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Super Rugby | Auckland
05:15 (GMT) | 30-04-2016
  • 81
Please join us for our next Super Rugby clash coming up shortly as the Highlanders and the Brumbies do battle at Rugby Park.
  • 80
The Blues take in the lineout before the ball goes to Billy Guyton who kicks into the stands. Blues come away with a hard fought victory. The Rebels had the crowd on the edge of their seats as they staged a late comeback but ultimately it was not to be. FULL TIME: BLUES 36-30 MELBOURNE REBELS
  • 79
Looks like that might be that for the Rebels as they look to get the drive going from the lineout before the Rebels get blown up for truck and trailer as a new maul was formed. Blues kick to touch all they need to do is win the lineout and kick to touch and that will be the game.
  • 77
Late drama here as the Blues rack up the penalties. Debreczeni puts one into the corner and the Rebels have the five metre attacking lineout.
  • 76
Here we go! The Blues concede the penalty just inside Rebels half. The Rebels kick for touch and it will be an attacking lineout to the Rebels just outside the Blues 22.
  • 75
Rebels come away with the ball from the scrum in their own half as they look to open up the Blues defence and get themselves in with a chance to take this game.
  • 73
The penalty is missed and the score remains 36-30 with seven minutes to go.
  • 72
Rebels concede the penalty. Metcher is the culprit and Francis lines one up from the sideline.
  • 71
Akira Ioane is brought down by the ankles as he almost breaks through before he is wrapped up.
  • 68
Debreczeni converts the try and all of a sudden it's a six point game now. End to end stuff here.
  • 67
Absolute magical stuff here as the Tevita Li breaks up field and looks to be clean through before a loose pass goes to ground. Naivalu picks up and runs the length of the field. Game on! The Rebels are right back in this one.
  • 65
Debreczeni is unsuccessful with the conversion.
  • 64
Sean McMahon bumps off a tackle and makes some good ground before the ball goes wide. Colby Faingaa receives an offload on the wing and runs straight through to dot down.
  • 63
Blues varying the play as they go through the phases and spread the ball wide before the Rebels win the penalty and kick to touch. Lineout to the Rebels in the Blues half.
  • 61
Big shove from the Blues at scrum time sees them win the penalty. Blues kick to touch and set the attacking lineout in the Rebels half.
  • 60
The Rebels throw possession away in a good attacking position as the Blues defence puts the pressure on and forces the knock on. Defensive scrum to the Blues on their ten metre line.
  • 58
Rebels pick and go and look to commit the Blues defence before the Blues concede the penalty for going off their feet at the breakdown, Rebels opt to go for the scrum deep in Blues half.
  • 57
Ofa Tu'ungafasi concedes the penalty for the Blues deep in the Rebels half. Hodge finds touch deep in Blues territory. Attacking lineout to the Rebels.
  • 56
Rebels look out of sorts at the moment as they kick out on the full. Blues with the attacking lineout just outside Rebels 22.
  • 53
New kicker as Francis converts his first kick of the match. Blues lead 36-18 now.
  • 52
Lolagi Visinia takes about five tacklers with him as the Blues draw in the defence before a floated pass goes over the top to Visinia who runs through five tackles. Poor defence from the Rebels.
  • 51
Blues awarded the Penalty in a good kicking position as they had an advantage before they lost posession on the attack. They decide not to go for the three points. They are going for broke here as West sets an attacking lineout. Five metres out.
  • 49
Patrick Tuipulotu earns the Blues a penalty as he gets to the ball first and gets hands on the ball, the Rebels fail to release and Blues set the attacking lineout just inside Rebels half.
  • 48
Debreczeni plays a flat pass to Naivalu who gets wrapped up. Rebels looking to straighten the attack as they charge into the Blues half.
  • 47
The Blues secure the ball from the scrum and West comes up with the exit kick. Rebels with the lineout just inside the Blues half.
  • 46
Good team work from the Blues as Li and Parsons get in over the ball and force the turnover, scrum awarded to the Blues. Important that the Blues manage to clear their lines here.
  • 45
Blues concede the penalty in their 22 as they fail to roll away and the Rebels set the attacking lineout as they kick to touch.
  • 43
West pulls the conversion wide from another tough angle on the near touchline. Blues lead 29-18 with that try.
  • 42
Tevita Li goes in for the try in the corner after Moala bashes it up from first receiver again, the ball goes wide to Visinia who assists with a well timed offload to Li who finishes the move as he dots down.
  • 41
West gets the second half going for the Blues as he puts boot to ball and puts up a hanging kick into Rebels 22, Jeffries claims it for the Rebels but a pass is thrown over the top straight to the Rebels try line. Rebels rush back and carry it over and Blues have the early attacking opportunity from the five metre scrum.

Half Time

  • 40
Debreczeni is successful with the conversion. That will be the last play of the half. The teams have six points separating them at the break. HALFTIME: BLUES 24-18 MELBOURNE REBELS
  • 39
Jordy Reid goes over for the try just before the break as the Rebels claim posession from the lineout they pile into the drive and get the rolling maul going before Reid crashes over. Good end to the half for the Rebels.
  • 37
Rebels awarded the penalty as the Blues infringe at the scrum. Rebels set the attacking lineout on the Blues five metre line as they kick for touch.
  • 36
Lolagi Visinia rushes out of line and puts pressure on the Rebels to get the pass away. The pass is made, Naivalu is free on the wing but he sees the try line before he has caught the ball and he knocks on. Blues with the defensive scrum on their 10 metre line.
  • 35
Rebels look to end the half on a high as they camp deep in Blues territory and make the Blues do the tackling.
  • 32
West is successful with the conversion and the Blues lead 24-11 with that.
  • 31
Absolute magic from the Blues as straight from the restart Luatua claims possession in the air before the ball goes to West. The Rebels find themselves at sixes and sevens and West steps his way out of the tackle and to the line!
  • 30
The flags go up and Debreczeni adds the extra three. Score is now 17-11 to the Blues.
  • 29
Blues gets blown up in a good kicking position for the Rebels and Debreczeni will look to add the extra three here.
  • 27
Crawford drops the ball backwards as he goes up to claim a high kick, the Rebels are under pressure as the Blues rush up but Placid puts a good high kick into Blues territory.
  • 25
West can not add the extra two as the kick goes wide!
  • 24
Charlie Faumuina is over for the Blues third try of the game after they claim the lineout and get the drive going. The Rebels are unable to get themselves organised and Faumuina is over for the try!
  • 22
Rieko Ioane breaks up field now and the Rebels have to track back before Ioane gets wrapped up. Rebels make the turnover and Debreczeni clears to touch ten metres from the Rebels line.
  • 20
West curls the conversion past the left posts and the score is now 12-8 in favor of the Blues!
  • 19
Kaino gets the Blues second try of the game after the Rebels run out of defenders. The Blues draw in the defence and Kaino simply stretches and scores.
  • 18
Blues hitting back well here as they win the penalty and set the attacking lineout just outside the Rebels 22.
  • 15
West nails the conversion and it's a one point game now. Rebels lead 7-8.
  • 14
West bashes it up and gets the Blues moving forward before the Blues pick and drive. Parsons picks up and spins out the tackle before his physicality gets him over. Good response from the Blues and Parsons after that early error cost them the try!
  • 13
West with a beautifully timed pass sends Visinia racing through the gap, he finds Francis and Francis is allmost through but he gets held up over the line. Five metre attacking scrum to the Blues.
  • 11
Debreczeni strikes it well and it's over! Rebels add thre more on the board and they now lead 0-8.
  • 10
Rebels getting quick clean ball at the ruck as they look to open up the Blues defence. Rebels awarded the penalty for an infringement in the ruck. Debreczeni lines one up at posts from 42 metres out centre field.
  • 8
West is unsuccessful with the penalty kick as the ball bounces off the posts. So close for West there! Score remains 0-5 to the Rebels.
  • 7
Rebels engage early at the scrum. Penalty goes the way of the Blues it's in the three points zone and West lines one up from the kicking tee.
  • 6
Tevita Li with a forward pass looks to free up his men on the outside. Rebels with the scrum just outside their 22.
  • 3
Debreczeni fluffs the conversion from a tight angle. Rebels lead 0-5.
  • 2
Hodge draws fist blood to the Rebels after a good grubber kick is put into the corner. Parsons tries to to get himself out of trouble and fires it out to West but the pass is awful and Hodge dots down for the try.
  • 1
Early penalty conceded in the ruck by the Blues. Rebels kick to touch and they have the attacking lineout on the Blues 22.
  • 0
Craig Joubert blows his whistle and Debreczeni gets us going as he boots fifteen metres into Blues territory, Bekhuis takes it in and West puts a kick up field. Placid collects and the Rebels have possession in their half. They look to counter.
  • -1
The players are out on the field. Stay tuned as we await referee Craig Joubert to signal the start of this match.
  • -5
Craig Joubert is our referee. Glen Jackson and Brett Johnson will assist him. Our TMO is Ben Skeen.
  • -10
WEATHER: The sun is shining down on the field and conditions are perfect for a fast paced game of Super Rugby.
  • -15
FORM: The Blues have only managed three wins and a draw in their seven games thus far which leaves them bottom of the New Zealand conference on sixteen points. The Rebels on the other hand are having a remarkable season as they sit top of the Australian conference with five wins from their eight matches thus far. Victory for the Rebels over the Blues will keep them at the top of the Australian conference and further increase their growing confidence as they look for a run into the playoffs. The teams are all square with two wins apiece in their last four encounters dating back to 2011. The last time these two met the Rebels ran out 42-22 winners in Melbourne.
  • -19
News just in, there has been a late change to the Rebels starting team as Sam Jeffries replaces Lopeti Timani in the starting team due to a quad strain. Culum Retalick earns a place on the bench.
  • -20
TEAM NEWS, MELBOURNE REBELS: Rebels head coach Tony McGahan has chosen to give Jamie Hagan his run on debut as he has been selected in the starting team for this clash. Flanker Colby Fainga’a starts on the reserve bench for a second week running after making his return from injury against the Cheetahs last weekend. Tim Metcher earns a place on the bench.
  • -25
Team news, Blues: There are two changes to the Blues starting team that did battle against the Sharks last time out. Patrick Tuipulotu starts at number four lock while Rene Ranger is replaced by George Moala due to injury.
  • -30
Hello and welcome to Rugby 365’s live commentary of this Super Rugby round ten matchup between the Blues and the Melbourne Rebels from Eden Park in Auckland.
Mc blues logo 80x50
Mc rebels logo 80x50
  • 1 Sam Prattley
  • 2 James Parsons
  • 3 Charlie Faumuina
  • 4 Patrick Tuipulotu
  • 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 George Moala
  • 14 Rieko Ioane
  • 15 Lolagi Visinia
  • 16 Quentin MacDonald
  • 17 Nic Mayhew
  • 18 Ofa Tu'ungafasi
  • 19 Akira Ioane
  • 20 Kara Pryor
  • 21 Billy Guyton
  • 22 Matt McGahan
  • 23 Melani Nanai Vai
  • 1 Toby Smith
  • 2 James Hanson
  • 3 Jamie Hagan
  • 4 Luke Jones
  • 5 Sam Jeffries
  • 6 Jordy Reid
  • 7 Sean McMahon
  • 8 Adam Thomson
  • 9 Nic Stirzaker
  • 10 Jack Debreczeni
  • 11 Cam Crawford
  • 12 Tamati Ellison
  • 13 Reece Hodge
  • 14 Sefanaia Naivalu
  • 15 Jonah Placid
  • 16 Pat Leafa
  • 17 Cruze Ah-Nau
  • 18 Tim Metcher
  • 19 Culum Retallick
  • 20 Colby Faingaa
  • 21 Ben Meehan
  • 22 Kotaro Matsushima
  • 23 Sione Tuipolotu
Mc article deon davids kings media 800


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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

* Statistical information provided by Opta Sports

Mc article blues celebrate 800

Blues edge 10-try thriller

Sat, 30 Apr 2016 06:57

REPORT: The Blues held on in the face of a powerful late surge by the Rebels win 36-30 in their Round 10 Super Rugby encounter in Auckland on Saturday.

That the Rebels were as close as that in the end is astonishing. After all their hands had let them down, they had missed many tackles, their scrumming was wobbly and the wasted much energy on unprofitable phases. And yet at the end they were just one decision away from winning. It says a great deal for the Rebels' resilience and ability to take scoring chances.

The Blues' handling and tackling were far better but they missed five kicks at goal to the two of the Blues.

Both sides started the match running. The Rebels kicked off and the Blues ran. Then the Rebels got the ball and they ran - and scored. Going left, Tamati Ellison grubbered towards the touchline on his left. The ball was going out but James Parsons tried to prevent the ball from going infield and flicked infield but past Ihaia West. It was on the ground and Reece Hodge snapped it up top score. 5-0 after 3 minutes.

Parsons had been appointed captain the place of Jerome Kaino, apperently at Kaino's request for the sake of the team and his own game. But when Parsons was penalised at a tackle he gave Jack Debreczeni a straightforward kick at goal. 8-0 after 11 minutes.

But Parsons soon scored points for his own side. Lolagi Visinia broke and gave to Bryn Hall who was ruled to have been held up over the line. That gave the Blues a five-metre scrum on the left. West darted for the line and Kaino bashed to the line. Hall gave to Parsons and the hooker spun away from tow would be tacklers and past another two to score close to the posts after 15 minutes.

George Moala caused the Rebels serious defensive problems and when he broke through Ellison he set the Blues on advancing phases. Steven Luatua was close and then Jerome Kaino was over, and after 19 minutes the Blues led 17-8. The Rebels did not retake the lead.

Rieko Ioane had an exciting run through the midfield, West grubbered and Debreczeni saved but Nic Stirzaker's clearance did little to relieve the pressure as it results in a line-out just 10 metres from the Rebels goal-line. The Blues had a quick, little throw to the front but drove the ensuing maul over the lien for a try in the left corner by Charlie Faumuina. 17-8 after 23 minutes.

The Rebels went through one of their sets of phases - 10 in all - which ended when they knocked on. They had five such sets of phases in the match without scoring.

Debreczeni kicked a penalty goal and a remarkable try followed. West kicked off, shallower than usual and just over the 10-metre line Luatua caught the ball running.He gave to Patrick Tuipulotu who gave to West who scored and then converted his own try. 24-11 after 31 minutes. The Blues looked as if they were running away with it but then suddenly the Rebels showed that they were not to be ignored.

A penalty gave them a five-metre line-out. They used just four men in the line-out, threw deep and mauled. They mauled over the line for a try credited to Jordy Reid. 24-18 and it was half-time.

As the Blues captain had made expensive mistakes at the start of the first half, so the Rebels captain, right at the start of the second half, passed over the dead-ball line for a five-metre scrum from which the Blues scored after a thrust by Moala. They went left where the ball went 9-12-15 11 and Tevita Li scored in the corner. 29-19 after 42 minutes.

A penalty gave the Rebels a five-metre line-out but this time the Blues repelled the invasion.

The Blues had a penalty in front of the posts but opted for a line-out on the left. They mauled and then went wide right where fullback Visinia suddenly cut back past four would-be defenders and a fifth who tried to tackle him as he scored. Piers Francis, who had taken over the kicking from West, converted. 36-18 after 54 minutes.

Only the Rebels scored from now on.

Their first score started with a strong charge by tireless Sean McMahon that ended with some clever handling and a try for substitute flank Colby Fainga'a with 15 minutes to play.

The Blues attacked and just when it seemed that they would score a try, the Rebels did. It started with a Li break. Just when he seemed about to score Cam Crawford tackled him. The Blues still had the ball but Tuipulotu knocked on. Five metres from his line Sefa Naivalu picked up the ball, got past Francis and 95 metres downfield scored under the posts. 36-30 with 12 minutes to play.

A penalty gave the Rebels a five-metre line-out and they did one of their four-man line-outs again with a maul joined by other players. BVut the maul splintered as they got close to the line and they were penalised for obstruction. The Blues survived to win while the Rebels suffered their fourth defeat of the season.

Man of the Match: Sean McMahon was outstanding for the Rebels but the candidates were Blues - Lolagi Visinia who enjoys playing so much, forceful George Moala, elusive Tevita Li and our choice big, strong, effective Steven Luatua.

The scorers:

For the Blues:
Parsons, Kaino, Faumuina, West, Li, Visinia
Cons: West 2, Francis

For the Rebels:
Hodge, Reid, Fainga'a, Naivalu
Cons: Debreczeni 2
Pens: Debreczeni 2


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, 3 Charlie Faumuina, 2 James Parsons (captain), 1 Sam Prattley.
Replacements: 16 Quentin MacDonald, 17 Nic Mayhew, 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 Sam Jeffries, 4 Luke Jones, 3 Jamie Hagan, 2 James Hanson, 1 Toby Smith.
Replacements: 16 Pat Leafa, 17 Cruze Ah Nau, 18 Tim Metcher, 19 Culum Retallick, 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

James Parsons (14min), Jerome Kaino (19min), Charlie Faumuina (24min), Ihaia West (31min), Tevita Li (42min), and Lolagi Visinia (52min)
Reece Hodge (2min), Jordy Reid (39min), Colby Faingaa (64min), and Sefanaia Naivalu (67min)
Ihaia West (15min), Ihaia West (32min), and Piers Francis (53min)
Jack Debreczeni (40min) and Jack Debreczeni (68min)
Jack Debreczeni (11min) and Jack Debreczeni (30min)
VENUE Auckland
REFEREE Craig Joubert (South Africa)