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Sunwolves

FULL-TIME
43     21

Blues

Super Rugby | Tokyo
03:05 (GMT) | 15-07-2017
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  • 80
The conversion is sent wide. FULL TIME
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Tokunaga is there and fends off one defender then sprints over the line to score the final TRY
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Scrum to the Blues at their 10. They move the ball to the opposite side of the field looking for space but lose it. The hosts turnover and rush to the 22
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The restart kick is taken and the hosts make their way forward almost immediately. They find themselves at the 10 of the Blues before the referee blows his whistle
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The conversion is good
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The Blues struggle to clear the ball at their 5. They look to clear but it's charged down and Lafaela gets his hatrick
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Scrum to the Blues at their 5
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The ball booted forward again and the runner makes it to the 5. He is halted by the Blues defence but his team rushes to support. They lose the ball forward
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The Blues look to carry it forward again but the Sunwolves reclaim possession now at the away team 10
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The Sunwolves win the ball after the throw and clear
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The Blues are driven back after the restart kick but win a penalty at the half way
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The conversion is sent wide
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They turnover and kick forward. Shigeno chases his own kick and offloads to Lafaela who goes over the line to score the TRY
  • 67
The Sunwolves hold the Blues back, still looking to push into the 10
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They have it around the 10 of the hosts now and struggle to make it any further
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Line-out to the Blues after the reset
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Ogura sends the kick wide
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They move the ball to the other wing and Shigeno sells a dummy and falls over the line. TRY
  • 62
The referee blows for a forward pass after the scrum. The referee decides to award a line-out as the ball went into touch. The Sunwolves win the line-out and have it at the 5
  • 61
The ball turned over and booted forward. The chase is on and the Sunwolves win a scrum after the ball is lost forward in contact
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West kicks into touch around the hosts' 10
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The restart kick is there and the Sunwolves have it again then move to the half way. The referee sounds his whistle for a penalty to the Blues
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Line-out for the hosts at the 22. They look for the maul and make it the full distance to score the TRY showing good strength. The referee says PENALTY TRY
  • 56
The referee sounds his whistle after a high tackle and he sends Kaino to the sin bin
  • 55
The Blues loose the ball forward after the reset and the Sunwolves have a scrum around the 10 of the away team
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Tamura sends it wide
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The ball booted forward from the 10 of the Blues and the chase is on. The Blues defence rushes back Lafeala makes a tackle and Yamanaka is there to pick up the scraps and put down the 5 points. TRY
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Line-out to the Blues at the 5 of the hosts. They look for the maul but the ball goes loose. The Sunwolves get it and clear
  • 51
The Blues win a penalty around the 10 of the hosts and kick into touch
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The Sunwolves have it at their 5 and manage to clear
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Line-out to the Blues at the 10 of the hosts
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Scrum to the Blues around the mid field
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The Sunwolves get a throw at the half way and move it to the opposite side of the field but lose possession
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The Blues clear after the penalty
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The Sunwolves make it to the 5 but give away a penalty at the 5 in the ruck
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The hosts driven back and they look for a kick forward. The ball goes into touch after a Blues man touches it
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The ball lost forward and and the hosts have a scrum
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The Sunwolves showing the same aggression early in the second half as they set up camp inside the Blues' 10
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The second half is underway

Half Time

  • 40
HALF TIME
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Tamura adds 2 extras
  • 38
The Sunwolves build from the 10 of the Blues and show some good skill to maneuver between the space and allow Uchida through. TRY to the hosts
  • 37
Viljoen kicks it forward for the runner but it goes into touch. Line-out to the Blues at their 5
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The ball lost forward by the away team and the Sunwolves have a scrum at the Blues 10
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The being kicked back and forth by both teams now
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Line-out to the visitors at their 10
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The Blues looking aggressive on the counter attack but the hosts manage to clear into touch
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They take their throw and move towards the 5 but the Sunwolves win a penalty in the ruck
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The Blues have a line-out at the 10 of the Blues
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The Sunwolves apply more pressure and force the Blues to clear from their 22
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The ball cleared after the scrum
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The Sunwolves break from the half way and make it over the line as Tupou dives to put it down but he loses it forward in momentum. Scrum to the Blues at their 5
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The ball kicked to and fro after the restart
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The conversion is good
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Collins intercepts a pass at his 10 and sprints all the way. He runs between the sticks and scores the TRY
  • 24
The Blues win the ball and clear, the Sunwolves come again
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The ball lost forward by the Blues as they look to exit their half. Scrum to the Sunwolves. The ball taken out the back and the home team rush to the wing then carry to the 22
  • 22
Scrum to the Blues inside their 22
  • 21
The ball sent back to West and he clears. The hosts take it down confidently and rush forward to the 22 again. They lose it forward at the 22 again
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They lose the ball forward and the Blues have a scrum
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The Sunwolves break to the 22 after being held at the half way. The Blues there on the defence but the cavalry is there
  • 18
The Blues win a penalty at their 10 after the restart
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Tamura adds the extras
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The referee sounds his whistle as their resilience pays off; Lafaela getting it between the sticks. TRY
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The Sunwolves showing good form to make it to the 5 ruck after ruck. They edge inside the 5
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Scrum to the hosts after the restart. The home team take it and make their way to the 22 of the visitors
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The conversion is good
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Cowley-Tuioti finds himself with the ball as they edge towards the 5. He makes the picks up a ball after it's fumbled and puts it down for a TRY
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The ball now at the half way as the hosts look to build. They gift possession and the Blues move it to the 22 with some quick movements
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The Sunwolves have a throw shortly after the restart kick. They take it and clear
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West adds the extras
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Scrafton makes it over the line to score the first TRY of this fixture
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Luatua gets it along the wing and looks for the inside pass but the support doesn't reach him in time. The Blues make it to the 5 regardless
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Line-out around the hosts' 10. They take it and clear. Collins gets it and breaks to the outside but makes it to the 10 only
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The hosts win a penalty after the maul. Tamura clears into touch
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Penalty to the visitors and West kicks into touch at the 22
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The Sunwolves struggle to make it out of their own half and kick it forward looking for a runner but possession is gifted and the Blues work their way forward from their 10
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Scrum to the Blues
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The Blues on the attack in the opening minutes and the hosts lose it forward in a tackle at their 10
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The referee sounds his whistle and we're off
  • -2
The players entering the field now
  • -5
The Blues boast a ruck success rate of 96% so far this campaign, the best of any team in the competition
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The Sunwolves have crossed the whitewash at least once in each half of five of their last six games on home turf.
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The Blues have led at half-time in each of their last five games away from home, though they've gone on to win only two of those games
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The Blues will become only the second New Zealand team to visit the Sunwolves in Super Rugby history, after the Hurricanes blew them away 83-17 in the opening round of this season
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Welcometo Tokyo, where the Sunwolves will be hosting the Blues
Sunwolves
Mc blues logo 80x50
Blues
START LINE UP
  • 1 Koki Yamamoto
  • 2 Takeshi Hino
  • 3 Koo Jiwon
  • 4 Kotaro Yatabe
  • 5 Uwe Helu
  • 6 Malgene Ilaua
  • 7 Shuhei Matsuhashi
  • 8 Willie Britz
  • 9 Keisuke Uchida
  • 10 Yu Tamura
  • 11 Kenki Fukuoka
  • 12 Timothy Lafaela
  • 13 William Tupou
  • 14 Kotaro Matsushima
  • 15 Riaan Viljoen
RESERVES
  • 16 Yusuke Niwai
  • 17 Keita Inagaki
  • 18 Yasuo Yamaji
  • 19 Yuya Odo
  • 20 Yoshitaka Tokunaga
  • 21 Kaito Shigeno
  • 22 Jumpei Ogura
  • 23 Ryohei Yamanaka
START LINE UP
  • 1 Ofa Tuungafasi
  • 2 James Parsons
  • 3 Charlie Faumuina
  • 4 Gerald Cowley-Tuioti
  • 5 Scott Scrafton
  • 6 Akira Loane
  • 7 Blake Gibson
  • 8 Steven Luatua
  • 9 Augustine Pulu
  • 10 Ihala West
  • 11 Melani Nanai Vai
  • 12 TJ Faiane
  • 13 George Moala
  • 14 Matt Duffie
  • 15 Michael Collins
RESERVES
  • 16 Hame Faiva
  • 17 Pauliasi Manu
  • 18 Sione Mafileo
  • 19 Joshua Goodhue
  • 20 Jerome Kaino
  • 21 Sam Nock
  • 22 Stephen Perofeta
  • 23 Rene Ranger
Mc article thomas perenara hurricanes 800

SR PREVIEW: ROUND 17, PART TWO

Thu, 13 Jul 2017 22:43

IN THE SUPER RUGBY SPOTLIGHT: You could not have asked for a more enthralling and entertaining finish to the league stages of the competition.

The final positions on the standings may well be decided in the last encounter - match No.135.

The Crusaders and Lions are embroiled in a final-round battle to claim the top rankings spot and home advantage throughout the Super Rugby play-offs.

The Crusaders, just two points ahead of the Johannesburg-based Lions, must beat defending champion Hurricanes to go into next week's top-eight play-offs as top seed and in the box seat to host the Final on August 5.

Should the seven-time champions stumble in Wellington on Saturday then the Lions could leapfrog them to finish top of the final-season standings if they down the Sharks in Durban later that day.

Eight teams have already qualified for the play-offs with the top four conference winners having home advantage in the first week of the play-offs against the fifth to eighth-placed wild card teams.

Only the exact final places are to be decided this weekend.

In Part Two of the preview we look at the Saturday matches!

Saturday, July 15:

Sunwolves v Blues
(Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium, Tokyo - Kick-off: 12.00; 15.00 NZ time; 03.00 GMT)

The Sunwolves are still searching for their first win over a New Zealand franchise.

They also haven't won since Week Seven, when they knocked over the Bulls.

Sunwolves coach Filo Tiatia said they are excited that we are back home in Japan, after two heavy defeats on tour in South Africa -  7-94 yo the Lions and 15-52 to the Stormers.

"We brought some fresh legs into selection this week," Tiatia said.

"We still have a large number of injuries in the squad," he added.

Captain Willem Britz described this week's selection as a "very exciting" team.

"Some of the players will be given another shot after the Stormers game, some fresh legs will be coming in so we are really looking forward for the game," Britz said of the visit by the Blues.

"Our preparation is going really well. We will focus on our strong points, our attacking game and fix some things on defence.

"Also this is the last game of the season. I really hope it will be a full crowd at Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium. I really just want to go out there and thank the supporters for the support throughout the whole season by playing good rugby."

Blues coach Tana Umaga said he is expecting a lively and challenging match.

"It is clearly a challenge to come back after a four-week break for a one-off game, as the Sunwolves have had two games in South Africa," Umaga said.

"We know the conditions will be tough but we have prepared as well as possible for that.

"We have a number of players who will be in a Blues jersey for the final time and we want to honour them, as well as honour the Sunwolves in our first time in Japan by selecting our best possible team and playing good Blues rugby."

Previous results:
These teams have never met before.

Prediction: The Blues will become only the second New Zealand team to visit the Sunwolves in Super Rugby history, after the Hurricanes blew them away 83-17 in the opening round of this season. The Blues have led at half-time in each of their last five games away from home, though they've gone on to win only two of those games. The Sunwolves have crossed the whitewash at least once in each half of five of their last six games on home turf. The Blues boast a ruck success rate of 96% so far this campaign, the best of any team in the competition. Only one of the Sunwolves' last seven tries has been scored by a back, and the last time a back from the Japanese franchise scored a try on home turf was in Round Seven this season. The Blues will win, by plenty - 35 points or more.

Teams:

Sunwolves: 15 Riaan Viljoen, 14 Kotaro Matsushima, 13 William Tupou, 12 Timothy Lafaele, 11 Kenki Fukuoka, 10 Yu Tamura, 9 Keisuke Uchida, 8 Willem Britz, 7 Shuhei Matsuhashi, 6 Malgene Ilaua, 5 Uwe Helu, 4 Kotaro Yatabe, 3 Koo Jiwon, 2 Takeshi Hino, 1 Koki Yamamoto.              
Replacements: 16 Yusuke Niwai, 17 Keita Inagaki, 18 Yasuo Yamaji, 19 Yuya Odo, 20 Yoshitaka Tokunaga, 21 Kaito Shigeno, 22 Jumpei Ogura, 23 Ryohei Yamanaka.

Blues: 15 Michael Collins, 14 Matt Duffie, 13 George Moala, 12 TJ Faiane, 11 Melani Nanai, 10 Ihaia West, 9 Augustine Pulu, 8 Steven Luatua, 7 Blake Gibson, 6 Akira Ioane, 5 Scott Scrafton, 4 Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 3 Charlie Faumuina, 2 James Parsons (captain), 1 Ofa Tu'ungafasi.
Replacements: 16 Hame Faiva, 17 Pauliasi Manu, 18 Sione Mafileo, 19 Josh Goodhue, 20 Jerome Kaino, 21 Sam Nock, 22 Stephen Perofeta, 23 Rene Ranger.

Referee: Rasta Rasivhenge (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Akihisa Aso (Japan), Tasuku Takawahara (Japan)
TMO: Minoru Fuji (Japan)

Chiefs v Brumbies
(Waikato Stadium, Hamilton - Kick-off: 17.15; 15.15 AEST; 05.15 GMT)

The result of the game will ultimately decide the Chiefs' quarterfinals opponent.

Currently there are two scenarios.

The preferred outcome will see the Chiefs pack their bags next Wednesday for Canberra, for a return encounter with Australia's best Super Rugby side, the Brumbies.

The appeal of this scenario is solely due to the reduced travel time. To secure this, the Chiefs must defeat the Brumbies this weekend and in the later game, the Crusaders must draw with or beat the Hurricanes.

The second scenario sees the Chiefs depart for Cape Town a mere seven hours after their match this Saturday to play the Stormers.

They have their destiny in their own hands, facing up to an underwhelming Brumbies side - that last week lost to the reds and have a meagre 50 percent success rate this season.

If it wasn't for the ridiculous conference system, the Brumbies would not have been in the play-offs.

Despite the negativity surrounding the Australian franchises' dismal form this season, Brumbies scrumhalf Tomas Cubelli believe they can put together a quality performance when it matters most.

Throughout the campaign a feeling of togetherness and trust has permeated through the team.

Win or lose, the message has been that the team is in it together.

With the Chiefs sitting third in the New Zealand conference and sixth overall, the two sides could potentially meet a week later in Canberra for the quarterfinal.

Recent results:
2016: Chiefs won 48-23, Canberra
2015: Chiefs won 19-17, New Plymouth
2014: Brumbies won 32-30, Canberra (play-off match)
2014: Brumbies 41-23, Canberra
2013: Chiefs won 27-22, Hamilton (Final)

Prediction: The Chiefs have won four of their last six games against the Brumbies, and will be looking for three victories in a row against the team from the Australian capital for the first time in Super Rugby history. The Chiefs have won each of their last four games when hosting the Brumbies, though they've allowed them a losing bonus point on each occasion. The Chiefs have won nine of their last 10 games against Australian opposition, and haven't lost to an Australian team when playing at home since 2014. The Brumbies have lost on their last eight visits to New Zealand by an average margin of 15 points, last winning in Round Four, 2014 against the Hurricanes. The Canberra squad have been kept tryless in the opening half of three of their last six games, scoring only five tries in total across that span. The Brumbies, when they get it right, can make life unpleasant for the best teams. However, the Chiefs should ease to victory by 15 points.

Teams:

Chiefs: 15 Damian McKenzie, 14 Solomon Alaimalo, 13 Alex Nankivell, 12 Charlie Ngatai, 11 James Lowe, 10 Aaron Cruden (captain), 9 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 8 Michael Leitch, 7 Lachlan Boshier, 6 Liam Messam, 5 Mitchell Brown, 4 Michael Allardice, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Nathan Harris, 1 Kane Hames.
Replacements: 16 Liam Polwart, 17 Aidan Ross, 18 Atu Moli, 19 Tom Sanders, 20 Mitchell Karpik, 21 Finlay Christie, 22 Stephen Donald, 23 Shaun Stevenson.

Brumbies: 15 Jordan Jackson-Hope, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Nigel Ah Wong, 12 Andrew Smith, 11 James Dargaville, 10 Wharenui Hawera, 9 Tomas Cubelli, 8 Lolo Fakaosilea, 7 Jarrad Butler, 6 Scott Fardy (captain), 5 Blake Enever, 4 Tom Staniforth, 3 Leslie Leulua'iali'i-Makin, 2 Robbie Abel, 1 Nic Mayhew.
Replacements: 16 Josh Mann-Rea, 17 Scott Sio, 18 Ben Alexander, 19 Ben Hyne, 20 Tom Cusack, 21 Jordan Smiler, 22 Ryan Lonergan, 23 Tom Banks.

Referee: Ben O'Keeffe (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Richard Kelly (New Zealand), Cam Stone (New Zealand)
TMO: Ben Skeen (New Zealand)

Hurricanes v Crusaders
(Westpac Stadium, Wellington - Kick-off: 19.35; 07.35 GMT)

The match of the weekend - for many reasons.

The Hurricanes and Crusaders wrap up the league stages of their Super Rugby campaigns with a blockbuster New Zealand Conference derby.

With the Crusaders undefeated in 2017, the Hurricanes face a huge test heading into the Super Rugby play-offs in what could be their final home match of the year.

When the two teams met in Round 12 in Christchurch earlier this year, the final score saw the Crusaders come out on top 20-12, but the Hurricanes have got everything to play for this week as the quarter finals approach.

A win would likely see the Hurricanes head to Canberra to play the Brumbies, while a loss would probably see them head to South Africa to play the Stormers in Cape Town.

The Hurricanes recalled All Blacks Thomas Perenara, Beauden Barrett and Ardie Savea in the only changes to the team that started during last month's 31-all1 draw with the touring British and Irish Lions.

In contrast the Crusaders have opted to rest some key All Blacks - the front trio of Joe Moody, Codie Taylor and Owen Franks - on 'medical advice'.

The Crusaders are vying to retain their unbeaten Super Rugby record and ensure they finish top of the regular season ladder, giving them home advantage throughout the play-offs.

Defeat could see the Lions overtake them and could result in as trip to South Africa for the Final next month.

The Hurricanes and Crusaders have met 30 times in Super Rugby since 1996.

The Hurricanes have won 10 times, the Crusaders 18, and two matches have been drawn.

The Hurricanes have scored 85 tries so far in 2017, a Super Rugby record.

Recent results:
2017: Crusaders won 20-12, Christchurch
2016: Hurricanes won 35-10, Christchurch
2015: Crusaders won 35-18, Christchurch
2015: Hurricanes won 29-23, Wellington
2014: Hurricanes won 16-9, Wellington
2014: Hurricanes won 29-26, Christchurch

Prediction: This will be the first time since 2015 that the Hurricanes have hosted the Crusaders, with the Wellington side winning each of their last three such fixtures. The Crusaders hunt for their 15th win of the campaign, which would equal the Super Rugby record for the most wins by a team in a single season (including play-offs). In fact, anything more than a loss for the Crusaders would see them become just the third team in Super Rugby history to progress undefeated through the regular season (Blues 1997, Crusaders 2002). The Hurricanes will be looking to avoid consecutive Super Rugby losses on home turf for the first time since Round Four, 2014 after a 17-14 loss to the Chiefs prior to the international break. The Crusaders kept the Hurricanes tryless when they met in Round 12 this season, the only team to keep the Wellington franchise from breaching their line in the last three years. The Hurricanes do have a realistic chance to knock over the Crusaders, but the smart money is on the Crusaders to win by five points.

Teams:

Hurricanes: 15 Jordie Barrett, 14 Nehe Milner-Skudder, 13 Vince Aso, 12 Ngani Laumape, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 Thomas Perenara (captain), 8 Brad Shields, 7 Ardie Savea, 6 Vaea Fifita, 5 Sam Lousi, 4 Mark Abbott, 3 Jeff To'omaga-Allen, 2 Ricky Riccitelli, 2 Ben May.
Replacements: 16 James O'Reilly, 17 Chris Eves, 18 Loni Uhila, 19 Reed Prinsep, 20 Callum Gibbins, 21 Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, 22 Wes Goosen, 23 Cory Jane.

Crusaders: 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Seta Tamanivalu, 13 Jack Goodhue, 12 David Havili, 11 George Bridge, 10 Richie Mo'unga, 9 Bryn Hall, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Matt Todd (captain), 6 Jordan Taufua, 5 Scott Barrett, 4 Luke Romano, 3 Michael Alaalatoa, 2 Ben Funnell, 1 Wyatt Crockett.
Replacements: 16 Andrew Makalio, 17 Tim Perry, 18 Oliver Jager, 19 Samuel Whitelock, 20 Jed Brown, 21 Mitchell Drummond, 22 Mitchell Hunt, 23 Sean Wainui.

Referee: Glen Jackson (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Brendon Pickerill (New Zealand), Angus Mabey (New Zealand)
TMO: Glenn Newman (New Zealand)

Western Force v Waratahs
(nib Stadium, Perth - Kick-off: 17.45; 19.45 AEST; 09.45 GMT)

Waratahs coach Daryl Gibson, with his future in Sydney in doubt, had to douse the flames fanned by rumours that he has a player revolt on his hands.

Gibson fronted up to the media and said the players are "determined" to play at their best to win the match.

"We're firmly focused on delivering and our focus doesn't extend beyond that, making sure that we finish off well," Gibson said.

In contrast Force coach Dave Wessels had the 'luxury' of being able to talk about on-field issues for a change - despite his team's uncertain future.

Wessels said the team is determined to finish the season strong and send Matt Hodgson out on a winning note.

The loose forward is walking off into the retirement sunset after the match in Perth.

"Saturday's game will be special for both Hodgo [Hodgson] and the franchise," Wessels said.

"He's given everything to the cause over a long career and we hope the Sea of Blue will help us give him the send-off he deserves."

Waratahs assistant coach Chris Malone spoke of the passion of the Force players that will confront the Tahs.

"They had a good game against the Rebels last week," Malone said, adding: "It was abrasive, it was attritional, it wasn't a walk over of any sorts.

"They're very direct in terms of the way they play, they run hard and they will try to take us on through the middle which is an area we need to get better at.

Recent results:
2017: Waratahs won 19-13, Sydney
2016: Waratahs won 49-13, Perth
2015: Force won 18-11, Perth
2015: Force won 25-13, Sydney
2014: Force won 28-16, Perth
2014: Waratahs won 43-21, Sydney

Prediction: The Waratahs have won their last two games against the Force, restricting them to just 13 points on each occasion. This will be the first time that the Western Force have finished their season on home soil since a 21-15 win against the Brumbies in 2013. The Waratahs have won their last four games away from home within Australia, including wins after trailing at half-time in each of their last two such fixtures. The Western Force are one of only four teams in the competition to have not had their opposition steal a scrum this season (also Bulls, Crusaders, Sharks). Bernard Foley has scored an average of 11.9 points per game so far this season, the second most of any player in the competition behind Curwin Bosch 12.7). If there is one team that often trouble the Waratahs it is the Western Force - who will rely on raw emotion to secure a win - by nine points.

Teams:

Western Force: 15 Dane Haylett-Petty, 14 Marcel Brache, 13 Curtis Rona, 12 Bill Meakes, 11 Alex Newsome, 10 Peter Grant, 9 Michael Ruru, 8 Isi Naisarani, 7 Matt Hodgson (captain), 6 Ross Haylett-Petty, 5 Adam Coleman, 4 Matt Philip, 3 Tetera Faulkner, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 Pek Cowan.
Replacements: 16 Anaru Rangi, 17 Francois van Wyk, 18 Shambeckler Vui, 19 Lewis Carmichael, 20 Richard Hardwick, 21 Ian Prior, 22 Jono Lance, 23 James Verity-Amm.

Waratahs: 15 Israel Folau, 14 Taqele Naiyaravoro, 13 Rob Horne, 12 David Horwitz, 11 Cam Clark, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Jake Gordon, 8 Michael Wells, 7 Michael Hooper (captain), 6 Jack Dempsey, 5 Dean Mumm, 4 Ned Hanigan, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Damien Fitzpatrick, 1 Tom Robertson.
Replacements: 16 Hugh Roach, 17 David Lolohea, 18 Angus Ta'avao, 19 David McDuling, 20 Ryan McCauley, 21 Nick Phipps, 22 Mack Mason, 23 Andrew Kellaway.

Referee: Nic Berry (Australia)
Assistant referees: Will Houston (Australia), Graham Cooper (Australia)
TMO: Ian Smith (Australia)

Bulls v Stormers
(Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria - Kick-off: 15.05; 13.05 GMT)

Once the biggest game of the season, this north-south derby is no longer big, nor does it come with the build-up that would fill a stadium.

While the Stormers have plenty to play for - momentum ahead of the play-offs - the Bulls are playing just for pride.

There is some additional motivation.

Bulls coach Nollis Marais will vacate his seat after the match, with New Zealander John Mitchell set to formally take over as 'Executive of Rugby' on Sunday.

Marais said he tried to remove the emotion and focus on the rugby.

"I think it was quite a good week," Marais said.

"I just sat down on Monday and said to the guys: 'Obviously it's not what we planned for in the season, we let the fans down'.

"Obviously there's change coming and we've let the fans down - it's not nice and it's not the greatest feeling in the world.

"However, we want to finish off strong and make sure that we make people proud on Saturday, by playing good rugby.

"We are going to do our outmost to win the game on Saturday. It is still a derby game and as I said to the guys, I started against the Stormers and I finish against the Stormers."

Stormers captain Siyamthanda Kolisi said their focus was on their own game, rather than the developments in the Bulls camp.

They have bigger goals ahead.

"Our main focus is to get momentum for [the quarterfinal against a New Zealand team] next week," Kolisi said.

"The things that we wanted to work on, which I am not going to mention, is just simple stuff and us just controlling the game more.

"We can afford to allow whoever we are playing against pull us in and play the way they want us to play.

"We are going to work on our strong points and just focus on our things."

Recent results:
2017: Stormers won 37-24, Cape Town
2016: Bulls won 17-13, Pretoria
2016: Stormers won 33-9, Cape Town
2015: Stormers won 15-13, Cape Town
2015: Stormers won 29-17, Pretoria

Prediction: The Stormers have won eight of their last 11 games against the Bulls, including five of their last six, though each of their losses in that period has come on the road. A tight 40-34 win against the Cheetahs in Round 15 sees the Stormers searching for back-to-back wins away from home against South African opposition for the first time since early 2015. The Bulls have now gone four games at home without victory, the last time they lost more home games in succession was a run of nine losses from 2001 to 2003. The Stormers have scored 15 tries after maintaining possession for seven or more phases, four more tries than any other team in the competition and 11 more than the Bulls. Each of the Bulls' last six tries against the Stormers have been scored by backs; Deon Stegmann in 2015 was the last Bulls' forward to cross against the Cape Town side. Only die-hard fans will risk their money on a Bulls win. The Stormers will win and they will be disappointed if it is not at least 20 points.

Teams:

Bulls: 15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Travis Ismaiel, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Duncan Matthews, 10 Tian Schoeman, 9 Rudy Paige, 8 Nic de Jager, 7 Jannes Kirsten, 6 Shaun Adendorff, 5 Rudolph Snyman, 4 Jason Jenkins, 3 Conrad Janse van Vuuren, 2 Adriaan Strauss (captain), 1 Pierre Schoeman.
Replacements: 16 Jaco Visagie, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 John Roy Jenkinson, 19 Ruben van Heerden, 20 Ruan Steenkamp, 21 Piet van Zyl, 22 Tony Jantjies, 23 Burger Odendaal.

Stormers: 15 Dillyn Leyds, 14 Cheslin Kolbe, 13 EW Viljoen, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Seabelo Senatla, 10 Damian Willemse, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Nizaam Carr, 7 Rynhardt Elstadt, 6 Siyamthanda Kolisi (captain), 5 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Jacobus Janse van Rensburg.
Replacements: 16 Ramone Samuels, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Wilco Louw, 19 Chris van Zyl, 20 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 21 Justin Phillips, 22 Juan de Jongh, 23 Dan Kriel.

Referee: Kubo Shuhei (Japan)
Assistant referees: Federico Anselmi (Argentina), Jaco van Heerden (South Africa)
TMO: Marius Jonker (South Africa)

Sharks v Lions
(Kings Park, Durban - Kick-off: 17.15; 15.15 GMT)

By the time the game kicks off, the Lions will know whether they still have a chance to finish first on the standings.

However, Lions coach Johan Ackermann said his team won't be focussed on the encounter between the Hurricanes (who can do them a huge favour) and the Crusaders earlier in the day.

It is about getting the best out of his team in this match.

Ackermann said they can't afford to get ahead of themselves.

"We have had a bye week, so it is important to get back into the process," he told rugby365.

"The Sharks in Durban is a great challenge, as we have not won there often.

"It is important that we get momentum and play good rugby."

He said that "regardless of the result", it is important that they go out as a team and play well.

"Only after the match we will worry about the play-offs.

"There may or may not be something at stake in the game [depending on what happens in the match between the Hurricanes and Crusaders earlier in the day].

"We won't know till Saturday, so my expectations of the players is to prepare for this like any other game. You can't wait till Saturday before making a call on how you want to play."

There will be a measure of "revenge" in the Sharks' approach to the match, as they are still rankled by their dramatic 29-34 loss at Ellis Park earlier this season.

"We have been looking forward to this game for some time, especially after what happened at Ellis Park where we felt we should have won, so we are definitely excited about this one," Sharks scrumhalf Cobus Reinach said.

"In that Johannesburg game it did not work out.

"Hopefully we can put in a great performance and it will go our way this time."

The Sharks can avoid a long trip to play the Crusaders in the first week of the play-offs if they beat the Lions with a bonus point and the Highlanders are upset at home by Australia's Reds.

Recent results:
2017: Lions won 34-29, Johannesburg
2016: Lions won 37-10, Johannesburg
2016: Lions won 24-9, Durban
2015: Lions won 23-21, Johannesburg
2015: Sharks won 29-12, Durban

Prediction: The Lions have beaten the Sharks in each of their last four meetings, after winning just twice in 13 meetings prior. The Sharks have won their final regular season game in each of their last seven campaigns, winning their last five such fixtures by an average margin of 24 points. The Lions have now won 11 games in a row since a 12-point loss to the Jaguares in Round 3, and have scored 199 points in their last three games combined. The Sharks rely on the penalty goal more often than any other team in the competition, slotting 3.3 penalty goals per game so far this season. The Lions' Franco Mostert has stolen 13 line-outs so far this season, six more than any other player in the competition, though Sharks duo Ruan Botha (seven) and Stephan Lewies (seven) are each ranked equal second. It could get brutal, but the Lions should win - by 12 points.

Teams:

Lions: 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Ruan Combrinck, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Harold Vorster, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Ross Cronjé, 8 Ruan Ackermann, 7 Albertus Smith, 6 Jaco Kriel (captain), 5 Francois Mostert, 4 Andries Ferreira, 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Jacques van Rooyen.
Replacements: 16 Armand van der Merwe, 17 Corne Fourie, 18 Johannes Jonker, 19 Lourens Erasmus, 20 Cyle Brink, 21 Francois de Klerk, 22 Rohan Janse van Rensburg, 23 Sylvian Mahuza.

Sharks: 15 Lwazi Mvovo, 14 Jacobus van Wyk, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Sibusiso Nkosi, 10 Garth April, 9 Jacobus Reinach, 8 Daniel du Preez, 7 Jean-Luc du Preez, 6 Philip van der Walt (captain), 5 Stephan Lewies, 4 Etienne Oosthuizen, 3 Coenraad Oosthuizen, 2 Mahlatse Ralepelle, 1 Thomas du Toit.
Replacements: 16 Stephan Coetzee, 17 Juan Schoeman, 18 Lourens Adriaanse, 19 Jean Droste, 20 Lubabalo Mtembu, 21 Michael Claassens, 22 Curwin Bosch, 23  Jeremy Ward.

Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen (South Africa)
Assistant referees: AJ Jacobs (South Africa), Cwengile Jadezweni (South Africa)
TMO: Johan Greeff (South Africa)

Compiled by Jan de Koning
@king365ed
@rugby365com

* Statistics provided by Opta Sports & sportguru.info

Mc article sunwolves 800

Sunwolves outplay sloppy Blues in hot Tokyo

Sat, 15 Jul 2017 04:00

SUPER RUGBY REPORT: The Sunwolves' explosive second-half performance made sure they marched to a historic 48-21 win over the Blues on Saturday.

The Japanese franchise scored eight tries to three in the sides first ever Super Rugby meeting.

After a horrendous trip to South Africa which includes defeats to the Lions (7-94) and the Stormers (15-52), the Sunwolves were aagain expected to suffer a huge defeat of more than 50 points, especially after the Blues' start.

The Blues started the game in fine form when captain James Parsons opened the score after ten minutes of play, 7-0.

The Blues went onto to score an additional try within a space of 10 minutes, courtesy of lock Gerard Cowley-Tuioti. Being 14-0 up it looked like it was going to be one of those well-known New Zealand walkovers. 

The Sunwolves struggled to get momentum in the opening minutes but finally broke the duck when Timothy Lafaele dived under the posts. Yu Tamura added the extras to trail 7-14.

The Sunwolves' celebrations were shortlived as Michael Collins's try extended the Blues lead. The fullback intercepted a pass inside his own 10 metre and sprinted for the third try, 21-7 after 30 minutes of play.

However, the Sunwolves kept up their pace and just before the half time break their quick hands and set plays made sure they send scrumhalf Keisuke Uchida over the whitewash to narrow the halftime deficit to just 7 points.

The hosts were the first to register points in the second-half. Within 13 minutesthey narrow the deficit to just two points, courtesy of Ryohei Yamanaka's try.

The New Zealanders' troubles were on the rise just like the heat in Tokyo.  And they were soon forced to play with 14-man after All Black Jerome Kaino was given a yellow card for a high-tackle.

In Kaino's absence, the Sunwolves immediately took advantage of the extra man in the park and set up an attacking line-out on the Blues' 5 metre. The Sunwolves had a maul but were denied momentum when the Blues pulled down the maul illegally. The referee Rasta Rasivhenge had no option but to award a penalty try and for the first time the hosts took the lead after 60 minutes of play.

Just minutes later, Sunwolves extended their lead to 31-21 when replacement scrumhalf Kaito Shigeno crossed the whitewash.

With 10 minutes left on the clock, Sunwolves simply looked in sublime form, centre Lafaele made sure he bagged a hat-trick, and Yoshitaka Tokunaga added try number eight to conclude the win.

The win is the Sunwolves' second win of the season and first ever win against a New Zealand opposition.

Man of the match: Sunwolves centre pair - William Tupou and Timothy Lafaele - were amazing, while the open side flank Shuhei Matsuhashi was ruthless at the breakdown. The Blues lock Gerard Cowley-Tuioti's workrate was tremendous and seemed to be the only one that can handle Tokyo's heat. Our man of the match goes to Sunwolves live wire wing Kenki Fukuoka who was scintillating in defence and attack. He produced great linebreaks and put in crucial tackles against guys double his size.  

The scorers:

For Sunwolves:
Tries:
Lafaele 3, Uchida, Ryohei, Yamanaka, Shigeno, penalty try, Tokunaga
Cons: Tamura 2, penalty try does not require a conversion, Ogura

For Blues:
Tries:
Parsons, Cowley-Tuioti, Collins
Cons: West 3

Yellow Card: Jerome Kaino (Blues, 57 - High tackle)

Sunwolves: 15 Riaan Viljoen, 14 Kotaro Matsushima, 13 William Tupou, 12 Timothy Lafaele, 11 Kenki Fukuoka, 10 Yu Tamura, 9 Keisuke Uchida, 8 Willem Britz, 7 Shuhei Matsuhashi, 6 Malgene Ilaua, 5 Uwe Helu, 4 Kotaro Yatabe, 3 Koo Jiwon, 2 Takeshi Hino, 1 Koki Yamamoto.              
Replacements: 16 Yusuke Niwai, 17 Keita Inagaki, 18 Yasuo Yamaji, 19 Yuya Odo, 20 Yoshitaka Tokunaga, 21 Kaito Shigeno, 22 Jumpei Ogura, 23 Ryohei Yamanaka.

Blues: 15 Michael Collins, 14 Matt Duffie, 13 George Moala, 12 TJ Faiane, 11 Melani Nanai, 10 Ihaia West, 9 Augustine Pulu, 8 Steven Luatua, 7 Blake Gibson, 6 Akira Ioane, 5 Scott Scrafton, 4 Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 3 Charlie Faumuina, 2 James Parsons (captain), 1 Ofa Tu'ungafasi.
Replacements: 16 Hame Faiva, 17 Pauliasi Manu, 18 Sione Mafileo, 19 Josh Goodhue, 20 Jerome Kaino, 21 Sam Nock, 22 Stephen Perofeta, 23 Rene Ranger.

Referee: Rasta Rasivhenge (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Akihisa Aso (Japan), Tasuku Takawahara (Japan)
TMO: Minoru Fuji (Japan)

 

Timothy Lafaela (16min), Keisuke Uchida (38min), Ryohei Yamanaka (53min), Kaito Shigeno (63min), Timothy Lafaela (68min), Timothy Lafaela (75min), and Yoshitaka Tokunaga (79min)
TRIES
Scott Scrafton (8min), Gerald Cowley-Tuioti (12min), and Michael Collins (25min)
Yu Tamura (17min), Yu Tamura (39min), and Jumpei Ogura (76min)
CONVERSIONS
Ihala West (9min), Ihala West (13min), and Ihala West (26min)
 
PENALTIES
57min
PENALTY TRIES
 
DROP GOALS
 
Jerome Kaino (56min)
 
 
VENUE Tokyo
REFEREE Rasta Rasivhenge (South Africa)