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21     26


Super Rugby | Eden Park
07:35 (GMT) | 28-05-2016
  • 80
Crusaders secure a 21-26 victory in this New Zealand Derby!!! Thank you so much for joining us! Continue to stay locked on as we bring you live coverage of all the matches!!!!
  • 79
STOLEN by Blues, and they start the attack. Crotty with an awful tackle on West leaves the player on the ground while play continues...Blues lost the ball, but the ref comes back for the penalty. Piers Francis steps up and adds 3 points for his team.
  • 78
Tevita Li with a beuatifull break. Quick hands by the Blues but their are tackle to touch for a Crusaders lineout on the 5 meter.
  • 77
Scrum inside the 10 meter. Crusaders conceded a penalty and Blues opt to kick at goal. West steps up but sends the ball wide and the flags stay down.
  • 75
Reaching the last 5 minutes of the match, the Blues have possession and they on the attack. Blues lost the ball with a knock on as rain starts pouring.
  • 72
Lineout won by the Crusaders' , mauled is form as Ellis shouts out the instructions. Blues concede a penalty is is ruled they are coming in from the side. Richie Mo'unga, steps up again and its over!!!!
  • 71
Blues' lineout, but their concede another penalty for not releasing the ball. Crusaders opt to kick to touch and reach the BLues' 22.
  • 69
TMO Glenn Newman is again called upon to decide on whether there was foul play by the Blues players. TMO ruled is a penalty to the Crusaders' and Richie Mo'unga, steps up and extend his teams lead.
  • 68
West hoist it high up in the air, Dagg secured it and makes a run. Crotty with a great break pass to the ball. Crusaders gets too excited and lost the ball forward.
  • 66
Lineout to the Crusaders on the 5 meter. They are on the attack, Ellis leading the troops and in this possible attack. The ball is loose and Hoani Matenga falls on the loose ball and the Blues have possession.
  • 65
Just after conceding a try, the Blues are endanger of conceding yet another one. Desperate defense by the Blues gives away a penalty!!!
  • 62
Richie Mo'unga adds the extras to give his team the lead. 20-18 to the visitors.
  • 60
Scrum is reset by the Ref. Kieran Read picks it up and pass to Ellis. They struggling to break through this defense. Kieron Fonotia makes a break and pass to Ellis, who dodge some tackle. He slides over to to score his try.
  • 57
From the scrum the Blues in on the attack. Jerome Kaino is held up by Kieran Read. The skipper win his team a scrum on the 50 meter line.
  • 56
Billy Guyton makes a few meters. The Blues build some phases. Guyton opt to kick it down field and Nemani Nadolo returns the favour for a lineout inside the Blues' half. There is some big hits in this New Zealand derby!!!!
  • 54
Scrum inside the Blues' half, they on the attack Melani Nana with a wonderful run make some meters.
  • 52
Ellis had no choice but to go to the short side, but his pass to Richie Mo'unga is forward.
  • 51
Scrum with a Blues put in on their 10 meter. The teams exchange some kicks. West's kick goes behind the line and it is a scrum inside the Blues half.
  • 48
Blues with some great passes breaks through the Crusaders' 10 meter. Crusaders gives away a penalty. Blues opt to kick at goal. Ihaia West steps up while Piers Francis is holding the ball and he is successful.
  • 46
Richie Mo'unga with an easy kick. Blues defense did concede the penalty.
  • 45
Scrum and Crusaders' have to use it. The ball is pass to Nemani Nadolo and he crosses the line, but the Blues defense manage to keep them out. Ref sends it to the TMO Glen Newman to see if there is a grounding. There is no clear grounding so no try.
  • 43
Crusaders is on the attack and they are making meters. But Jerome Kaino with a try saving tackle and ref ruled it is held up. 5 meter scrum with a Crusaders' put in.
  • 42
Second penalty awarded to the Crusaders, and they opt to kick to touch. Crusaders finds the Blues' 5 meter for a lineout. An early drive from the Blues gives the Crusaders another penalty.
  • 41
The second half is underway. An early foul by the Blues give the Crusaders' the opportunity to add points early in the second half. Richie Mo'unga sends it wide and score remains 15-10 in favour of Blues.

Half Time

  • 40
The Blues goes into the break with two tries, 1 conversion and a penalty, while the Crusaders have 1 try, 1 conversion and a penalty. Blues' coach will be very happy with his team's defense. HALFTIME SCORE 15-10 to the Blues!!
  • 39
Ihaia West with a beautiful kick adds the extras just before half time, 15-10 to the Blues.
  • 38
With a lineout the Blues are taking on the defense. Matt Duffie takes on the few defenders. Blues with few passes which eventually find George Moala who burst over for a try.
  • 36
Jerome Kaino receives a word from the Ref, and the Crusaders is awarded the penalty. Richie Mo'unga steps up and give his team the lead.
  • 35
After that huge tackle we say goodbye to Johnny McNicholl who is replace and the game continue.
  • 32
Crusaders is right infront of the post now. A huge tackle by Charlie Faumuina on Johnny McNicholl but the Crusaders' still have the ball. They continue their attack. Eventually Crusaders gives a penalty away and its a scrum with a Blues' put in.
  • 30
Ihaia West steps up and this type he does not make a mistake, and give his team a 1-point lead.
  • 29
Another penalty against the Crusaders' on the their 10 meter line, this time Kieran Read in the midst of it. Blues opt to kick at goal.
  • 27
Crusaders' give away a penalty, Owen Franks coming in from the side. Blues opt to kick to touch.
  • 26
Melani Nanai kicks away possession to Nemani Nadolo who kicks it out on the full. A Blues lineout on the Crusaders' 10 meter.
  • 24
Crusaders is on the attack, Dagg loss the ball ball backwards. Ball reach touch from a boot of the Blues and Crusaders opt to use it quickly. Foul against Blues and Crusaders opt to kick to touch.
  • 22
Blues' scrum on their 5 meter. Kicks it down field but Crusaders secure the ball and is on the attack again.
  • 19
Crusaders' have a lineout, they are building momentum as their approach the 5 meter. With more than 10 phases the ball is lost forward.
  • 16
A Crusaders' lineout. The kick get charge down and Dagg is under pressure Billy Guyton with a step pass to Ihaia West who goes over the line to score.
  • 14
Scrum near the Blues' 10. Blues secured the ball and Billy Guyton kick it to touch.
  • 12
Lineout on the Crusaders' 10 meter line. Blues fails to secure lineout. Nemani Nadolo hoist it up in the air. A little bit of aerial ping pong between the teams.
  • 11
Richie Mo’unga addsa the extras and the Blues paid the price for sloppy play - 7-0.
  • 10
Nemani Nadolo started a few minutes ago and he finishes a move that started after the Blues failed to find touch and saw the Crusaders go side-to-side and eventually Nemani Nadolo over in the left corner - he was involved three times in that move and started the counter in his own 22
  • 8
West launches a grubber, but Nemani Nadolo starts a counter that ens when the Crusaders are pushed into touch inside the Blues 22
  • 7
Blues have a scrum geed just outside the Crusaders 22.
  • 6
Now it is the turn of Ryan Crotty to put the ball down cold - the wet conditions must be nightmare out there.
  • 5
Blues, after a few phases, cough the ball up again - just inside the Crusaders 22
  • 3
Mitchell Drummond puts it directly into touch - scrappy start by both teams
  • 2
Blues concede possession with an untidy line-out. You simply don't gift the Crusaders possession like that. Scrum geed just outside the Crusaders 22
  • 1
Richie Mo’unga clears to the Blues 10m line, but the Crusaders are penalised for playing a man in the air.
  • 0
Ihaia West gets us underway here at Eden Park.
  • -5
Teams going through their final pre-match routines at the home of New Zealand rugby
  • -10
It is raining here in Auckland, but as we know, the Crusaders play their game no matter what the conditions. They may tweak it a little, but if the play is on they WILL keep ball in hand.
  • -15
The Crusaders have won six of their last seven games away from home, although their one defeat in that run came in their last away match. The Blues have enjoyed 17 minutes and 50 seconds of possession per game this season, the most of any team, while they also have a ruck success rate of 96 percent, the best in the competition.
  • -20
The Blues have won only one of their last 14 games against New Zealand opposition, that win coming in Round One this season against the Highlanders by only two points.
  • -25
The Crusaders have won their last four encounters with the Blues, the longest winning streak by either team in the history of this fixture.
  • -30
Welcome to Eden Park in Auckland, where we are getting ready for New Zealand's big north-south derby - the Blues against the Crusaders. It is a crucial match for the Crusaders, who can go back to the top of the Super Rugby standings in the final round of fixtures before the June break.
Mc blues logo 80x50
Mc crusaders logo 80x50
  • 1 Sam Prattley
  • 2 James Parsons
  • 3 Charlie Faumuina
  • 4 Patrick Tuipulotu
  • 5 Josh Bekhuis
  • 6 Jerome Kaino
  • 7 Kara Pryor
  • 8 Steven Luatua
  • 9 Billy Guyton
  • 10 Ihaia West
  • 11 Tevita Li
  • 12 Piers Francis
  • 13 George Moala
  • 14 Matt Duffie
  • 15 Melani Nanai Vai
  • 16 Quentin MacDonald
  • 17 Ofa Tu'ungafasi
  • 18 Sione Mafileo
  • 19 Hoani Matenga
  • 20 Jack Ram
  • 21 Bryn Hall
  • 22 Male Sau
  • 23 Lolagi Visinia
  • 1 Joe Moody
  • 2 Codie Taylor
  • 3 Owen Franks
  • 4 Luke Romano
  • 5 Scott Barrett
  • 6 Jordan Taufua
  • 7 Matt Todd
  • 8 Kieran Read
  • 9 Mitchell Drummond
  • 10 Richie Mo’unga
  • 11 Nemani Nadolo
  • 12 Ryan Crotty
  • 13 Kieron Fonotia
  • 14 Johnny McNicholl
  • 15 Israel Dagg
  • 16 Ged Robinson
  • 17 Wyatt Crockett
  • 18 Michael Alaalatoa
  • 19 Jimmy Tupou
  • 20 Tim Boys
  • 21 Andrew Ellis
  • 22 David Kaetau Havili
  • 23 Marty McKenzie
Mc article warren whiteley   adriaan strauss 800


Thu, 26 May 2016 21:47

IN THE SPOTLIGHT. Jan de Koning looks at the Saturday and Sunday matches in Part Two of Super Rugby's Round 14.

Saturday will give us two massive domestic derbies, both who can will have a significant influence on the standings heading into the June break.

The day starts with New Zealand's BIG north-south derby.

The Crusaders, who slipped from the top of the championship when they missed a bonus point against the Waratahs last week, head to Auckland to play the worst performing New Zealand team, the Blues.

The Lions, who are the only side guaranteed to be top of their group when action resumes in July, is without star playmaker Elton Jantjies.

However, Bulls coach Nollis Marais warned his side not to get over-confident.

"That team doesn't rely on just one person, they are a good team all over," Marais told a media briefing in Pretoria - the venue of the tans-Jukskei derby.

The Bulls need to retain their unbeaten home record this year to stay on top of their conference, where they are ahead on points differential against the Stormers - who have a seemingly easier task when they host the Cheetahs in Cape Town.

"We made a decision at the beginning of the season, if we play at Loftus then we need to be up for it. There are no excuses," Marais said.

Should the Lions lose they will remain top of Africa Two conference, as the second-placed Sharks have a bye and the next best team are Argentina's Jaguares - who are a further 22 points adrift.

The Brumbies, ready to pounce in the Australia group if the Waratahs slip up, play the lowly Sunwolves from Japan, in an Australian derby the Melbourne Rebels host the Western Force on Sunday.

Saturday, May 28:

It has, traditionally, been New Zealand's biggest domestic derby - the north-south encounter.

They are also two of the most successful teams in the history of Super Rugby - the Crusaders with seven titles and the Blues with three, including the first two in the professional era.

However, times have changed and the Blues have not finished inside the top 10 for four years.

The Crusaders, despite having not won a title since 2008, have at least reached the play-offs six times in the last sevens year - with last year's seventh place the result of the maddening conference system that saw then relegated below a team with less points than they collected.

While the Crusaders' fortunes and form continued a sharp upwards curve this year, the Blues have continue to struggle and gives the appearance of a team in decline.

Last week's scratchy win over the Western Force - coming in the wake of a 5-43 (seven-try) loss to the Lions - gave Blues coach Tana Umaga hope that his team has at least one ingredient with which to counter the mighty Crusaders.

"It was not pretty, but probably the most pleasing thing for us was we got our grit and determination back and put a bit of pride back into a jersey that we cherish," Umaga said of the outing in Perth.

"We didn't have that the previous week against the Lions," Umaga added.

However, they are most likely going to need more than just determination against the Crusaders team that have shown similar characteristics in bucket loads this season.

Recent results:
2016: Crusaders won 28-13, Christchurch
2015: Crusaders won 34-11, Auckland
2015: Crusaders won 29-15, Christchurch
2014: Crusaders won 21-13, Christchurch
2014: Blues won 35-24, Auckland
2013: Crusaders won 23-3, Christchurch

Prediction: The Crusaders have won their last four encounters with the Blues, the longest winning streak by either team in the history of this fixture. The Blues have won only one of their last 14 games against New Zealand opposition, that win coming in Round One this season against the Highlanders by only two points. The Crusaders have won six of their last seven games away from home, although their one defeat in that run came in their last away match. The Blues have enjoyed 17 minutes and 50 seconds of possession per game this season, the most of any team, while they also have a ruck success rate of 96 percent, the best in the competition. Of the 31 hookers to have made at least 30 line-out throws, Codie Taylor (92 percent) has the second best success rate overall (Adriaan Strauss - 94 percent). The Blues will play with pride and might remain competitive for the first hour, but the Crusaders have too much class and should ease clear in the final quarter to win by 15 points.


Blues: 15 Melani Nanai, 14 Matt Duffie, 13 George Moala/Male Sa'u, 12 Piers Francis, 11 Tevita Li, 10 Ihaia West, 9 Billy Guyton, 8 Steven Luatua, 7 Kara Pryor, 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Josh Bekhuis, 4 Patrick Tuipulotu, 3 Charlie Faumuina, 2 James Parsons (captain), 1 Sam Prattley.
Replacements: 16 Quentin MacDonald, 17 Ofa Tu'ungafasi, 18 Sione Mafileo, 19 Hoani Matenga, 20 Jack Ram, 21 Bryn Hall, 22 Male Sa'u/Michael Little, 23 Lolagi Visinia.

Crusaders: 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Johnny McNicholl, 13 Kieron Fonotia, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 Nemani Nadolo, 10 Richie Mo'unga, 9 Mitchell Drummond, 8 Kieran Read (captain), 7 Matt Todd, 6 Jordan Taufua, 5 Scott Barrett, 4 Luke Romano, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Joe Moody.
Replacements: 16 Ged Robinson, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Mike Alaalatoa, 19 Jimmy Tupou, 20 Tim Boys, 21 Andy Ellis, 22 David Havili, 23 Marty McKenzie.

Referee: Angus Gardner
Assistant referees: Paul Williams, Brendon Pickerill
TMO: Glenn Newman

The Sunwolves have shown some promising form in recent weeks - a win over the Jaguares and a draw with the Stormers in their last four matches.

However, they are unlikely to find the Brumbies in a generous mood, given first place in the Australian conference is at stake.

While the Brumbies are dependent on the result between Waratahs and Chiefs on Friday, they know that a bonus-point win over the Japanese newcomers is non negotiable.

The Brumbies' recent form has been promising, but they know the Sunwolves are a banana skin waiting to be stepped on - just ask the Stormers.

Brumbies prop Scott Sio is expecting a difficult match against the Japanese outfit.

"[The mindset] is good," Sio said in an interview on the Brumbieswebsite.

He added that their two wins - over the Bulls and Rebels - the last two matches before last week's bye was the momentum they needed.

"As you've seen in the last few weeks the Sunwolves aren't an easy beat," Sio said.

"They suffered that big loss against the Cheetahs, but have bounced back really well and are playing some really enterprising rugby so for us we know that it's going to take nothing less than an 80-minute effort this week.

"They're a traditional Japanese side, they're very fit, hard on the ball and technically sound at set pieces."

Previous results:
These teams have never met before.

Prediction: The Brumbies have won only one of their last four games against teams from outside of Australia, though they'll be looking for consecutive victories against non-Australian teams for the first time since May 2015 after a 23-6 win against the Bulls in Round 11. The Sunwolves have won once and drawn once in their last four Super Rugby fixtures, though they remain winless in three games against Australian opposition. In none of the Brumbies' last 17 games has either team won after trailing at half-time, though the Brumbies won against the Waratahs in Round Two this season after being level at the break. Akihito Yamada has made 20 clean breaks so far this season, only the injured Joseph Tomane (23) has made more than the Japan winger, who is also the joint top scorer in the competition with eight tries. David Pocock has won 21 turnovers so far this season, the most of any player and eight more than Sunwolves' pair Andrew Durutalo and Ed Quirk who have each won 13. You expect the Brumbies to dominate from beginning to end and the margin should be at least 25 points.


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

Sunwolves: 15 Yasutaka Asahara, 14 Mifiposeti Paea, 13 Derek Carpenter, 12 Harumichi Tatekawa, 11 Akihito Yamada, 10 Yu Tamura, 9 Yuki Yatomi, 8 Ed Quirk, 7 Andrew Durutalo, 6 Liaki Moli, 5 Fa'atiga Lemalu, 4 Hitoshi Ono, 3 Takuma Asahara, 2 Shota Horie (captain), 1 Keita Inagaki.
Replacements: 16 Takeshi Kizu, 17 Ziun Gu, 18 Shinnosuke Kakinaga, 19 Yoshiya Hosoda, 20 Taiyo Ando, 21 Daisuke Inoue, 22 Tusi Pisi , 23 Riaan Viljoen.

Referee: Jaco van Heerden (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Jaco Peyper (South Africa), Rohan Hoffmann (Australia)
TMO: Ian Smith (Australia)

The Stormers have been on a stead decline in the past month and it all started with a 30-32 loss to the Waratahs in Week 10.

Four weeks ago they still head the Africa conference and now they are not even in the top eight.

After a loss in their last home fixture, against the Waratahs, the Capetonians must now avoid the ignominy of back-to-back home losses for the first time since their last two games of the 2011 season.

Stormers coach Robbie Fleck has been on the defensive since that loss to the Tahs and said that his team is fully focused on returning to winning ways.

"The last few weeks have been quite frustrating for us," Fleck told a media briefing in Cape Town.

"We are focused on delivering a convincing performance for our faithful supporters at Newlands.

"We have worked very hard this week and the players are determined to show what we are capable of when we get it right," he said.

Cheetahs coach Franco Smith has been punting the 'young team' and 'building' phrases all season.

Their three victories have come against the Sunwolves (twice) and Southern Kings.

While they showed promise in some matches, generally they have been unable to sustain pressure long enough to be a real threat to the stronger teams.

No doubt they will lift themselves for this derby, as they always do against the Stormers, but they will have to eradicate the naivety that has cost them so dearly all season.

Recent results:
2016: Stormers won 20-10, Bloemfontein
2015: Stormers won 42-12, Cape Town
2015: Cheetahs won 25-17, Bloemfontein
2014: Stormers won 33-0, Cape Town
2014: Cheetahs won 35-22, Bloemfontein
2013: Stormers won 28-3, Cape Town

Prediction: The Stormers have won 11 of their last 14 games against the Cheetahs, including each the last two in a row by a combined 40-point margin. After a loss in their last home fixture the Stormers will be aiming to avoid back-to-back home losses for the first time since their last two games of the 2011 season.  The Cheetahs will be looking for back-to-back wins for the first time since their opening two fixtures of the 2015 season after beating the Kings in their last fixture. The Cheetahs have won an average of 14.1 line-outs per game so far this campaign, the most of any team, though they rank 10th for line-out success (87.6 percent). The Stormers are the best team in the competition this season when it comes to winning opposition line-outs, stealing 2.6 per game on average this season; Eben Etzebeth (9) and Pieter-Steph du Toit (8) have stolen more than any other individuals this season. The Cheetahs have a realistic chance of an upset, but we feel the Stormers will do enough for a narrow win - by less than 10 points.


Stormers: 15 Cheslin Kolbe, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Daniel du Plessis, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Leolin Zas, 10 Jean-Luc du Plessis, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 7 Siya Kolisi, 6 Nizaam Carr, 5 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe (captain), 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Oliver Kebble.
Replacements: 16 Scarra Ntubeni, 17 Alistair Vermaak, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 JD Schickerling, 20 Rynhardt Elstadt, 21 Louis Schreuder, 22 Brandon Thomson, 23 Johnny Kotze.

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

Referee: Glen Jackson (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Ben O'Keeffe (New Zealand), Nick Briant (New Zealand)
TMO: Shaun Veldsman (South Africa)

The Bulls have dismissed the notion that Elton Jantjies' absence will in any way diminish the threat being posed by their trans-Jukskei neighbours.

With the Springbok flyhalf, Jantjies, sidelined with a fractured finger, the Lions have called up another Bok - one-time capped Marnitz Boshoff to lead their attack against the Bulls.

And the men from Pretoria feel that the visitors are still the best attacking side in South Africa.

"Marnitz Boshoff is an excellent player," Bulls coach Nollis Marais said, when asked about the absence about South Africa's form flyhalf.

"Their team doesn't rely on just one person, it is a good all round side - with quality all over."

Marais said they are determined to evolve the way they play and to see how far they are down that road of evolution, they must to test themselves against the Currie Cup champions and the team that is currently the No.1 side in South Africa.

"We want to play a more expansive brand, but you first have to dominate the set pieces," the Bulls mentor said.

"In some games this season we conceded too many turnovers, which gave the opposition momentum.

"We always said we are going to be an advantage line team and perhaps we tried to play too expansive too soon, instead of first fixing the small things - dominating the set pieces and be physical."

Marais said there are a lot of things they needed to work on.

"There were certain guys who struggled with aspects of their game, to adapt to the pace and intensity of Super Rugby," he said of his young team.

"There is a big step up between Currie Cup and Super Rugby levels and we need to have a look every week where we can improve."

He admitted that at the beginning of the year the scrums were a problem.

"We were one of the teams that gave away the most scrum penalties," Marais said, adding: "We worked hard on that and [scrum coach] Gary [Botha] deserves a lot of credit for that.

"The big positive is how well we performed against the Stormers in the set pieces.

"It is good to go into this game knowing our set pieces are solid."

Recent results:
2015: Bulls won 35-33, Pretoria
2015: Lions won 22-18, Johannesburg
2014: Lions won 32-21, Johannesburg
2014: Bulls won 25-17, Pretoria
2012: Bulls won 37-20, Pretoria
2012: Bulls won 32-18, Johannesburg

Prediction: The Bulls have won 11 and drawn one of their 14 previous encounters with the Lions, though the Johannesburg team have won two of the last three iterations of this fixture. The Lions have won four and drawn one of their last six games away from home and are undefeated in their last three away games in South Africa. The Bulls snapped a two-game losing streak in Round 13, though they have still scored only 31 points in their last three Super Rugby games. The Bulls have conceded only two tries in the opening quarter of games this season, the joint fewest in Super Rugby (level with the Stormers and Chiefs). The Lions have scored 64 more points than they've conceded in the 20 minutes leading up to half-time, the most of any team in the competition. It is going a cracker - the Lions' attack against the Bulls' defence. The Lions will sneak this one, a late scoring giving them a win of five to seven points.


Bulls: 15 Sarel Marais, 14 Jamba Ulengo, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Francois Brummer, 9 Piet van Zyl, 8 Arno Botha, 7 Jannes Kirsten, 6 Pieter Labuschagne, 5 Rudolph Snyman, 4 Jason Jenkins, 3 Marcel van der Merwe, 2 Adriaan Strauss (captain), 1 Lizo Gqoboka.
Replacements: 16 Bandise Maku, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Pierre Schoeman, 19 Grant Hattingh, 20 Deon Stegmann, 21 Rudy Paige, 22 Tian Schoeman, 23 Dries Swanepoel.

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

Referee: Craig Joubert
Assistant referees: Marius van der Westhuizen, Cwengile Jadezweni
TMO: Christie du Preez

Sunday, May 29:

The Rebels and Force are both coming off losing streaks they would like to end - the Rebels having lost their last three matches and the Force three of their last four.

The Rebels currently sit in third spot in the Australian conference on 23 points - seven points outside the play-off positions.

This game, the last before the month-long international break, provides the Victorians with an ideal opportunity to steady the ship.

Coach Tony McGahan believes the challenges have provided his young side with a valuable learning curve.

"We understand where we're at [in Super Rugby', we've still got some rough edges around what we're doing and we need to make sure we knock them off as quickly as possible," McGahan said.

"We're learning every harsh lesson possible, but we've got a really good group of players, good people on staff and an organisation going terrific off the field so we just need to continue to work away.

"It's not easy but that's the way it is. We need to show resilience in what we're doing and get back onto winning this week."

Victory against a Force team with just two wins from 11 starts - against the Reds and Sunwolves - will see the Rebels go into the break with six wins from 12 outings.

It will certainly keep their faint hope of a top eight finish alive.

Defeat will be the end of any play-off aspirations.

Despite a string of injuries - which have sidelined established players like Luke Jones, Tamati Ellison, Cam Crawford and Pat Leafa  - McGahan is adamant that his team has the talent to stay in the race.

"Our expectation is that we get on with it," the coach said, adding: "Super Rugby is never a nice straight road, there are obstacles along the way, the good sides deal with them and the others handle them as an excuse."

The Force will no doubt be throwing everything they have at the Rebels.

The Force are coming off a heart breaking defeat to the Blues last week - where the Western Australians dominated the game, but were unable to finish the job.

Recent results:
2016: Rebels won 25-19, Perth
2015: Force won 13-11, Melbourne
2015: Rebels won 21-17, Perth
2014: Rebels won 22-16, Melbourne
2014: Force won 32-7, Perth
2013: Rebels won 30-23, Perth
2013: Rebels won 30-23, Melbourne

Prediction: The Rebels have won seven of their last nine games against the Force, though only once in this fixture's history (11 games) has a game been decided by more than seven points. The Rebels have lost their last three games; they have not lost more in a row since ending the 2014 season with five consecutive losses. The Force have won three of their last six games away from home and will be looking for back-to-back road wins for the first time since Round 2 this season. Sean McMahon has beaten 40 defenders so far this campaign, the most of any forward and the third most overall. The Western Force (93.2 percent) remain the most accurate goal kickers in the competition, no other side has managed higher than 82 percent. The Rebels are at home and probably also have too much class. It would not be a surprise if they win by 15 points.


Rebels: 15 Jack Debreczeni, 14 Sefa Naivalu, 13 Mitch Inman, 12 Reece Hodge, 11 Tom English, 10 Mike Harris, 9 Nic Stirzaker (captain), 8 Colby Fainga'a, 7 Jordy Reid, 6 Sean McMahon, 5 Lopeti Timani, 4 Luke Jones, 3 Toby Smith, 2 James Hanson, 1 Cruze Ah Nau
Replacements: 16 Pat Leafa, 17 Tom Moloney, 18 Tim Metcher, 19 Culum Retallick, 20 Adam Thomson, 21 Scott Fuglistaller, 22 Ben Meehan, 23 Jonah Placid.

Western Force: 15 Dane Haylett-Petty, 14 Marcel Brache, 13 Ben Tapuai, 12 Kyle Godwin, 11 Luke Morahan, 10 Peter Grant, 9 Alby Mathewson, 8 Ben McCalman, 7 Chris Alcock, 6 Brynard Stander, 5 Adam Coleman, 4 Ross Haylett-Petty, 3 Guy Millar, 2 Harry Scoble, 1 Pek Cowan (captain).
Replacements: 16 Heath Tessmann, 17 Francois Van Wyk, 18 Tetera Faulkner, 19 Rory Walton, 20 Angus Cottrell, 21 Ryan Louwrens, 22 Solomoni Rasolea ,23 Semisi Masirewa.

Referee: Chris Pollock (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Andrew Lees (Australia), Michael Hogan (Australia)
TMO: George Ayoub (Australia)

Compiled by Jan de Koning

* Statistical information provided by Opta Sports

Mc article richie mo unga crusaders 800

Crusaders are back on top

Sat, 28 May 2016 09:26

REPORT: The Crusaders were made to work hard by a resilient Blues team, but they are back on top of the Super Rugby standings.

In the first match of the weekend that went according to bookmakers' predictions, the Crusaders edged the Blues 26-21 in Auckland on Saturday.

The teams scored two tries each, but the boot of flyhalf Richie Mo'unga ensured the Crusaders overtook the Chiefs in first place on the standings.

With the competition going into recess after this weekend for the June Test window the Crusaders move to 45 points, three more than the Chiefs - who lost 25-45 to the Waratahs on Friday.

The Crusaders and Chiefs clash in Fiji when the competition resumes on July 1 in a match that could ultimately decide the regular season.

In a stormy Auckland the Crusaders had difficulty breaking down a dogged Blues defence and were far from convincing in the way they eventually overcame the home side.

Flyhalf Richie Mo'unga contributed considerably to the victory with 16 points from the boot, and Nemani Nadolo, back from a four-week suspension, kept the Blues scrambling with his rampaging runs down the left wing.

But despite the Crusaders having a wealth of possession they only scored two tries as the Blues defence led by Kara Pryor, in his first start, Jerome Kaino and Patrick Tuipulotu shut down a constant wave of attacks.

By making the most of their limited chances, the Blues led 15-10 at half-time but they were unable to hang on as the Crusaders eventually found an extra gear in the second half.

"It took a lot of guts and character from the lads and to be able to control that second half into the wind showed a full team effort," said captain Kieran Read.

It was a disappointing outcome for Blues skipper James Parsons who left the field with a head knock soon after the break and watched from the sidelines as a possible boilover slipped away.

"Unfortunately it's the story of our season. We haven't been able to put a full 80 performance together. We knew if we could bring (defensive) intensity early we would give ourselves a sniff but it was not enough."

The brute force of Nadolo, teaming up with fullback Israel Dagg made life a nightmare for the Blues in the first quarter and it was only a matter of time before Nadolo scored the first try.

But for the remainder of the first half the Blues defence proved impenetrable and a try and penalty to Ihaia West put the Blues in front 8-7.

The Crusaders briefly regained the lead with a Mo'unga penalty before the Blues struck back with a try to George Moala.

The Blues defence continued to hold at the start of the second half when the Crusaders turned a penalty into a line-out drive only for Blues lock Josh Bekhuis to win the line-out.

Mo'unga and West traded penalties and it took until the 61st minute for the Crusaders to regain the lead when Kieron Fonotia finally unlocked the Blues defence and sent Andy Ellis over for the try.

Mo'unga landed the conversion and two more penalties as the Crusaders finished strongly before a Piers Francis penalty on full-time secured a bonus point for the Blues.

Man of the match: Steven Luatua and Jerome Kaino were good value in the physicality stakes, while Ihaia West probably had his best game of the season for the Blues. George Moala and Nemani Nadolo asked some serious questions of the Blues' defence. Kieran Read, as you have come to expect, put his body on the line and made some clever decisions as captain. However, our award goes to Crusaders flyhalf Richie Mo'unga - who is one of the most improved players of the season and a key figure in the Crusaders' match to the top of the standings.

The scorers:

For the Blues:
West, Moala
Con: West
Pens: West 3

For the Crusaders:
Nadolo, Ellis
Cons: Mo'unga 2
Pens: Mo'unga 4


Blues: 15 Melani Nanai, 14 Matt Duffie, 13 George Moala, 12 Piers Francis, 11 Tevita Li, 10 Ihaia West, 9 Billy Guyton, 8 Steven Luatua, 7 Kara Pryor, 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Josh Bekhuis, 4 Patrick Tuipulotu, 3 Charlie Faumuina, 2 James Parsons (captain), 1 Sam Prattley.
Replacements: 16 Quentin MacDonald, 17 Ofa Tu'ungafasi, 18 Sione Mafileo, 19 Hoani Matenga, 20 Jack Ram, 21 Bryn Hall, 22 Male Sa'u, 23 Lolagi Visinia.

Crusaders: 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Johnny McNicholl, 13 Kieron Fonotia, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 Nemani Nadolo, 10 Richie Mo'unga, 9 Mitchell Drummond, 8 Kieran Read (captain), 7 Matt Todd, 6 Jordan Taufua, 5 Scott Barrett, 4 Luke Romano, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Joe Moody.
Replacements: 16 Ged Robinson, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Mike Alaalatoa, 19 Jimmy Tupou, 20 Tim Boys, 21 Andy Ellis, 22 David Havili, 23 Marty McKenzie.

Referee: Angus Gardner
Assistant referees: Paul Williams, Brendon Pickerill
TMO: Glenn Newman

Ihaia West (16min) and George Moala (38min)
Nemani Nadolo (10min) and Andrew Ellis (60min)
Ihaia West (39min)
Richie Mo’unga (6min) and Richie Mo’unga (11min)
Ihaia West (30min), Ihaia West (48min), and Piers Francis (79min)
Richie Mo’unga (36min), Richie Mo’unga (46min), Richie Mo’unga (69min), and Richie Mo’unga (72min)
VENUE Eden Park
REFEREE Angus Gardner (Australia)