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Force

FULL-TIME
19     25

Rebels

Super Rugby | Perth
10:50 (GMT) | 27-02-2016
  • 81
Join us again for the Kings and Sharks game and later we head to Newlands for the Stormers against the Bulls!!
  • 80
The Rebels are making sure they don't lose possession in this final few seconds. They get the penalty and that should secure the win for them. Meehan kicks the ball out and that is FULL-TIME!!! Western Force 19-25 Melbourne Rebels.
  • 79
Lance takes the ball to the Rebels defence from the scrum. After a few phases the Rebels turn it over and are back in the Force's 22.
  • 78
Meehan goes wide before the ball is kicked dead by Inman. The Force opt for the scrum.
  • 76
The Force attempt to run the ball from their own 22 before Grant finds a poor touch finder. the Rebels are in a good position. The visitors hang onto the ball from the line-out with their big boys carrying the ball.
  • 74
Cottrell takes the ball up from the scrum before some of the backs get involved for the Force. The ball pops up and the Rebels kick deep and the Force will have a line-out in their own 22.
  • 72
The home side are trying their best to find a way through the Rebels defence before Heiberg nearly splits them open. There was a knock on and the Force will have an attacking scrum deep in the Rebels half.
  • 71
Grant shows a dummy in the Rebels' 22, but nothing comes from the attack as the Rebels get the penalty on the ground.
  • 69
The Force get a scrum penalty and they take it quickly. Grant chips and teh Rebels knock on. The home side will have an attacking scrum deep in the Rebels' half.
  • 67
Meehan clear from his 22 and the Force will have an attacking line-out near the Rebels' 10m line. Brache crashes the ball up before their is a knock on in the next phase and the Rebels will have as scrum in their own half.
  • 66
The Force decide to go wide from the scrum in the Rebels' half but Brache is tackled into touch.
  • 63
Hodge misses the conversion, but the Rebels lead 25-19!
  • 62
The Rebels make their way inside the Force 22. They keep the ball close with their big boys before Ellison is in space. he passes to Hodge who sprints in for the try!
  • 60
The Force get a penalty after the scrum collapses and Lance will go for the three points. He adds the three points and the score is now 20-19 to the Rebels.
  • 59
The Force go wide again and this time Luke Morahan loses the ball forward and the Rebels will have a scrum near their own 10m line
  • 58
The Force are on the attack deep inside the Rebels' half, but the ball is kicked again and it goes into touch.
  • 56
The Force attempt to run the ball out of their own 22, but the Rebels turn it over and are just 10m from the Force tryline. They get the penalty and Hodge will go for the three points. He converts and the Rebels lead 20-16.
  • 55
Brache is nearly through a half gap as the Force make their way towards the Rebels' 22. The visitors turn it over and the clear the pressure. After a long period of play the Force will have a line-out on their own 22m line.
  • 53
The Force goes wide before Hodge pounces on the ball and the Rebels find themselves deep in the Force's half. The ball is lost and the Force counter.
  • 51
Meehan sends the ball high from the line-out and Brache loses the ball. Hodge kicks but the ball goes out on the full and the Force will have the line-out near the Rebels' 10m line.
  • 50
The Force go wide from the line-out and Mafi takes a few defenders with him. The Force are tackled into touch and the Rebels will have a defensive line-out just outside their own 22.
  • 49
Grant kicks deep from the line-out before the Force gets the ball back. The home side gets the penalty and Lance finds touch near the Rebels' 10m line.
  • 48
The Force get the free-kick at the scrum and Peter Grant kicks deep. The Rebels get the ball back in the Forces' half before they lose it as well. Mathewson kicks out on the full and the Rebels will have an attacking line-out.
  • 46
The Rebels, from an attacking scrum in the Force's half, go wide with Hodge taking the ball up. Luke Jones loses the ball forward and the Force will have a defensive scrum on their own 22m line.
  • 44
Lance, from just outside the Rebels' 22, converts the penalty and the score is 17-16!
  • 43
The Force takes the ball through a few phases and make their way into the Rebels' 22. The Rebels came in from the side at a ruck and the Force get another penalty!
  • 42
Meehan finds touch on halfway after the restart. Mathewson goes wide from the line-out before the ball is kicked away. Play is brought back for a Force penalty after Reid was found to be offside. The Force will have an attacking line-out!
  • 41
SECOND HALF: Force flyhalf Jono Lance gets the second half underway!

Half Time

  • 40
Hodge converts the try! HALF-TIME: Force 13-17 Rebels!
  • 40
The Rebels make their way into the Force's 22 from the scrum. Timani makes a few metres, but the Force's defence is holding firm. The ball goes wide and this time Adam Thomson gets the ball down for the try in the corner for the Rebels!
  • 38
The Rebels are on the attack now and the ball is kicked downfield. Lance loses the ball forward and the Rebels will have an attacking scrum just outside the Force's 22.
  • 36
Lance converts his own try and the Force lead 13-10!
  • 35
The Force forms the maul from the line-out. They make their way towards the tryline before the ball goes wide and Jono Lance stretches over for the try!
  • 34
The Force go into the Rebels' 22, but again the ball is lost forward. After a couple of turnovers, the home side have the ball on halfway and they get a penalty after the Rebels were caught offside. Lance finds touch deep inside the Rebels' 22
  • 31
Timani crashes the ball up for the Rebels. Ellison is through a gap and he passes to Hodge who canters in for the try!
  • 31
Hodge converts his own try and the Rebels lead 10-6!
  • 30
The Force are just outside the Rebels' 22 before they lose the ball and Meehan kicks long. Tapuai finds touch, but the Rebels will have an attacking line-out deep inside the Force half.
  • 29
The Force win the line-out and the ball is kicked downfield. Morahan finds touch deep inside the Rebels' half. Meehan kicks long after the line-out and the Force runs the ball back.
  • 27
The Force go wide with Tapuai crashing into the Rebels' defence. The visitors turn it over and they get a penalty on halfway. Hodge cannot find touch, but Morahan's kick only finds touch in his own 22.
  • 25
After a kicking dual, the ball goes loose before the ball is sent high by the Force. the home side gets the penalty and Lance gives his team a line-out on the Rebels' 10m line.
  • 23
Lance, from 40m out, converts the penalty and the Force lead 6-3!
  • 22
Lance looks for space in the Rebels' defence from the line-out, but Brache loses the ball forward in the next play. Hodge kicks downfield and the Force have the ball back on halfway. The Force have the penalty!
  • 20
Kyle Godwin keeps deep downfield before Dominic Shipperley's kick is charged down and the Rebels will have a line-out deep in their own half. Hodge is caught in his own 22 with the ball before Meehan finds touch to give the Force an attacking line-out.
  • 18
The Rebels go wide inside the Force's half but they lose the ball forward and the home side will have the scrum near their own 10m line.
  • 16
Marcel Brache steps beautifully before the ball is lost in his own half and the Rebels will have an attacking scrum inside the Force's half.
  • 14
Reece Hodge, from about 35m out, misses the penalty and the score is still 3-3!
  • 13
Lance's kick is deflected before Tapuai is through a gap. the ball is lost and Ben Meehan kicks downfield. The Rebels get the ball back and they win a penalty inside the Force's half of the field.
  • 11
The Force forms the maul before Mathewson goes wide. The Force win another penalty on the ground with the Rebels not rolling away. Lance converts the penalty and we are all level at 3-3!
  • 10
The Rebels steal possession from the line-out and the ball is kicked out on the full by Ellison and the Force will have an attacking line-out in the Rebels' 22.
  • 9
The Rebels go wide from the scrum, but Ellison kicks the ball into touch near halfway. The Force forms the maul after the line-out before the ball is spread wide with Coleman making good ground. the Force get a penalty after a slap down by Toby Smith and Lance gives his team a line-out deep in the Rebels' half.
  • 6
There is a high ball from the forces, but Dane Haylett-Petty loses the ball forward and the Rebels will have a defensive scrum in their own half.
  • 5
The Force have the ball on halfway and they go wide before they kick the ball away. Hodge kicks but the ball is out on the full and the Force have the line-out deep in the Rebels half. The Force go wide from the line-out, but give a penalty in the Rebels 22.
  • 3
Hodge converts the penalty and the Rebels lead 3-0!
  • 2
Jono Lance kicks deep before Hodge finds touch deep inside the Force half. The Force go wide from the line-out, but the ball is lost and the Rebels have a good chance now. they get a penalty on the Force 22m line.
  • 0
KICK-OFF: Rebels fullback Reece Hodge gets the game underway!
  • -10
The Rebels lost 15 line-outs last season due to not throwing straight, almost double that of any other team (Hurricanes eight).
  • -20
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.
  • -30
Welcome to Perth for live coverage of this Super Rugby match between the Western Force and Melbourne Rebels!
Mc western force logo 80x50
Force
Mc rebels logo 80x50
Rebels
START LINE UP
  • 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 Pek Cowan
RESERVES
  • 23 Semisi Masirewa
  • 22 Peter Grant
  • 21 Ian Prior
  • 20 Chris Alcock
  • 19 Ross Haylett-Petty
  • 18 Jermaine Ainsley
  • 17 Chris Heiberg
  • 16 Heath Tessmann
START LINE UP
  • 15 Reece Hodge
  • 14 Dominic Shipperley
  • 13 Tamati Ellison
  • 12 Mitch Inman
  • 11 Tom English
  • 10 Mike Harris
  • 9 Ben Meehan
  • 8 Adam Thomson
  • 7 Sean McMahon
  • 6 Jordy Reid
  • 5 Lopeti Timani
  • 4 Luke Jones
  • 3 Laurie Weeks
  • 2 James Hanson
  • 1 Toby Smith
RESERVES
  • 23 Dan Hawkins
  • 22 Jonah Placid
  • 21 Mick Snowden
  • 20 Colby Faingaa
  • 19 Steven Cummins
  • 18 Jamie Hagan
  • 17 Cruze Ah-Nau
  • 16 Pat Leafa
Mc article tendai mtawarira   steven sykes 800

S18 PREVIEW: ROUND ONE, PART TWO

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.

Teams.

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 Stuff.co.nz.

"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 stuff.co.nz.

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.

Teams.

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.

Teams.

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.

Teams.

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.

Teams.

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.

Teams.

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
@King365ed
@rugby365com

* Statistical information provided by Opta Sports

Mc article force v rebels 800

Rebels edge Force in Perth snorefest

Sat, 27 Feb 2016 12:53

REPORT:  The Rebels held on to edge the Western Force 25-19 in a dour Super Rugby Round One match in Perth on Saturday.

Rugby used to be regarded as a winter sport - getting the blood circulating and the temperature up amidst the winter chill. Not so, in Super Rugby 2016, it would seem.

In Perth on match day the mercury climbed to 40°C, they say, but by the evening kick-off it had subsided to a hot 25°C and may have dropped even lower.

The match was not a great spectacle. For one thing there climax to the match was ruined by numerous stoppages, mainly for cramp, leaving the field strewn with players lying down in agony. Heat plus muscular activity are likely to produce cramp, and it's sore. Surely on such days there should be breaks for drinks with electrolytes.

That was not the only factor contributing to a dull match. Poor handling certainly did so, but the redeeming feature was the obvious intent of both sides to play constructive rugby. Having backs running across the field did not make for constructive back play. But both sides did it.

The Rebels seemed to make no excuses because of their halfback problems. First scrumhalf and newly appointed captain Nic Stirzaker was not regarded as sufficiently over the reconstruction of his shoulder to be able to play. Then just before the match flyhalf Jack Debreczeni withdrew. That necessitated moving Mike Harris from fullback to flyhalf and Reece Hodge from left wing to fullback. Then Harris was injured early in the first half and Hodge, who looks more like a flank, was moved from fullback to flyhalf. It was the 20-year-old's first Super Rugby match, and yet he did it all with remarkable calm and scored 20 of his team's 25 points.

Ten of those points came from kicks at goal. He kicks every kick, near of far, in the same way, which is good for consistency, and he has a big boot. His kicks at goal soared high and far.

The scoring in the first half was 17-13 in the Rebels favour. The second half was just 8-6.

There have been and will be better matches than this.

There were three tries in the first half, two to the Rebels.

Hodge opened the scoring with a long-range penalty after Marcel Brache had been penalised at a tackle. The next score was also nine minutes later when Jono Lance, who scored all the Force's points, goaled a penalty. He did it again 10 minutes later - 10 minutes in which the only notable but of rugby was a break by Ben Tapuai.

The Rebels won a line-out on their right, went left and came back right where Tamati Ellison burst between Brynard Stander and Chris Alcock and then gave inside to Hodge who scored. 10-6 to the Rebels after 31 minutes.

Two minutes later it was Lance's turn. The Force were bashing at the line and Lance checked, straightened and stretched for the try in Laurie Weeks's tackle. 13-10 after 33 minutes.

Just before half-time the Rebels attacked and peripatetic All Black Adam Thomson forced his way over in the right corner, the try confirmed by the TMO. 17-13, which was the half-time score.

Lance scored a penalty goal after 43 minutes and Hodge one after 56 minutes. 20-16. Another Lance penalty on 60 minutes brought the Force to within a point of the Rebels at 20-19 but for the next 20 minutes they did not score. The Rebels did and again it was a break by Ellison off a great [pass by Colby Fainga'a that sent Hodge over as Ellison and a would-be tackler succumbed to cramp. That made it 25-19 after 63 minutes and the game eventually stumbled on to a Rebels' victory.

Man of the Match: Jono Lance is the Force's obvious candidate and Reece Hodge the Rebels' candidate. The Force also had industrious Dane Haylett-Petty and the Rebels had captain Sean McMahon and scrumhalf Ben Meehan. It's a pity that Colby Fainga'a did not start. Our choice is Reece Hodge, who adapted so well to his new and changing circumstances and gave his side the chance to win.

The scorers:

For the Western Force:
Try:
Lance
Con: Lance
Pens: Lance 4

For the Rebels:
Tries:
Hodge 2, Thomson
Cons: Hodge 2
Pens: Hodge 2

Teams.

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 Reece Hodge, 14 Dom Shipperley, 13 Tamati Ellison, 12 Mitch Inman, 11 Tom English, 10 Mike Harris, 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 Dan Hawkins.

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

@rugby365com

Jono Lance (35min)
TRIES
Reece Hodge (31min), Adam Thomson (40min), and Reece Hodge (62min)
Jono Lance (36min)
CONVERSIONS
Reece Hodge (31min) and Reece Hodge (40min)
Jono Lance (11min), Jono Lance (23min), Jono Lance (44min), and Jono Lance (60min)
PENALTIES
Reece Hodge (3min) and Reece Hodge (56min)
 
PENALTY TRIES
 
DROP GOALS
 
 
 
VENUE Perth
REFEREE Marius van der Westhuizen