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Highlanders

FULL-TIME
23     10

Brumbies

Super Rugby | Dunedin
07:35 (GMT) | 30-04-2016
  • 80
Full-time! Highlanders win this clash! Thank you for joining us at Rugby365.com for this match, be sure to join us for the next match as the Reds take on the Cheetahs.
  • 79
Highlanders scrum, Tanaka feeds and Dixon has a run before Sopoaga clears the ball into touch.
  • 78
Brumbies with one final attack , before they cough the ball up once again. Sums up the visitors day.
  • 77
Faddes clears the ball into touch for the Highlanders. Brumbies lineout on the Highlanders 22. Pretty much game over here .
  • 76
Brumbies lose the ball at the lineout and the Highlanders clear the ball up field which rolls into touch on the halfway line.
  • 75
Brumbies lineout inside the Highlanders half as they attack through Kuridrani before winning the penalty . Lealiifano will put the ball into touch outside the Highlanders 22.
  • 72
Penalty Highlanders as Sopoaga will have a shot at goal and its over!
  • 71
Highlanders lineout inside the Brumbies half . They win the ball and attack through Dixon then Franklin. They are close to the Brumbies 22 and also have the penalty advantage.
  • 69
Brumbies attack through Pocock , then Cubelli puts a kick in that rolls into touch. Highlanders lineout on their own 10 meter line.
  • 68
Sopoaga strikes the ball from long range , its OVER!
  • 65
Brumbies on the attack before Toua clears the ball up field. The Highlanders then win the penalty and Sopoaga will have a shot at goal .
  • 64
Cubelli feeds and the Brumbies look for the push over try. They play Toomua who loses the ball and a hack kick is put through by Fekitoa and the Brumbies have to restart their attack from 70 meters back.
  • 63
Brumbies think they have scored. TMO in action . It is judged to be short so it will be a 5 meter scrum to the Brumbies.
  • 62
Mann Rae has a run, Lealiifano , then Arnold, then Cubelli who gets really close. Then Pocock. Great defence by the home side
  • 60
5 meter lineout again for the Brumbies Mann Rae finds his man and the Brumbies attack the Highlanders defence again.
  • 59
Brumbies attack inside the Highlanders 22 through Pocock and then Lealiifano followed by Cubelli . Solid defence from the Landers
  • 57
Brumbies with ball in hand and also have the penalty advantage. They attempt to attack wide bit it all comes to nothing and the ref blows for the penalty . They opt to set up the lineout 5 meters from the Highlanders try line
  • 55
Sopoaga lands the penalty
  • 54
Highlanders penalty for Rob Thompson being taken out without the ball by Kuridrani. Sopoaga will have a shot at goal to extend the Highlanders lead.
  • 53
Brumbies clear the ball into touch , Highlanders lineout just inside the Brumbies half. Dixon finds his jumper and the Highlanders attack through Wilson and then Elliot Dixon. Sopoaga then puts a grubber in that rolls into touch 10 meters from their line.
  • 51
Lealiifano converts the try
  • 50
Mann Rae finds his man and claims the maul and crashes over for the TRY!
  • 49
Brumbies attack inside the 22. They are 10 meters from the try line before the Brumbies win another penalty and set up another lineout 5 meters from the Highlanders try line
  • 48
Brumbies penalty , Toomua kicks for touch to set up a lineout inside the Highlanders 22.
  • 46
Sopoaga converts the try from the corner
  • 45
Fekitoa breaks the line and puts Ben Smith in the gap and scores the TRY ! Great play from the Highlanders
  • 44
Big counter ruck from the Highlanders forcing a knock on from the Brumbies. Scrum Highlanders on the ten meter line in the Brumbies half
  • 43
Highlanders on the attack before losing the ball forward and the Brumbies are on the attack again through Pocock near the halfway.
  • 42
Brumbies clear the ball to Osbourne who throws a pass to Sopoaga who has a run. Ref penalizes the Brumbies and Sopoaga will have a shot at goal from 42m out. Sopoaga strikes the ball but it sails wide. 22 dropout to the Brumbies
  • 41
Second half underway, Sopoaga kicks off

Half Time

  • 40
Halftime! See you all in a bit for the second half !
  • 39
Sopoaga converts the try
  • 38
Ben Smith puts in a grubber kick that Ah Wong cleans up and slides out touch in goal. 5 meter scrum to the Highlanders. Aaron Smith feeds then plays Wilson followed by Squire , Sopoaga then throws the dummy and scores a TRRRRRRYYYYY!
  • 36
Highlanders attack wide from the scrum and Osbourne puts on a big step leaving Ah Wong in no mans land. Brumbies force the turn over and clear the ball into touch just outside their 22. Lineout Highlanders
  • 35
Highlanders win the penalty and Aaron Smith takes a quick tap and attacks through Dixon . All comes to nothing as the bodies pile up at the ruck and the ref calls for a Highlanders scrum in a good attacking position.
  • 33
Highlanders choose to attack wide but Jack Wilson loses the ball forward for yet another knock on. Scrum Brumbies .
  • 31
Sopoaga clears the ball and Ah Wong cleans the ball up , Carter runs for the Brumbies followed by Kuridrani again. Brumbies opting to run most of the time and the Highlanders opting to kick. Very different game plans.
  • 30
Brumbies attack through Kuridrani who makes a good run , then Toua throws a loose pass into touch . Highlanders lineout. Not a day for running rugby.
  • 28
Brumbies win the ball on the Highlanders throw. Cubellie clears and Wilson does well for the Highlanders before losing the ball forward. Scrum Brumbies. Untidy stuff.
  • 27
Game becoming really scrappy in the miserable weather. We have a Highlanders lineout on the ten meter line in the Brumbies half.
  • 26
Brumbies attack through Kuridrani before Cubelli clears the ball up field and there is a knock on from a Brumbies hand. Scrum Highlanders on the halfway .
  • 24
Sopoaga takes the dropout and hoists the up and under which Ben Smith coughs up and the Brumbies have the scrum put in .
  • 23
Highlanders attack through Dixon, then Wilson, followed by Franklin. Fekitoa has a go but he is wrapped up by Kuridrani. The fourth phase of attack sees Osbourne have a crack for the corner. TMO in action for a potential try. It is judged that Osbourne was touch in goal , great defence from Cubelli. 22 dropout Brumbies.
  • 22
Maul set by the Brumbies and Carter is pinged for obstruction again. Sopoaga will clear the ball into touch. Ash Dixon finds his jumper and then the Highlanders win the penalty for the jumper being taken out in the air. Sopoaga will kick for touch again, this time deep in Brumbies territory.
  • 20
Cubelli feeds the scrum . Brumbies win the penalty for the Highlanders front row collapsing due to major pressure from the Brumbies. Toomua kicks for touch to set up a lineout inside the Highlanders 22.
  • 18
Highlanders on the attack before Fekitoa throws a forward pass. Scrum Brumbies on the halfway line.
  • 17
Brumbies attack wide through Toomua before Cubelli breaks the line and looks to put in Lealiifano in for the try but the ball is lost forward by the Brumbies captain and the Highlanders have the scrum put in.
  • 16
Brumbies scrum just inside their own half. The first scrum of the match. Highlanders making a lot of errors
  • 14
Lealiifano lands the penalty and the Brumbies take the lead
  • 13
Brumbies steal the ball at the lineout and attack through David Pocock and then Coleman. All comes to nothing as the ref awards the penalty to the Brumbies for Liam Squire shoulder charging a Brumbies player . This time Lealiifano will have a pop at goal
  • 11
Brumbies reject the chance to take the three points and opt to set up a lineout. Mann Rae finds his man, Pocock claims the maul before the Highlanders are awarded the penalty for Sam Carter causing an obstruction at the maul. Sopoaga kicks for touch.
  • 10
Wilson absolutely smokes Robbie Coleman with a high tackle. TMO in action, yellow card shown to Jack Wilson.
  • 9
Ben Smith has a run from the back for the Highlanders. Brumbies then turn over the ball and attack through Pocock followed by Kuridrani. All Brumbies so far.
  • 8
Highlanders win the lineout and clear the ball upfield . Brumbies ball in hand as Staniforth has a run before Squire is penalized at the breakdown and the Brumbies are awarded a penalty which they put into touch near the halfway.
  • 6
Sopoaga clears the ball into touch. Brumbies lineout inside the Highlanders 22. Man Rae finds his jumper and the maul is set before the referee calls obstruction and the Highlanders win the penalty . Sopoaga kicks the ball into touch near the halfway line.
  • 4
Brumbies win the penalty but Toomua misses touch, Ben Smith then returns the kick followed by a game of aerial ping pong. Brumbies then decide to have a run as Toomua breaks the line and offloads to Fardy . Brumbies 5 meters out. Lealiifano has a go, Pocock has a go, Carter has a go . Outstanding defence as Ah Wong is bundled into touch and the Highlanders have a 5 meter lineout on their own line. Rock solid defence.
  • 3
Brumbies still ball in hand as Toua has a run but gets smashed by Fekitoa before Lealiifano throws a loose pass that rolls into touch. Highlanders lineout near the halfway line as a result of excellent defence.
  • 2
Aaron Smith takes the kick off and clears the ball into touch. Miserable weather at the venue , could influence tonight's match. Mann Rae finds his jumper and Toomua has a run midfield. Lealiifano has a run and does well followed by Sam Carter. Good start from the Brumbies.
  • 1
First half underway! Toomua kicks off for the Brumbies
  • -5
The teams will be going through their last match preparations , its almost time for this game to get underway
  • -10
The Highlanders have now lost consecutive matches by a single point; they have not lost three matches in a row in Super Rugby since a stretch of four losses ended early in 2015.
  • -15
The Highlanders have lost seven of their last eight matches against the Brumbies including the last three. The Highlanders have conceded 94 points against the Brumbies across their last three encounters
  • -20
The Brumbies' last two encounters with Kiwis sides have seen them cough up 40 points or more in heavy defeats.
  • -25
The Brumbies have taken an unusual route to Invercargill - from Canberra, with a connection in Sydney to Christchurch, then a stopover in Queenstown, for a training day and then bus down from Queenstown on the Friday afternoon.
  • -30
Welcome to Rugby Park Stadium in Invercargill for this Super Rugby clash between the Highlanders and the Brumbies
Mc highlanders logo 80x50
Highlanders
Mc brumbies logo 80x50
Brumbies
START LINE UP
  • 1 Daniel Lienert-Brown
  • 2 Ash Dixon
  • 3 Josh Hohneck
  • 4 Alex Ainley
  • 5 Thomas Franklin
  • 6 Elliot Dixon
  • 7 Shane Christie
  • 8 Liam Squire
  • 9 Aaron Smith
  • 10 Lima Sopoaga
  • 11 Patrick Osborne
  • 12 Rob Thompson
  • 13 Malakai Fekitoa
  • 14 Jack Wilson
  • 15 Ben Smith
RESERVES
  • 16 Greg Pleasents
  • 17 Craig Millar
  • 18 Siua Halanukonuka
  • 19 Joseph Wheeler
  • 20 Dan Pryor
  • 21 Fumiaki Tanaka
  • 22 Hayden Parker
  • 23 Matt Faddes
START LINE UP
  • 1 Allan Alaalatoa
  • 2 Josh Mann-Rae
  • 3 Ruan Smith
  • 4 Tom Staniforth
  • 5 Sam Carter
  • 6 Scott Fardy
  • 7 David Pocock
  • 8 Jarrad Butler
  • 9 Tomas Cubelli
  • 10 Christian Lealiifano
  • 11 Robbie Coleman
  • 12 Matt Toomua
  • 13 Tevita Kuridrani
  • 14 Nigel Ah Wong
  • 15 Aidan Toua
RESERVES
  • 16 Robbie Abel
  • 17 Scott Sio
  • 18 Les Makin
  • 19 Rory Arnold
  • 20 Blake Enever
  • 21 Jordan Smiler
  • 22 Joe Powell
  • 23 James Dargaville
Mc article deon davids kings media 800

S18 PREVIEW: ROUND 10, PART TWO

Thu, 28 Apr 2016 22:10

IN THE SPOTLIGHT. Jan de Koning looks at the Saturday matches in Part Two of Super Rugby's Round 10.

It is a day that could well be labelled 'dance of the desperate'.

More than just a couple of teams are desperate for victories as the tournament heads into the second half of the season.

The defending champion Highlanders and the Brumbies - who go head-to-head in one of the southernmost cities in the world, Invercargill - are both in the midst of a bad slump.

The Highlanders and Brumbies have both won five of their eight games and while that leaves the Highlanders fourth in an intense New Zealand group, the Brumbies are second in Australia, one point behind the Rebels.

The Brumbies "certainly need a lift," according to coach Stephen Larkham.

However, they will be without injured star Joe Tomane and captain Stephen Moore, who has a calf muscle injury.

The Rebels, who have replaced the Brumbies as the No.1 Australian side, could cement their position when they travel to Auckland to play the Blues, who are at the bottom of the New Zealand group, in the opening match of the day.

Of the leading South Africa sides, the Lions are at home to a Hurricanes unit, who blew a chance last week to topple the Chiefs.

The Hurricanes, despite having an impressive pack, have had plenty to work on ahead of playing the Lions in Johannesburg.

Beauden Barrett has lost his kicking radar and they were plagued by handling errors against the Chiefs.

The Lions head the Africa Two conference and with a six-point buffer over the second-placed Sharks.

The Stormers, the premier South African side and Africa One conference leaders, will fancy their chances when they host an out of form Waratahs team badly in need of a big win.

In the two other matches of the day there is plenty of desperation, but little more than honour at stake.

The Reds, in 14th place with one win, host the Cheetahs (in 13th place with two victories) in Brisbane.

The Jaguares, who have lost seven on the trot after a win in Week One, are at home to a Southern Kings side that also have only one win, but are last in the 18-team tournament.

We look at the Saturday, April 30, matches below!

The Rebels, who take on the Blues for just the second time at Eden Park, are searching for their first win in Auckland - following losses at North Harbour Stadium in Round 10, 2011 (23-40) and at Eden Park in Round 13, 2013 (32-36).

The two sides have split the four previous Super Rugby meetings with the home side winning on each occasion.

"I think Auckland is one of the tougher places to play," Rebels hooker James Hanson said in an interview on the team's website.

"That's the one thing about this group, it's a group of young guys that don't have baggage with previous years, so for us we're just going over there and having a crack.

"It's really important, we haven't beaten a New Zealand team yet this season.

"We really want to go over there and put in a good performance and go into that second bye with another win."

Blues hooker and captain James Parsons spoke of the team's desire to be more consistent - with three wins in sevens starts, but have yet to win back-to-back games.

"We are realistic about where we sit in the season," he said of their 12th place on the standings.

"We are looking to tighten up our skills around our attacking half and make sure we turn the opportunities into points.

"We want to set a good platform up front, to set our backs alight.

"However, we also need to defend well.

"Championships are won on defence and if we can hold them out and score points, while applying pressure, hopefully we can come out on the right end."

The Blues are at the bottom of the New Zealand table, but Rebels coach Tony McGahan is taking no notice of their past results.

"The Blues in the New Zealand conference would probably be first or second in the other conferences, but they find themselves down the bottom in theirs because it's so good," McGahan said.

Earlier this year, the Blues ran in nine tries to one when they defeated the Rebels 59-7 in a pre-season trial in Auckland.

"We're under no illusion of the challenge we face against a really good side that towelled us up in a pre-season trial match earlier this year so we need nothing less than our best 80-minute performance on Saturday," McGahan said.

Previous results:
2015: Rebels won 42-22, Melbourne
2013: Blues won 36-32, Auckland
2012: Rebels won 34-23, Melbourne
2011: Blues won 40-23, North Harbour

Prediction: These teams have traded blows four times, alternating two wins apiece with all four games being won by the home side on the day. Off the back of a 23-18 win against the Sharks in Round Eight the Blues will be looking for consecutive wins for the first time since Round 17, 2014. The Blues have won five and drawn one of their last eight matches against Australian opposition and are undefeated in their last four home matches against teams from Australia. The Rebels have won three matches away from home so far this season, the equal most of any Australian team, and a fourth away win would make it their most wins on the road in a season in Super Rugby history. The Rebels have travelled to New Zealand for 10 games, including two against the Blues, and have won only once (versus the Crusaders in Round One, 2015). The Rebels have had a good season by their standards, but they will have to be on top of their game to stay first in Australia. We sense and upset - the Blues by 12 points.

Teams:

Blues: 15 Lolagi Visinia, 14 Rieko Ioane, 13 George Moala, 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 Patrick Tuipulotu/Hoani Matenga, 3 Charlie Faumuina, 2 James Parsons (captain), 1 Sam Prattley.
Replacements: 16 Quentin MacDonald, 17 Nic Mayhew/Namatahi Waa, 18 Ofa Tu'ungafasi, 19 Akira Ioane, 20 Kara Pryor, 21 Billy Guyton, 22 Matt McGahan, 23 Melani Nanai/Matt Duffie.

Melbourne Rebels: 15 Jonah Placid, 14 Sefa Naivalu, 13 Reece Hodge, 12 Tamati Ellison, 11 Cam Crawford , 10 Jack Debreczeni, 9 Nic Stirzaker (captain), 8 Adam Thomson, 7 Sean McMahon, 6 Jordy Reid, 5 Lopeti Timani, 4 Luke Jones, 3 Jamie Hagan, 2 James Hanson, 1 Toby Smith.
Replacements: 16 Pat Leafa, 17 Cruze Ah Nau, 18 Tim Metcher, 19 Sam Jeffries, 20 Colby Fainga'a, 21 Ben Meehan, 22 Kotaro Matsushima, 23 Sione Tuipulotu.

Referee: Craig Joubert
Assistant referees: Glen Jackson, Brett Johnson
TMO: Ben Skeen

The Brumbies have taken an unusual route to Invercargill - from Canberra, with a connection in Sydney to Christchurch, then a stopover in Queenstown, for a training day and then bus down from Queenstown on the Friday afternoon.

However, the Brumbies are determined to make the best of this outing, bond and reverse the mistakes made in the heavy loss to the Crusaders last week.

Lock Sam Carter said too many errors cost the side and there's been an emphasis on improving at training this week.

"We were very disappointed with how we played last Sunday," Carter said in an interview on the Brumbies website.

"Crucial errors at crucial times. You give a New Zealand team, especially the Crusaders, that many turnover opportunities, they're going to capitalise on it.

"There would've been maybe one mistake by each player. If you add them up its 15 mistakes across 80 minutes. It's tough to come back from.

"We just can't do that and give them that much opportunity so we just need to tighten up our skills and make sure we deliver."

Like all New Zealand sides, the defending champion Highlanders are not scared to kick the ball and do indeed have some great kick-chasers.

They are also very abrasive in the forward exchanges.

The Brumbies' last two encounters with Kiwis sides have seen them cough up 40 points or more in heavy defeats.

"The Highlanders are very strong at their breakdown and they defend well," he said.

"They're going to be up for it this weekend especially their forward pack.

"I know if we train well this week and stick to what we want to do and don't make any errors then I'm sure we can get a good result."

Carter says he is also looking forward to having David Pocock back on the field. Pocock received a three-week suspension following the Brumbies loss to the Chiefs at GIO Stadium earlier this month.

"Obviously he's one of the best players in the world and to have him come back this week coming off a two-week break he'll be fresh and ready to rip in," Carter said.

"I love playing with him so it's going to be good having him out there again, just the experience he brings."

Recent results:
2015: Brumbies won 31-18, Canberra
2013: Brumbies won 30-19, Dunedin
2012: Brumbies won 33-26, Canberra
2011: Highlanders won 26-20, Invercargill
2010: Brumbies won 31-3, Canberra
2009: Brumbies 33-31, Dunedin

Prediction: The Highlanders have lost seven of their last eight matches against the Brumbies including the last three. The Highlanders have conceded 94 points against the Brumbies across their last three encounters, 68 of which were scored in the opening stanza. The Brumbies have earned a win in three of their last four excursions to New Zealand to face the Highlanders with a six-point loss in 2011 the only blemish in that span. The Highlanders have now lost consecutive matches by a single point; they have not lost three matches in a row in Super Rugby since a stretch of four losses ended early in 2015. The Highlanders have been involved in 24 games decided by a single point in their history, the most of any team in Super Rugby, and never before has a team been involved in three consecutive games decided by a single point. This is indeed a contest between two very desperate teams, which makes predicting an outcome an almost futile exercise. Home ground advantage do count for something, so we'll go for a Highlanders win by five points.

Teams:

Highlanders: 15 Ben Smith (co-captain), 14 Jack Wilson, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Rob Thompson, 11 Patrick Osborne, 10 Lima Sopoaga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Liam Squire, 7 Shane Christie (co-captain), 6 Elliot Dixon, 5 Tom Franklin, 4 Alex Ainley, 3 Josh Hohneck, 2 Ash Dixon, 1 Daniel Lienert-Brown.
Replacements: 16 Greg Pleasants-Tate, 17 Craig Millar, 18 Siosiua Halanukonuka, 19 Joe Wheeler, 20 Dan Pryor, 21 Fumiaki Tanaka, 22 Hayden Parker, 23 Matt Faddes.

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

Referee: Nick Briant (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Brendon Pickerill (New Zealand), Kane McBride (New Zealand)
TMO: Aaron Paterson (New Zealand)

These are two sides who are in the process of rebuilding after having asked their respective coaches to leave mid-season - the Cheetahs late last year and the Reds in the early stages of 2016.

Cheetahs coach Franco Smith said they are looking at their own game, rather than worrying about the scoreboard.

Reds co-interim coach Nick Stiles, in contrast, said they are "desperate" for victories.

He said the desire among the players to not just compete, but to win is "part of their DNA".

The Reds were run down by a rampant Stormers side in Cape Town last Saturday, giving up an eight-point lead in the last 20 minutes, going down 22-40.

Stiles made no attempts to hide the fact that the late fade is an area the team will be keen to amend in front of their loyal home fans this weekend.

"The inability to finish off in those last 10 or 15 minutes is something we were very unhappy with," Stiles said.

The Reds are eager to replicate their fantastic performance from their last outing at Suncorp Stadium, when they upset the defending champions, the Highlanders, three weeks ago.

However, Stiles knows that despite their lowly position on the ladder, Saturday's opponents are no easy-beats.

"You saw last week against the Rebels in that first half the dangerous and lightning speed they've got in their backs is something that if you turn the ball over too much they will punish you," he said of the Cheetahs.

"Like all South Africans, they've got a big forward pack, good at set piece, so we've got to be on our game in those areas and it's going to be a tough game."

There is of course, apart from the overall contest, and intriguing head-to-head to look forward to - the second row battle between veteran Wallaby Rob Simmons and young Springbok Lodewyk de Jager.

Simmons, a 60-Test stalwart, said simply improving is not good enough for the Reds and that matches have to be taken by the scruff of the neck when the result is in the balance.

"In just about every game this year we have seen moments from the Reds where we are a very good Rugby side," Simmons said.

"That's not good enough. We have to be able to close out games.

"Applying ourselves better for the full 80 minutes is the important thing. We can start doing a number on teams if we do that."

Recent results:
2015: Reds won 18-17, Bloemfontein
2014: Reds won 43-33, Brisbane
2013: Cheetahs won 27-13, Bloemfontein
2011: Reds won 41-8, Brisbane
2010: Reds won 31-10, Bloemfontein
2009: Reds won 22-3, Brisbane

Prediction: The Reds have won five of their last six matches against the Cheetahs, outscoring the South African side by 70 points across that span. The Cheetahs have won just one of their last six matches in Australia, and they've never beaten the Reds there. The Reds have scored just one try in the final 20 minutes of their games this season, fewer than any other side. Torsten van Jaarsveld has won 91 throws so far this season, the most of any player (success of 86 percent). The Reds have a scrum success of 95 percent so far this season, the best of any team, the Cheetahs' is the least effective scrum in the competition (73 percent). The Reds have improved since the change in coaching staff earlier this season, while the Cheetahs - while showing promise at times - have been a touch inconsistent. We think the Reds will win by 10 to 15 points.

Teams:

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

Cheetahs: 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Nico Lee, 12 Michael van der Spuy, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Fred Zeilinga, 9 Shaun Venter, 8 Henco Venter, 7 Uzair Cassiem, 6 Paul Schoeman, 5 Lodewyk de Jager (captain), 4 Carl Wegner, 3 Nicolaas van Dyk, 2 Torsten van Jaarsveld, 1 Charles Marais.
Replacements: 16 Jacques du Toit, 17 Luan de Bruin, 18 Johan Coetzee, 19 Francois Uys, 20 Teboho Mohoje, 21 Tian Meyer, 22 Niel Marais, 23 Michael van der Spuy..

Referee: Ben O'Keeffe (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Will Houston (Australia), Nic Berry (Australia)
TMO: George Ayoub (Australia)

Hurricanes assistant coach John Plumtree spent enough time in South Africa to know just how tough it is to win on the Highveld - and that was before the Lions added an expansive dimension to their game.

Not surprising then to hear Plumtree speak of the need to sharpen up on defence.

"We allowed two or three soft tries, which is unlike us considering the heights we reached against the Rebels, so that was probably the big disappointment," he said of last week's heartbreaking one-point loss to the Chiefs.

Plumtree made no secret of the fact that he feels the Lions present a huge challenge on their home turf.

"The Lions play from all over the field, so defensively we're going to get tested, and up front they're pretty rugged," he said in an interview on the Hurricanes' website.

"We've got a lot of respect for this Lions side and it's well organised by Johan Ackermann and Swys de Bruin, so we've got to make sure we're on the money with what we want to do."

The Lions are on top of the Africa Two conference after winning six of their eight matches this season - with the Stormers being the only South African team to have gained more competition points in 2016.

"They play a pretty good brand of footy and they've been very successful this year in what they've been doing," Plumtree said.

"I think we can expect them to come at our set piece, they've shown over the course of the year their scrum is a force to be reckoned with and their line-out's not too bad either.

"I think that will be a focus point for them and something we need to be aware of.

"We're trying to nail down our preparation so it's perfect for the boys and they feel as good as they can.

"We know we're going to need the whole squad at the weekend in terms of the 23 and it's going to be another high intensity game."

Lions coach Johan Ackermann also spoke of the "massive challenge" this game presents, given that the Hurricanes will be desperate not to lose any more ground on the tournament leaders - the Chiefs and Crusaders.

Like the Lions, the Hurricanes are a very "attack-minded" side with quality all over the park.

Both teams pointed out that this expansive game can only work if the forwards provide them with a solid platform to attack from.

Recent results:
2015: Hurricanes won 22-8, Johannesburg
2012: Hurricanes won 30-28, Johannesburg
2011: Hurricanes won 38-27, Wellington
2010: Hurricanes won 33-18, Wellington
2009: Hurricanes won 38-32, Johannesburg
2008: Hurricanes won 38-12, Wellington

Prediction: The Hurricanes have won eight of their nine meetings with the Lions, a defeat in 2007 the only blemish in this run. In each of the Lions' last 12 games the half-time results has mirrored the full-time result, including a 19-all draw with the Stormers in Round 17 last season.  The last time the Hurricanes lost a game to a South African team was a one-point loss to the Stormers in Round Three, 2014. The Hurricanes have lost fewer than one line-out per game so far this season, no team averages fewer, and their line-out success of 93 percent is the best in the competition. The Lions are the only team in the competition yet to concede a try from opposition possession originating from a scrum. This is another tough call. How will the travel affect the Hurricanes? Can the Lions overcome the injury-enforced absence of fine front row forwards? Again, in such a tight game, you go with home ground advantage, but the Lions won't win by much - the margin will be single digits.

Teams:

Lions: 15 Jaco van der Walt, 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 Pieter Scholtz, 2 Armand van der Merwe, 1 Dylan Smith.
Replacements: 16 Ramone Samuels, 17 Corne Fourie, 18 Jacques van Rooyen, 19 Ruan Ackermann, 20 Cyle Brink, 21 Ross Cronje, 22 John-Wessel Bell, 23 Rohan Janse van Rensburg.

Hurricanes: 15 Jason Woodward, 14 Cory Jane, 13 Matt Proctor, 12 Vince Aso, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Victor Vito, 7 Ardie Savea, 6 Brad Shields, 5 Michael Fatialofa, 4 Vaea Fifita, 3 Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, 2 Dane Coles (captain), 1 Reg Goodes.
Replacements: 16 Motu Matu'u, 17 Chris Eves, 18 Loni Uhila, 19 Blade Thomson, 20 Callum Gibbins, 21 Jamison Gibson-Park, 22 James Marshall, 23 Willis Halaholo.

Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen
Assistant referees: Jaco Peyper, Ben Crouse
TMO: Johan Greeff

The Stormers are sitting pretty at the top of the Africa conference, but in stark contrast the Waratahs are clinging to a faint hope of making the Super Rugby play-offs.

The men from Sydney have just three wins, but each victory have been followed by two defeats - leaving them outside the top 10.

Their trip to Newlands, after the 49-13 demolition of the Western Force last week, will be their first match of the season outside of Australia.

Waratahs assistant coach Chris Malone said playing the Stormers at Newlands is one of the "great experiences" a player can have.

"We will expect them to be immensely physical, as all South African teams are, so our preparation catered for that," Malone said.

"They have a real willingness to play also, so it will be tough and a great challenge and one that we are looking forward to."

The Stormers will also field their first-choice midfield combination, Springboks Juan de Jongh and Damian de Allende, for the first time this season - following De Allende's lengthy time on the sideline due to an ankle injury sustained while playing club rugby in Japan and concussion suffered by De Jongh.

It will certainly give them additional strike power in the backline.

Stormers coach Robbie Fleck readily admits that the transition from a defence-orientated team to one with an expansive game is far from complete.

"I am happy with our progress thus far," Fleck said.

"There are certainly glimpses of the fearless rugby that we have been trying to get across, but there have been moments where we have let ourselves down a little bit.

"We still got a way to go, both in terms of the campaign, but also our own growth.

"I am very happy with the signs that are coming out of the squad.

"We are playing a brand that we set out to do at the beginning of the campaign, but it is by no means a finished product yet. We still got a lot of hard work ahead of us."

Fleck said the Stormers will need to be solid on defence against a Waratahs team that can be devastating if they get it right on the day.

"Our approach this year is that we want to play with more ball in hand," the Stormers coach said.

"I would like to think we could do a bit more in this game, but when the opportunities do present themselves we need to take those."

Recent results:
2015: Stormers won 32-18, Sydney
2014: Waratahs won 22-11, Cape Town
2013: Waratahs won 21-15, Sydney
2012: Stormers won 19-13, Cape Town
2010: Stormers won 25-6, Cape Town (semifinal)
2010: Stormers won 27-6, Cape Town

Prediction: The Stormers have won four of their last six matches against the Waratahs including a 32-18 victory in their last encounter. Only one of the Waratahs' last five matches against South African opposition has been decided by a points difference of fewer than two converted tries. The Stormers have won 16 and drawn one of their last 21 matches on home soil against Australian opposition in Super Rugby. The Stormers have the best opening quarter points differential, scoring 45 points more than they've conceded in the opening 20 minutes of games so far this season. Kurtley Beale has made 2.2 offloads per game so far this season, the second most of any player in the competition behind SP Marais (3.7). The Stormers must fancy their chances of another crucial win - by 10 to 15 points.

Teams:

Stormers: 15 Cheslin Kolbe, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Juan de Jongh (co-captain), 12 Damian de Allende, 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 Rynhardt Elstadt, 3 Frans Malherbe (co-captain), 2 Mbongeni Mbonambi, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg.
Replacements: 16 Siyabonga Ntubeni, 17 Oliver Kebble, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 JD Schickerling, 20 Siyamthanda Kolisi, 21 Louis Schreuder, 22 Brandon Thomson, 23 Huw Jones.

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

Referee: Mike Fraser (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Paul Williams (New Zealand), Cwengile Jadezweni (South Africa)
TMO: Shaun Veldsman (South Africa)

Neither team were very happy with last week's performances - the Jaguares going down to the Sunwolves and the Southern Kings being run ragged by the Lions.

Jaguares captain Agustín Creevy spoke of the "importance" of this week, the need for the Argentinean franchise to get a 'W' on the board for the first time since Round One.

He complained about the repetition of their errors, which cost them so dearly week after week.

"There is no reprieve, as we have a new opponent in just a few days," Creevy said.

"We have to work twice as hard and ensure we eliminate those errors.

"It is obvious there are no easy games and we have to be prepared for another tough challenge in the Kings."

Jaguares coach Raúl Perez said it was important for the team to get their confidence back if they are to end their run of seven defeats.

Kings coach Deon Davids also spoke this week about making the players accountable for their roles and actions on the field.

Their only win was against the Sunwolves, which last week lowered the Jaguares' colours.

"Our approach has been more player-driven this week," Davids said.

"The players understand that some of the things that happened [in the heavy loss to the Lions] were unacceptable.

"We have been open and honest with each other  and I am hopeful that we will put up a much better performance."

The Kings are expecting a typical Argentinean opponent - a team with solid set pieces.

"They also do enjoy a ball-in-hand game, so we will have to be very alert and aware of what is happening on the field."

Recent results:
These teams have never met before.

Prediction: The Jaguares' solitary Super Rugby win so far came against a South African side in Round One (the Cheetahs), in their other two games against South African teams they have kept them to fewer than 20 points.The Kings have conceded an average of 47.3 points per game in their last six matches against teams from outside of South Africa. The Kings have scored 64.3 percent (nine/14) of their tries in the first half, the highest percentage of any team in the competition. Guido Petti Pagadizaval has won 37 line-outs so far this season, the equal second of any player though he is yet to steal one. The Kings may just be overawed, seeing as it is their first trip to the noisy Vélez Sarsfield stadium, in Buenos Aires. The Jaguares could get their second win of the season - by 12 points.

Teams:

Jaguares: 15 Emiliano Boffelli, 14 Santiago Cordero, 13 Matías Moroni, 12 Juan Martín Hernández, 11 Manuel Montero, 10 Nicolás Sánchez, 9 Martín Landajo, 8 Leonardo Senatore, 7 Javier Ortega Desio, 6 Tomás Lezana,  5 Tomás Lavanini, 4 Matías Alemanno, 3 Ramiro Herrera, 2 Agustín Creevy (captain), 1 Santiago García Botta.
Replacements: 16 Julián Montoya, 17 Facundo Gigena, 18 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro, 19 Guido Petti, 20 Facundo Isa, 21 Gonzalo Bertranou, 22 Jerónimo De La Fuente, 23 Lucas González Amorosino.

Southern Kings: 15 Jaco Van Tonder, 14 Lukhanyo Am, 13 Stefan Watermeyer, 12 Shane Gates, 11 Luzuko Vulindlu, 10 Elgar Watts, 9 Ntando Kebe, 8 CJ Velleman, 7 Thembelani Bholi, 6 Chris Cloete, 5 JC Astle, 4 Steven Sykes (captain), 3 Tom Botha, 2 Edgar Marutlulle, 1 Schalk Ferreira.
Replacements: 16 Martin Ferreira, 17 Justin Ackerman, 18 Jacobie Adriaanse, 19 Stefan Willemse, 20 Aidon Davis, 21 James Hall, 22 Louis Fouche, 23 Leighton Eksteen.

Referee: Stuart Berry
Assistant referees: Federico Anselmi, Juan Sylvestre
TMO: Santiago Borsani

Compiled by Jan de Koning, additional reporting by Agence France-Presse
@King365ed
@rugby365com

* Statistical information provided by Opta Sports

Mc article highlanders v brumbies match 800

Highlanders race back into contention

Sat, 30 Apr 2016 09:27

REPORT: The Highlanders raced back into play-off contention with a hard-earned 23-10 win over the Brumbies in Invercargill on Saturday.

The two tries to one win by the Highlanders - which left the Brumbies empty handed and slipping further behind the tournament pace-setters - came after two consecutive defeats.

Lima Sopoaga scored 18 of the Highlanders' points - including three vital penalties late in the game.

The Highlanders, who dealt with the rainy conditions far better than the visitors, the win was a result of resolute defence and occasional moments of brilliance.

The Highlanders were forced to make 160 tackles to 37 for the Brumbies, who won the rucks and maul count 145-38.

"In that first half the Brumbies had a lot of momentum, but couldn't turn it into points. Our defence was really good and we managed to keep them out," Highlanders skipper Ben Smith said.

"What we pride ourselves on is our defence and being able to work really hard for each other and get to the spots we need our mates to get to."

Both sides entered the clash at Super Rugby's southern-most outpost desperate to snap out of mid-season slumps.

The defending champion Highlanders had fallen off the pace with losses to the Reds and Sharks in their last two matches, while the Brumbies slipped to second in the Australian conference when beaten by the Crusaders last week.

Despite the slippery ball resulting in handling errors, there was a willingness to play at pace although points were not easy to come by in the tight first half.

The Brumbies, having tried and failed with three line-out drives when Sam Carter was penalised each time for obstruction, hit the front 3-0 with a Christian Lealiifano penalty after 15 minutes.

It was not until the stroke of half-time that the Highlanders turned the scoreboard to go into the break with a 7-3 lead.

A well-weighted Ben Smith kick forced the Brumbies onto their own line where they conceded a five-metre scrum and a long Aaron Smith pass put Sopoaga outside three defenders and he crossed unopposed for the try.

Ben Smith stretched the lead to 14-3 early in the second half touching down after Malakai Fekitoa bumped off an attempted Tevita Kuridrani tackle.

But the Brumbies were not done and found the answer to their rolling maul woes was to throw to Carter in the line-out rather than use him as a block and the big lock duly obliged by winning the ball for hooker Josh Mann-Rea to score.

At 14-10 to the Highlanders with 30 minutes to play the outcome was in the balance before a succession of infringements by the Brumbies allowed Sopoaga to stretch the difference to a comfortable margin.

Man of the match: Tomas Cubelli has certainly grown into his role as the Brumbies' link-man behind the pack, Scott Fardy was as busy as ever and Josh Mann-Rea had one of his best games. However, the influence of David Pocock - after his return from suspension - was undeniable. You never have to look much further than the Smiths - Ben and Aaron - to see value in a Highlanders performance. Liam Squire and Shane Christie also put in their usual workman-like performances. Dan Pryor also made an immediate impact after coming on as a second-half replacement. However, the crucial plays all came from Highlanders flyhalf Lima Sopoaga - which is why he wins our award.

The scorers:

For the Highlanders:
Tries:
Sopoaga, B Smith
Cons: Sopoaga 2
Pens: Sopoaga 2

For the Brumbies:
Try:
Mann-Rea
Con: Lealiifano
Pen: Lealiifano

Yellow card: Jack Wilson (Highlanders, 11 - foul play, high tackle)

Teams:

Highlanders: 15 Ben Smith (co-captain), 14 Jack Wilson, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Rob Thompson, 11 Patrick Osborne, 10 Lima Sopoaga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Liam Squire, 7 Shane Christie (co-captain), 6 Elliot Dixon, 5 Tom Franklin, 4 Alex Ainley, 3 Josh Hohneck, 2 Ash Dixon, 1 Daniel Lienert-Brown.
Replacements: 16 Greg Pleasants-Tate, 17 Craig Millar, 18 Siosiua Halanukonuka, 19 Joe Wheeler, 20 Dan Pryor, 21 Fumiaki Tanaka, 22 Hayden Parker, 23 Matt Faddes.

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

Referee: Nick Briant (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Brendon Pickerill (New Zealand), Kane McBride (New Zealand)
TMO: Aaron Paterson (New Zealand)

Lima Sopoaga (38min) and Ben Smith (45min)
TRIES
Josh Mann-Rae (50min)
Lima Sopoaga (39min) and Lima Sopoaga (46min)
CONVERSIONS
Christian Lealiifano (51min)
Lima Sopoaga (55min), Lima Sopoaga (68min), and Lima Sopoaga (72min)
PENALTIES
Christian Lealiifano (14min)
 
PENALTY TRIES
 
DROP GOALS
Jack Wilson (10min)
 
 
VENUE Dunedin
REFEREE Nick Briant (New Zealand)