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Super Rugby | Dunedin
07:35 (GMT) | 16-07-2016
  • 80
Smith boots the ball out and the ref blows for Full-time! Thank you for joining us at for this match . Be sure to join us for the next game as the Brumbies take on the Force. What a game that was... Its been my pleasure!
  • 79
Chiefs turn the ball over and attack through McKenzie and then Weber who gets smashed by Squire. Highlanders defense is top draw as they force the turnover.
  • 78
Highlanders scrum on their own 22. Smith feeds plays Osbourne who gets smashed back into his 22.
  • 77
Yellow card shown to the Naholo for an intentional slap down!
  • 76
Faddes puts in a grubber that rolls out 5 meters from the Chiefs line. Pressure throw for Hika Elliot , he finds his jumper and Cruden has a run from under his own poles.
  • 75
Sopoaga drops a lovely pass in for Faddes who makes a half break . Fekitoa then makes a run and throws a loose pass regathered by the Chiefs who attempt the counter attack through James Lowe.
  • 74
Sopoaga converts the try
  • 72
Faddes comes inches away from scoring but loses the ball forward. TMO in action , it is judged that the ball was knocked out of Faddes's hand , then picked up Sopoaga who scores in the corner for the Highlanders !
  • 71
Faddes breaks the line for the Highlanders. They make their way up to the 22 as Sopoaga and Ben Smith do well.
  • 70
Brad Weber knocks the ball forward, Highlanders scrum on the halfway
  • 69
Lowe clears the ball up field and Sopoaga hoists the up and under taken well by Lowe. Harris then has a run followed by Cane once again. He has been immense.
  • 68
McKenzie fails to add the extras
  • 66
Attack after attack the Chiefs will not give in , Cruden throws the long ball to Cane who spots the overlap , draws the last defender and plays in Boshier for the try in the corner!
  • 65
Chiefs with ball in hand as Cane makes a massive hand off and make his way all the way to the Highlanders line before being taken down 5 meters short.
  • 64
Fekitoa bashes it up on his own line and then Aaron Smith clears the ball into touch . Chiefs lineout near the 10 in the Highlanders half
  • 62
James Lowe drops the ball with the try line in sight and absolutely no defender in front of him. Scrum Highlanders on their own line.
  • 61
Harris finds his jumper for the Chiefs on the Highlanders 22. Lowe has a run midfield then Retallick bashes it up , then pick and go from Cane followed by Moli. Chiefs 5 meters from the try line.
  • 60
Naholo has a run down the right wing before being isolated and pinged for holding on. Penalty to the Chiefs. Cruden will kick for touch to set up a lineout inside the Highlanders half.
  • 59
Sopoaga converts the try with a lovely kick from the corner
  • 58
Fekitoa busts the first defender plays Pryor who plays Ben Smith who draws the last defender and plays Pryor again who scores an absolutely fantastic try! Game on fire!
  • 57
Highlanders set the maul from the restart then Aaron Smith clears the ball up field to McKenzie who plays Lowe who has a run. Cruden then opts to return the favor and clears the ball to Ben Smith who makes another lovely run from the back.
  • 55
Sopoaga's penalty attempt is good! Highlanders take the lead !
  • 54
Sopoaga sets up a lineout deep inside the Chiefs 22. Dixon finds his jumper and Osbourne has a bash at first receiver . Penalty awarded for the Highlanders for an intentional slap down of the ball. Sopoaga will have a shot at goal from in front.
  • 53
Highlanders counter attack from the back and Elliot Dixon attempts a chip and chase cleaned up by McKenzie, its frantic rugby by both sides as Sanders clears out Ben Smith illegally and the TMO is in action for a possible tip tackle.... It is judged to be a Yellow card! Game changer!
  • 52
Chiefs clear the ball into touch. Highlanders lineout on the 10 meter line inside the Chiefs half. Ash Dixon overthrows the ball and Kerr Barlow gains possession for the Chiefs.
  • 51
Dixon finds his jumper in Reddish, Sopoaga has a crack midfield followed by Dixon. Highlanders 5 meters out as Fekitoa has a run but runs across field and gets the ball ripped from him and it rolls into touch. Chiefs lineout.
  • 49
Highlanders turn the ball over and Aaron Smith breaks the line with a sniping run. Lovely break as the Highlanders get up to the 50, Osbourne puts in a lovely kick that McKenzie cleans up but is bundled into touch 5 meters from his try line. 5 meter lineout to the Highlanders.
  • 48
Moli busts the first tackler and gains 10 meters , Cruden puts in the cross kick and Ben Smith does brilliantly in the air. Aaron Smith then kicks the ball into touch but only gains about 5 meters. Attacking lineout for the Chiefs. Harris finds Retallick and the maul is set.
  • 46
Highlanders with ball in hand on their own 22. Faddes has a go but gets the ball ripped off him and the Chiefs attack wide through Messam, then Bird, then Pulu. Solid defense from the Highlanders
  • 44
Sopoaga lands the penalty
  • 43
Kerr-Barlow clears the ball up field to Osbourne who runs it back at the Chiefs. It all comes to nothing as Sam Cane is penalized and the Highlanders have the penalty. Sopoaga will have a long range shot at goal.
  • 42
Highlanders take the restart well and Smith clears the ball up field taken well by McKenzie. Chiefs on the attack through Pulu but it all comes to nothing as the ref awards the Chiefs the penalty . McKenzie will have a shot at goal. He lines up his long range kick, strikes the ball well and its over! Beautiful kick!
  • 41
Second half underway. Cruden kicks off for the Chiefs

Half Time

  • 40
Halftime! See you all in a bit for the second half. What a half of rugby union!
  • 39
Cruden makes a good clearance for the Chiefs pushing the Highlanders back to their ten meter line. Sopoaga attempts a chip kick cleaned up by Pulu who does fantastically well to break the oncoming tackles but is then isolated once tackled and the Highlanders kick the ball out.
  • 38
Naholo loses the ball forward for the Highlanders, Chiefs awarded the scrum to relieve pressure AND get their breath back... What a action packed half of running rugby. Simply sensational
  • 37
Highlanders attack wide through Ben Smith and Naholo, McKenzie wraps up the flying winger . Highlanders up to the Chiefs 22.
  • 36
Highlanders clear the ball up field and the Chiefs run the ball back before Cruden attempts a kick that is charged down . Play becomes a bit messy and the ref calls for a Highlanders scrum on the halfway line.
  • 34
Lowe makes a fantastic run for the Chiefs and makes 30 meters then Retallick gets the ball and makes a good run before losing the ball . Scrum Highlanders inside their own 22.
  • 33
Highlanders win the penalty from the restart and Sanders is penalized. Sopoaga kicks for touch to set up a lineout.
  • 31
Sopoaga fails to add the extras
  • 30
What a great finish by Naholo inches away from the touchline. Great finishing and a greatly deserved try!
  • 29
Chiefs pushing the Highlanders back with some bone crunching tackles. Ben Smith then breaks the line followed by a long pass to Naholo who dives over in the corner with a class 1 hand finish. TMO in action to see if Naholo went out or not.
  • 28
Highlanders continue to bash at the defense, Fekitoa does well to bust the first defender . Highlanders desperate for some reward after a million waves of attack.
  • 27
Highlanders win the penalty , Sopoaga kicks for touch to set up the five meter lineout.
  • 26
Highlanders bashing at the Chiefs defence , they are 5 meters from the try line and Fekitoa looks to put Lentjes in the gap but is shut down quickly by solid Chiefs defence. This match is on fire!
  • 25
Sopoaga puts in a kick that bounces into touch just inside the Chiefs 22. Harris finds Bird at the lineout and Cane crashes it up once again , the next wave of attack sees Tamanivalu cough up the ball and the Highlanders have the scrum put in inside the Chiefs 22.
  • 23
Cruden kicks for touch and the Chiefs have a lineout throw. Harris finds his jumper and Cane has a run midfield before the ball is lost forward and the Highlanders go back onto the attack through Faddes and Ash Dixon.
  • 22
Highlanders choose to scrum, Naholo gets the short ball beats the defender and scores under the sticks! TMO in action, it is judged to be obstruction. Penalty to the Chiefs
  • 21
Highlanders awarded a penalty . Handbags being thrown in this fiery encounter- a nightmare to officiate
  • 20
Chiefs held up a the lineout and the ball doesn't come out. Highlanders awarded the scrum put in inside the Highlanders 22.
  • 19
Naholo comes close before offloading to Aaron Smith who gets bundled into touch. Lineout to the Chiefs
  • 18
TMO in action for a potential foul play from Lentjes, its judged that there is nothing in it and we pack down for a 5 meter scrum to the Highlanders on the Chiefs line.
  • 17
Naholo breaks the Chiefs line and makes 30 meters. Into the Chiefs 22 the Highlanders go a Osbourne comes close.
  • 15
McKenzie's penalty is shanked badly to the left hand side of the sticks. Highlanders 22 drop-out
  • 14
Chiefs on the attack inside the Highlanders 22, they are awarded the penalty for offside play. McKenzie will have a shot at goal.
  • 13
Chiefs awarded the penalty for illegal scrumming from the Highlanders. Cruden will kick for touch to set up a lineout deep inside the Highlanders half.
  • 11
McKenzie tries to flick the ball on but it doesn't go to hand as the ball rolls out and the Highlanders have the lineout throw just inside the Chiefs half.
  • 10
Sopoaga makes a lovely touch kick that goes out 5 meters from the Chiefs try line. Dixon gets his throw knicked by Bird and the Chiefs clear the ball up field.
  • 9
Kerr-Barlow clears the ball into touch near the halfway line. Highlanders lineout, Dixon finds his jumper and Osbourne has a run midfield, followed by Ben Smith. Penalty awarded to the Highlanders for offside play from the Chiefs.
  • 7
McKenzie converts the try
  • 6
TRY! Toni Pulu crashes over the try line and scores for the Chiefs!
  • 5
Highlanders win the ball at the lineout and Sopoaga clears the ball into touch. Chiefs lineout just outside the Highlanders 22. Harris finds his jumper in Retallick and Cruden puts in a lovely chip kick regathered by Lienert-Brown. Chiefs 5 meters from the line.
  • 4
McKenzie makes a lovely run from the back for the Chiefs, followed by James Lowe having a run down his wing. Cruden puts in a cross kick that bounces into touch inside the Highlanders 22.
  • 3
Sopoaga pulls his penalty attempt to the left hand side of the uprights. 22 dropout to the Chiefs
  • 2
Straight from the kick off Lienert-Brown loses the ball froward for the Chiefs. Scrum Highlanders on the Chiefs 22. Aaron Smith feeds , plays Faddes who throws a loose pass and the Chiefs get the ball back and Cruden clears the ball up field to Osbourne who runs the ball back at the visitors. Highlanders awarded a penalty , Sopoaga will have a shot at goal.
  • 1
First half underway, Sopoaga kicks off for the Highalanders
  • -5
Almost time for this game to get underway, this should be a cracker
  • -10
The Highlanders have won their last five games against the Chiefs, their longest ever winning streak against the franchise, though that run was preceded by four consecutive victories for the Chiefs.
  • -15
The Highlanders - who only returned to Dunedin on Tuesday after a three-week road trip that saw them cover more than 36,500km and were in the air for more than 50 hours - not only need a win, but need some other results to go their way as well.
  • -20
The Chiefs - who played in Brisbane last week and had just a short hop across the Tasman Sea - have a very simple scenario. A win will keep them at the top of the New Zealand conference.
  • -25
The 'house full' signs have gone up, with 23,000 fans expected to pack the stands - with good reason.
  • -30
Welcome to this Super Rugby clash between the Highlanders and the Chiefs
Mc highlanders logo 80x50
Mc chiefs logo 80x50
  • 1 Daniel Lienert-Brown
  • 2 Ash Dixon
  • 3 Siua Halanukonuka
  • 4 Thomas Franklin
  • 5 Alex Ainley
  • 6 Elliot Dixon
  • 7 James Lentjes
  • 8 Luke Whitelock
  • 9 Aaron Smith
  • 10 Lima Sopoaga
  • 11 Patrick Osborne
  • 12 Malakai Fekitoa
  • 13 Matt Faddes
  • 14 Waisake Naholo
  • 15 Ben Smith
  • 16 Liam Coltman
  • 17 Aki Seiulu
  • 18 Josh Hohneck
  • 19 Mark Reddish
  • 20 Liam Squire
  • 21 Dan Pryor
  • 22 Te Aihe Toma
  • 23 Fletcher Smith
  • 1 Kane Hames
  • 2 Nathan Harris
  • 3 Atunaisa Moli
  • 4 Dominic Bird
  • 5 Brodie Retallick
  • 6 Tom Sanders
  • 7 Sam Cane
  • 8 Liam Messam
  • 9 Tawera Kerr-Barlow
  • 10 Aaron Cruden
  • 11 James Lowe
  • 12 Anton Lienert-Brown.
  • 13 Seta Tamanivalu
  • 14 Toni Pulu
  • 15 Damian McKenzie
  • 16 Hika Elliot
  • 17 Siegfried Fisiihoi
  • 18 Hiroshi Yamashita
  • 19 Taleni Seu
  • 20 Lachlan Boshier
  • 21 Brad Weber
  • 22 Stephen Donald
  • 23 Sam McNicol
Mc article mat as orlando jaguares 800

S18 Preview: ROUND 17, PART TWO

Thu, 14 Jul 2016 23:42

IN THE SPOTLIGHT. Jan de Koning looks at the Saturday matches in Part Two of Super Rugby's Round 17 - the final round of league action.

The Jaguares may have been a major disappointment in their debut year, but they could still have a decisive say in Super Rugby's final league standings.

The pace-setting Lions have left 15 star players at home to freshen up before the play-offs, but it is a gamble that could cost them dearly if the Argentine franchise take offence to having been sent a B-Team to play against.

Travelling has proven to be notoriously difficult in the 20-year history of the Southern Hemisphere championship, where the Final is hosted by the team finishing highest in the regular season.

The visiting side has only won five times, and only once, when the Crusaders beat the Brumbies in Canberra in 2000, did the winner travel overseas to claim the trophy.

The Lions go into the final round on 52 points, closely followed by the Chiefs (51), Crusaders (50), Highlanders (48) and Hurricanes (48).

By the time the South Africans and the Jaguares take the field in Buenos Aires late on Saturday for the closing match of the regular season, the four New Zealand contenders will have sorted out who most needs the South Americans to win.

Lions coach Johan Ackermann knows the risk he is taking in gambling on his B-team keeping them at the top of the ladder, but believes the risk is worth it.

The Jaguares, a shadow Argentine national side, are not happy with only three wins so far and want to close their first year of Super Rugby with a victory.

Before the Jaguares and Lions take the field, the Crusaders play the Hurricanes and the Highlanders take on the Chiefs.

In such a packed points table, the winners of the two New Zealand derbies are in line to overtake the Lions and will then have a nervous wait to see what transpires in Argentina.

On overall points, the New Zealand sides go into the final round filling second to fifth positions, but only the conference winner will get a home play-off berth.

The Stormers, as winners of the Africa One conference, and the yet-to-be-determined top Australian team also get home berths in a bid to keep interest alive as long as possible in all three countries.

The Stormers, who did not have to play any New Zealand sides, finish off their regular season against the luckless Southern Kings.

The Brumbies are best placed to take the Australian conference with their final game at home against Western Force.

Saturday, July 16:
Given what is at stake, it is not surprising there is a Test atmosphere in the build-up and the accompanying nerves.

The winners - with or without a bonus point - will have given themselves a chance of finishing first in the New Zealand conference and perhaps even the global standings.

Obviously what happens in the other all New Zealand derby straight afterwards will ultimately decide the final standings.

However, these two teams can only control what is within their grasp and that is winning this encounter.

Crusaders captain Kieran Read spoke of the importance of discipline in a game that has a knock-out flavour to it.

"There are a few nerves floating around, which is great from my point of view," Read told

And the quality of the opposition ensures the Crusaders will be even more on edge that usual.

"They are a tough team, they are well led up front up there," Read said.

"We will just go out there and we will do our bit.

"We are confident in our abilities, as a forward pack, to go out there and dominate this game - certainly through the set-piece."

Hurricanes captain Dane Coles said his team is not going to get caught up the play-off hype that is surrounding Saturday's two Kiwi derbies.

"We talked about it [all the hype] at the start of the week, and our focus was the Crusaders," Coles told

"There are a few [quarterfinal] options going round and we'll know [which one we have] after our last game on Saturday," Coles said.

He too felt that set pieces will be crucial.

"Their scrums and line-outs are pretty good, so it's going to be a massive battle for us," the Hurricanes captain said.

"It's always been a good game between the Crusaders and Canes in previous years, so we're looking forward to the challenge," said Coles.

Recent results:
2015: Crusaders won 35-18, Christchurch
2015: Hurricanes won 29-23, Wellington
2014: Hurricanes won 16-9, Wellington
2014: Hurricanes won 29-26, Christchurch
2013: Crusaders won 25-17, Christchurch
2013: Hurricanes won 29-28, Wellington

Prediction: The Hurricanes have won five of their last seven games against the Crusaders, though none of their wins have come by more than the value of a converted try. After a 35-18 win in their last game against the Hurricanes, the Crusaders will be hunting for back-to-back wins against them for the first time since 2012. The Crusaders have now conceded in excess of 20 points in each of their last three Super Rugby games; the last time they went on a longer such streak was from 2010-11 when they conceded over 20 points in six straight games. The Crusaders have won six straight home games, their longest streak since a run of 11 between 2012 and 2013, though they've won only three of their last six home games against the Hurricanes. The Hurricanes are on the cusp of a five-game winning streak for the second time this season, and they've won four of their last five fixtures away from home. Tough to predict and given what is at stake expect a real physical, even brutal, contest. The Crusaders may just have the edge, but their winning margin will be in the lower single digits.


Crusaders: 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Johnny McNicholl, 13 Ryan Crotty, 12 David Havili, 11 Nemani Nadolo, 10 Richie Mo'unga, 9 Andy Ellis, 8 Kieran Read (captain), 7 Matt Todd, 6 Jimmy Tupou, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Scott Barrett, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Wyatt Crockett.
Replacements: 16 Ben Funnell, 17 Alex Hodgman, 18 Mike Alaalatoa, 19 Luke Romano, 20 Pete Samu, 21 Mitchell Drummond, 22 Mitch Hunt, 23 Kieron Fonotia.

Hurricanes: 15 James Marshall, 14 Cory Jane, 13 Willis Halaholo, 12 Ngani Laumape, 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 Chris Eves, 2 Dane Coles (captain), 1 Reg Goodes.
Replacements: 16 Ricky Riccitelli, 17 Ben May, 18 Loni Uhila, 19 Mark Abbott, 20 Callum Gibbins, 21 Jamison Gibson-Park, 22 Wes Goosen, 23 Jason Woodward.

Referee: Ben O'Keeffe (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Mike Fraser (New Zealand), Brendon Pickerill (New Zealand)
TMO: Glenn Newman (New Zealand)

The 'house full' signs have gone up, with 23,000 fans expected to pack the stands - with good reason.

Like the other New Zealand game a couple of hours earlier it is a straight shoot-out - a MUST WIN scenario.

The Chiefs - who played in Brisbane last week and had just a short hop across the Tasman Sea - have a very simple scenario.

A win will keep them at the top of the New Zealand conference.

The Highlanders - who only returned to Dunedin on Tuesday after a three-week road trip that saw them cover more than 36,500km and were in the air for more than 50 hours - not only need a win, but need some other results to go their way as well.

It could be the final game at home for coach Jamie Joseph, who is off to Japan at the end of the season.

While the Chiefs appear to have the advantage - even on the Highlanders' home turf - midfield back Anton Lienert-Brown said there is still the hard work to do.

"It's going to be huge and we've talked a lot about the passion and mana we play with," he told

"In the past they [the Highlanders] have been able to out-passion us, but this week that's going to be our main focus.

"Obviously we also need a good game plan, but we're going to have to match the physicality and the passion they bring and we're hoping to better that and if we can do that we'll go good."

Lienert-Brown said while it was hard with all the travel the Highlanders have done, they will have lots of time to work on their game.

"We talk about when we come back from trips that we are actually better for it," the midfielder said.

"Obviously you're tired and fatigued, but if you don't talk about it and get your recovery right we find we're actually better for it so I don't think that's any excuse really. They won't be fatigued and they'll definitely be up for that game," he added.

Recent results:
2016: Highlanders won 26-13, Hamilton
2015: Highlanders won 24-14, Dunedin
2015: Highlanders won 36-9, Dunedin
2015: Highlanders won 20-17, Hamilton
2014: Highlanders won 29-25, Dunedin
2014: Chiefs won 21-19, Hamilton

Prediction: The Highlanders have won their last five games against the Chiefs, their longest ever winning streak against the franchise, though that run was preceded by four consecutive victories for the Chiefs. The Highlanders have won their last three home games against the Chiefs, two of which came after trailing at the half-time break. The Highlanders will be playing at home for the first time in over two months; they've won 18 of their last 23 home games, with their five losses in that run all coming by seven points or fewer. Despite losing their last game against fellow New Zealand opposition, the Highlanders have won nine of their last 12 games against New Zealand sides without ever losing consecutive games in that streak. The Chiefs have won each of their last six games immediately after scoring 50 points or more in the round before in Super Rugby. It will be tight, very tight, but the travelling of the last few weeks may catch up with the Highlanders in the last quarter and the Chiefs should sneak a win - by a converted try or less.


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 James Lentjes, 6 Elliot Dixon, 5 Alex Ainley, 4 Tom Franklin, 3 Siosuia Halanukonuka, 2 Ash Dixon, 1 Daniel Lienert-Brown.
Replacements: 16 Liam Coltman, 17 Aki Seiuli, 18 Josh Hohneck, 19 Mark Reddish, 20 Liam Squire, 21 Dan Pryor, 22 Te Aihe Toma, 23 Fletcher Smith.

Chiefs: 15 Damian McKenzie, 14 Toni Pulu, 13 Seta Tamanivalu, 12 Anton Lienert-Brown, 11 James Lowe, 10 Aaron Cruden (co-captain), 9 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 8 Liam Messam, 7 Sam Cane (co-captain), 6 Tom Sanders, 5 Brodie Retallick, 4 Dominic Bird, 3 Atu Moli, 2 Nathan Harris, 1 Kane Hames.
Replacements: 16 Hika Elliot, 17 Siegfried Fisi'ihoi, 18 Hiroshi Yamashita, 19 Taleni Seu, 20 Lachlan Boshier, 21 Brad Weber, 22 Stephen Donald, 23 Sam McNicol.

Referee: Glen Jackson (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Nick Briant (New Zealand), Jamie Nutbrown (New Zealand)
TMO: Chris Wratt (New Zealand

It is not complicated. A bonus-point win for the Brumbies will ensure a spot in next week's Super Rugby play-offs.

The Brumbies go into their last round with a slight advantage over the New South Wales Waratahs who sit closely behind the Brumbies in the Australian Conference.

The Brumbies have won eight and drawn one of their last 10 games against the Force, including a current winning streak of five games.

However, they desperately need to turn it around from last week's bitterly disappointing loss to the Blues at Eden Park.

Brumbies prop Scott Sio believes the side is purely focussed on putting in the best performance possible against the Western Force, and not pondering too much about last week's loss.

"It's a week by week prospect," the 24-year old said in an interview on the Brumbies' website.

"In this competition we can definitely turn things around in a week's time and all the teams can move forward.

"At the end of the day, you're going to have to beat all the other teams in the competition so it doesn't really matter who you play in the finals, it's just about whether you turn up."

Sio says the Brumbies are ready for a tough encounter.

"The Force are a quality side, they've shown that they can pull off some quality wins this year as well and if we don't turn up especially this weekend it could be the end of it for us.

"They're a very strong piece side and they're very good defensively so we're going to have to make sure that our execution across the board is good."

Recent results:
2016: Brumbies won 31-14, Perth
2015: Brumbies won 33-20, Perth
2015: Brumbies won 27-15, Canberra
2014: Brumbies won 47-25, Canberra
2014: Brumbies won 27-14, Perth
2013: Force won 21-15, Perth
2013: Brumbies won 41-7, Canberra

Prediction: The Brumbies are aiming to become the first Australian team in the Super Rugby era to win all of their conference matches. The Brumbies have won eight and drawn one of their last 10 games against the Force including a current winning streak of five games. The Brumbies have won their last six games against Australian opposition, a seventh straight win would represent their longest such streak in Super Rugby history. The Force have lost their last three Super Rugby fixtures against Australian opposition, not since the opening round of the 2013 season have they lost more (four). The Force have averaged just 6.2 clean breaks per game this season, fewer than any other side, while only three teams have conceded more clean breaks than the Western Australia side (12.5). The Force (83 percent) and the Brumbies (78 percent) are two of just five sides to maintain a kick success rate of over 75 percent this season; the Force sit top of the rankings and are the only side to average fewer than one miss per game (0.7). The Brumbies will take this one easily - by 15 to 20 points.


Brumbies: 15 Aidan Toua, 14 Nigel Ah Wong, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Matt Toomua, 11 James Dargaville, 10 Christian Lealiifano, 9 Tomás Cubelli, 8 Michael Wells, 7 Jarrad Butler, 6 Scott Fardy, 5 Sam Carter, 4 Rory Arnold, 3 Ruan Smith, 2 Stephen Moore (captain), 1 Scott Sio.
Replacements: 16 Josh Mann-Rea, 17 Allan Alaalatoa, 18 Ben Alexander, 19 Tom Staniforth, 20 Blake Enever 21 Joe Powell, 22 Andrew Smith, 23 Lausii Taliauli.

Western Force: 15 Dane Haylett-Petty, 14 Marcel Brache, 13 Ben Tapuai, 12 Kyle Godwin, 11 Luke Morahan (captain), 10 Jono Lance, 9 Ian Prior, 8 Richard Hardwick, 7 Chris Alcock, 6 Brynard Stander, 5 Rory Walton, 4 Ross Haylett-Petty, 3 Guy Millar, 2 Harry Scoble, 1 Pek Cowan.
Replacements: 16 Anaru Rangi, 17 Francois Van Wyk, 18 Jermaine Ainsley, 19 Matt Philip, 20 Kane Koteka, 21 Ryan Louwrens, 22 Peter Grant, 23 Semisi Masirewa.

Referee: Paul Williams (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Nic Berry (Australia), Ed Martin (Australia)
TMO: Damien Mitchelmore (Australia)

This is nothing that a training run for the Stormers - who will finish third on the standings, regardless of the result in this encounter.

Coach Robbie Fleck said their focus is solely on gaining as much momentum as possible ahead of the knock-out phase of the competition.

"It is great that we have won our conference before the last game of the regular season, but that does not mean we will compromise on intensity against the Southern Kings this weekend," Fleck said.

"We need to play our best rugby in order to take some meaningful momentum into the play-offs, so this is a vital match for us," he added.

Fleck felt that it remains an extremely important game for them, because previous campaigns they took their foot off the throat in the final week.

"This time we wanted to keep the momentum going that was created on tour and we want to increase the intensity in the team, we want to be nice and physical," the coach said.

"We want to play finals rugby and it is important that we choose our strongest squad available, barring certain players being rested.

"It was important this week that we are at our best and we play at our best for the momentum next week."

The Stormers know that they will face a New Zealand side in the quarterfinals next week, but they don't know which one yet.

"The New Zealand sides are playing well, they are playing at a different level and we certainly need to get up to that level," the coach said.

"We need to find the intensity that we had at the beginning of the season."

Kings coach Deon Davids said the team had enjoyed the season and were looking forward to the last game.

"We are going to enjoy ourselves and are looking forward to the challenge," he said.

Davids said he had been heartened by the performance of the Kings against the Lions last week, and the improvement of the players week on week, but would be looking for a full eighty minutes from his team this weekend.

"We knew from the start it was going to big season for us, especially due to the challenges of not having a proper pre-season to assist with conditioning," he said.

Davids said he had spoken to the team about remaining focused after the half time break, and the expectations on the reserves to make an impact in the game.

Previous results:
2013: Stormers won 24-12, Port Elizabeth
2013: Stormers won 19-11, Cape Town

Prediction: There have been only two previous encounters between these teams in which only 66 points were scored in total, though the Stormers emerged victorious from both fixtures. The Stormers come into this game on the back of a three-game winning streak, the last time they won four in a row was the opening four rounds of the 2015 season. The Kings have lost their last 11 games away from home and have conceded an average of 46.5 points per game in that run. The Kings have boasted a 90 percent line-out success rate this season, the fifth best in Super Rugby. However, the Stormers have stolen 44 opposition line-outs in 2016, 15 more than any other side. The Kings have gained just 312 metres per game on average this season, fewer than any other side, while they have conceded 604 per game, over 60 metres more than any other team. Expect a competitive first half and a blowout after the break - with the Stormers winning by 20 points or more.


Stormers: 15 Jaco Taute, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Huw Jones, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Leolin Zas, 10 Jean-Luc du Plessis, 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Schalk Burger (captain), 7 Rynhardt Elstadt, 6 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 5 John Schickerling, 4 Jean Kleyn, 3 Vincent Koch, 2 Scarra Ntubeni, 1 Alistair Vermaak.
Replacements: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 JC Janse van Rensburg, 18 JP Smith, 19 Chris van Zyl, 20 Siya Kolisi, 21 Jano Vermaak, 22 Brandon Thomson, 23 Scott van Breda.

Southern Kings: 15 Malcolm Jaer, 14 Lukhanyo Am, 13 Stefan Watermeyer, 12 Shane Gates, 11 Wandile Mjekevu, 10 Dewald Human, 9 James Hall, 8 Jacques Engelbrecht, 7 Stefan Willemse, 6 Andisa Ntsila, 5 John-Charles Astle, 4 Steven Sykes (captain), 3 Jacobie Adriaanse, 2 Edgar Marutlulle, 1 Sithembiso Sithole.
Replacements: 16 Martin Bezuidenhout, 17 Schalk Ferreira, 18 Tom Botha, 19 Schalk Oelofse/Sintu Manjezi, 20 Aidon Davis, 21 Kevin Luiters, 22 Elgar Watts, 23 Jeremy Ward

Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Quinton Immelman (South Africa), Rodney Bonaparte (South Africa)
TMO: Shaun Veldsman (South Africa)

The Bulls are not completely out of the play-off picture yet, but they rely on a shock result in Durban on Friday.

The Pretoria-outfit must however depend on the Sunwolves upsetting the Sharks, while they must beat the Cheetahs in their crunch encounter in Bloemfontein.

Bulls coach Nollis Marais said they have spoken about the play-offs prospects, but they are focussed more on finishing the season on a winning note.

"Funny things can happen, but I feel the Sharks will take it," Marais told a media briefing in Pretoria.

"The guys have been positive this week. However, we will only know Saturday [what the players' mental state is]."

He said they have worked hard this season and there is a lot of pride in this team.

"We want to finish this phase with some momentum," Marais said.

"This group developed nicely this season and I am happy about the progress we have shown. It may very well be a final opportunity for a number of players to represent the Bulls and I expect a very positive effort from them."

Cheetahs coach Franco Smith said there is also a lot of pride for his team at stake.

In fact they are on a three-match winning streak at home, a run they hope to maintain against the Bulls.

"It is an important game for us, as we are looking to take some momentum into the Currie Cup competition," he said of South Africa's premier domestic competition - which gets underway next month.

"This game will be good preparation for the Currie Cup competition.

"We are expecting the Bulls to be at their best and it will be a very competitive game - even if there isn't much for either team to play for.

"No doubt the Bulls will be physical and looking to take us on in the set pieces."

Recent results:
2016: Bulls won 23-18, Pretoria
2015: Cheetahs won 42-29, Pretoria
2015: Bulls won 39-20, Bloemfontein
2014: Bulls won 26-21, Pretoria
2014: Cheetahs won 15-9, Bloemfontein
2013: Bulls won 30-25, Bloemfontein

Prediction: The Bulls have won 14 of their last 16 games against the Cheetahs, though five of the last seven encounters between these teams have been decided by margins of fewer than seven points. The Cheetahs have won five of their last nine home games against South African opposition, with a win and a loss against the Bulls in that span. The Bulls haven't come back from a half-time deficit to win a game since Round 12, 2014 - against the Cheetahs. The Cheetahs have the worst scrum success in Super Rugby this season (77 percent), while the Bulls have the third worst (85 percent). No side has conceded more penalties this season than both the Bulls (169) and the Cheetahs (158). It is tough to predict, as the Bulls' state of mind could be influenced by the result in Durban on Friday. We feel the Cheetahs may just sneak a win - by eight points.


Cheetahs: 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 William Small-Smith, 12 Michael van der Spuy, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Fred Zeilinga, 9 Shaun Venter, 8 Paul Schoeman, 7 Teboho Mohojé (captain), 6 Uzair Cassiem, 5 Francois Uys, 4 Armandt Koster, 3 Nicolaas van Dyk, 2 Torsten van Jaarsveld, 1 Charles Marais.
Replacements: 16 Joseph Dweba, 17 Retshegofaditswe Nché, 18 Johan Coetzee, 19 Reniel Hugo, 20 Henco Venter, 21 Tian Meyer, 22 George Whitehead, 23 Ryno Benjamin.

Bulls: 15 Jesse Kriel, 14 Jamba Ulengo, 13 Dries Swanepoel, 12 Burger Odendaal, 11 Travis Ismaiel, 10 Tian Schoeman, 9 Piet van Zyl, 8 Renaldo Bothma, 7 Jannes Kirsten, 6 Pieter Labuschagne, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Jason Jenkins, 3 Marcel van der Merwe, 2 Adriaan Strauss (captain), 1 Pierre Schoeman.
Replacements: 16 Bandise Maku, 17 Nqoba Mxoli, 18 Werner Kruger, 19 Grant Hattingh, 20 Arno Botha, 21 Rudy Paige, 22 Francois Brummer, 23 Sarel Marais.

Referee: Craig Joubert (South Africa)
Assistant referees: AJ Jacobs (South Africa), Lourens van der Merwe (South Africa)
TMO: Johan Greeff (South Africa)Date: Saturday, July 16

The spotlight on this match, all week, has been about the Lions' team selection.

The arduous travel schedule and the looming play-offs saw the coaching staff of Johan Ackermann and Swys de Bruin opt to leave 15 of their frontline players behind.

Only five players from the Lions' starting XV and three replacements remain from the side that beat the Jaguares 52-24 two months ago in Johannesburg.

The Highvelders are one point in front of the Chiefs, who are leading a pack of New Zealand sides still in contention for places in the play-offs.

Scrumhalf Ross Cronje will captain the side and the experienced centre Howard Mnisi is his deputy.

Despite the much-changed team, De Bruin said they are confident of getting the win that will see them finish on top of the standings.

And they will do it by playing the same high-paced game that has served them so well all season.

"I know it is a cliche, but we are absolutely process driven," De Bruin told rugby365.

While the Lions have already qualified for the play-offs and will finish first or second, they are determined come away from Buenos Aires with a win.

"The biggest mistake any team or individual can make in sport is to get ahead of yourself," he said.

"We simply can't afford to think of the quarterfinals.

"As management we can start planning, but the players are very process driven."

While it appears there will not be a repeat of the monsoon-like conditions the Bulls experience in Argentina a fortnight ago, the Lions are prepared for anything.

"It doesn't look like it will rain," De Bruin said, adding: "We will do what we normally do, but we do have the ability to adjust should the circumstances require."

Jaguares centre Matias Orlando described emotions as running high in their camp with the prospect of toppling the leading side.

"We want to close this first season well and because we cannot forget what happened in Johannesburg [we] want revenge," he said.

Previous result:
2016: Lions won 52-24, Johannesburg

Prediction: There were 76 points scored the only time these teams met in Super Rugby with the Lions coming away 52-24 victors. The Jaguares have led at half-time in four of their last seven Super Rugby games, though they've gone on to win only twice. The Lions have won their last five games, a sixth straight win would be their longest streak in Super Rugby history. Only the Reds (10 yellows, no reds) have been shown as many cards this season as the Jaguares (nine yellows, two reds), who are the only side to have been given more than one red card this campaign. Jaco Kriel (47) has beaten the most defenders of any forward this season, and the fifth most overall. The Lions have gambled and it may just pay off, but they are unlikely to win by more than 10 points.  


Jaguares: 15 Joaquín Tuculet, 14 Santiago Cordero, 13 Jerónimo de la Fuente, 12 Juan Martin Hernández, 11 Manuel Montero, 10 Nicolás Sánchez, 9 Martin Landajo (captain), 8 Facundo Isa, 7 Juan Manuel Leguizamón, 6 Javier Ortega Desio, 5 Tomás Lavanini, 4 Guido Petti, 3 Ramiro Herrera, 2 Julián Montoya, 1 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro.
Replacements: 16 Facundo Bosch, 17 Santiago Garcia Botta, 18 Enrique Pieretto, 19 Matias Alemanno, 20 Marcos Kremer, 21 Gonzalo Bertranou, 22 Santiago Gonzales Iglesias, 23 Matias Orlando.

Lions: 15 Sylvian Mahuza, 14 Koch Marx, 13 Nicolaas Hanekom, 12 Howard Mnisi, 11 Anthony Volmink, 10 Jaco van der Walt, 9 Ross Cronjé (captain), 8 Cyle Brink, 7 Robert Kruger, 6 Stef de Witt, 5 Lourens Erasmus, 4 Martin Muller, 3 Jacques van Rooyen, 2 Armand van der Merwe, 1 Corné Fourie.
Replacements - from: 16 Ramone Samuels, 17 Clinton Theron, 18 Pieter Scholtz, 19 Fabian Booysen, 20 Ruaan Lerm, 21 Dillon Smit, 22 Jacques Nel, 23 Shaun Reynolds, 24 Bobby de Wee, 25 Ashlon Davids.

Referee: Rohan Hoffman
Assistant referees: Angus Gardner, Federico Anselmi
TMO: Santiago Borsani

Compiled by Jan de Koning

* Statistical information provided by Opta Sports

Mc article highlanders celebrate 800

Highlanders edge Chiefs in Dunedin

Sat, 16 Jul 2016 09:32

REPORT: The Highlanders edged the Chiefs 25-15 in Dunedin on Saturday and will travel to Australia for their quarterfinal.

This match had all the drama you could want from a rugby match - seesawing scoring, high intensity for 80 minutes, unpredictability, courage, skill and controversy, and it produced a try to dream of. And it chopped and changed the immediate future of all four New Zealand teams qualified for the quarterfinals.

It was hard to digest all that happened. It was such a special match. It was no surprise that spectator noise continued throughout, at times increasing, never diminishing.

The Highlanders did themselves favours when they beat the Chiefs 25-15 in their Dunedin home, the Forsyth Barr Stadium with its lively horde of scarfies packed into the Zoo..

They also did the Hurricanes a favour, ensuring that they are the New Zealand Conference winners.

They did the Chiefs no favours, sending them over the Indian Ocean to face the Stormers at Newlands.

That is a summary of the outcome of the high drama

The Chiefs kicked off and a few minutes later the final whistle went, or so it seemed as this engrossing match unfolded.

Early on Lima Sopoaga missed an eminently kickable penalty and in no time Damian McKenzie, who had little room to move in this intense match, had a run. Aaron Cruden dinked a clever chip which Anton Lienert-Brown gathered and the Chiefs were bashing at the line. There was sturdy wing Toni Pulu in the midst of the forwards and he it was who scored the try which McKenzie converted to give the Chiefs a 7-0 lead after 8 minutes. At half-time they were still in the lead in a half in which there was lots and lots of activity, lots of ebb and flow, but few points.

A penalty to the Highlanders and Sopoaga kicked a long penalty for a line-out five metres from the Chiefs' line but tall (2,06m) Dominic Bird of the Chiefs stole the ball.

A break by Waisake Naholo set the Highlanders attacking, left and then right where Luke Whitelock charged at the line near the posts. At this point a long period of TMO inspection ensured - first looking for foul play, where there was none, and then looking for a try before deciding there was none.

The Highlanders had a five-metre scrum and then a five-metre line-out. They threw deep into the line-out and immediately went left where right wing Naholo cut clean through for a try. A try? That was too simple. Instead there was TMO inspection again and the upshot was a penalty against Malakai Fekitoa for obstruction on Cruden to keep the gap open for Naholo. Penalty to the relieved Chiefs.

Just to remind us that there was a lot riding of the match and lots of tension as a result, there were at this stage outbursts of harmless aggression, the sort of push and shove that happen\s in preschool playgrounds.

When the Chiefs tried to run out of their own 22, they knocked on and the Highlanders had another chance to bash. But the defence held against a many-phased attack. From a five-metre line-out the Highlanders went wide and Fekitoa was close. Then Ben Smith broke and beat two and when he was tackled by Tawera Kerr-Barlow he got the ball to Naholo who dived in an astonishing way for the corner as Cruden and McKenzie tackled him. Naholo's boy was curved over the plane of touch as with great control he touched the ball down just over the line, just in from touch-in-goal. It was a feat.

More aggressive posturing followed but the score was 7-5 after minutes.

From a kick by Aaron Smith, James Lowe caught a mark, tapped and ran  from 10 metres inside his 22  to the Highlanders' 10-metre line where he gave to Cruden who immediately gave to flying prop Kane Hayes. Hayes was tackled from behind by James Lentjes

In the second half Naholo tackled McKenzie in the air and McKenzie goaled the penalty. 10-5 after 42 minutes. Three minutes later Sam Cane was offside and Sopoaga goaled. 10-8.

The Chiefs attacked down the right and Cruden kicked a high diagonal to the left but, quite brilliantly, Ben Smith jumped higher to catch the ball and save the situation.

The Chiefs spent a long time on the attack, which included phases and two five-metre line-outs, but the Highlanders' defence was tough.

Then, on 53 minutes, at a tackle/ruck flank Tom Saunders was yellowcarded for a tip tackle on Ben Smith, possibly lucky not to be recarded.

When he came back onto the field the Highlanders were in the lead at 18-10. It was a turning point in the match.

First Sopoagakicked a penalty and the Highlanders went into the lead. 11-10 after 56 minutes.

Then came a wonderful try.

The Chiefs kicked high down towards the Highlanders' 22 where Sopoaga caught the ball and passed to his left. They went right and then left again where Ben Smith broke. He gave to Dan Pryor who gave to Matt Faddes and they moved with increasing speed down the left. Faddes gave to Ben Smith who beat one and gave to Pryor and, in the clear, the flank raced to score a try far out on the left which Sopoaga converted and the Highlanders led 18-10, a decisive lead.

Cane ran brilliantly down the midfield, straight at the posts and the Chiefs attacked left, then right where a looped pass killed off a double overlap but they kept possession. McKenzie sent a skip pass out to Cane who gave to Lachlan Boshier, who scored in the right corner. 18-15 with 12 minutes to play.

Game on.

The Highlanders attacked. Faddes dived for the line as he was tackled. The ball came loose and Sopoaga picked up to go over. The TMO again inspected the incident and the upshot was a try to Sopoaga, which he converted to make the score 25-15 with six minutes left.

The Chiefs were attacking and about five metres from the line when Naholo intercepted. But before he got possession of the ball he knocked it away and was sent to the sin bin.

Man of the Match: Pick a Smith, either Smith and you would be making sense. We have picked Ben Smith for his attack and defence, such a skilful and such a committed player.

The scorers:

For Higlanders:
Tries: Naholo, Pryor, Sopoaga
Cons: Sopoaga 2
Pens: Sopoaga 2

For Chiefs:
Tries: Pulu, Boshier
Con: McKenzie
Pen: McKenzie

Yellow cards: Tom Sanders (Chiefs, 54 - dangerous play, lifting the player), Waisake Naholo (Highlanders, 78 - cynical play, deliberate knock down)


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 James Lentjes, 6 Elliot Dixon, 5 Alex Ainley, 4 Tom Franklin, 3 Siosuia Halanukonuka, 2 Ash Dixon, 1 Daniel Lienert-Brown.
Replacements: 16 Liam Coltman, 17 Aki Seiuli, 18 Josh Hohneck, 19 Mark Reddish, 20 Liam Squire, 21 Dan Pryor, 22 Te Aihe Toma, 23 Fletcher Smith.

Chiefs: 15 Damian McKenzie, 14 Toni Pulu, 13 Seta Tamanivalu, 12 Anton Lienert-Brown, 11 James Lowe, 10 Aaron Cruden (co-captain), 9 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 8 Liam Messam, 7 Sam Cane (co-captain), 6 Tom Sanders, 5 Brodie Retallick, 4 Dominic Bird, 3 Atu Moli, 2 Nathan Harris, 1 Kane Hames.
Replacements: 16 Hika Elliot, 17 Siegfried Fisi'ihoi, 18 Hiroshi Yamashita, 19 Taleni Seu, 20 Lachlan Boshier, 21 Brad Weber, 22 Stephen Donald, 23 Sam McNicol.

Referee: Glen Jackson (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Nick Briant (New Zealand), Jamie Nutbrown (New Zealand)
TMO: Chris Wratt (New Zealand)

Waisake Naholo (30min), Dan Pryor (58min), and Lima Sopoaga (72min)
Toni Pulu (6min) and Lachlan Boshier (66min)
Lima Sopoaga (59min) and Lima Sopoaga (74min)
Damian McKenzie (7min)
Lima Sopoaga (44min) and Lima Sopoaga (55min)
Damian McKenzie (42min)
Waisake Naholo (77min)
Tom Sanders (53min)
VENUE Dunedin
REFEREE Glen Jackson (New Zealand)