ad link

Chiefs

FULL-TIME
13     26

Highlanders

Super Rugby | Hamilton
07:35 (GMT) | 07-05-2016
  • 81
Thanks for joining us! Join us again for more Super Rugby action today!
  • 80
Waisake Naholo intercepts a McKenzie pass and sprints all the way to the tryline to dive over but he goes into touch
  • 79
Cruden misses the conversion
  • 78
The Chiefs now make their way into Highlanders 22. The Highlanders are penalised and the Chiefs take it quickly. We go back for another penalty and Cruden takes it quickly sends it outside to Sam Vaka who is over for his first Super Rugby TRY!
  • 74
The Chiefs infringe and Sopoaga finds touch and his side will take the throw-in 10 metres out. They're penalised for offside and Cruden gives the Chiefs a lineout on own 10
  • 72
The visitors have the throw-in 10 metres out and the Chiefs come away with it. They set up a few phases but go into touch and the Highlanders will have a lineout just off the 10
  • 69
Sopoaga gets it over to stretch the Highlanders' lead
  • 68
Maama Vaipulu infringes at the ruck and Gardner shows him yellow. Sopoaga gets an opportunity to add three more
  • 66
The Chiefs turn the heat up at the scrum but Aaron Smith comes away with it and puts in a box kick that gives the Chiefs a lineout on own 10
  • 63
Sopoaga misjudges the kick and sends it wide
  • 62
Good defence from the Chiefs keep the Highlanders out. The visitors do well to retain possession and a beautiful skip pass from Sopoaga to Naholo gets him over for the TRY!
  • 58
Good defence from the Highlanders gives them an attacking scrum on the 10. They take the ball up and take it through the hands quickly. Malakai Fekitoa does well to beat defenders but Toni Pulu grounds the ball after a grubber by the Highlanders.
  • 55
The Chiefs win a lineout and build a bit of momentum but the Highlanders turn it over at the breakdown. Sopoaga finds touch just shy of the 5 but Taleni Seu pushes Sam Cane at the lineout and Cruden gets to relieve some pressure
  • 52
He can't covert his own try and the Highlanders maintain a 10-point lead
  • 51
Ngatai makes his presence known immediately as he makes a break that sets up a Chiefs attack. McKenzie gives a short pass to his outside and James Lowe hands it to Cruden who dashes to the tryline and is over for the try!
  • 50
The Highlanders are in control now as they set up a few phases to near the Chiefs' tryline. Ben Smith loses the ball forward just short of the 5m line and the Chiefs have the put-in. Ngatai returns to the field.
  • 47
Chiefs have an attacking scrum on the 10 but the Highlanders get a scrum penalty. Sopoaga finds touch and the visitors will have a lineout on Chiefs 22
  • 45
Sopoaga sends the conversion wide
  • 44
The Highlanders are a very organised outfit tonight. They have a scrum on the halfway line and take it through the hands before Ben Smith finds Patrick Osborne on his outside and the wing snipes through but he is taken down inside the 22. They regroup and Naholo receives the pass from Smith on first receiver and cuts through for their second try of the match!
  • 41
The Chiefs get the second half underway. The Highlanders do well to drive the Chiefs, who are on the attack, back and keep them away from the advantage line

Half Time

  • 40
The Highlanders have an opportunity to take advantage of the Chiefs' 14-man disadvantage as they have an attacking lineout on the 22 but the Chiefs steal it! They kick it out as halftime strikes and the visitors go into halftime with a 10-point lead
  • 38
Highlanders loose forward Elliot Dixon chases to contest for a ball in the air but he runs into Ngatai and flips over him. He lands awkwardly and Ngatai is sin-binned
  • 35
Uncharacteristic mistake by the Chiefs in midfield as Charlie Ngatai fumbles a pass on second receiver and their attack goes south. The Highlanders capitalise but don't get very far before the Chiefs turn it over again
  • 30
Sopoaga adds the extras as the Highlanders take command on the scoreboard
  • 29
The Highlanders aren't giving McKenzie any space today, as they shouldn't, as he's flung to the ground and possession is turned over. The Highlanders start a run and Ben Smith receives a beautiful inside pass just outside the 22 but the balls goes loose and loosehead Daniel Lienert-Brown scoops it up and is over for the for the TRY!
  • 25
Brodie Retallick hunts the turnover at the breakdown on own 10 and he gets it! McKenzie is going for the long-range shots today as he takes the kick from halfway but sends it just away to the left
  • 22
Chiefs tighthead Mitchell Graham is penalised for not rolling away. Sopoaga sets up from about 25 metres out and he gets it through to bring his Super Rugby points tally to 100.
  • 18
A bit of aerial ping pong now. Chiefs fullback Damian McKenzie provides some entertainment as he completely busts the Highlanders' defensive line in midfield but his solid run is stopped by Smith. The guy is having a good game so far.
  • 14
Smith feeds the scrum for the Highlanders on own 22 after a forward pass from counterpart Brad Weber. They set up a few phases but it's short-lived as the Chiefs turn it over.
  • 10
The Highlanders get a chance to be in control as hooker Ash Dixon has the throw-in at the lineout on Chiefs 10. They take the ball up and this time the Chiefs are in the wrong on the ground. Sopoaga sets up for the penalty on Chiefs 22 right in front of the posts. He gets it over to level the score
  • 7
They come away with it and gain good ground into Highlanders 22. The visitors show ill-discipline at the breakdown again as they concede their third penalty in seven minutes. The Chiefs launch an attack but lose the ball forward five metres out and Aaron Smith relieves some pressure for the Highlanders as he clears
  • 6
The ref gets caught in a tackle that ends up interfering with the breakdown contest. He makes the right call and blows it up and the Chiefs will feed the scrum just outside their red zone
  • 4
Flyhalf Aaron Cruden sets up for what should be an easy shot from inside the 22. He gets it over to give the Chiefs the early lead.
  • 2
The Chiefs get an early penalty as the Waisake Naholo fails to roll away. McKenzie finds touch and the Chiefs have an attacking lineout on the 22. They take the ball through the hands and do well to near the tryline before the whistle goes for obstruction by the Highlanders
  • 1
The teams are on the pitch! Highlanders pivot Lima Sopoaga gets us underway with a high kick into Chiefs 22 that is neatly gathered by the home team.
  • -5
Angus Gardner will be the man in the middle and Chris Pollock and Angus Mabey will be assisting him, while Shane McDermott is our television match official.
  • -10
The Highlanders have been victorious in four of their last seven meetings with the Chiefs but the Waikato-based side will be looking to keep their winning streak intact after bagging eight wins in nine clashes this season. The Highlanders, on the other hand, have suffered three defeats in the expanded competition.
  • -15
Head coach Jamie Joseph has reshuffled his potent backline, with wing Naisake Naholo returning from a broken leg to reunite the Highlanders' exciting back three. Utility back, Matt Faddes will get his first start at centre after previously playing on the wing and at fullback and Malakai Fekitoa moves to inside centre. The timely return of Marty Banks from injury sees him take the place of an unlucky Hayden Parker who sustained a season-ending knee injury at training last week. Up front, co-captain Shane Christie, who is sidelined with a hamstring injury, is replaced at openside by Dan Pryor, while Luke Whitelock returns at No.8 with James Lentjes making his first appearance for the season on the bench. The versatile Gareth Evans rounds out the loose forwards in the reserves while Otago loosehead prop Aki Seiuli gets an opportunity to make his Highlanders debut having come into the squad for the injured Brendon Edmonds.
  • -20
Chiefs head coach Dave Rennie made just two changes to the starting XV that secured a 24-22 win over the Sharks in New Plymouth last Friday, with dynamic wing James Lowe and influential centre Charlie Ngatai returning from injury to start against the Highlanders. On the bench, Michael Allardice and Maama Vaipulu have recovered from injury and re-join the matchday squad. Former New Zealand Sevens representative Sam Vaka is poised to add more flair to the Chiefs' solid backline when he makes his Super Rugby debut off the bench.
  • -30
Welcome and thanks for joining us for our live coverage of the key encounter between the Chiefs and the Highlanders at the Waikato Stadium!
Mc chiefs logo 80x50
Chiefs
Mc highlanders logo 80x50
Highlanders
START LINE UP
  • 1 Mitchell Graham
  • 2 Hika Elliot
  • 3 Hiroshi Yamashita
  • 4 Dominic Bird
  • 5 Brodie Retallick
  • 6 Taleni Seu
  • 7 Sam Cane
  • 8 Michael Leitch
  • 9 Brad Weber
  • 10 Aaron Cruden
  • 11 James Lowe
  • 12 Charlie Ngatai
  • 13 Seta Tamanivalu
  • 14 Toni Pulu
  • 15 Damian McKenzie
RESERVES
  • 16 Nathan Harris
  • 17 Siate Tokolahi
  • 18 Kane Hames
  • 19 Michael Allardice
  • 20 Maama Vaipulu
  • 21 Kayne Hammington
  • 22 Anton Lienert-Brown.
  • 23 Sam Vaka
START LINE UP
  • 1 Daniel Lienert-Brown
  • 2 Ash Dixon
  • 3 Josh Hohneck
  • 4 Thomas Franklin
  • 5 Alex Ainley
  • 6 Elliot Dixon
  • 7 Dan Pryor
  • 8 Luke Whitelock
  • 9 Aaron Smith
  • 10 Lima Sopoaga
  • 11 Patrick Osborne
  • 12 Malakai Fekitoa
  • 13 Matt Faddes
  • 14 Waisake Naholo
  • 15 Ben Smith
RESERVES
  • 16 Greg Pleasents
  • 17 Aki Seiulu
  • 18 Siua Halanukonuka
  • 19 James Lentjes
  • 20 Gareth Evans
  • 21 Fumiaki Tanaka
  • 22 Marty Banks
  • 23 Teihorangi Walden
Mc article john plumtree hurricanes 800

S18 PREVIEW: ROUND 11, PART TWO

Thu, 05 May 2016 20:28

IN THE SPOTLIGHT. Jan de Koning looks at the Saturday matches in Part Two of Super Rugby's Round 11.

The return of try-scoring machine Waisake Naholo has commanded the headlines this week, and has certainly spiced up this weekend's crucial New Zealand conference showdown between the defending champion Highlanders and this year's pace-setting Chiefs.

As the tournament goes into Round 11 of the 17-round regular season, Naholo has been named for his first run since he was injured in the opening game against the Blues at the end of February.

The All Black wing, Super Rugby's top try-scorer last year with 13, injured the same leg that saw him capture world headlines last year when he used a traditional herbal treatment to cure a fracture before the World Cup.

Without him this year the Highlanders have still fashioned an impressive six wins from nine matches, to lie fourth in the tightly-packed New Zealand conference.

The Chiefs have won eight of nine, but they have been off the boil in recent weeks and came close to defeat in their last two outings - edging the Hurricanes (28-27) in controversial fashion, with claims of manipulating the scrum rules, and also just escaping (24-22) against the Sharks last week.

The other BIG game of the weekend will see the Sharks looking to claim top spot in the Africa Two conference, when they host a Hurricanes team looking to back up last week's 50-17 thumping of Africa Two conference leaders the Lions.

And the Hurricanes do have plenty of inside knowledge when they play the Sharks in Durban.

Coach Chris Boyd and assistant John Plumtree have both been involved with the Sharks, with Plumtree sacked as the Durban side's head coach three years ago.

A straight win for the Sharks, after last week's narrow loss to the Chiefs, will see them draw level in their conference with the Lions who have a bye - while a bonus point win will see them go top of the pool.

The Waratahs will also fancy their chances of moving top of the Australia conference - depending on what happens in the encounter between the Brumbies and Bulls on Friday - when they play the Cheetahs in Sydney on Saturday.

The Waratahs go into the weekend equal on points with the Brumbies and only two behind the Rebels, who have a bye.

In the remaining Saturday matches, the Sunwolves are at home in Tokyo against the Western Force, with both sides looking for their second win, while the Southern Kings host the Blues in Port Elizabeth.

We look at the Saturday, May 7, matches below!

It is a historic week for the Western Force, as the team makes the journey to Tokyo to take on competition newcomers, the Sunwolves for the first time.

The Sunwolves, who have been treated like rock stars in Tokyo since their maiden win (36-28) against fellow newcomers the Jaguares a fortnight ago, will pose a massive challenge for the Force.

The plucky Japanese outfit will be fresh heading into this weekend, after enjoying the bye last weekend.

The Force will be just the second Australian team to take on the new Japanese side, after the Rebels defeated the Sunwolves 35-9 in Round Four.

Force coach Michael Foley said the side is looking forward to opportunity they have in front of them in Tokyo.

"Obviously there's always disappointment after a loss," he said of last week's 20-42 defeat at the hands of the Bulls.

"However, the team is more motivated than ever to respond this weekend.

"There's a sense of excitement about the chance to play in Tokyo and we feel we have an opportunity to pick up some wins towards the back end of the season if we attack each game for the 80 minutes without fear."

Although both teams - currently sitting 16th (Sunwolves) and 17th (Force) in the standings - have long since been reduced to also-rans, the match will have one of the tournament's more intriguing head-to-head clashes.

Arguably two of the toughest players in the competition, Ben McCalman and fiery red-head Ed Quirk, will face off at Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium.

Previous results:
These teams have never met before.

Prediction: The Sunwolves'  only previous experience against Australian opponents was a 26-point loss to the Rebels in Round Four. The Sunwolves, after a 36-28 win against fellow newcomers Jaguares, will now be searching for consecutive wins for the first time in their young history. The Force have won only two of their last 19 matches away from home and outside of Australia the most recent of which came in Round 13, 2014. The Sunwolves have conceded just one penalty goal in the final quarter of matches so far this season; only the Bulls and Lions (nil) have conceded fewer. The Force are one of only three teams in the competition (Sharks and Stormers) to average more penalty goals (2.4) per game than tries (1.2). The Force have been erratic, to say the least, but do have the potential to win. We feel the Sunwolves will be buoyed by their maiden win and should sneak it by a late converted try.

Teams:

Sunwolves: 15 Riaan Viljoen, 14 Akihito Yamada, 13 Derek Carpenter, 12 Harumichi Tatekawa, 11 John Stewart, 10 Tusi Pisi, 9 Kaito Shigeno, 8 Ed Quirk, 7 Andrew Durutalo, 6 Liaki Moli, 5 Faatiga Lemalu, 4 Hitoshi Ono, 3 Shinnosuke Kakinaga, 2, Shota Horie (captain), 1 Masataka Mikami.
Replacements: 16 Takeshi Kizu, 17 Ziun Gu, 18 Takuma Asahara, 19 Yoshiya Hosoda, 20 Taiyo Ando, 21 Atsushi Hiwasa, 22 Yu Tamura, 23 Mifiposeti Paea.

Western Force: 15 Dane Haylett-Petty, 14 Marcel Brache, 13 Solomoni Rasolea, 12 Kyle Godwin, 11 Luke Morahan, 10 Ian Prior, 9 Alby Mathewson, 8 Ben McCalman, 7 Matt Hodgson (captain), 6 Brynard Stander, 5 Adam Coleman, 4 Ross Haylett-Petty, 3 Guy Millar, 2 Harry Scoble, 1 Francois van Wyk.
Replacements: 16 Anaru Rangi, 17 Chris Heiberg, 18 Tetera Faulkner, 19 Sitiveni Mafi, 20 Angus Cottrell, 21 Ryan Louwrens, 22 Peter Grant, 23 Semisi Masirewa.

Referee: Mike Fraser
Assistant referees: Paul Williams, Aki Aso
TMO: Takashi Hareda

There is no doubt this is THE biggest game of the weekend - both in terms of importance and the intensity that the two teams will bring.

Highlanders coach Jamie Joseph had no hesitation in labelling the Chiefs the best team in the competition.

"People start licking their lips over what sort of game it is going to be," Joseph told the Otago Daily Times.

"Both teams like to attack and if guys start slipping off tackles or make mistakes, kick poorly, then guys like Ben [Smith] and [Damian] McKenzie are going to run it,'' he added.

"That opens it up for a really open game of footy.

"But in saying that, it is really hard to play that type of footy for the entire game. So I think they'll have to take a breath of air.

"But for me the Chiefs have been by far the team in form and that is our challenge.''

Chiefs coach Dave Rennie was equally complimentary of the opposition and labelled Saturday's showdown "a massive challenge" for his side.

"The Highlanders are very similar to us, they've got a group of guys who work hard for each other," Rennie told the Waikato Times.

"With game-breakers across the park, they are the type of team that will sting you if you kick poorly or turn the ball over.

"It'll be a hell of a spectacle with two very positive Kiwi teams on display."

Recent results:
2015: Highlanders won 24-14, Dunedin (preliminary play-off match)
2015: Highlanders won 36-9, Dunedin
2015: Highlanders won 20-17, Hamilton
2014: Highlanders won 29-25, Dunedin
2014: Chiefs won 21-19, Hamilton
2013: Chiefs won 19-7, Hamilton
2013: Chiefs won 41-27, Dunedin

Prediction: The Highlanders' current run of four straight wins against the Chiefs snapped a Chiefs run of four straight victories prior to that. Only two of the last five matches between these teams have been won by the team leading at half-time. The Chiefs have won their last seven matches in a row despite having only led at half-time in three of them (level once, trailing three times). Twelve of the past 16 matches when the Chiefs have hosted a fellow New Zealand team have been decided by fewer than 10 points; of those 16 matches Chiefs have won 12. The Highlanders have kept their opposition scoreless in the opening half of two of their last three matches away from home. No doubt it is going to be a cracker and in the end will be close, very close. The Chiefs to win by five points or less.

Teams:

Chiefs: 15 Damian McKenzie, 14 Toni Pulu, 13 Seta Tamanivalu, 12 Charlie Ngatai, 11 James Lowe, 10 Aaron Cruden (co-captain), 9 Brad Weber, 8 Michael Leitch, 7 Sam Cane (co-captain), 6 Taleni Seu, 5 Brodie Retallick, 4 Dominic Bird, 3 Hiroshi Yamashita, 2 Hika Elliot, 1 Mitchell Graham.
Replacements: 16 Nathan Harris, 17 Siate Tokolahi, 18 Kane Hames, 19 Michael Allardice, 20 Maama Vaipulu, 21 Kayne Hammington, 22 Anton Lienert-Brown, 23 Sam Vaka.

Highlanders: 15 Ben Smith (captain), 14 Waisake Naholo, 13 Matt Faddes, 12 Malakai Fekitoa, 11 Patrick Osborne, 10 Lima Sopoaga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Luke Whitelock, 7 Dan Pryor, 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 Aki Seiuli, 18 Siosiua Halanukonuka, 19 James Lentjes, 20 Gareth Evans, 21 Fumiaki Tanaka, 22 Marty Banks, 23 Teihorangi Walden.

Referee: Angus Garner
Assistant referees: Chris Pollock, Angus Mabey
TMO: Shane McDermott

The Waratahs still have aspirations of overtaking the table-topping Rebels and the Brumbies in the Australian conference race.

While travelling back from South Africa, they will no doubt be buoyed by their impressive win over the Africa Conference leaders, the Stormers, last week.

In contrast Cheetahs will be playing in their third away match in a row.

Cheetahs coach Franco Smith certainly has no delusions of grandeur and repeatedly emphasised that his young team - on a massive learning curve - is growing each week.

Smith, speaking to rugby365 from the team's  base in Sydney, said that the first objective is always to win a match.

However, the Sydney encounter is also about continuing the team's growth.

"We will have to dominate the breakdowns and we have to dominate the linespeed," Smith said.

"We also have to ensure we don't get bullied in the set pieces."

The Cheetahs are "grateful" that they finally return home next week.

"We can use that as motivation to give it a full go this week," Smith said, adding: "We do want to improve our defence and look to score more tries.

"However, the key will be for us to retain possession for as many phases as possible and get that confidence that we are capable with ball in hand."

The Waratahs, after a very erratic start to the season, finally won back-to-back matches in the last fortnight - an impressive 49-13 demolition of the Force and last week's nailbiting (32-30) win over the Stormers - both on the road.

However, Waratahs flyhalf Bernard Foley said those wins don't count for much if they don't back it up Saturday.

"It's great for us to get those wins away, but we really want to come back and make Allianz [Sydney Football Stadium] a bit of a fortress, the way we have the last couple of years," Foley told the Sydney Morning Herald.

After chancing their arm a lot in the early parts of the season, the Waratahs look to have reined it in, in recent weeks - playing a more 'structured' game.

"The opposition are trying to lull us into a false sense of attacking play, so in that sense we have tried to be a bit smarter in our decisions," Foley said.

"I suppose also in the back field sort of thing, having a bit of a kick drill, but always looking to get the ball back when we're kicking. We're not just kicking aimlessly down the field, we actually kicking for a purpose and kicking for an outcome.

"That's really helped and guys have really bought into owning the detail.

"That's been a big focus for us the last couple of weeks is to really know the detail and for everyone in the squad from 1-23 are across what their role is for the team. I think over the last couple of weeks, guys have learned that and been able to go out and execute."
 
Recent results:
2015: Waratahs won 58-33, Bloemfontein
2013: Cheetahs won 27-26, Sydney
2012: Cheetahs won 35-34, Bloemfontein
2011: Cheetahs won 23-3, Sydney
2010: Waratahs won 40-17, Sydney
2009: Waratahs won 18-10, Bloemfontein

Prediction: The Cheetahs have won three of their last four matches against the Waratahs, though two of those wins were by a single point. The Waratahs have lost their last three matches on home soil, all by less than a converted try, with their last home triumph coming in the opening round of the season. This will be the Cheetahs' third match in a tour of Australia in which they are yet to register a win; they've won only one of their last seven matches away from home against Australian opposition. On average the Cheetahs have seen one of their scrums per game stolen by the opposition, the most of any team in the competition. The Waratahs have scored 13 tries from possession originating within their own half of the field, the most of any Australian team and the third most in the competition. Travel may be a factor counting against the Waratahs, who travelled west to east across the Indian Ocean. However, the Cheetahs have taken baby steps in their growth this season and may find the Waratahs still have the edge - by 15 to 20 points.

Teams:

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 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 Paddy Ryan.       
Replacements: 16 Hugh Roach, 17 Jeremy Tilse, 18 Angus Ta'avao, 19 Sam Lousi, 20 Wycliff Palu, 21 Matt Lucas, 22 David Horwitz, 23 Matt Carraro.

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

Referee: Nic Berry (Australia)
Assistant referees: Andrew Lees (Australia), Rohan Hoffmann (Australia)
TMO: George Ayoub (Australia)

The Sharks mark their return from their overseas leg - which yielded one win and two narrow (18-23 to the Blues and 22-24 to the Chiefs) defeats - with a match against the high-flying Hurricanes.

Sharks Director of Rugby Gary Gold felt the Hurricanes will pose a similar challenge to the three New Zealand teams they faced on tour.

However, the fact that the Hurricanes are fresh from a match where they put 50 points past the Africa Two conference-leading Lions will give added confidence to the New Zealanders.

"We have a massive challenge coming up this weekend, against a star-studded Hurricanes team," Gold said.

"This team is lethal with ball in hand and we have a huge amount of respect for them.

"However, it's fantastic to be back home and to play in front of our home crowd.

"This is the fourth New Zealand team we are playing in succession and we are excited about the challenge that lies ahead.

"We want to build on our courageous performance against the Chiefs last Friday, and our focus is on being accurate and utilising our opportunities."

Gold made no bones about the fact that his team is willing to win 'ugly' if that is what it takes.

"We want to be a team that gets the balance a little bit better," he said, adding: "We are certainly not going to apologise for winning games in any way we need to.

"First and foremost you need to stop New Zealand teams scoring tries against you.

"Then, when you do have the ball, you need to be more clinical in how you look after it."

The Hurricanes are certainly not underestimating the Sharks, despite their massive win last week.

Hurricanes assistant coach Jason Holland said the Lions win was great for morale, but they had wiped that and were now getting ready for a bigger challenge against the Sharks.

"While we did a lot of things well, there are still a lot of things in our game that we know we can get better at," he said.

He felt the Sharks are probably one of the most improved of South African sides and definitely a challenge.

"It's been interesting seeing the Sharks try a bit more in the last couple of weeks.

"The Sharks in New Zealand could easily have come away with three wins.

"They've got their strength up front with their big boys and they've got a good maul and a good kicking game and Willie le Roux's left foot out the back."

Recent results:
2015: Hurricanes won 32-24, Wellington
2014: Sharks won 27-9, Durban
2012: Hurricanes won 42-18, Wellington
2011: Sharks won 40-24, Durban
2010: Sharks won 29-26, Wellington
2009: Sharks won 33-17, Durban

Prediction: The Sharks have won four of their last six matches against the Hurricanes, though the New Zealand side have won two of the last three including an eight-point win in their most recent encounter. The Sharks return home to where they have lost their last two games; the last time they lost more than two consecutive home games was across the 2009 and 2010 campaigns. The Hurricanes have won their last eight games against teams from South Africa, more than double their next longest streak (three games). The Sharks have scored the second fewest tries so far this season (17) behind the Force (11), but they have also conceded the fewest tries (15). Beauden Barrett has converted more tries this season than any other player (27) and is one of only four players so far this season to have scored more than 100 points. The Sharks have showed marked improvement in the last few weeks and also have a more pragmatic approach to games - which may just be to their benefit against the hard-running Hurricanes. It will not be a rout like last week, but the Hurricanes will win a nailbiter - by seven points or less.

Teams:

Sharks: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Paul Jordaan, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Garth April, 9 Michael Claassens, 8. Daniel du Preez, 7 Jean-Luc du Preez, 6 Keegan Daniel, 5 Stephan Lewies, 4 Etienne Oosthuizen, 3 Lourens Adriaanse, 2 Franco Marais, 1 Tendai Mtawarira (captain).
Replacements: 16 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 17 Dale Chadwick, 18 Thomas du Toit, 19 Hyron Andrews, 20 Jean Deysel, 21 Stefan Ungerer, 22 Patrick Lambie, 23 Odwa Ndungane.

Hurricanes: 15 James Marshall, 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 Ben May, 19 Mark Abbott, 20 Blade Thomson, 21 Jamison Gibson-Park, 22 Ngani Laumape, 23 Jason Woodward.

Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Quinton Immelman (South Africa), Rodney Bonaparte (South Africa)
TMO: Marius Jonker (South Africa)

The Blues may still fancy themselves, with an outside chance, of making the play-offs.

But it is no surprise that the Kings are propping up the bottom of the table.

Mentally they never switched on against the Jaguares last week and the result was a 73-27 mauling at the hands of the Argentinean side.

Both coach Deon Davids and captain Steven Sykes this week admitted that it is a mindset change that individuals will have to make to avoid another big hiding.

Davids said that from a defensive point of view they really let themselves down.

"The players have taken accountability and they know how they must fix it," the Kings coach said in the build-up to the Blues encounter.

"What is lacking in our game is our ability to dominate contact, especially on defence.

"That is something we need to, continuously, work on."

Davids described the Blues as a very experienced team, with a few All Blacks in the side.

"They have very strong and tall backs, especially the outside backs," the Kings mentor said, adding: "As we all know, New Zealand teams like to play the game at a very high tempo.

"We are expecting a very tough game."

The Blues said their biggest problem this week is guarding against complacency.

Blues assistant coach Glenn Moore said they had addressed the complacency issue with the side after arriving in Johannesburg, where they were based early in the week before heading to Port Elizabeth.

"We're really focused on the job in hand and the boys have been working really hard on their analysis' stuff, we've been really diligent around what we're eating and how we're preparing," he said in an interview on allblacks.com.

"Our expectation is that we'll go out there and put out a good performance."

Previous results:
These teams have never met before.

Prediction: This will be the first Super Rugby encounter between the Kings and the Blues, though the South African side have lost their last three games against opponents from New Zealand, conceding 157 points in the process. The Blues have won only one of their last 26 matches away from home and haven't won in South Africa since Round Three, 2012. The Blues are the only team yet to score a try after forcing a turnover from the opposition so far this season while the Kings have done so seven times. The Kings are the only South African team with more than one player having won more than 10 turnovers so far this season (Cyril-John Velleman 17 and Chris Cloete 12). The Kings have slowly digressed and the Blues have made some progressed. The Kings might be a bit more energetic on home soil, but the Blues should still win by 20 points or more.

Teams:

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

Blues: 15 Lolagi Visinia, 14 Melani Nanai, 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 Ofa Tu'ungafasi, 2 James Parsons (captain), 1 Sam Prattley.
Replacements: 16 Matt Moulds, 17 Nic Mayhew, 18 Charlie Faumuina, 19 Hoani Matenga, 20 Kara Pryor, 21 Billy Guyton, 22 Matt McGahan, 23 Male Sa'u.

Referee: Federico Anselmi
Assistant referees: Rasta Rasivhenge, Archie Sehlako
TMO: Christie du Preez

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

* Statistical information provided by Opta Sports

Mc article chiefs v highlanders match 800

Naholo double puts Highlanders back in the race

Sat, 07 May 2016 09:36

REPORT: All Black wing Waisake Naholo made a spectacular return from a fractured leg to score two tries as the Highlanders raced back into contention or Super Rugby's play-offs.

Not only did the burly wing score a brace in a 26-13 win over the Chiefs - tournament leaders before the weekend's Round 11 matches - but he also made a number of big plays in a cracking game Hamilton, including inning some crucial turnovers.

The result means the Chiefs have lost their place at the top of the Australasian conference to the high-flying Crusaders and the defending champion Highlanders moved back into contention after losing ground in the last few weeks.

The match at the sold-out Waikato Stadium was thoroughly absorbing, befitting their status as two of the very best non-Test teams in the world. It was one of those matches when suddenly there were three minutes left and that was a surprise. It was game to get lost in.

It was also a game that the visitors deserved to win. They were better organised, had vigorous defence and scored three tries to two, the second of the two scored in the 79th minute.

One was filled with awe watching the Highlanders' defence against one of the best attacking teams in the world. It seemed that they had three times as many defenders as there were attackers, as they were always there in numbers. The Highlanders aggressive defence made the Chiefs look ordinary - Damian McKenzie apart - and they won the turnovers and the penalties till a succession of three late penalties enabled the Chiefs to get their second try scored by substitute Sam Vaka, his one and only touch of the ball in Super Rugby. The match ended when Waisake Naholo put a bit of foot on a touchline as he went over for would have been his hat-trick try.

It was a great match played on a perfect pitch. There were cowbells, thank goodness, though they had less reason to clatter than usual.

The match started with lots of kicking from both sides, though better by the Highlanders. Early on the Chiefs reigned. They had the possession, they went through phases, and they scored - a penalty goal by Aaron Cruden when Ash Dixon went off side, near the posts and five metres from the Highlanders' line. 3-0 after 4 minutes. And still the Chiefs attacked till gradually the Highlanders got downfield and advanced in phases from a line-out till Brad Weber, who had a fine match in contest with Aaron Smith, was penalised at a tackle and Lima Sopoaga equalised with a penalty goal. 3-3 after 12 minutes.

From now on the Highlanders were on top and built their score. They took the lead when Mitchell Graham was penalised at a tackle and Sopoaga goaled before going off for a concussion test, which he passed. 6-3 after 24 flying minutes.

The first try came when the pressured Chiefs knocked on and the men from the south went right, left and right again, till the ball fell to ground in a bit of wonky handling and suddenly a comet flashed in Hamilton, for loosehead prop Daniel Lienert-Brown picked up, threw a dummy to his right and raced 23 exhilarating metres to score a try that any back would be proud of. Sopoaga was off and Marty Banks converted. 13-3 after 31 minutes.

Just before half-time Charlie Ngatai, such a handful for defenders, was yellowcarded for his part in Elliot Dixon's crashing to ground.

At half-time the Highlanders, defending Super Rugby champions, led 13-3.

The Highlanders scored first in the second half when Patrick Osborne raced down on the left to set up a bashing session. They then went right where the bulky Fijian, Waisake Naholo bumped off Damian McKenzie and scored in the right corner - to much delight, as he was returning from a long injury forced on him by a broken leg - his second leg injury - against the Blues at the end of February 2016. 18-3 after 45 minutes.

The Highlanders were attacking again but a knock-on by Ben Smith gave the Chiefs a scrum inside their 22. From the scrum Ngatai broke. He raced down the field and gave to James Lowe who forged ahead moving slightly infield where an inside pass seemed interesting to him but instead he passed outside to Ngatai who gave inside to Cruden who scored a wonderful try. 18-8 after 51 minutes.

The Highlanders attacked going left and Sopoaga threaded a grubber through towards the Chiefs line where Toni Pulu, falling back, carried over to concede a five-metre scrum on the left. Osborne came in to set up the bashing  with Matt Faddes and Ben smith prominent and then went wide right where Naholo went past Lowe to score in the Referees' Corner. 23-8 after 61 minutes.

The Highlanders' attacked and Maama Vaipulu was yellowcarded after a succession of tackle infringement. (The penalty count at that stage was 8-4 to the Highlanders'.) Sopoaga goaled the easy penalty. 26-8 after 68 minutes.

Penalties got the Chiefs attacking, first from a five-metre line-out and then along the five-metre line till eventually Vaka caught the ball where there were no defenders and scored. 23-16 after 79 minutes.

Man of the Match: Much as one would like to give the award to the speedy prop, Dan Lienert-Brown we really should give it to Waisake Naholo who scored those tries and worked at every phase of play, even winning turnovers at tackles. We do that with lots of admiration for Damian McKenzie.

The scorers:

For the Chiefs:
Tries:
Cruden, Vaka
Pen: Cruden

For the Highlanders:
Tries:
Lienert-Brown, Naholo 2
Con: Banks
Pens: Sopoaga 3

Yellow cards: Charlie Ngatai (Chiefs, 40 - foul play, dangerous tackle), Maama Vaipulu (Chiefs, 68 - cynical play, slapping the ball away)

Teams:

Chiefs: 15 Damian McKenzie, 14 Toni Pulu, 13 Seta Tamanivalu, 12 Charlie Ngatai, 11 James Lowe, 10 Aaron Cruden (co-captain), 9 Brad Weber, 8 Michael Leitch, 7 Sam Cane (co-captain), 6 Taleni Seu, 5 Brodie Retallick, 4 Dominic Bird, 3 Hiroshi Yamashita, 2 Hika Elliot, 1 Mitchell Graham.
Replacements: 16 Nathan Harris, 17 Siate Tokolahi, 18 Kane Hames, 19 Michael Allardice, 20 Maama Vaipulu, 21 Kayne Hammington, 22 Anton Lienert-Brown, 23 Sam Vaka.

Highlanders: 15 Ben Smith (captain), 14 Waisake Naholo, 13 Matt Faddes, 12 Malakai Fekitoa, 11 Patrick Osborne, 10 Lima Sopoaga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Luke Whitelock, 7 Dan Pryor, 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 Aki Seiuli, 18 Siosiua Halanukonuka, 19 James Lentjes, 20 Gareth Evans, 21 Fumiaki Tanaka, 22 Marty Banks, 23 Teihorangi Walden.

Referee: Angus Garner
Assistant referees: Chris Pollock, Angus Mabey
TMO: Shane McDermott

Aaron Cruden (51min) and Sam Vaka (78min)
TRIES
Daniel Lienert-Brown (29min), Waisake Naholo (44min), and Waisake Naholo (62min)
 
CONVERSIONS
Lima Sopoaga (31min)
Aaron Cruden (4min)
PENALTIES
Lima Sopoaga (11min), Lima Sopoaga (22min), and Lima Sopoaga (69min)
 
PENALTY TRIES
 
DROP GOALS
Charlie Ngatai (38min) and Maama Vaipulu (68min)
 
 
VENUE Hamilton
REFEREE Angus Garner