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21     27


Super Rugby | Christchurch
06:35 (GMT) | 27-02-2016
  • 80
THATS FULL-TIME! The Chiefs take this one! Thank you for joining us at for this match, be sure to join us for the next match as the Reds take on the Waratahs in a couple minutes!
  • 79
Chiefs have the ball on their own 22. The hooter has gone.
  • 78
Mckenzie pulls the conversion attempt. Crusaders still have a sniff here but will need to score in the last minute
  • 77
Captain Sam Cane scores from the resulting 5 meter lineout for the Chiefs. TRYTIME !
  • 76
Chiefs still on the attack , this time through Retallick . The Chiefs are inside the Crusaders 22. It all comes to nothing and the ref awards the Chiefs a penalty. Captain Cane decides to set up a 5 meter lineout.
  • 75
Crusaders clear the ball into touch and Lowe takes a quick lineout for the Chiefs. Chiefs on the attack near the halfway line.
  • 74
Crusaders on the attack now before a terrible kick is put in by McNicholl . Cruden plugs the Crusaders into their own 22. Lineout Crusaders
  • 72
Chiefs win the penalty at the scrum for the Crusaders props not pushing straight. Cruden will set up a lineout inside the Crusaders half
  • 71
Ellis feeds the scrum and Havili breaks the line before coughing up the ball in the tackle. Scrum to the Chiefs near their own 22.
  • 70
Chiefs on the attack inside the Crusaders half before Anton Lienert-Brown loses the ball forward and the Crusaders will get the scrum put-in
  • 69
Finally the game is back on after the injury that occured
  • 68
Head on head collision brings a break in play. It appears Reed Prinsep has been knocked out.
  • 67
Mckenzie converts the try! What a kick! We got a 1 point game here folks!
  • 66
Wave after wave of attacks eventually results in Damien Mckenzie crashing over for a well deserved try!
  • 65
Weber feeds the scrum and the Chiefs are on the attack inside the Crusaders 22.
  • 64
Chiefs have a scrum put-in on the Crusaders 22. Dangerous attacking position
  • 63
Penalty attempt is good by Mo’unga. Crusaders extend their lead
  • 62
Ngatai breaks the line but the ref calls obstruction and Crusaders are awarded a penalty. Mo’unga will have another pop at goal.
  • 61
From the resulting 22 dropout there is a knock on from the Crusaders. Chiefs scrum on their own 22.
  • 60
Mo’unga pulls his penalty attempt. 22 drop out to the Chiefs.
  • 59
Crusaders win another penalty , this time in a kick-able position. Mo’unga will have a shot at goal.
  • 58
Nadolo has a go from the successful lineout but is closed down quickly.
  • 57
Ellis feeds the scrum and the Crusaders win the penalty for Manu scrumming in. Mo’unga kicks the ball into touch to set up a lineout
  • 56
Scrum resets a couple times
  • 55
Macalai breaks the line from the resulting lineout before losing the ball. Theres a couple kicks back and forth again before Nadolo pins his ears back and has a go. It all results in nothing and the ref calls a scrum to the Crusaders .
  • 54
Penalty to the Crusaders . They will set up the lineout inside Chiefs territory .
  • 53
Mckenzie strikes the ball well, the ball hits the upright and goes wide. Mo’unga clears the ball into touch. Chiefs lineout just inside the Crusaders half.
  • 51
Chiefs lineout on the halfway. Marshall finds his jumper and the Chiefs attack through Tamanivalu. The ref awards the Chiefs a penalty and Mckenzie will have another long range shot at goal.
  • 50
Richie Mo’unga misses the conversion attempt
  • 49
Taylor finds his jumper and the maul is set well. The ball is played wide to David Kaetau Havili who scores in the corner! Great play!
  • 48
Penalty to the Crusaders for the Chiefs holding on. They opt to set up a 5 meter lineout
  • 47
Crusaders attacking well, Nadolo has a one on one opportunity against Mckenzie just 5 meters from the line and the young Chiefs fullback puts in a thumping tackle . Lineout Chiefs, great stuff by the gutsy young fullback.
  • 46
Damien Mckenzie converts the try
  • 45
Chiefs win the scrum and attack through Cruden. Tamanivalu busts through and reaches over and SCORES THE TRY!
  • 44
Knock on from the Crusaders as a result of a up and under. Chiefs have the scrum inside the Crusaders half.
  • 43
Scrums good for the Crusaders and Nadolo clears the ball upfield, Lowe decides to counter attack and plays Tamanivalu on the cut back run, but he gets nailed in the tackle. Chiefs still on the attack
  • 42
Chiefs on the attack near the Crusaders 22. Manu has a run, Mckenzie has a run, they make their way into the 22 but defense is solid as Stephenson coughs up the ball , ref calls for a Crusaders scrum on their 22.
  • 41
Second Half Underway! Cruden kicks off and Taufau bashes it up for the Crusaders

Half Time

  • 40
THATS HALF-TIME! See you all for the second half. Lets hope there is less kicking and more exciting running rugby.
  • 39
Conversion is good by Richie Mo’unga
  • 38
Tighthead! Crusaders win the scrum and the ball is played to Richie Mo’unga who throws the dummy and SCORES THE TRY!
  • 36
Nadolo has a go from first phase ball from the scrum . It all comes to nothing as there is a knock on and the Chiefs have the scrum put-in. Very sloppy first half
  • 34
Kicks back and forth once more before Lowe has a go. Theres a forward pass from Seta Tamanivalu . Scrum for the Crusaders.
  • 33
Cruden pulls the conversion attempt
  • 32
TRY! Shaun Stevenson scores a try! Like a thief in the night the bounce of the ball put off Havili who gets the ball ripped from him resulting in a easy try for the Chiefs
  • 30
Great kick by Damien Mckenzie as he adds the three from a long range penalty
  • 29
Referee awards Chiefs a penalty. Damien Mckenzie will have a long range shot at goal.
  • 28
Taleni Seu gets nailed into touch , Crusaders lineout, Taylor finds his jumper and Ellis hoists the up and under . Cruden decides to counter and breaks the line with a lovely run
  • 27
Scrum is good and a kick in put through by James Lowe. The ball rolls into touch and we have a Crusaders lineout on their own 22.
  • 26
Cross kick by Richie Mo’unga for Nadolo, unfortunately Nadolo knocks the ball forward and we have another scrum for the Chiefs
  • 25
Knock on at the lineout: Scrum to the Crusaders. Very stop start game here.
  • 24
Kicks exchanged once again before Ngatai puts the ball into touch . Crusaders lineout near the halfway line
  • 21
Penalty kick is good by Richie Mo’unga
  • 20
Lineout throw is good but it all comes to nothing as the Crusaders win another penalty and Richie Mo’unga will have a shot at goal.
  • 19
TMO judges that Taleni Seu of the Chiefs took a player out without the ball so the penalty is reversed and the Crusaders get a penalty which is put into touch to set up a 5 meter lineout.
  • 18
Crusaders on the attack on the halfway line through Taylor who makes a good run. Fonotia breaks the line with a lovely step and makes a great offload to Macalai who gets pinged for holding on. Penalty to the Chiefs
  • 17
Finally the scrum is successful and Ellis clears the ball. Again there is kicks back and forth . Macalai sais enough is enough and decides to run it at the Chiefs defence
  • 16
Scrum is reset a couple times. A very un-New Zealand like game so far.
  • 15
Retallick knocks the ball forward at the lineout and the Crusaders have a scrum put in just inside their half.
  • 14
Far to much kicking taking place here as Nadolo slices the ball off his boot and the ball goes out on the full. Lineout to the Chiefs
  • 13
Lineout for the Chiefs , Marshall finds his man again and Kerr-Barlow has a dart but is closed down quickly. A couple kicks back and forth again
  • 12
Good scrum by the Crusaders as Nadolo makes a great run and offload allowing Ellis to break the line. Great play. It all comes to nothing and theres handbags being thrown between Cruden and Ellis which escalated very quickly!
  • 11
Chiefs on the attack near the Crusaders 22 before there is a forward pass thrown and the Crusaders will have the scrum put-in.
  • 10
Marshall finds his jumper for the Chiefs as they attack through bigman Michael Allardice.
  • 9
Chiefs win the penalty at the scrum. Cruden will put the ball into touch to set up a chiefs lineout inside Crusaders territory
  • 8
Ellis feeds the scrum for the Crusaders. They opt to attack wide through Nadolo , he is tackled well . The ball is then played to Read who knocks the ball forward and the Chiefs have the scrum put in. Slow start to this match.
  • 7
Kicks back and forth , Aerial ping pong before theres a knock on by the Chiefs and the Crusaders have scrum in a dangerous attacking position.
  • 5
A couple kicks back and forth in the early exchanges . We have a Crusaders lineout just inside their half.
  • 4
Chiefs attack from the scrum as Cruden almost breaks the defensive line. Chiefs building phases inside the Crusaders half before Andy Ellis makes the steal and the Crusaders clear the ball upfield.
  • 3
Chiefs have a lineout on the halfway line, theres a knock on by a Crusaders player and the Chiefs will have a scrum put-in .
  • 2
Great start by the Crusaders as they have the scrum put in on the Chiefs 22, dangerous attacking position. The scrum is good and the Crusaders are awarded the penalty. Richie Mo’unga will have a shot at goal. He lines up his kick , strikes the ball well and its over!
  • 1
First half underway!
  • -5
Teams come out the tunnel. Its almost time to get this game underway!
  • -10
Flyhalf Richie Mo'unga will make his debut in the number 10 jersey for the Crusaders. Big day for the young lad.
  • -15
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.
  • -20
This match should be an absolute cracker! The Crusaders tend to start seasons slowly, they will be hoping that Nadolo and co can change that today.
  • -30
Welcome to this Super Rugby match between the Crusaders and the Chiefs
Mc crusaders logo 80x50
Mc chiefs logo 80x50
  • 15 David Kaetau Havili
  • 14 Jone Macilai-Tori
  • 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 Sam Whitelock
  • 4 Scott Barrett
  • 3 Owen Franks
  • 2 Codie Taylor
  • 1 Joe Moody
  • 23 Johnny McNicholl
  • 22 Ben Volavola
  • 21 Leon Fukofuka
  • 20 Reed Prinsep
  • 19 Jimmy Tupou
  • 18 Michael Alaalatoa
  • 17 Wyatt Crockett
  • 16 Ben Funnell
  • 15 Damian McKenzie
  • 14 Shaun Stevenson
  • 13 Seta Tamanivalu
  • 12 Charlie Ngatai
  • 11 James Lowe
  • 10 Aaron Cruden
  • 9 Tawera Kerr-Barlow
  • 8 Tom Sanders
  • 7 Sam Cane
  • 6 Taleni Seu
  • 5 Brodie Retallick
  • 4 Michael Allardice
  • 3 Hiroshi Yamashita
  • 2 Rhys Marshall
  • 1 Pauliasi Manu
  • 23 Latu Vaeno
  • 22 Anton Lienert-Brown.
  • 21 Brad Weber
  • 20 Johan Bardoul
  • 19 Maama Vaipulu
  • 18 Siate Tokolahi
  • 17 Mitchell Graham
  • 16 Nathan Harris
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 crusaders v chiefs 800

Chiefs stun Crusaders in Christchurch

Sat, 27 Feb 2016 08:36

REPORT: The Chiefs came from behind to upset the Crusaders 27-21 in their opening round Super Rugby match in Christchurch on Saturday.

After the chocolate and cream of the first four Super Rugby 2016 this weekend the first half of the match between the Crusaders and Chiefs on a warm evening in Christchurch seemed like a mouthful of porridge. It was there  and almost wholesome but it was not fun. But the second half as both sides got a sniff of victory and how to go about it was a whole different story, filled with skill and effort.

The highlight of the first 30 minutes was probably a halfhearted brawl, sparked by a scrumhalf's anger with a flyhalf. But then we had two tries - an accidental try for the Chiefs and a one-pass try off a great scrum for the Crusaders.

There was just so much kicking and only one of those kicks was recoverable. The others were just hoofs down the field. There were 10 scrums in the half, a lot for modern times.

The Chiefs were penalised six times in the half, and Crusaders 21-year-old flyhalf Richie Mo'unga, Christchurch born and bred, making his Super Rugby debut, goaled the first one. 3-0 after two minutes. He also goaled one for a maul infringement to make it 6-0 after 21 minutes. Damian McKenzie of the Chiefs goaled a long one and it was 6-3 after half an hour.

Then in six minutes there were two tries, the first an accident really.

Newboy flank Taleni Seu chased a kick down the far left, leapt brilliantly and one it. Back the ball came to McKenzie who kicked a long kick down to wards the corner flag on the Crusaders left where David Havili eventually got the ball with the tantalising bounce, but there were three Crusaders' on him. They grabbed him and 19-year-old wing Shaun Stevenson took the ball from Havili's grasp and within a few empty metres scored a try. 8-6 after 33 minutes.

The Chiefs put the ball into a scrum about 10 metres inside their 22 but the Crusaders ran them off the ball. Kieran Read picked up at the back of the scrum, drew Chiefs onto him and passed to Mo'unga on his left. The flyhalf cut through to score a try which he converted. 13-8 after 39 minutes. That was the half-time score.

The Chiefs took a quick throw-in from touch and attacked. Outside centre Seta Tamanivalu broke at speed. Mo'unga ankletapped him but the big Chief stretched and scored. McKenzie converted. 15-13 after 47 minutes, the third change of the match's lead and it lasted only four minutes.

The home side nearly scored when a delicious reverse pass by Andy Ellis set them on the attack. Just when they look like scoring little McKenzie tackled massive Nemani Nadolo into touch at the cornerflag. But a penalty gave the Crusaders a five-metre line-out. They made a maul and raced it at the goal-line. They bashed and then went wide right where Havili cut through and scored. 18-15 after 51 minutes.

After a promising break by Charlie Ngatai, the most incisive threequarter on the field. Mo'unga increased the Crusaders' lead to 21- 15 with a penalty. But that lead lasted just three minutes.

Ellis knocked on at the back of a ruck and from the scrum the Chiefs attacked in waves till McKenzie darted through two Crusaders' to score./ 21-20 with the conversion to come.

McKenzie took the angled conversion, looked at the ball, smiled and kick it over for the Chiefs' turn to lead. 22-21 after 67 minutes.

It was all so exciting.

There was a long delay when Reed Prinsep was knocked out in a clash of heads. and he was taken off on the mobile stretcher.

Havili had a long break for the Crusaders and Ngatai was again threatening for the Chiefs. Then the Chiefs bashed at the line with Aaron Cruden prominent twice. The Crusaders were penalised and Sam Cane opted for the five-metre line-out. The Chiefs kicked out and formed a maul which they hurried over the line for a try credited to Cane.

The match ended soon afterwards.

Man of the Match: Cruden had a good game. The old skill and courage are still there. He held nothing back. Charlie Ngatai was incisive, Tawera Kerr-Barlow's service and decision-making were excellent and Brodie Retallick was as manful as ever but our man of the match is without doubt Damian McKenzie, the life and soul of the party, part will-o'-the-wisp, part iron man, part artist in his creative skill and catching in the joy and freedom with which he plays.

The scorers:

For the Crusaders:
Mo'unga, Havili
Con: Mo'unga
Pens: Mo'unga 3

For the Chiefs:
Stevenson, Tamanivalu, McKenzie, Cane
Cons: McKenzie 2
Pens: McKenzie


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)

Richie Mo’unga (38min) and David Kaetau Havili (49min)
Shaun Stevenson (32min), Seta Tamanivalu (45min), Damian McKenzie (66min), and Sam Cane (77min)
Richie Mo’unga (39min)
Damian McKenzie (46min) and Damian McKenzie (67min)
Richie Mo’unga (2min), Richie Mo’unga (21min), and Richie Mo’unga (63min)
Damian McKenzie (30min)
VENUE Christchurch
REFEREE Chris Pollock