ad link

Blues

FULL-TIME
23     18

Sharks

Super Rugby | Auckland
07:35 (GMT) | 16-04-2016
  • 80
FULL-TIME: Blues win this one, a fantastic game. Thank you for joining us at Rugby365.com for this match. Be sure to join us for the next game as the Waratahs take on the Brumbies !
  • 79
Blues win the penalty , West has a shot of goal which is successful.
  • 78
Moala bounces Jordaan out the way. The Bus is FULL! Blues with possession but seem to be running down the clock. Guyton makes a good break followed by a run from West. Time running out for the Sharks
  • 77
West slices the ball from the tee, not the greatest kicking display from the number 10 today. 22 dropout Sharks.
  • 76
Blues have the penalty advantage and attempt to make use of it as Kaino makes a run, it all comes to nothing as the referee blows his whistle for the penalty and West will have a shot at goal to wrap things up.
  • 75
Luatua steals the ball at the lineout for the second time and the Sharks are penalized . West will clear this ball into touch in Sharks territory.
  • 74
Luatua steals the ball at the lineout and the Sharks butcher another opportunity- the visitors get lucky as Ioane throws a loose pass into touch and the Sharks get a second bite.... Excuse the pun
  • 73
Sharks have the lineout just outside the Blues 22. Can they snatch this game at the death.
  • 72
Sharks lose the ball 10 meters from the Blues line . Blues have possession once more . Tevita Li does well fending the tackle of Du Preez before West clears the ball to Pietersen he returns the compliment with his own kick and Visinia runs from the back.
  • 70
Sharks overthrow the ball at the lineout, handing possession back to the Blues and West clears the ball up field taken by Daniel who plays Lewies who has given 100% the entire game.
  • 69
Sharks win the penalty for Luatua tackling a player without the ball. Pietersen clears the ball into touch on the Blues 22. We in for a nail biting last ten minutes here
  • 68
Blues attack through Tu'ungafasi followed by West having a run. Guyton clears the ball and it bounces into touch. Game slowing down now as fatigue seems to have hit the Sharks
  • 67
Blues lineout on the halfway line.
  • 65
West converts the try from the corner and the Blues take the lead
  • 64
Finally the scrum is successful , Blues on the attack through Rieko Ioane who slices through the line and scores a fantastic solo try! What a player, what a TRY!!!!!!!!
  • 62
Scrum resets a couple times , chewing up the minutes. An area of the game that really needs attention
  • 61
Blues attack from deep through Li followed by Akira Ioane. Not much venom in attack as the Sharks continue to defend like demons forcing West to clear the ball up field to Le Roux who plays Mvovo who loses the ball forward. Scrum Blues.
  • 60
Moala bashes it up from the 5 meter scrum and does well. West clears the ball but it slices off the side of his boot and goes out. Sharks lineout near the Blues 22. Great attacking position for the visitors
  • 59
Ball is coughed up by Le Roux and the Blues have the scrum put in on their own line. Relief for the Blues
  • 58
Solid scrum from the Sharks . Pietersen has a run, Du Preez has a run followed by a lovely pass by Le Roux again puts Jordaan in a gap. Sharks 10 meters from the Blues try line
  • 57
Sharks lineout inside the Blues half. Referee Peyper gets the ball passed into him and calls for a Sharks scrum.
  • 55
West lands another penalty , 5 point ball game here
  • 54
Blues on the attack in the Sharks 22 . They win the penalty and West will have a shot at goal from in front of the sticks.
  • 52
Blues on the attack , Faumuina has a go. Parsons make a half break but then West kicks the ball that comes off a Sharks player and rolls into touch on the Sharks 22. Lineout Blues.
  • 50
Blues attack through Tevita Li who is met with solid defence. Luatua has a run, Moala does well with a lovely offload to Akira Ioane. Sharks will not back down in defence and force the penalty. Fantastic stuff from the visitors.
  • 49
West slices the ball badly off the side of his boot. 22 dropout for the Sharks
  • 48
Penalty advantage for the Blues as Francis has a go at breaking the solid Sharks defence. Ref blows his whistle and West will have a shot at goal to close the gap
  • 47
Pietersen clears the ball and Visinia has a run from deep. Hall plays West who plays Moala who has a go. Solid defence though from the visitors.
  • 46
Lineout Sharks outside their 22 as Moala puts a grubber kick in that rolls out.
  • 45
West clears the ball and the Sharks attack through Esterhuizen who does well, followed by Mvovo , then the Beast gets involved again. Sharks looking good.
  • 44
Penalty for the Sharks, Pietersen puts the ball into touch and the Sharks have a lineout near the Blues 22. Lewies takes the lineout and Pietersen attempts the cross kick taken well by Visinia
  • 43
Pietersen adds the extras
  • 42
Sharks lineout inside the Blues half. Marais finds his jumper and the maul is set followed by a lovely pass by Le Roux and Jordaan slices through the defence puts the hammer down and scores a brilliant try! What a start for the Sharks
  • 41
Second half underway

Half Time

  • 40
Knock on from the Blues, ref blows for halftime. See you all in a bit for the second half. An entertaining match so far. The second half should be brilliant
  • 39
Bekhuis takes the lineout , Hall plays Faumuina who has a run. The Blues are then awarded the penalty for interference by Van der Walt at the breakdown. West puts the ball into touch to set up a lineout near the halfway.
  • 38
Sharks steal the ball at the lineout but somehow Faumuina comes away with the ball. West clears the ball up field and Willie Le Roux puts in a lovely kick that rolls out 10 meters from the Blues line. Pressure on Parsons for this lineout.
  • 37
Reinach puts in a lovely kick for the Sharks that rolls out inside the Blues 22.
  • 36
West adds the extras
  • 35
Parsons finds his jumper and the Blues attack through Ioane. The Blues have the penalty advantage and West has a crack and comes really close. Followed by the tank George Moala picking the ball up from the base and crashing over for the try!
  • 34
Penalty Blues, West puts the ball into touch near the Sharks 22. Can they strike back before halftime?
  • 32
Pietersen adds another penalty for the Sharks
  • 31
Trouble for the Blues as Rene Ranger goes off injured. Bad news for the Blues.
  • 30
Hack kick put through by Reinach . Tevita Li cleans up the ball but then loses the ball forward. Sharks are awarded a penalty in a kick-able position and Pietersen will have another shot at goal
  • 29
Blues on the attack in the Sharks 22
  • 28
The game has opened up and the Blues seem to have the Sharks on the ropes as the Durban side struggle to keep up with the pace of the Blues backline
  • 27
Rene Ranger, Ranger Danger busts a couple Sharks defenders, he has found his form again. Blues with a lovely attack , offloads being thrown, hand offs everywhere. West attempted a cross kick for Parsons but the ball rolled into touch. Sharks lineout 5 meters from their line. Great play by the Blues.
  • 26
Good scrum from the Blues and Rene Ranger crashes the ball up followed by Hall clearing the ball up field followed by another game of gainers between the two sides.
  • 25
Game is becoming a bit scrappy here, loose passes, dodgy kicks, knock on's everywhere. Ref calls for a Blues scrum inside their 22.
  • 23
Good scrum from the Sharks . Daniel Du Preez tries to pick up the ball from number 8 but loses the ball forward. A basic error. Scrum Blues.
  • 22
Sharks lineout as Marais finds his jumper and the maul is set before Reinach hoists the up and under taken well by the Blues. West then clears the ball with a dodgy kick that rolls over the dead ball line and we go all the way back for Sharks scrum outside the Blues 22.
  • 20
A game of aerial ping pong takes place until Visinia puts his head down and has a go from the back.
  • 19
Sharks turn the ball over and counter attack through JP Pietersen and Willie Le Roux. They make their way into the Blues 22 before coughing up the ball and Francis clears the ball upfield.
  • 18
Pietersen clears the ball and Visinia attacks from deep. West then makes a half break with a lovely step and a bit of razzle dazzle impresses the crowd.
  • 17
Scrum collapses at its first attempt . Ref calls for a reset
  • 16
Blues on the attack as Faumuina makes a lovely run. The second phase of attack sees the Blues attack wide to Ranger who throws another forward pass. Scrum Sharks on their own 22
  • 15
Pietersen adds another penalty kick for the Sharks. The Durban side have come to play today! A good game so far!
  • 13
Sharks destroy the Blues scrum and have the penalty advantage too . They attempt to attack through Jordaan but it all comes to nothing and the ref goes back for the penalty. Pietersen will have a shot at goal.
  • 12
Couple kicks back and forth before Ranger says enough is enough and has a run from deep but throws a terrible pass that goes forward. Scrum Sharks in the Blues territory
  • 10
Pietersen fails to add the extras
  • 9
Sharks on the attack, Le Roux puts in a lovely kick regathered by Pietersen. From the ruck Tendai the Beast Mtawarira picks up the ball and scores the TRY for the Sharks. BEEEEEAAAAST!
  • 7
Overthrow at the lineout and the Sharks attack through Mvovo who puts in a grubber kick which is cleaned up by Rieko Ioane followed by a kick from Hall that goes into touch.
  • 6
Ettiene Oostehuizen penalized at the ruck for the Sharks. West clears the ball into touch to set up a lineout on the halfway line for the Blues.
  • 5
West lines up the penalty attempt for the Blues, composes himself, strikes the ball well and the ball sails through the uprights! Blues take the lead
  • 4
Blues showing patience in attack as Latimer gets his hands on the ball for the first time this season. Blues awarded the penalty and West will have a shot at goal for the first points of the match.
  • 3
Good scrum from the Sharks , Pietersen clears the ball and Esterhuizen regathers it before there is a turnover and the Blues are back on the attack through Rene Ranger.
  • 2
Sharks take the kick off well and Pietersen clears the ball up field. Tevita Li has a run and is shut down quickly. Second phase sees Ranger throw a lovely floating pass to Luatua. Good start by the Blues as they continue their attack into the 10th phase before Parsons coughs up the ball and the Sharks have the scrum put in on their own 22.
  • 1
First half is underway! Blues kick off
  • -5
Teams will be going through their last preparations for the match. We are almost ready to get underway , this should be a cracking match!
  • -10
The Sharks, who are in 10th place on the standings just one above the Blues, have a draw and two defeats in their last three matches.
  • -15
Captain James Parsons spoke of how the original Blues team, that beat the Sharks (then still Natal) in the inaugural Super 12 Final, has inspired a new generation of Blues players - especially in the lead-up to this week's Blues versus Sharks encounter.
  • -20
Sharks coach Gary Gold sees the match-up as ideal for his side to unleash their attacking credentials, in a season where they - just like the Blues - showed early promise before losing their way.
  • -30
Welcome to this Super Rugby clash between the Blues and the Sharks at Eden Park, New Zealand
Mc blues logo 80x50
Blues
Mc sharks logo 80x50
Sharks
START LINE UP
  • 1 Sam Prattley
  • 2 James Parsons
  • 3 Charlie Faumuina
  • 4 Hoani Matenga
  • 5 Josh Bekhuis
  • 6 Jerome Kaino
  • 7 Tanerau Latimer
  • 8 Steven Luatua
  • 9 Bryn Hall
  • 10 Ihaia West
  • 11 Tevita Li
  • 12 Piers Francis
  • 13 Rene Ranger
  • 14 Rieko Ioane
  • 15 Lolagi Visinia
RESERVES
  • 16 Quentin MacDonald
  • 17 Namatahi Waa
  • 18 Ofa Tu'ungafasi
  • 19 Kara Pryor
  • 20 Akira Ioane
  • 21 Billy Guyton
  • 22 Matt McGahan
  • 23 George Moala
START LINE UP
  • 1 Tendai Mtawarira
  • 2 Franco Marais
  • 4 Etienne Oosthuizen
  • 5 Stephan Lewies
  • 6 Daniel du Preez
  • 7 Jean-Luc Du Preez
  • 8 Phillip van der Walt
  • 9 Cobus Reinach
  • 10 Joe Pietersen
  • 11 Lwazi Mvovo
  • 12 Andre Esterhuizen
  • 13 Paul Jordaan
  • 14 JP Pietersen
  • 15 Willie le Roux
RESERVES
  • 3 Lourens Adriaanse
  • 16 Kyle Cooper
  • 17 Thomas Du Toit
  • 18 Coenraad Oosthuizen
  • 19 Hyron Andrews
  • 20 Keegan Daniel
  • 21 Michael Claassens
  • 22 Garth April
  • 23 Odwa Ndungane
Mc article ackermann v fleck 800

S18 PREVIEW: ROUND EIGHT, PART TWO

Thu, 14 Apr 2016 21:25

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

Allister Coetzee's appointment as the new Springbok coach has certainly added spice to Saturday's Super Rugby showdown between South African glamour sides the Stormers and the Lions.

The two African conference leaders - Stormers in Africa One and the Lions in Africa Two - will battle it out at Ellis Park in what could be a thrilling finale to a gripping weekend of Super Rugby.

It is already being billed as a Springbok trial, with Coetzee set to take a keen interest in the first weekend since his appointment (done some weeks ago) was made public.

A week ago, the Stormers and Lions knew they were battling for South African supremacy as the leading sides in the two Africa conferences.

Now they have the added pressure of impressing the new Bok coach, who has laid out his blueprint for reviving South Africa's fortunes and needs the backing of the Super Rugby franchises.

With Coetzee preaching an attacking philosophy - and with only seven weeks before their first Test against Ireland - the game will offer him a glimpse of the Stormers' famed defence against the Lions' exciting attack.

"It is great to see that all coaches at Super Rugby level have this awareness that we need to brush up on our attack," he said, while adding that did not mean an end to South Africa's trademark physical game.

The Stormers, with five wins from six games, remain strong defensively - having leaked only eight tries this year compared to 18 by the Lions, who are four from six.

Attacking statistics favour the Lions, who have scored 21 tries to 17 by the Stormers.

The day's action starts when the Sharks, beaten at home in the past two weeks by the Crusaders and Lions, head to New Zealand to face the Blues - who put on a much improved display last weekend when they went close to upsetting the Chiefs.

Next we have the Brumbies, fresh off a bye and a thrashing by the Chiefs the week before that, facing the Waratahs in Sydney.

The Bulls, second to the Stormers in the Africa One conference, are at home to the Reds - who knocked over defending champions the Highlanders last weekend for their first win of the season.

The Chiefs, Force, Highlanders and Southern Kings have byes this weekend.

We look at the Saturday, April 16, matches below!

The Blues have turned back the clock 20 years in the hope of getting their campaign back on track.

They are stuck outside the top 10, with just one win and a draw in their last five matches.

Captain James Parsons spoke of how the original Blues team, that beat the Sharks (then still Natal) in the inaugural Super 12 Final, has inspired a new generation of Blues players - especially in the lead-up to this week's Blues versus Sharks encounter.

"A lot of our franchise is built around those 1996 and 1997 seasons," Parsons said of the back-to-back Super Rugby victories.

"It is something we strive towards.

"If we can go half as good as those blokes, we can go deep into the competition," he said.

Sharks coach Gary Gold sees the match-up as ideal for his side to unleash their attacking credentials, in a season where they - just like the Blues - showed early promise before losing their way.

The Sharks, who are in 10th place on the standings just one above the Blues, have a draw and two defeats in their last three matches.

"When we have possession, it's for us to make the very best of it, to build the phases and put them under pressure," Gold said.

"One thing about the New Zealand teams is that they don't want to come out and defend, they prefer being on the attack."

"It's vital for us it to try get some parity at scrum time," the Sharks mentor said, adding: "It's really important from that point of view to give ourselves enough opportunity to be able to launch attacks against them.

"We need to be a lot neater and accurate at set-piece time, we need to get a lot more set-piece ball.

"And we've spoken long and hard about our discipline, we can't give penalties away.

"The Blues have some massive ball carriers up front, a good set-piece and some electric backs who are renowned steppers who use the width of the field very well.

"They will pose a massive challenge for us and we'll have to have our wits about us to be able to deal with their attacking game."

"The players are upbeat and are excited as well as optimistic about this three-week tour.

"We are confident that we will tour well and hoping we can really surprise a few people with some improved performances."
 
Recent results:
2014: Sharks won 29-23, Albany
2013: Sharks won 22-20, Durban
2012: Sharks won 29-23, Auckland
2011: Sharks won 26-12, Durban
2010: Sharks won 23-10, Durban
2009: Sharks won 35-31, Auckland

Prediction: The Sharks have won their last 10 matches against the Blues, though six of those 10 wins have been by seven points or fewer. The Sharks are undefeated in their last four matches away from home in Super Rugby. However, the Sharks have lost on each their last three trips to New Zealand with two of those defeats coming by more than 30 points. The Blues have averaged 17 minutes and 54 seconds in possession of the ball so far this season, the most of any team and over four minutes more than the Sharks (13:51). The Sharks have conceded just two second-half tries this season, three fewer than any other team. This is tough to call, as it is literally a case of who wants it most. We think the Blues will sneak this by five or sevens points - with a late score.

Teams:

Blues: 15 Lolagi Visinia, 14 Rieko Ioane, 13 Rene Ranger, 12 Piers Francis, 11 Tevita Li, 10 Ihaia West, 9 Bryn Hall, 8 Steven Luatua, 7 Tanerau Latimer/Kara Pryor, 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Josh Bekhuis, 4 Hoani Matenga, 3 Charlie Faumuina, 2 James Parsons (captain), 1 Sam Prattley.
Replacements: 16 Quentin MacDonald, 17 Namatahi Waa, 18 Ofa Tu'ungafasi, 19 Kara Pryor/Joe Edwards, 20 Akira Ioane, 21 Billy Guyton, 22 Matt McGahan, 23 George Moala.

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

Referee: Jaco Peyper
Assistant referees: Craig Joubert, Paul Williams
TMO: Ben Skeen

After forcing their way to the semifinals in 2015 - after a stellar season which saw them accrue 52 competition points, the third most of any team - the Waratahs have started their 2016 campaign disappointingly slow.

Both of their wins this campaign have been against the Reds and the New South Wales side will be looking to buck a string of tight results when they host the Brumbies.

The Waratahs opened their campaign with a convincing 30-10 win against the Reds on home turf, but have struggled from then on.

They were beaten 15-32 by the Brumbies in the nation's capital in Round Two and have won just one match since. They have struggled so far to impose themselves in the opening halves of games, forcing themselves to chase leads and fall agonisingly short.

This has not gone smoothly for the Brumbies either - having been forced to reorganise their back row, following the two-match suspension of David Pocock and the retirement of Ita Vaea over a life-threatening blood clot condition.

Brumbies prop Scott Sio said the side is confident they can return to form ahead of Saturday's Australian Conference blockbuster.

The Brumbies are coming off a 23-48 loss to the Chiefs two weeks ago.

Despite the defeat Sio says he is looking forward to an intense local derby.

"They'll come out firing this week. They'll be up for it," Sio said in an interview on the Brumbies website.

"They're back at home and they'll be wanting to put on a good show for their crowd.

"It's a big game obviously, but all the games are big for us. From now on, it's just ‘must win' every week so that's the approach we're taking into it."

Another player desperate to overcome a disappointing run in the season is the Waratahs' Wallaby lock Will Skelton. He was instructed by coach Daryl Gibson to go back to club rugby, to regain his fitness and recapture form.

"I had a slow start to the season and I don't think I was efficient enough with my ball carrying, defence and ruck stuff," Skelton told the Sydney Morning Herald.

"I wasn't really using my strengths to my advantage. He [Gibson] thought a week or two in club rugby would freshen me up and hopefully it pays dividends this weekend.

"I didn't see it coming," he said of his axing, adding: "Hopefully this week I can really put my hand up for the team and really lead in that physicality front and be dominant with my carries and defence."

David Pocock will miss the Waratahs clash as part of his three-week suspension and Sio says it will be a chance for some of the other players to shine.

"He's a massive loss for us. One, being a world-class player, but he provides a lot of leadership in what he does," Sio said.

"What that means now is there's an opportunity for a lot of the guys to step up. Jarrad [Butler] has been hard away at his rehab and Wellsy's [Michael Wells] been doing well.

"We've got capable guys to come on and fill that void that he's left."

Recent results:
2016: Brumbies won 32-15, Canberra
2015: Waratahs won 13-10, Canberra
2015: Waratahs won 28-13, Sydney
2014: Waratahs won 26-8, Sydney (semifinal)
2014: Waratahs won 39-8, Sydney
2014: Brumbies won 28-23, Canberra

Prediction: The Waratahs have won four of their last five matches against the Brumbies, though the ACT side snapped that streak with a 32-15 win in their last encounter. The Waratahs have won nine of their last 11 home matches against teams from within Australia, keeping their opponents to eight points or fewer in five of those matches. In the Brumbies' last 12 games, the side leading at half-time has gone on to win each time (excluding one tied game at half-time). The Brumbies have conceded only 14 points in the opening quarter of matches so far this season, only the Stormers (nine) have conceded fewer. Waratahs' Nick Phipps and Brumbies' Tomas Cubelli have each assisted three tries this season, the joint most of any players in the Australian Conference. This will probably not be very pretty, perhaps brutal - given how much is riding on the result. We think the Brumbies will win a close contest - the margin in single digits.

Teams:

Waratahs: 15 Andrew Kellaway, 14 Reece Robinson, 13 Israel Folau, 12 Kurtley Beale, 11 Matt Carraro, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Jed Holloway, 7 Michael Hooper (captain), 6 Jack Dempsey, 5 Will Skelton, 4 Dean Mumm, 3 Tom Robertson, 2 Hugh Roach, 1 Benn Robinson.
Replacements: 16 James Hilterbrand, 17 Paddy Ryan, 18 Angus Ta'avao, 19 Sam Lousi, 20 Wycliff Palu, 21 David Dennis, 22 Matt Lucas, 23 David Horwitz.

Brumbies: 15 Aidan Toua, 14 Robbie Coleman, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Matt Toomua, 11 Joe Tomane, 10 Christian Lealiifano (co-captain), 9 Tomás Cubelli 8 Jordan Smiler, 7 Jarrad Butler, 6 Scott Fardy, 5 Sam Carter, 4 Rory Arnold, 3 Ben Alexander, 2 Stephen Moore (co-captain), 1 Scott Sio.
Replacements: 16 Josh Mann-Rea, 17 Allan Alaalatoa, 18 Leslie Leulua'iali'i-Makin, 19 Tom Staniforth, 20 Michael Wells, 21 Joe Powell, 22 James Dargaville, 23 Nigel Ah Wong.

Referee: Nick Briant
Assistant referees: Brendon Pickerill, Michael Hogan
TMO: Ian Smith

The Reds have been at the receiving end of a couple of big hidings at Loftus Versfeld and it has been 15 years since the Reds last won in Pretoria.

However, they may find a different animal opposing them this week - a Bulls team in the process of evolving from a one-dimensional bash-it-up side, to a team determined to play an expansive game.

Bulls coach Nollis Marais said despite the Reds' obvious threats - a team playing with good width - they will continue to evolve their own game and not retreat into their shells.

"They knocked over the defending champions last week, so will have faith in their game plan and structures," Marais said, adding: "We need to be ready."

Marais feels that the Reds will pose a different threat to what the team were exposed to in their last two matches.

"Local derbies are just different. It is a more physical match-up with lots of collisions.

"It is no co-incidence that people talk about a typical derby match.

"Playing a team from Australia will present challenges elsewhere to what we were used to and we need to be ready to embrace them."

Reds scrumhalf Nick Frisby said playing the Bulls at Loftus is probably one of the hardest assignments in Super Rugby.

"You can't want to go to Loftus with any doubts in your mind, because they [those doubts] will be exposed," Frisby said.

"It is another good opportunity this week for the team against the Bulls, following last week's win over the Highlanders.

"Just like last week we are coming up against quality opposition."

However, for many in the Reds team this is their first visit to South Africa.

"Youngsters can get caught up in the excitement of coming to South Africa for the first time and playing at Loftus ," he said of the intimidating Pretoria venue.

"Obviously altitude is a factor, but you just have to put that to the back of your mind.

"It is an interesting one for the kickers, especially if you haven't been here before - the ball tends to hang in the air.

"You just have to judge and get used to. Then the back three have to be on their toes, as there will be a lot of high balls and long kicks coming.

"If you play the Bulls you know they will be big and physical, that's their strength. Our forwards must front up and deal with the big boys."

Recent results:
2015: Bulls won 43-22, Pretoria
2013: Reds won 23-18, Brisbane
2012: Bulls won 61-8, Pretoria
2011: Reds won 39-30, Brisbane
2010: Reds won 19-12, Brisbane
2009: Bulls won 33-20, Pretoria

Prediction: The Reds have won three of their last five matches against the Bulls, though the South African side earned victory with a 43-22 win when they last met in Round Nine, 2015. The Bulls have won seven and drawn one of their last nine matches at home in Super Rugby. The Reds have won just two of their last 11 matches away from home, though one of those two wins came in South Africa against the Cheetahs in Round 10, 2015. Samu Kerevi made 164 metres over the gainline in the last round, the most by any player in a Super Rugby match this season. SP Marais made a competition-high six offloads in Round Seven, while it was the second most in a single game this season (George Moala - eight, v Hurricanes). Another tough one to call and rather than sit on the fence we are leaning towards the home team. The Bulls will do well if they win by more than 10 points, so we think it will be by eight points.

Teams:

Bulls: 15 Sarel Marais, 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 Pieter Labuschagne, 5 Rudolph Snyman, 4 Jason Jenkins, 3 Marcel van der Merwe, 2 Adriaan Strauss (captain), 1 Trevor Nyakane.
Replacements: 16 Jaco Visagie, 17 Lizo Gqoboka, 18 Werner Kruger, 19 Marvin Orie, 20 Deon Stegmann, 21 Piet van Zyl, 22 Tian Schoeman, 23  Dan Kriel.

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

Referee: Angus Gardner (Australia)
Assistant referees: TBC, AJ Jacobs (South Africa)
TMO: Johan Greeff (South Africa)

The two form teams in South Africa go head-to-head in what most pundits see as a 'conference decider'.

Yes, we are only approaching the halfway stage of the league action, but there is no doubt the winner could take a significant psychological advantage into the second half of the season.

The Stormers, currently second on the global standings, head the Africa One conference and is five log points clear of the Lions, the leaders of the Africa Two conference.

Unlike last week - when both came away with comfortable wins - this is set to be desperate battle between two teams with vastly different philosophies.

While the Stormers are trying to change from a defensive-minded culture to a more expansive game, they have long way to go before they are as creative as the Lions.

The difference may well be found at flyhalf. The Stormers have for years relied on a player like Demetri Catrakilis and while Kurt Coleman is somewhat more creative, it was only last week when young Jean-Luc du Plessis started in the No.10 jersey that they had a clear vision of what an expansive game can look like when it comes off.

The Lions, with Elton Jantjies now a fixture at flyhalf, have been patiently evolving their game for the past three years and are finally beginning to reap the rewards.

The question is, in a crunch game - when the pressure is really on - will the Stormers revert to what their instinct tells them?

Lions coach Johan Ackermann believes defence is still the Stormers' most effective tactic.

"Defensively you always have to praise the Stormers," Ackermann said, adding: "They've done well this whole season.

"If you look at points difference on the standings, they have given away less points than anyone."

The Lions mentor admitted there has been a shift in the Cape Town outfit's approach.

"They will take more risks with those x-factor players they have.

"They also have those structures in place that have been there for a number of years.

"Their scrums are strong, the line-outs are strong and they are a good mauling side - as well as defence."

Stormers coach Robbie Fleck said that his team is determined to build on the winning momentum they have gathered so far this season - with five wins in six starts.

"We know that every game is an opportunity to improve on what we have done before, and that is our aim up in Johannesburg," Fleck said.

"We have prepared well for this match and the players are focused on giving their best for 80 minutes this weekend," he added.

The Stormers' Springbok centre Damian de Allende pointed to shutting down Jantjies as the key to stopping the Lions' attack.

"He is a good player and when he gets on the front foot he can be devastating," De Allende said, when quizzed about the Lions' Bok flyhalf.

"Hopefully our loose trio can sort out their rucks and we can slow down their ball a bit - that is where we can expose him.

"It is tough to defend against, especially if they have guys with skills running off him and running short angels.

"It is just about how we manage our defence against that."

Recent results:
2015: Lions and Stormers drew 19-all, Cape Town
2015: Stormers won 22-19, Johannesburg
2014: Stormers won 18-3, Cape Town
2014:  Lions won 34-10, Johannesburg
2012: Stormers won 27-17, Cape Town
2012: Stormers won 24-19, Johannesburg

Prediction: These teams have faced each other 13 times with the Stormers winning on 11 occasions and the Lions just once; the two played out a 19-all draw in their last encounter. The Lions have won six of their last eight matches at home, while they haven't lost a home match to a South African team since they last hosted the Stormers in Round Three, 2015. The Stormers have won their last two matches away from home, although they have lost two of their last three matches away to South African teams. The Lions have scored nine of their tries after gaining possession from a line-out win, the second most of any team in the competition (Brumbies 11). This is a game that will be decided by one incident - a missed tackle, a skew or stolen line-out, a collapsed scrum, a penalty at the breakdown or even a refereeing call. We think the Lions will sneak it with a late score - five points or less.

Teams:

Lions: 15 Jaco Van Der Walt, 14 Ruan Combrinck, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Rohan Janse van Rensburg, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Ross Cronje, 8 Warren Whiteley (captain), 7 Warwick Tecklenburg, 6 Jaco Kriel, 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Andries Ferreira, 3 Julian Redelinghuys, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Dylan Smith.
Replacements: 16 Armand van der Merwe, 17 Corne Fourie, 18 Ruan Dreyer, 19 Ruan Ackermann, 20 Cyle Brink, 21 Francois de Klerk, 22 Howard Mnisi, 23 Andries Coetzee.

Stormers: 15 Cheslin Kolbe, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Johnny Kotze, 12 Juan de Jongh (captain), 11 Leolin Zas, 10 Jean-Luc du Plessis, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Schalk Burger, 7 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 6 Nizaam Carr, 5 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 4 JD Schickerling, 3 Vincent Koch, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg.
Replacements: 16 Mike Willemse, 17 Oliver Kebble, 18 Frans Malherbe, 19 Rynhardt Elstadt, 20 Siya Kolisi, 21 Louis Schreuder, 22 Damian de Allende, 23 Huw Jones.

Referee: Stuart Berry (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Lesego Legoete (South Africa), Cwengile Jadezweni (South Africa)
TMO: Willie Vos (South Africa)

Compiled by Jan de Koning, with additional reporting from AFP
@King365ed
@rugby365com

* Statistical information provided by Opta Sports

Mc article blues v sharks match 800

Blues edge Sharks in Auckland arm-wrestle

Sat, 16 Apr 2016 09:25

REPORT: The Blues held on to beat the Sharks 23-18 in a hard-fought, if somewhat scrappy, Super Rugby match in Auckland on Saturday.

It was an entertaining match, but unfortunately also error-strewn. The Blues were probably the biggest culprits.

The Sharks, after the long-haul flight over the Indian Ocean, seemed to tire in the final quarter of the match - when the contest was decided.

The result ended a 10-game losing streak for the Blues against the Sharks dating back to April 2006.

The New Zealanders, fired up after the death of former Blues lock Kurtis Haiu, bounced back from a 10-11 half-time deficit.

Hooker James Parsons said they were playing for Haiu, who played 53 times for the Blues and died at just 31 years old after a battle with bone cancer that forced his retirement from the game in 2011.

"He was a big part of our week, hopefully he looked down and approved," Parsons said.

It was a must-win for the Aucklanders, allowing them to stay in touch in the ultra-competitive New Zealand conference.

It was the third consecutive defeat for the Sharks, a major disappointment after a three-win start to the season.

Sharks captain Tendai Mtawarira scored the first try when he darted from the back of a maul and left the Blues' defence flat footed.

Blues centre George Moala hit back just before the break, but Paul Jordaan reasserted the Sharks' dominance just after the restart, outpacing the two Blues defenders.

Blues wing Reiko Ioane made a jinking run through the defence to make it 20-18 with a converted try and an Ihaia West penalty sealed the win.

Man of the match: Paul Jordaan had his moments, Joe Pietersen was steady and Cobus Reinach showed flashes of his true form. Fullback Willie le Roux probably had his best game of the season. The Du Preez twins, Jean-Luc and Daniel, were very busy, but the Sharks- most productive player by some distance was Philip van der Walt. George Moala showed his finishing class, Steven Luatua and Jerome Kaino were physical, Akira Ioane won some crucial line-out steals in the second half, while Charlie Faumuina got through ton of work. Ihaia West blew hot and cold, but still had better than average day at the office. But the player that made the biggest impact was Blues wing Rieko Ioane, with a try that handed the Blues the lead at a crucial stage in the second half.

The scorers:

For the Blues:
Tries:
Moala, R Ioane
Cons: West 2
Pens: West 3

For the Sharks:
Tries:
Mtawarira, Jordaan
Con: Pietersen
Pens: Pietersen 2

Teams:

Blues: 15 Lolagi Visinia, 14 Rieko Ioane, 13 Rene Ranger, 12 Piers Francis, 11 Tevita Li, 10 Ihaia West, 9 Bryn Hall, 8 Steven Luatua, 7 Tanerau Latimer, 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Josh Bekhuis, 4 Hoani Matenga, 3 Charlie Faumuina, 2 James Parsons (captain), 1 Sam Prattley.
Replacements: 16 Quentin MacDonald, 17 Namatahi Waa, 18 Ofa Tu'ungafasi, 19 Kara Pryor, 20 Akira Ioane, 21 Billy Guyton, 22 Matt McGahan, 23 George Moala.

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

Referee: Jaco Peyper
Assistant referees: Craig Joubert, Paul Williams
TMO: Ben Skeen

George Moala (35min) and Rieko Ioane (64min)
TRIES
Tendai Mtawarira (9min) and Paul Jordaan (42min)
Ihaia West (36min) and Ihaia West (65min)
CONVERSIONS
Joe Pietersen (43min)
Ihaia West (5min), Ihaia West (55min), and Ihaia West (79min)
PENALTIES
Joe Pietersen (15min) and Joe Pietersen (32min)
 
PENALTY TRIES
 
DROP GOALS
 
 
 
VENUE Auckland
REFEREE Jaco Peyper