four guys making their Super Rugby debut on Saturday, they come with varying experience that has served them well to this point."

Further counting in favour of the home team is that in the last four games between the sides, the Reds have not scored more than five points.

Veteran Waratahs lock Dean Mumm attempted to downplay his side's favourites tag.

"I think coming into a new year it's not super relevant," Mumm said of the Waratahs' recent dominance over the interstate rivals.

"History has gone through periods; the Reds have dominated, then the Waratahs and vice versa.

"At any moment that can change. We're trying to control our own destiny and bring the intensity from the start."

Recent results:
2015: Waratahs won 31-5, Sydney
2015: Waratahs won 23-5, Brisbane
2014: Waratahs won 34-3, Brisbane
2014: Waratahs won 32-5, Sydney
2013: Reds won 14-12, Sydney
2013: Reds won 25-17, Brisbane

Prediction. The Waratahs have won each of their last four matches against the Reds spanning the last two seasons, and they've restricted them to five points for less in each of those games. The Waratahs have won 10 of their last 12 matches against fellow Australian teams in Super Rugby and not since Round 5, 2014 have they been beaten by an Australian team that wasn't the Force. None of the Reds' last 11 games against fellow Australian opposition have seen a losing bonus point secured by either side (six wins a seven defeats). The Reds had the best line-out success rate in the 2015 edition of this competition (91 percent) winning more line-out per game than anyone else (14.1). Waratahs' Israel Folau made the most carries (231), metres (1,677) and offloads (38) in Super Rugby last season. The Waratahs are favourites and should win by at least 15 points.


Waratahs: 15 Israel Folau, 14 Matt Carraro, 13 Rob Horne, 12 David Horwitz, 11 Zac Guildford, 10 Kurtley Beale, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Jed Holloway, 7 Michael Hooper (captain), 6 David Dennis, 5 Will Skelton, 4 Dean Mumm, 3 Angus Ta'avao, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 Paddy Ryan.
Replacements: 16 Tolu Latu, 17 Benn Robinson, 18 Jeremy Tilse, 19 Sam Lousi, 20 Jack Dempsey, 21 Matt Lucas, 22 Bryce Hegarty, 23 Reece Robinson.

Reds: 15 Karmichael Hunt, 14 Chris Feauai-Sautia, 13 Samu Kerevi, 12 Henry Taefu, 11 Eto Nabuli, 10 Jake McIntyre, 9 Nick Frisby, 8 Jake Schatz, 7 Curtis Browning, 6 Hendrik Tui, 5 Rob Simmons (captain), 4 Cadeyrn Neville, 3 Greg Holmes, 2 Saia Fainga'a, 1 Ben Daley.  
Replacements: 16 Andrew Ready, 17 Sef Fa'agase, 18 Sam Talakai, 19 Ben Matwijow, 20 Michael Gunn, 21 Scott Gale, 22 Sam Greene, 23 Ayumu Goromaru.

Referee: Angus Gardner (Australia)
Assistant referees: Nicholas Berry (Australia), James Leckie (Australia)
TMO: George Ayoub (Australia)

Western Force v Rebels
(nib Stadium, Perth - Kick-off: 18.55; 10.55 GMT)

You can get pretty decent odds on either of these teams making it to Super Rugby's play-offs for the first team.

The Force, in 10 years, have had a couple of decent seasons, but seventh remain their best finish.

The Rebels have had the occasional decent run, but last year's 10th-place finish remain their nest performance.

And in recent years their encounters have been as exciting as watching paint dry.

They may have played out intriguing encounters, but they always tend to become ultra defensive when they go head-to-head - a classic case of the fear of failure getting the better of them.

And both teams are based in cities where Rugby League and Australian Rules Football are much bigger codes.

Force captain Matt Hodgson feels the West-Australian franchise will soon begin to reap the rewards of their local player development.

"It's definitely tough," Hodgson told PerthNow, when asked about their the desperation to become competitive in Super Rugby.

"Being those newer teams in the competition - and especially in markets like Melbourne and Perth where rugby isn't the No.1 sport - it's definitely hard to get that foothold.

"But I think after 10 years now we're getting a lot of local talent come through, we're getting our academy stuff right.

"A couple of years ago I would have been able to count maybe four or five West Australian boys in our whole squad, now I can't even tell you because there's that many.

"And also the boys who have flown over and been here for a couple of years really call Perth home now, so we've got that Perth culture really flowing through.

"So I think it's only a matter of time before we make finals and hopefully win the title."

Recent results:
2015: Force won 13-11, Melbourne
2015: Rebels won 21-17, Perth
2014: Rebels won 22-16, Melbourne
2014: Force won 32-7, Perth
2013: Rebels won 30-23, Perth
2013: Rebels won 30-23, Melbourne

Prediction. In the 10 previous clashes between these teams the Force have won just three times, however after a 13-11 win in their last encounter they have the opportunity to record consecutive wins against the Rebels for the first time. That win was the Force's last match of the 2015 season and only their third win of that campaign. The Rebels have won only seven of their 40 away fixtures in Super Rugby history, though six of those seven wins came against Australian opposition. The Rebels lost 15 line-outs last season due to not throwing straight, almost double that of any other team (Hurricanes eight). The Force conceded only 13.1 turnovers per game on average last season, the fewest of any team in the competition, though the Rebels weren't far behind, ranked third with 14 turnovers per game. The Rebels should win what is likely to be another arm-wrestle, bit the margin will be in single digits.


Western Force: 15 Dane Haylett-Petty, 14 Luke Morahan, 13 Ben Tapuai, 12 Kyle Godwin, 11 Marcel Brache, 10 Jono Lance, 9 Alby Mathewson, 8 Angus Cottrell, 7 Matt Hodgson, 6 Brynard Stander, 5 Adam Coleman, 4 Steve Mafi, 3 Guy Millar, 2 Nathan Charles, 1 Pekahou Cowan.     
Replacements: 16 Heath Tessmann, 17 Chris Heiberg, 18 Jermaine Ainsley, 19 Ross Haylett-Petty, 20 Chris Alcock, 21 Ian Prior, 22 Peter Grant, 23 Semisi Masirewa.

Melbourne Rebels: 15 Mike Harris, 14 Dom Shipperley, 13 Tamati Ellison, 12 Mitch Inman, 11 Reece Hodge, 10 Jack Debreczeni, 9 Ben Meehan, 8 Adam Thomson, 7 Sean McMahon (captain), 6 Jordy Reid, 5 Lopeti Timani, 4 Luke Jones, 3 Laurie Weeks, 2 James Hanson, 1 Toby Smith.
Replacements: 16 Pat Leafa, 17 Cruze Ah Nau, 18 Jamie Hagan, 19 Steve Cummins, 20 Colby Fainga'a, 21 Mick Snowden, 22 Jonah Placid, 23 Tom English.

Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Quinton Immelman (South Africa), Graham Cooper (Australia)
TMO: Damien Mitchelmore (Australia)

Southern Kings v Sharks
(Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth - Kick-off: 15.05; 13.05 GMT)

The Kings are back in Super Rugby, but their return is as controversial as their original; entry three years ago.

Only this time they didn't knock a team out in the boardroom. They had to be rescued in the boardroom.

At least the Rebels have home ground advantage, their only advantage over the Sharks.

Coach Deon Davids said he was looking forward to playing the first game of the season at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.

"We couldn't have asked for a better draw, to start playing at home," he said.

Despite the pre-season drama that forced the South African Rugby Union to step in and rescue the Kings from a bankrupt Eastern Province Rugby Union, Davids said they are excited to get going.

"The players have worked really hard and we have tried to tick most of the boxes in preparation for this game and are looking forward to this challenge and being able to play Super Rugby," the coach said.

"We have huge respect for the Sharks. If you look at the players involved in their warm up matches, they have a good balanced squad, a mixture of experienced players with one or two youngsters coming through.

"They have a good pack of forwards and an exciting back line. The sharks are a team that wants to dominate opposition with go forward ball from set pieces. It will be a challenge for us, and we will have to ensure that we are defensively organised," he said.

Davids said he was not concerned about the tempo of Super Rugby.

"I am not concerned. We have talked about the intensity and what we can expect. We have tried to simulate that in our training sessions and have trained at a very high intensity.

"It is a case of how well we have done things we could have done up to now," he said.

In contrasts the Sharks' build-up could not have been better.

They warmed up with victories over two French giants - European champions Toulon and an equally impressive Toulouse.

Sharks Director of Rugby Gary Gold said they are excited to get the competition underway.  

"Our focus over the last week was to concentrate our energies on working on arrears we believed needed work in, after our pre-season tour to France," Gold said.

"Playing the Kings this weekend will be a challenging first task.  

"We believe that they are a team that have gelled well in the last couple of weeks, through adversity.  

"We giving them a lot of respect because they are a very dangerous outfit and we know that throughout this season they'll want to make their mark."

Previous results:
2013: Sharks won 58-13, Durban
2013: Sharks won 21-12, Port Elizabeth

Prediction. This will be only the third meeting between these sides with the Sharks winning both previous matches by an aggregate score line of 79-25. This will be the Kings' first Super Rugby match since 2013, their only season in the competition, and they are yet to claim victory over a fellow South African team. The Sharks finished their 2015 Super Rugby season with three straight victories. A fourth would represent their longest streak since they won five in a row to Round 5, 2014. The Sharks gained the fewest metres per game on average last season (344), while their tackle success was the worst in the league (83 percent). The Kings conceded 564 points in their 2013 Super Rugby campaign, the third most of any team in a season in Super Rugby history. The Kings will tackle their hearts out, but the Sharks have too much class and could win by as many as 20 points.


Southern Kings: 15 Jurgen Visser, 14 Luzuko Vulindlu, 13 JP du Plessis, 12 Shane Gates, 11 Malcolm Jaer, 10 Elgar Watts, 9 Ntando Kebe, 8 Jacques Engelbrecht, 7 Thembelani Bholi, 6 Chris Cloete, 5 John Charles Astle, 4 Steven Sykes (captain), 3 Tom Botha, 2 Martin Ferreira, 1 Schalk Ferreira.
Replacements: 16 Edgar Marutlulle, 17 Sithembiso Sithole, 18 Louis Albertse, 19 Schalk Oelofse, 20 Cyril-John Velleman, 21 Leighton Eksteen, 22 Louis Fouché, 23 Charles Radebe.

Sharks: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 Paul Jordaan, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Joe Pietersen, 9 Cobus Reinach, 8 Daniel du Preez, 7 Jean-Luc du Preez, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Hyron Andrews, 4 Etienne Oosthuizen, 3 Coenie Oosthuizen, 2 Franco Marais, 1 Tendai Mtawarira (captain).
Replacements: 16 Kyle Cooper, 17 Juan Schoeman, 18 Lourens Adriaanse, 19 Dave McDuling, 20 Philip van der Walt, 21 Michael Claassens, 22 Garth April, 23 Sibusiso Sithole.

Referee: Jaco van Heerden (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Rodney Bonaparte (South Africa), AJ Jacobs (South Africa)
TMO: Marius Jonker (South Africa)

Stormers v Bulls
(Newlands, Cape Town - Kick-off: 17.15; 15.15 GMT)

This is a match steeped in tradition and history. And it comes as no surprise that there is a certain amount of apprehension on both sides.

Both teams have new coaches and have lost some stalwarts to cash-flush European clubs.

Stormers coach Robbie Fleck said the players are happy to have put an intense pre-season behind them and can't wait to take on their arch rivals at home.

"There is a lot of hype around the game and I think both teams embrace it and really look forward to the challenge," Fleck said of the big north-south derby.

"It is a massive honour for me and it is humbling to be involved in this match. I can only draw confidence from our preparations and how hard we have worked, and that gives me comfort," he said.

The Bulls have not done well at Newlands in recent times and last won in Cape Town in 2011.

They have also lost six of their last eight matches to their Cape foes.

However, coach Nollis Marais - like Fleck in his first season of Super Rugby - believes a new era is looming.

"We certainly will be up against it and could not have asked for a tougher assignment than this," Marais said.

"This group of players have the talent to become a special team, so if they can find some continuity and momentum in the game, we will be competitive," the coach added.

Fleck admitted to some nerves ahead of his first match as a head coach, having served as an assistant to Allister Coetzee since 2010.

However, he feels the hard work that has been put in and the quality of players and management staff around him have helped keep the butterflies at bay.

"Obviously there are a few butterflies in the stomach and there are some expectations out there, but that is only natural.

"We play for a great franchise and a great union, the players understand it and we are all very excited, I am very excited and I take huge comfort in the way we have prepared ourselves, and the players and the management around me.

"Instead of trying to run away from it, I am really looking forward to getting the season off, and even better that it is against the Bulls," he said.

Bulls captain Adriaan Strauss is no stranger to Newlands and he is confidant the visitors from the north can overcome the odds.

"We have definite goals for the season," Strauss said.

"This is a new team, new era and for that matter, a new competition.

"We have very skilful players and if we can guarantee them enough ball, they will score tries. We need to be competitive up front and if we are, I believe we will be in with a good chance.

"We are playing a very solid team at home though, so does not really have an option to take our best game to Newlands."

Recent results:
2015: Stormers won 15-13, Cape Town
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

Prediction: The Stormers have won six of their last eight matches against the Bulls in Super Rugby, including the last three. The Stormers finished their 2015 Super Rugby season with a home loss in the play-offs and will be aiming to avoid back-to-back losses at home for the first time since the 2011 semi-finals. The Bulls have not managed to win away to the Stormers since 2011, failing to score more than 17 points in any of their four defeats since then. The Stormers had the best goal-kicking success in Super Rugby last season (81 percent), while the Bulls had the third best record off the tee (79 percent) but will be missing sharp-shooting Handré Pollard for the entire 2016 campaign. The Bulls scored 57 percent of their tries (21/37) in the opening half of matches in 2015, the most of any team in the competition. Both teams are looking to play a more expansive game, which could make for an exciting encounter - which the Stormers will win by about 12 points.


Stormers: 15 Cheslin Kolbe, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Johnny Kotze, 12 Juan de Jongh (co-captain), 11 Dillyn Leyds, 10 Robert du Preez, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Nizaam Carr, 7 Schalk Burger, 6 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 5 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Vincent Koch, 2 Mbongeni Mbonambi, 1 Oliver Kebble.
Replacements: 16 Scarra Ntubeni, 17 JC Janse van Rensburg, 18 Frans Malherbe (co-captain), 19 JD Schickerling, 20 Siyamthanda Kolisi, 21 Nic Groom, 22 Kurt Coleman, 23 Leolin Zas.

Bulls: 15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Travis Ismaiel, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Francois Brummer, 9 Rudy Paige, 8 Arno Botha, 7 Jannes Kirsten, 6 Nic de Jager, 5 Grant Hattingh, 4 Rudolph Snyman, 3 Marcel van der Merwe, 2 Adriaan Strauss (captain), 1 Trevor Nyakane.
Replacements: 16 Jaco Visagie, 17 Lizo Gqoboka, 18 Hencus van Wyk, 19 Jason Jenkins, 20 Roelof Smit, 21 Piet van Zyl, 22 Tian Schoeman, Burger Odendaal.

Referee: Craig Joubert (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Rasta Rasivhenge (South Africa), Cwengile Jadezweni (South Africa)
TMO: Christie du Preez (South Africa)

Compiled by Jan de Koning

* Statistical information provided by Opta Sports

Mc article sunwolves v lions2 800

Sloppy Lions overcome spirited Sunwolves

Sat, 27 Feb 2016 06:04

REPORT: The Lions got their 2016 Super Rugby campaign off to a sloppy start with a 26-13 win over tournament newcomers the Sunwolves in Tokyo on Saturday.

The four-tries-to-one, bonus-point victory had moments of quality, but mostly the spirited home team lured the Lions into a scrappy affair.

With their set-piece dominance the Lions should have won by a lot more.

However, a combination of handling errors, leniency from the match officials towards the constant illegal tactics of the Sunwolves and the Lions inability to maintain focus saw the Japanese outfit emerge with a lot more credibility than expected.

The Lions may have dashed the Sunwolves' hopes of a fairytale start in Super Rugby, but the new Tokyo franchise emerged with credit from a pulsating game.

The bloodbath predicted to unfold on the pitch failed to materialise, as the Sunwolves frustrated the South African visitors for long periods in the Tokyo sunshine.

When captain Shota Horie squeezed over on the hour mark for the team's first-ever try in Super Rugby it triggered pandemonium among a crowd of 25,000 howling Sunwolves fans.

Samoan flyhalf Tusi Pisi had converted an early penalty to settle the home side's nerves but the Lions came roaring back with tries from Robbie Coetzee and Courtnall Skosan.

Looking to build on a 12-6 half-time advantage, the Lions came out all guns blazing after the break, Jaco Kriel bursting through to score after a clever pass from captain Warren Whiteley and Jantjies adding the conversion.

The Sunwolves closed the gap with Horie's try, but after Pisi was sin-binned with 15 minutes left the Lions quickly capitalised and a breakaway score from Lionel Mapoe effectively killed off the game.

"We will get better," promised Horie, one of the heroes of Japan's astonishing three World Cup victories last year, including a 34-32 shock upset over two-time champions South Africa.

"I never imagined I would play Super Rugby in Japan," added the Sunwolves hooker.

"It's like a dream come true. It was nice to score our first try but I didn't do anything special. I was lucky the ball just popped up for me just before the try-line."

Sunwolves coach Mark Hammett praised his players for their effort.

"We can always handle losing if we know the players have given everything, so I'm very proud," said the former All Black, who only just made it back to Japan after flying home to New Zealand following the death of his mother last week.

"No doubt at times we had to scramble but our bravery was a real positive to work on. One thing we have to get used to as a new team is that we won't always get the rub of the green. But we have to get used to that and keep playing our game."

The South African visitors could have won by a larger margin but frequently fumbled the ball in tantalising positions under pressure from a swarming Sunwolves defence.

However, they still picked up a bonus point by scoring three tries more than the hosts.

"We can't really complain with that," said Whiteley.

"But credit to the Sunwolves. They put us under real pressure and we have great respect for what they have achieved in a short period of time."

Man of the match: Sunwolves captain Shota Horie was rewarded for his effort with a well-worked try, while most of his teammates tackled their hearts out. No.8 Edward Quirk was the Sunwolves' most productive player. Lions backs like Andries Coetzee, Ruan Combrink, Lionel Mapoe and Howard Mnisi had their moments, while scrumhalf Francois de Klerk was his team's stand-out back, In a sloppy performance the best efforts came from the forwards - replacement hooker Malcolm Marx, lock Franco Mostert, as well as flanks Jaco Kriel and Warwick Tecklenburg. However, our award goes to Lions captain Warren Whiteley for stamping his  authority on the game.

The scorers:

For the Sunwolves:
Con: Pisi
Pens: Pisi 2

For the Lions:
Coetzee, Skosan, Kriel, Mapoe
Cons: Jantjies 3

Yellow card: Tusi Pisi (Sunwolves, 65 - repeated infringements, offside at the breakdown)


Sunwolves: 15 Riaan Viljoen, 14 Akihito Yamada, 13 Harumichi Tatekawa, 12 Yu Tamura, 11 Yasutaka Sasakura, 10 Tusi Pisi, 9 Atsushi Hiwasa, 8 Edward Quirk, 7 Andrew Durutalo, 6 Liaki Moli, 5 Hitoshi Ono, 4 Timothy Bond, 3 Shinnosuke Kakinaga, 2 Shota Horie (captain), 1 Keith Inagaki.
Replacements: 16 Masataka Mikami, 17 Takeshi Kizu, 18 Koki Yamamoto, 19 Shinya Makabe, 20 Yoshiya Hosoda, 21 Kaito Shigeno, 22 Derek Carpenter, 23 Hajime Yamashata.

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 Franco Mostert, 4 Andries Ferreira, 3 Julian Redelinghuys, 2 Robbie Coetzee, 1 Ruan Dreyer.
Replacements: 16 Malcolm Marx 17 Dylan Smith, 18 Jacques van Rooyen, 19 Robert Kruger, 20 Ruan Ackermann, 21 Jaco van der Walt, 22 Harold Vorster, 23 Rohan Janse van Rensburg.

Referee: Ben O'Keeffe (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Shuhei Kubo (Japan), Aki Aso (Japan)
TMO: Takeshi Hareda (Japan)

AFP & @rugby365com

Shota Horie (58min)
Robbie Coetzee (17min), Courtnall Skosan (32min), Jaco Kriel (42min), and Lionel Mapoe (66min)
Tusi Pisi (59min)
Elton Jantjies (34min), Elton Jantjies (43min), and Elton Jantjies (67min)
Tusi Pisi (6min) and Tusi Pisi (38min)
Tusi Pisi (65min)
REFEREE Ben O'Keeffe