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Week 2 of Super Rugby and what we can expect

Will the Crusaders’ Blues Continue?

This weekend’s Super Rugby kicks off with the Crusaders hosting the Blues in Christchurch. This is always a big game and one to look forward to. The Crusaders have dominated Super Rugby since inception and the Blues have not done to badly themselves.

The Blues won their opening game and even though it was a close game it was against the defending champions. As with most of the New Zealand sides they have had a lot of personnel changes and this makes it difficult to read too much into the first week’s result. The same can be said for the Crusaders who lost stalwarts like Richie McCaw and Dan Carter. The lost they suffered to the Chiefs was significant as they were playing at home.

Does this mean the Crusaders will fall against the Blues? Well you never know although the Blues win was at home. Both sides still have game makers and breakers although not as many as in the past. The players still need to find each other as many new combinations have been created and it is only the second week of the season.

The teams have met 26 times in the past with the Blues winning only 11. This game should be much easier for them as explained. I can however not see them beating the Crusaders by too big a margin and will give it to them within 5 points

Crusaders

15 David Havili, 14 Jone Macilai, 13 Sean Wainui, 12 Kieron Fonotia, 11 Nemani Nadolo, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Andy Ellis, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Tim Boys, 6 Jordan Taufua, 5 Sam Whitelock (captain), 4 Scott Barrett, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Joe Moody. Substitutes: 16 Ben Funnell, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Mike Alaalatoa, 19 Jimmy Tupou, 20 Pete Samu, 21 Leon Fukofuka, 22 Ben Volavola, 23 Johnny McNicholl

Blues

15 Matt Duffie, 14 Melani Nanai, 13 Rene Ranger, 12 George Moala, 11 Tevita Li, 10 Matt McGahan, 9 Billy Guyton, 8 Steven Luatua, 7 Blake Gibson, 6 Jerome Kaino (captain), 5 Josh Bekhuis, 4 Patrick Tuipulotu, 3 Sione Mafileo, 2 Quentin MacDonald, 1 Ofa Tu’ungafasi. Substitutes: 16 James Parsons, 17 Sam Prattley, 18 Charlie Faumuina, 19  Akira Ioane, 20 Kara Pryor, 21 Bryn Hall, 22 Ihaia West, 23 Male Sa’u

Will the Brumbies stampede on or will the Waratahs stop them?

The Brumbies started the 2016 season with an impressive 52-10 win against the Hurricanes. Not that it was against the run of play, but most fans didn’t expect the margin. The Waratahs also had a good start to their campaign and it should be fair to say that the game Canberra on Friday is between the two Australian title contenders.

This is going to be a very closely contested game with both sides able to run the ball from just about anywhere on the field. Yet they both have strong packs and can dominate upfront. They have faced each other 27 times with the Waratahs winning 16. In all the average points difference is 1 but looking at the recent history the team that wins does so in style.

The flyhalves will play pivitol roles for both sides. Kurtly Beale can be an elusive runner while Christian Lealiifano has a dangerous kicking boot on him. The Tahs will have to stop Kuridrani and if they can do that the game should be theirs to win.

In this game discipline will play a big role as neither side will want a player sent off. My gut feel is telling me the Waratahs will win this game. The margin 10+ points.

Brumbies

15 Aidan Toua, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Matt Toomua, 11 Joe Tomane, 10 Christian Lealiifano (c), 9 Tomás Cubelli, 8 Ita Vaea, 7 David Pocock, 6 Scott Fardy, 5 Sam Carter, 4 Blake Enever, 3 Ben Alexander, 2 Stephen Moore (captain), 1 Scott Sio. Substitutes: 16 Josh Mann-Rea, 17 Allan Alaalatoa, 18 Leslie Leulua’iali’i-Makin, 19 Jordan Smiler, 20 Jarrad Butler, 21 Michael Dowsett, 22 Andrew Smith, 23 Nigel Ah Wong

Waratahs

15 Israel Folau, 14 Matt Carraro, 13 Rob Horne, 12 David Horwitz, 11 Zac Guildford, 10  Kurtley Beale, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Jed Holloway, 7 Michael Hooper (captain), 6 David Dennis, 5 Will Skelton, 4 Dean Mumm, 3 Angus Taavao, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 Paddy Ryan. Substitutes: 16 Tolu Latu, 17 Matt Sandell, 18 Jeremy Tilse, 19 Sam Lousi, 20 Wycliff Palu, 21 Jack Dempsey, 22 Matt Lucas, 23 Bryce Hegarty

Can the Chiefs scalp the Lions?

The first game on Saturday will be the Chiefs hosting the Lions in Waikato. Both sides have their tails up after scoring wins away from home on the opening weekend of 2016. The Lions probably feels better than the Chiefs seeing as they had to make the big trek from South Africa to Japan. Still they played the new boys on the block, The Sunwolves, while the Chiefs beat the mighty Crusaders in their own back yard. If you want to see full on running rugby, both these sides can bring that to the party and will probably do so again this weekend.

The chiefs should be the favourites this weekend. Not only because the Lions had to make two day long flights across numerous time zones in the last 14 days, but also because they have won 13 of the 18 encounters between the two sides. It will be a high scoring game should history be anything to go by. Don’t be surprised by a 20+ victory margin either. I believe it will be closer than that but purely because of the traveling by the Lions the Chiefs will win by around 7 points

Chiefs

  1. Damian McKenzie, 14. Latu Vaeno, 13. Seta Tamanivalu, 12. Charlie Ngatai, 11. James Lowe, 10. Aaron Cruden, 9. Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 8. Maama Vaipulu, 7. Sam Cane (captain), 6. Tom Sanders, 5. Brodie Retallick, 4. Michael Allardice, 3. Hiroshi Yamashita, 2. Rhys Marshall, 1. Pauliasi Manu. Substitutes: 16. Nathan Harris, 17. Mitchell Graham, 18. Siate Tokolahi, 19. Taleni Seu, 20. Michael Leitch, 21. Brad Weber, 22. Anton Lienert-Brown, 23. Glen Fisiiahi

 Lions

15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Ruan Combrinck, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Harold Vorster, 11 Courtnal Skosan, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Warren Whiteley, 7 Warwick Tecklenburg, 6 Jaco Kriel, 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Andries Ferreira, 3 Julian Redelinghuys, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Dylan Smith. Substitutes:  16 Akker van der Merwe, 17 Corne Fourie, 18 Ruan Dreyer, 19 Robert Kruger, 20 Fabian Booysen, 21 Jaco van der Walt, 22 Howard Mnisi, 23 Rohan Janse van Rensburg

Can the Hurricanes bounce back or will the Highlanders do it?

This is a game that both sides will want to win after losing their opening encounters last weekend. The Highlanders did so by a narrow margin and will look back at the game and wonder why? Probably because of ill-discipline and poor goal kicking. The Hurricanes, well they will know it was just because the Brumbies were too good for them.

This is a tough call to make as the Highlanders are defending champions yet the Hurricanes have won more games against them than what they have lost. Both sides have the players to make this a close fought affair and that it will probably be. The Hurricanes will try and dominate up front before setting their backline loose. The Highlanders will play the percentage game but can run it from anywhere on the field. The Highlanders to win by less than 5.

Highlanders

15 Ben Smith (co-captain), 14 Matt Faddes, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Teihorangi Walden, 11 Patrick Osborne, 10 Lima Sopoaga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Luke Whitelock, 7 Shane Christie (co-captain), 6 Elliot Dixon, 5 Joe Wheeler, 4 Tom Franklin, 3 Josh Hohneck, 2 Liam Coltman, 1 Brendon Edmonds. Substitutes: 16 Ash Dixon, 17 Daniel Lienert-Brown, 18 Siosiua Halanukonuka, 19 Liam Squire, 20 Dan Pryor, 21 Josh Renton, 22 Hayden Parker, 23 Jason Emery

Hurricanes

15 Nehe Milner-Skudder/James Marshall, 14 Cory Jane, 13 Vince Aso, 12 Ngani Laumape, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara (c), 8 Victor Vito, 7 Ardie Savea, 6 Brad Shields, 5 Mark Abbott, 4 Blade Thomson, 3 Jeff Toomaga-Allen, 2 Leni Apisai, 1 Reggie Goodes. Substitutes: 16 Ricky Riccitelli, 17 Chris Eves, 18 Loni Uhila, 19 Vaea Fifita, 20 Callum Gibbins, 21 Jamison Gibson-Park, 22 James Marshall/Jason Woodward, 23 Willis Halaholo

Reds or Force who will it be?

This might look like an obvious pick to make. The Reds are at home and therefore they should win against the much weaker Force side. Well if that is what you think, think again. These two sides have met 12 times with the Reds winning 6 and there has been a draw as well. The Force had 4 wins and the draw in the last 6 games between the two sides. The last game did go to the Reds however.

This is one of those encounters where you know that the scores will be high or the victory margin will be huge. To be honest the Force has always been a much better team away from home as long as they played in Australia. The Reds on the other hand has underperformed for a couple of seasons now. I am going with the Reds b y between 10 and 15 points

Reds

15 Ayumu Goromaru, 14 Chris Feauai-Sautia, 13 Samu Kerevi, 12 Karmichael Hunt, 11 Eto Nabuli, 10 Jake McIntyre, 9 Nick Frisby, 8 Jake Schatz, 7 Curtis Browning, 6 Hendrik Tui, 5 Rob Simmons (captain), 4 Cadeyrn Neville, 3 Greg Holmes, 2 Saia Fainga’a, 1 Ben Daley. Substitutes: 16 Andrew Ready, 17 Sef Fa’agase, 18 Sam Balakai, 19 Ben Matwijow, 20 Michael Gunn, 21 Scott Gale, 22 Sam Greene, 23 Junior Laloifi

 

Force

  1. Dane Haylett-Petty, 14. Luke Morahan, 13. Ben Tapuai, 12. Junior Rasolea, 11. Semisi Masirewa, 10. Jono Lance, 9. Alby Mathewson, 8. Angus Cottrell, 7. Matt Hodgson (captain), 6. Brynard Stander, 5. Adam Coleman, 4. Steve Mafi, 3. Guy Millar, 2. Nathan Charles, 1. Pekahou Cowan. Substitutes: 16. Heath Tessmann, 17. Chris Heiberg, 18. Jermaine Ainsley, 19. Ross Haylett-Petty, 20. Ben McCalman, 21. Ian Prior, 22. Peter Grant, 23. Marcel Brache

Bulls to trample Rebels?

The Bulls might have lost against the Stormers last week while the Rebels won away from home against the Force, but that will mean nothing come Saturday. The Bulls have a young side while the Rebels side is more set. Again it will not mean much.

The Bulls have not lost to the Rebels and they will not be looking to do so at their holiest place, Loftus Versfeld. The Closest the Rebels has come to a win was in 2012 when they lost 41-30. Other than that they have not scored more than 10 points in a game against the Bulls, this while the Bulls have never scored less than 40. It might not be such a big score by the Bulls this weekend but they should win this one by no less than 10 points.

Bulls

15 Warrick Gelant , 14 Travis Ismaiel, 13 Jan Serfontein, 12 Burger Odendaal, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Francois Brummer, 9 Rudy Paige, 8 Arno Botha, 7 Jannes Kirsten, 6 Nic de Jager, 5 Grant Hattingh, 4 RG Snyman, 3 Marcel van der Merwe, 2 Adriaan Strauss (captain), Trevor Nyakane. Substitutes: 16 Jaco Visagie, 17 Lizo Gqoboka, 18 Hencus van Wyk, 19 Jason Jenkins, 20 Roelof Smit, 21 Piet van Zyl, 22 Tian Schoeman, 23 Dries Swanepoel

Rebels

TBA

Will the Storm be too much for the Cheetahs?

For South Africa this will be the game of the weekend. Both teams are known for the running rugby they can produce through their backs. Both sides have strong forwards and can get the rolling maul to the work as well (ask the Bulls how well the Stormers make theirs work). The Cheetahs has never won this encounter by a huge margin and even though the Stormers has done so on more than one occasion it is never a one sided affair.

The teams have met 14 times with the Stormers winning 9. With an average of 50 points in a game and a winning margin of around 5 on average it does say a lot about these two sides. They like to play against each other and do so running the ball. The Stormers should win this one with ease and it will be with at least 10 points.

Cheetahs

15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Francois Venter (captain), 12 William Small-Smith, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Fred Zeilinga, 9 Shaun Venter, 8 Niell Jordaan, 7 Uzair Cassiem, 6 Paul Schoeman, 5 Lood de Jager, 4 Carl Wegner, 3 Maks van Dyk, 2 Torsten van Jaarsveld, 1 Charles Marais. Substitutes: 16 Jacques du Toit, 17 Ox Nche, 18 Luan de Bruin, 19 Francois Uys, 20 Boom Prinsloo, 21 Henco Venter, 22 Tian Meyer, 23 Niel Marais

Stormers

15 Cheslin Kolbe, 14 Dillyn Leyds, 13 Johnny Kotze, 12 Juan de Jongh (co-captain), 11 Leolin Zas, 10 Robert du Preez, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Nizaam Carr, 7 Schalk Burger, 6 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 5 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Vincent Koch, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Oli Kebble. Substitutes: 16 Scarra Ntubeni, 17 JC Janse van Rensburg, 18 Frans Malherbe (co-captain), 19 JD Schickerling, 20 Siya Kolisi, 21 Nic Groom, 22 Kurt Coleman, 23 Huw Jones

Can the Jaguars pounce again?

The Sharks did record a win in their opening game and yes it was away from and it was by 33 points, but it was against the Kings. Not South Africa’s strongest rugby province at the current moment or even for the last 20 years. The Jaguars also recorded a win and yes it was also away from home and yes it was a close call winning by 1 point. Still they did it against the Cheetahs, a team known for snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

That it will be a good game I have no doubt. The Sharks will hope to build on the momentum they have. The Jaguars will want to show that they can continue winning and they should as the bulk of the team has played for Argentina at the international level. This game will be won up front and if that is the case it should go to the Jaguars, but discipline will be important as well and here they lack a bit. All I have to go on here is my head, my heart and my gut. My head says Jaguars, My heart says Sharks, and my gut says it will be a brilliant game won by a kick in the last minutes by the Jaguars.

 

Sharks

  1. Willie le Roux, 14. Odwa Ndungane, 13. Paul Jordaan, 12. Andre Esterhuizen, 11. JP Pietersen, 10. Joe Pietersen, 9. Cobus Reinach, 8. Daniel du Preez , 7. Jean-Luc du Preez, 6. Marcell Coetzee, 5. Stephan Lewies, 4. Etienne Oosthuizen, 3. Coenie Oosthuizen, 2. Franco Marais, 1. Tendai Mtawarira (captain). Substitutes: 16. Kyle Cooper, 17. Juan Schoeman, 18. Lourens Adriaanse, 19. Hyron Andrews, 20. Philip van der Walt, 21. Michael Claassens, 22. Garth April, 23. S’bura Sithole

Jaguares TBA

Last weekend I got 8/8. Let’s see how I do this week. Follow me on twitter @djvanman or Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Vanman1979 and let me know your predictions.

A CRACKING START TO SUPER RUGBY 2016 AS THE STORMERS STEAL THE SHOW

The first weekend of Super Rugby 2016 has come and gone quicker than my salary. A good weekend of rugby it was though. High paced and electrifying rugby was seen. Only three really big victories and 4 games that could have gone either way. Any rugby lover would be happy with the rugby they saw.

The Blues beat the Highlanders but as predicted this one went down to the wire. The Highlanders will kick themselves for the yellow card they received. This probably made the difference in the game. Both sides struggled with kicking at goal. Blues 33-31 Highlanders.

The Hurricanes will look back at the Brumbies game and wonder what happened. Yes they missed a kick or two, but the Brumbies out played them. Even when the Brumbies were down to 14 men, and this happened twice, the Hurricanes didn’t look like they could buy a try. Brumbies 52-10 Hurricanes.

The Cheetahs once again showed us how you can snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. Leading 24-3 at one stage, they still managed to lose. True the Jaguars played with 13 men when the Cheetahs scored their tries. Still one would think that when you have a 21 point lead you can build on that. Hats off however to the Jaguars that stuck to their guns. They did not allow the scoreboard to put pressure on them and though before the break. A well-deserved win by the new kids on the block. Cheetahs 33-34 Jaguars.

The Lions travelled to Tokyo and although the Sunwolves had 4 world cup players in their team, the Lions were not overwhelmed at all. The Wolves played good rugby and the Lions did not have it all their own way. Both teams a gain missed crucial kicks at goal. Still it was a good show of running rugby. Sunwolves 13-26 Lions. Both sides still have some work to do going forward.

The Crusaders missed Richie McCaw and Dan Carter. Although they led the game for most of 65 minutes it was the last 15 minutes that mattered. The Chiefs came back and scored two late tries giving them a victory. Missed kicks at goal could have made the result much different but only that it would have given the Chiefs a bigger winning margin. Crusaders 21 -27 Chiefs.

The Waratahs versus Reds game was true to form. Both of these sides can be contenders in Australia and it is always a hard game. The Waratahs made sure of the win in the first half and the Reds were always going to struggle to come back. The fact that they got two yellow cards didn’t help them much. Waratahs 30-10 Reds.

The Force v Rebels game remained true to history. The away side winning although this time it was with a slightly bigger margin than what we have come to expect between these two sides. The Force will rue the mistakes made on the attack as this gave the Rebels just what they needed. In the end a good old contest between two equally strong sides. Force 19-25 Rebels.

The Kings started well but then they just fizzled out against the Sharks. The Sharks were always going to win this one, but I expected much more of a fight from the Kings. The off the field woes of the Eastern Cape side has carried over on to the field. The Sharks can also not read too much into the victory taking into account the opponents. Hopefully the Kings can sort out their problems and rather sooner than later or it will be a long season for them. Kings 8-43 Sharks.

The game of the weekend was the Stormers versus Bulls game and the first half lived up to expectations with the home side leading only 9-6. The second half however was a totally different ball game. The Stormers came out with a vengeance and it showed. The play of the weekend being the driving maul from their own 22. It looked like a freight train without brakes and the Bulls could only look on as it stormed forward. At one stage it looked like the Bulls players falling back was helping the maul move towards their own tryline. The Stormers will be happy with their performance while the Bulls can’t take a lot of positives from the game. Stormers 33-9 Bulls.

SUPER RUGBY 2016 ABOUT TO KICK-OFF

The coming weekend sees the kick-off of Super Rugby 2016. A lot has been said and written about the new format and two debutant teams. Pre-season games have been played and many have read into this and what we can expect for the season to come. However until the first weekend is over we will not truly know where the teams stand. Here is a look at what the weekend holds in store for us.

The Blues will take on the highlanders in the opening game of the season. This is always a good game to watch as both teams can rate themselves as contenders for the number 1 spot in the New Zealand conference. The last couple of seasons however both of these sides struggled in the first couple of weeks. Expect some good running rugby. The Blues to take this one purely because they have the home ground advantage. Kick-off at 8h35 SA time at Eden Park.

The Brumbies will then take on the Hurricanes at the GIO Stadium at 10h45 SA time. This is another good match up with two of Australia’s top 3 teams playing against each other. The Hurricanes have never really lived up to their potential in the past, but they have been known to make the front runners stumble. The Brumbies is always a side to watch. Again I will give this to the Brumbies due to the home ground advantage, but they will have to counter the Hurricanes up front. If not they will struggle to win.

One of the games that will have most neutrals pinned to their seats will be the Cheetahs vs Jaguars game. Purely because everyone will want to see what the Jaguars are going to bring to the table. This game should be filled with fast paced action and a lot of running. However the scrum and rolling maul will play a big part as well. That is if the Jaguars will stick to the tried and tested Argentinian style of rugby. Most will give this game to the Cheetahs. But to be honest I see the Jaguars winning this one. This is the perfect game to finish off Friday’s action. Kick-off at 19h00 in Bloemfontein.

Saturday will see an early start for Lions fans. The Sunwolves host the Lions in Tokyo with kick-off at 6h15. This will have many neutrals up early as well. The Lions did not have the best of warmup games but I will not read too much into that. The Sunwolves are an unknown factor. Still if the Lions stick to what they do best, running the ball and using the forwards to get quick ball, they should win this one. Then again we all know what Japan did against the Springboks in the World Cup. I am hoping to see fast running rugby in this game.

The Crusaders and Chiefs game is one of the two games of the weekend for me. The Crusaders has lost some key players and this might impact on them in a negative way. The Chiefs, as we all know, are one of those teams that can have a brilliant game one week and the next look like they have not played together in months. This game will see some good running rugby with hard tackles and lots of turnover ball. This is another game where I am going against the main stream and pick the Chiefs to win.

In Australia the Waratahs and Reds will take each other one. Easy pick is the Waratahs to win. I just can’t see the Reds winning this one. Then we also have the Force and Rebels taking each other on. If history serves t be right the Rebels will win as they are playing away from home.

The Kings vs Sharks game should be an easy pick, but both sides have been going through some of the field issues. The Sharks struggled of last season and unless there has been a monumental mind shift in the squad i don’t believe that it has changed. Management and players are essentially the same. The Kings are in financial crisis and players are begging to get paid. This can’t be good for them either. Still the Sharks should win this one.

The Game of the weekend will end of the action on Saturday. The Stormers take on the Bulls. This is never a high scoring game and kicking should play a big part in the outcome. Still running rugby is always on the cards. The Stormers are under a caretaker coach of sorts and the Bulls have their tails up after some good warmup results. The game however is played at Newlands and it has become extremely difficult to beat the Cape side at home in recent seasons. The Stormers should win this by a slim margin.

SUPER RUGBY NOW MORE CONFUSING THAN GRADE 12 ALGEBRA

Super Rugby is just short of 6 weeks from kicking off and if anyone can make heads or tails of the new format then they will do good in grade 12 maths as well. 18 teams will compete in this year’s competition with 5 teams each from Australia and New Zealand, 6 from South Africa and 1 each from Argentina and Japan. What is making this new 18 team format so confusing is how they have created the conferences that will compete against each other and then how they will compete.

There will 2 Australasian conferences consisting of 5 teams each and 2 African conferences consisting of 4 teams. The Australasian conferences will effectively be a Australian conference and a New Zealand conference. The two Africa conferences will consist of three South African teams each and then one will have the Japanese team and the other the Argentinian team.  Now from here it starts getting very interesting as well as very confusing.

The Australasian conferences will see each team playing two of the other teams in there group home and away. They will then play one away game and one home game against one of the other teams in the conference. The African conferences will play each team in their group home and away. The Australasian conferences will then proceed to play a game against each of the teams in the other conference. The dame for the two African Conferences. We will then see Africa 1 playing against Australian conference and Africa 2 playing against the New Zealand conference.

The top team in each conference will proceed to the quarter finals joined by 4 wildcard teams. The wild cards will be selected 2 from each of the Australasian conferences and 1 each from the African Conferences. Effectively the runners up in Africa and second and third place in the Australasian conferences.

From there it is highest placed against lowest and so on. The winners will play against each other in the semi-finals. Again the highest placed against the lowest placed. An then we will have the final. All in all it will tae 135 matches to decide the winner of the competition. 59 more than in the European equivalent that has 24 teams. SANZAR could not make this any more difficult if they wanted to.

Why they didn’t just add 4 teams and made it 20 teams is beyond me. That way we could have had 4 groups or if you want conferences with 5 teams each. Had they added say Namibia and a team from Fiji this could have worked. Groups being drawn from a hat to make up the groups. Each team playing the others in the group Home and away and from there the top 2 teams in each group proceeds to the quarter finals and so on.

If SANZAR didn’t want to go this route they could well have gone back to each team playing each of the other teams once. This way the competition would still have been the same number of games but at least you would face all the competition not just some.

Now we have a competition that can potentially see a winner that has not played once against a New Zealand team or on the other hand an Australian team. How can you claim to be the best in the Southern Hemisphere if you did not once face a team from one of these countries? The same can be said if a team wins but they did not play against the Stormers or Bulls or for that matter the Lions or Sharks.

This might be the premier rugby competition for clubs/provinces/franchises in the world but currently it is nothing more than a farce.

Here is the conferences and inter conference setup with games to be played:

 

Australasian Group
Pos Team P W D L PF PA PD TF TA TB LB Pts
1 Blues 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2 Brumbies 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
3 Chiefs 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
4 Crusaders 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
5 Force 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
6 Highlanders 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
7 Hurricanes 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
8 Rebels 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
9 Reds 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
10 Waratahs 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
South African Group
Pos Team P W D L PF PA PD TF TA TB LB Pts
1 Bulls 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2 Cheetahs 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
3 Jaguares 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
4 Kings 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
5 Lions 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
6 Sharks 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
7 Stormers 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
8 Sunwolves 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Australian Conference
Pos Team P W D L PF PA PD TF TA TB LB Pts
1 Brumbies 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2 Force 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
3 Rebels 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
4 Reds 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
5 Waratahs 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
New Zealand Conference
Pos Team P W D L PF PA PD TF TA TB LB Pts
1 Blues 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2 Chiefs 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
3 Crusaders 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
4 Highlanders 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
5 Hurricanes 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Africa 1 Conference
Pos Team P W D L PF PA PD TF TA TB LB Pts
1 Bulls 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2 Cheetahs 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
3 Stormers 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
4 Sunwolves 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Africa 2 Conference
Pos Team P W D L PF PA PD TF TA TB LB Pts
1 Jaguares 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
2 Kings 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
3 Lions 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
4 Sharks 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

 

Round 1

26 February 2016 Blues v Highlanders Eden Park, Auckland  
19:35

 

26 February 2016 Brumbies v Hurricanes GIO Stadium, Canberra
19:40

 

26 February 2016 Cheetahs v Jaguares Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein  
19:00

 

27 February 2016 Sunwolves v Lions Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium, Tokyo  
13:15

 

27 February 2016 Crusaders v Chiefs AMI Stadium, Christchurch [show] 
19:35

 

27 February 2016 Waratahs v Reds Allianz Stadium, Sydney [show] 
19:40

 

27 February 2016 Force v Rebels nib Stadium, Perth [show] 
18:50

 

27 February 2016 Kings v Sharks Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth [show] 
15:00

 

27 February 2016 Stormers v Bulls DHL Newlands, Cape Town [show] 
17:05

Round 2[edit]

4 March 2016 Crusaders v Blues AMI Stadium, Christchurch [show] 
19:35

 

4 March 2016 Brumbies v Waratahs GIO Stadium, Canberra [show] 
19:40

 

5 March 2016 Chiefs v Lions Waikato Stadium, Hamilton [show] 
17:15

 

5 March 2016 Highlanders v Hurricanes Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin [show] 
19:35

 

5 March 2016 Reds v Force Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane [show] 
18:40

 

5 March 2016 Bulls v Rebels Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria [show] 
15:00

 

5 March 2016 Cheetahs v Stormers Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein [show] 
17:05

 

5 March 2016 Sharks v Jaguares Kings Park Stadium, Durban [show] 
19:10

 

Bye/s: Sunwolves, Kings

Round 3[edit]

11 March 2016 Blues v Hurricanes Eden Park, Auckland [show] 
19:35

 

11 March 2016 Force v Brumbies nib Stadium, Perth [show] 
19:05

 

12 March 2016 Highlanders v Lions Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin [show] 
19:35

 

12 March 2016 Rebels v Reds AAMI Park, Melbourne [show] 
19:40

 

12 March 2016 Sunwolves v Cheetahs National Stadium, Singapore [show] 
18:50

 

12 March 2016 Kings v Chiefs Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth [show] 
15:00

 

12 March 2016 Stormers v Sharks DHL Newlands, Cape Town [show] 
17:05

 

Bye/s: Bulls, Crusaders, Jaguares, Waratahs

Round 4[edit]

18 March 2016 Hurricanes v Force Central Energy Trust Arena, Palmerston North [show] 
19:35

 

18 March 2016 Waratahs v Highlanders Allianz Stadium, Sydney [show] 
19:40

 

18 March 2016 Bulls v Sharks Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria [show] 
19:00

 

19 March 2016 Sunwolves v Rebels Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium, Tokyo [show] 
13:15

 

19 March 2016 Crusaders v Kings AMI Stadium, Christchurch [show] 
19:35

 

19 March 2016 Reds v Blues Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane [show] 
18:40

 

19 March 2016 Lions v Cheetahs Ellis Park Stadium, Johannesburg [show] 
17:05

 

19 March 2016 Stormers v Brumbies DHL Newlands, Cape Town [show] 
19:10

 

19 March 2016 Jaguares v Chiefs José Amalfitani Stadium, Buenos Aires [show] 

Round 5[edit]

25 March 2016 Hurricanes v Kings Westpac Stadium, Wellington [show] 
19:35

 

26 March 2016 Chiefs v Force Waikato Stadium, Hamilton [show] 
19:35

 

26 March 2016 Rebels v Highlanders AAMI Park, Melbourne [show] 
19:40

 

26 March 2016 Sunwolves v Bulls National Stadium, Singapore [show] 
18:50

 

26 March 2016 Cheetahs v Brumbies Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein [show] 
15:00

 

26 March 2016 Sharks v Crusaders Kings Park Stadium, Durban [show] 
17:05

 

26 March 2016 Jaguares v Stormers José Amalfitani Stadium, Buenos Aires [show] 

 

27 March 2016 Reds v Waratahs Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane [show] 
15:05

 

Bye/s: Blues, Lions

Round 6[edit]

1 April 2016 Highlanders v Force Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin [show] 
19:35

 

1 April 2016 Lions v Crusaders Ellis Park Stadium, Johannesburg [show] 
19:00

 

2 April 2016 Blues v Jaguares QBE Stadium, Albany [show] 
19:35

 

2 April 2016 Brumbies v Chiefs GIO Stadium, Canberra [show] 
19:40

 

2 April 2016 Kings v Sunwolves Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth [show] 
17:05

 

2 April 2016 Bulls v Cheetahs Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria [show] 
19:10

 

3 April 2016 Waratahs v Rebels Allianz Stadium, Sydney [show] 
16:05

 

Bye/s: Hurricanes, Reds, Sharks, Stormers

Round 7[edit]

8 April 2016 Chiefs v Blues Waikato Stadium, Hamilton [show] 
19:35

 

8 April 2016 Force v Crusaders nib Stadium, Perth [show] 
19:00

 

8 April 2016 Stormers v Sunwolves DHL Newlands, Cape Town [show] 
19:00

 

9 April 2016 Hurricanes v Jaguares Westpac Stadium, Wellington [show] 
19:35

 

9 April 2016 Reds v Highlanders Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane [show] 
19:40

 

9 April 2016 Sharks v Lions Kings Park Stadium, Durban [show] 
17:05

 

9 April 2016 Kings v Bulls Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth [show] 
19:10

 

Bye/s: Brumbies, Cheetahs, Rebels, Waratahs

Round 8[edit]

15 April 2016 Crusaders v Jaguares AMI Stadium, Christchurch [show] 
19:35

 

15 April 2016 Rebels v Hurricanes AAMI Park, Melbourne [show] 
19:40

 

15 April 2016 Cheetahs v Sunwolves Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein [show] 
19:00

 

16 April 2016 Blues v Sharks Eden Park, Auckland [show] 
19:35

 

16 April 2016 Waratahs v Brumbies Allianz Stadium, Sydney [show] 
19:40

 

16 April 2016 Bulls v Reds Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria [show] 
17:05

 

16 April 2016 Lions v Stormers Ellis Park Stadium, Johannesburg [show] 
19:10

 

Bye/s: Chiefs, Force, Highlanders, Kings

Round 9[edit]

22 April 2016 Highlanders v Sharks Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin [show] 
19:35

 

22 April 2016 Rebels v Cheetahs AAMI Park, Melbourne [show] 
19:40

 

23 April 2016 Sunwolves v Jaguares Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium, Tokyo [show] 
14:15

 

23 April 2016 Hurricanes v Chiefs Westpac Stadium, Wellington [show] 
19:35

 

23 April 2016 Force v Waratahs nib Stadium, Perth [show] 
17:40

 

23 April 2016 Stormers v Reds DHL Newlands, Cape Town [show] 
15:00

 

23 April 2016 Kings v Lions Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth [show] 
17:05

 

24 April 2016 Brumbies v Crusaders GIO Stadium, Canberra [show] 
16:05

 

Bye/s: Blues, Bulls

Round 10[edit]

29 April 2016 Chiefs v Sharks Yarrow Stadium, New Plymouth [show] 
19:35

 

29 April 2016 Force v Bulls nib Stadium, Perth [show] 
19:05

 

30 April 2016 Highlanders v Brumbies Rugby Park Stadium, Invercargill [show] 
17:15

 

30 April 2016 Blues v Rebels Eden Park, Auckland [show] 
19:35

 

30 April 2016 Reds v Cheetahs Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane [show] 
19:40

 

30 April 2016 Lions v Hurricanes Ellis Park Stadium, Johannesburg [show] 
17:05

 

30 April 2016 Stormers v Waratahs DHL Newlands, Cape Town [show] 
19:10

 

30 April 2016 Jaguares v Kings José Amalfitani Stadium, Buenos Aires [show] 

 

Bye/s: Crusaders, Sunwolves

Round 11[edit]

6 May 2016 Crusaders v Reds AMI Stadium, Christchurch [show] 
19:35

 

6 May 2016 Brumbies v Bulls GIO Stadium, Canberra [show] 
19:40

 

7 May 2016 Sunwolves v Force Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium, Tokyo [show] 
14:15

 

7 May 2016 Chiefs v Highlanders Waikato Stadium, Hamilton [show] 
19:35

 

7 May 2016 Waratahs v Cheetahs Allianz Stadium, Sydney [show] 
19:40

 

7 May 2016 Sharks v Hurricanes Kings Park Stadium, Durban [show] 
15:00

 

7 May 2016 Kings v Blues Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth [show] 
17:05

 

Bye/s: Jaguares, Lions, Rebels, Stormers

Round 12[edit]

13 May 2016 Highlanders v Crusaders Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin [show] 
19:35

 

13 May 2016 Rebels v Brumbies AAMI Park, Melbourne [show] 
19:40

 

14 May 2016 Hurricanes v Reds Westpac Stadium, Wellington [show] 
19:35

 

14 May 2016 Waratahs v Bulls Allianz Stadium, Sydney [show] 
19:40

 

14 May 2016 Sunwolves v Stormers National Stadium, Singapore [show] 
19:45

 

14 May 2016 Cheetahs v Kings Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein [show] 
17:05

 

14 May 2016 Lions v Blues Ellis Park Stadium, Johannesburg [show] 
19:10

 

14 May 2016 Jaguares v Sharks José Amalfitani Stadium, Buenos Aires [show] 

 

Bye/s: Chiefs, Force

Round 13[edit]

20 May 2016 Crusaders v Waratahs AMI Stadium, Christchurch [show] 
19:35

 

21 May 2016 Reds v Sunwolves Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane [show] 
15:05

 

21 May 2016 Chiefs v Rebels Waikato Stadium, Hamilton [show] 
19:35

 

21 May 2016 Force v Blues nib Stadium, Perth [show] 
17:40

 

21 May 2016 Lions v Jaguares Ellis Park Stadium, Johannesburg [show] 
15:00

 

21 May 2016 Sharks v Kings Kings Park Stadium, Durban [show] 
17:05

 

21 May 2016 Bulls v Stormers Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria [show] 
19:10

 

Bye/s: Brumbies, Cheetahs, Highlanders, Hurricanes

Round 14[edit]

27 May 2016 Hurricanes v Highlanders Westpac Stadium, Wellington [show] 
19:35

 

27 May 2016 Waratahs v Chiefs Allianz Stadium, Sydney [show] 
19:40

 

27 May 2016 Kings v Jaguares Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth [show] 
19:00

 

28 May 2016 Blues v Crusaders Eden Park, Auckland [show] 
19:35

 

28 May 2016 Brumbies v Sunwolves GIO Stadium, Canberra [show] 
19:40

 

28 May 2016 Stormers v Cheetahs DHL Newlands, Cape Town [show] 
15:00

 

28 May 2016 Bulls v Lions Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria [show] 
17:05

 

29 May 2016 Rebels v Force AAMI Park, Melbourne [show] 
16:05

 

Bye/s: Reds, Sharks

Round 15[edit]

1 July 2016 Chiefs v Crusaders ANZ National Stadium, Suva, Fiji [show] 
19:35

 

1 July 2016 Brumbies v Reds GIO Stadium, Canberra [show] 
19:40

 

2 July 2016 Sunwolves v Waratahs Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium, Tokyo [show] 
14:15

 

2 July 2016 Hurricanes v Blues Westpac Stadium, Wellington [show] 
19:35

 

2 July 2016 Rebels v Stormers AAMI Park, Melbourne [show] 
19:40

 

2 July 2016 Cheetahs v Force Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein [show] 
15:00

 

2 July 2016 Kings v Highlanders Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth [show] 
17:05

 

2 July 2016 Lions v Sharks Ellis Park Stadium, Johannesburg [show] 
19:10

 

2 July 2016 Jaguares v Bulls José Amalfitani Stadium, Buenos Aires [show] 

Round 16[edit]

8 July 2016 Blues v Brumbies Eden Park, Auckland [show] 
19:35

 

8 July 2016 Reds v Chiefs Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane [show] 
19:40

 

8 July 2016 Lions v Kings Ellis Park Stadium, Johannesburg [show] 
19:00

 

9 July 2016 Crusaders v Rebels AMI Stadium, Christchurch [show] 
19:35

 

9 July 2016 Waratahs v Hurricanes Allianz Stadium, Sydney [show] 
19:40

 

9 July 2016 Force v Stormers nib Stadium, Perth [show] 
19:45

 

9 July 2016 Bulls v Sunwolves Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria [show] 
17:05

 

9 July 2016 Sharks v Cheetahs Kings Park Stadium, Durban [show] 
19:10

 

9 July 2016 Jaguares v Highlanders José Amalfitani Stadium, Buenos Aires [show] 

Round 17[edit]

15 July 2016 Blues v Waratahs Eden Park, Auckland [show] 
19:35

 

15 July 2016 Reds v Rebels Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane [show] 
19:40

 

15 July 2016 Sharks v Sunwolves Kings Park Stadium, Durban [show] 
19:00

 

16 July 2016 Crusaders v Hurricanes AMI Stadium, Christchurch [show] 
17:15

 

16 July 2016 Highlanders v Chiefs Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin [show] 
19:35

 

16 July 2016 Brumbies v Force GIO Stadium, Canberra [show] 
19:40

 

16 July 2016 Stormers v Kings DHL Newlands, Cape Town [show] 
17:05

 

16 July 2016 Cheetahs v Bulls Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein [show] 
19:10

 

16 July 2016 Jaguares v Lions José Amalfitani Stadium, Buenos Aires [show] 

Finals[edit]

Quarter Finals[edit]

22/23 July 2016 Team 1 v Team 8 [show] 

 

22/23 July 2016 Team 2 v Team 7 [show] 

 

22/23 July 2016 Team 3 v Team 6 [show] 

 

22/23 July 2016 Team 4 v Team 5 [show] 

Semi-Finals[edit]

29/30 July 2016 First-seeded Quarter Final winner v Fourth-seeded Quarter Final winner [show] 

 

29/30 July 2016 Second-seeded Quarter Final winner v Third-seeded Quarter Final winner [show] 

Final[edit]

6 August 2016 Higher ranked Semi-Final winner v Lower ranked Semi-Final winner [show]

The schedule and conference groups care of Wikipedia.com

 

NZ Super Rugby weekend at a glance

With only South African and New Zealand teams in Super Rugby action this weekend, here is a quick look at what to expect from the “Land of the thin white cloud”.

The Chiefs and Hurricanes will kick-off the weekend’s action in Hamilton at the Waikato Stadium. Kick-off is at 9:35 SA time. The Hurricanes still has a very real chance of reaching the play-offs, but for that they need to win at least 2 of their last 3 games. The Chiefs need just 11 points from their last three games to secure top spot. This is once again a game that neither team will want to lose.
Prediction: Chiefs by 7.

Saturday morning at 9:35 the Highlanders will host the Crusaders at the Forsyth-Barr Stadium in Dunedin. The Highlanders are well and truly out of this year’s competition. They are just looking to get out of last place and by doing that they will do many teams a favour by winning. The Crusaders still has an outside chance of topping the NZ conference, but would just want to cement a top 6 finish and through that make it easier on themselves in the play-offs.

Prediction: Crusaders by 10.

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Chiefs re-sign key players

The Chiefs have confirmed they have re-signed six current players from their squad for the upcoming seasons.

Utility back Gareth Anscombe and prop Ben Tameifuna have re committed until 2014 while back, Andrew Horrell and hooker Rhys Marshall, prop Pauliasi Manu and lock Michael Fitzgerald have all re-signed until 2015.

Chiefs’ coach Dave Rennie said “They are all good players but more importantly, good men.  We’ve been really impressed with the contribution these men have made to our club and are rapt they are committing beyond this year.”

Popular prop Ben Tameifuna is proud to call Chiefs country home. 

“The coaching and the support the Chiefs environment provides is the best I have come across and they know how to get the best out of their players,” said Tameifuna.

Gareth Anscombe is grateful for the faith the defending champions have shown in him and New Zealand’s Investec Super Rugby top point scorer has excelled in the Chiefs environment.

The first five-eight who has spent much of the season playing out of position at fullback is rapt to have been offered a contract.   

“I am really enjoying the culture and the challenging environment which I believed has really helped grow my game and my confidence,” said Anscombe.

The Chiefs snapped up former NZ U20s hooker Rhys Marshall and identified the twenty year old as being a player with great potential.  Due to injury Marshall was given his first start prior to playing any ITM Cup matches and the twenty year old has reveled in the game time he has received this year.  

The Smedly Agricultural College graduate said “The culture, the coaching staff and the opportunities I have already been given were key factors in my decision.”

(c) Chiefs

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Chiefs hang on to win against Chiefs

The Chiefs barely managed to hang on for a 22-21 win against the Force. A missed conversion by the Force and a yellow card in the last 10 minutes giving them the victory.

The first half was very much a half of let’s see who can kick the furthest and then make the least mistakes. The Force started of with a bang like a New Year’s cracker and scored a brilliant try in the first couple of minutes. Then they decided that the breakdown laws doesn’t apply to them and allowed the Chiefs back into the game. The Chiefs hit back with a brilliant try of their own and extended the lead to 16-5 as the force went to ground quicker than a soccer player in the penalty box. The Chiefs allowed to force to come back before the break with some silly penalties of their own. Halftime Score: Chiefs 19-11 Force.

The second half started off slowly. The first 20 minutes was like watching a 1975 Scope. It had just enough to keep you interested but not really satisfying. Then the Force scored their second try through Dellit, his second for the night, to make it a 1 point ball game. The game intensified as both sides tried to gain the upper hand and neither wanting to budge an inch. The Chiefs dominated the scrums for about 6 minutes resulting in a Force yellow card after 3 penalties. They however ended up knocking the ball over the line.

The game opened up in the last 8 minutes. The Chiefs ran everything that the Force kicked at them, but they just couldn’t make it count. the force had chances in the last 2-3 minutes, but they couldn’t make it stick. In essence the Chiefs win was very much like a Gupta jet. No one knows how they got their or who gave them permission, but they did.
Scorers
Chiefs 22 – Tries:
Masaga. Conversion: Cruden. Penalties: Cruden (4)

Force 21 – Tries: Dellit (2). Conversions: Hayward. Penalties: Hayward (3)

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Anscombe’s Hat-Trick sinks Rebels

Following last week’s narrow defeat to the Crusaders, the RaboDirect Rebels returned home to host 2012 Super 15 champions the Chiefs at AAMI Park.

Wallaby Kurtley Beale was a welcome return to the substitutes bench following a much-publicised stint out of the side, replacing Angus Roberts; that was the only change to the Rebels’ lineup which ran out five days ago in Christchurch. As is commonplace when New Zealand sides come to Melbourne, there was a large smattering of visiting support in attendance to create a truly fantastic atmosphere with fans of both sides making no shortage of noise.

The Chiefs won the competition in 2012, and were sitting atop the New Zealand conference at the beginning of Round 12. The form of their backs, in particular Gareth Anscombe and Tim Nanai-Williams, was a key reason for their lofty ladder position and it took the former just 54 seconds to score the first try of the game, though he was unable to land the conversion.

Tom English, who was making just his second start for the Rebels after an impressive run-on debut in Christchurch, made sure his opponents knew who he was with a big hit to force an early turnover for the home side. But it was one of few positives in the opening ten minutes as Bundee Aki bundled over for the visitor’s second try in the 9th minute, with Anscombe easily converting to make it 12-0.

The Rebels were determined to find a way back into the match, however, and went close minutes later after a break from Hugh Pyle got them deep into opposition territory.

They couldn’t be denied in the 14th minute, when openside Jarrod Saffy showed his destructive abilities to break right through the guts of the Chiefs’ defence. Saffy released Scott Higginbotham, and when he drew three defenders and laid it off for English, the young winger was able to reciprocate and pass back for Higginbotham to touch down. The TMO was called upon to check the validity of the try, but it was awarded and James O’Connor slotted the kick.

Higginbotham had been at the heart of everything for the Rebels, but Anscombe was doing the same for the Chiefs and it was no surprise when he scored his second of the evening out wide in the 20th minute. He launched a superb conversion attempt from out wide, and then secured a hat trick of tries in the 26th minute as the game threatened to turn into a blowout, with the Chiefs leading 24-7 with half an hour gone.

Yet again, however, the Rebels refused to lie down. Rory Sidey was looking dangerous at second receiver and the interplay between himself and O’Connor almost led to Jason Woodward crashing over.

And it was Hugh Pyle who scored his third try of the season just before half time, which O’Connor converted. Although the Rebels pushed hard and Laurie Weeks forced a turnover with a huge tackle, they were unable to add to the score as the visitors led 24-14 at the
break.

It was a nervy beginning to the second half from both sides. Sam Cane crashed over for his third Super 15 try after 50 minutes; the Rebels had held on resolutely to hold the Chiefs up over the try line, but from the resulting scrum a great one-handed offload from Chiefs’ captain Craig Clarke released the flanker.

Beale and the recently re-signed Paul Alo-Emile entered the fray, as first Nic Henderson and then Sidey went close to scoring their first try in Rebels colours; for Henderson, it would have been his first Super Rugby try.

Instead, it was towering lock Pyle who snagged his second of the evening, with the conversion good, but when Anscombe responded with a penalty goal the Rebels’ equation was simple; score two converted tries to win the game.

Nick Phipps got his side closer to that target when he scored following exceptional play between O’Connor and Beale; the TMO again had a look for a forward pass, but the try was awarded and the bonus point secured. O’Connor was unable to add the extras.

And unfortunately for the Rebels flyhalf, who like last week had really stepped up following half time, his misfortune didn’t end there; a clearance kick moments later was charged down by Clarke for the simplest of tries.

There was still time for Beale to show exactly what the fans had been missing though, when he perfectly dissected the Chiefs’ defence through clever angled running and touched down. And although Anscombe appeared to have put the result beyond doubt with his fourth try, the TMO thought otherwise and with two minutes left the game of cat and mouse continued with the Rebels on the charge and the crowd noise incredible.

Cooper Vuna beat all but one man as he charged down the left, and despite a huge number of pick and gos the Rebels were left agonisingly short yet again, going down 39-33 with two bonus points as consolation.

For RaboDirect Rebels’ Head Coach Damien Hill, it was a case of deja vu; this match was the fourth time this season that the Rebels have lost by less than a converted try.

“It doesn’t get any easier,” Hill said. “The talk we just had then (with the group), about the two previous games where we came so close against teams of such high calibre, is that we don’t lose heart; we continue on the path that we are on.”

Hill said that the differences between where the Rebels are, and the complete performance that he is looking for, were minimal.

“We are down now in our performances to 5%, if not less (of our play letting us down),” Hill said. “I think you saw today some very good passages of defence, and some very good attack, but you also saw a couple of points where our execution and accuracy wasn’t there; they are the moments teams like the Chiefs will take. The effort is definitely there, I say it every week, but we have to maintain that focus and continual improvement because we are so close and that is the message I am giving the players.”

Hill enjoyed the impact Beale had on his return to the side, and forecast a swift promotion to the starting lineup. “No!” was Hill’s quick and honest answer, when asked whether Beale would again be used off the bench next week.

“Kurtley’s first kick (which went out on the full) was not what we expected, but after that he was electric,” Hill said. “He added so much to our attack. Those two combinations with James (O’Connor), one which led to a line break and the other a try, just showed what he can do. I hope he gets a lot of confidence out of that, because I know definitely the team did.”

Higginbotham, who ran 100 metres with the ball in a game where he was only narrowly shaded for Man of the Match honours by double try-scoring lock Pyle, can see similarities to the Queensland Reds side he played with before moving to Melbourne. That side was on the end of a number of defeats before turning it around and winning the 2011 Super 15, and Higginbotham thinks that this Rebels lineup are also on the right track to turn around their fortunes.

“I feel like we are even closer than what the Reds were when we were struggling,” Higginbotham said. “At the Reds, there were a lot of performances where we lost by a lot of points and didn’t put points on. Here, this year, it’s one lack of concentration or a small error, and then teams are putting points on us. Two weeks in a row, 14-0 down after 10 minutes, but coming within seven points of winning. We’re close.”

Next week, the Rebels travel to Eden Park in Auckland to face a Blues side which they famously defeated at AAMI Park last season. With no injuries to report, and Beale seemingly set for the starting lineup, there is hope that the Rebels can get that extra 5% of performance Hill and the side are looking for as they try and secure a first ever win outside of Australia.
 
Rebels 33 – Tries: Higginbotham, Pyle (2), Phipps, Beale. Conversions: O’Connor (4)
Chiefs  39 – Tries: Anscombe (3), Aki, Cane, Retallick. Conversions: Anscombe (3). Penalty: Anscombe

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so near but yet so far for Sharks

The Sharks came close to beating the Chiefs on Saturday in Hamilton but it was just to far for them. The scoreline doesn’t really tell the whole story.

The Chiefs took control of the game in the first 20 minutes and ran in 24 unanswered points as the Sharks looked like fish out of water. Their defense was non existent and they had no clue what to do with the ball when they did get it. The Chiefs revelled on this and ran in 3 tries. The Sharks however soon found their feet.

The next 20 minutes belonged to the visitors as they ran in 3 tries of their own. Derick Minnie and the other new players in the team suddenly remembered how to play rugby. Pat lambie missed a shot or two at goal but still the half time score was 24-19. A fight back of note.

The second half however started the same as the first and the Chiefs again dominated the play. They added 10 quick points and it looked like the Sharks were out of it. Had the chiefs kept control it would have been a masacre instead of a much closer game. The Sharks again hit back and it looked like they might just pull of a miracle and win after Keegan Daniel scored the bonus point try. 34-29 down and controling the game it should have been. But then Daniel conceded a penalty in range. The Chiefs kicked it and denied the Sharks a second bonus point if not a win.

Truly a game of 4 quarters and not two halves as the teams gained and lost control of the game. The Sharks will be positive despite the loss and the Chiefs will look at their lapses in concentration.

Scorers
Chiefs 37 – Tries:
Asaeli Tikoirotuma, Bundee Aki, Tim Nanai-Williams (2). Conversions: Gareth Anscombe (4). Penalties: Anscombe (2), Aaron Cruden.
Sharks 29 – Tries: Derick Minnie (2), Lubabalo Mtembu, Keegan Daniel. Conversions: Pat Lambie (3). Penalty: Lambie.

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Waratahs steal late win against Chiefs

The Waratahs beat the Chiefs 25-20 after a late try by John Ulugia. The Waratahs probably deserved the win after leading the game for 77 minutes before the Chiefs scored what looked like the winning try.

The first half belonged to the Waratahs as they opened up a 15-0 lead by the break. A 3rd minute McKibben penalty gave them the lead that they would only relinquish in the 77th minute and regain moments later. Cam Crawford scored his debut try to take the score to 8-0 as McKibben missed the conversion, before Folua went over to make it 15-0.

What ever was said to the Chiefs at the break worked as they came back into the game and soon Anscombe opened their account with a converted try. It was in a period when the Waratahs played with 14 men as Timani was yellow carded for dangerous play. McKibben landed a penalty to extend the lead back to 11 points. But two Anscombe penalties and a converted try by Tameifuna gave the chiefs what looked like victory in the 77th minute.

The Waratahs mounted a fight back and soon were in the Chiefs 22m area. Quick ball and some good running saw Ulugia go over for the winning try. Chiefs fans will probably say there was obstruction and looking at the replays it sure looks like it. The referee however disagreed and the try will stand.

SCORERS

Waratahs 25– Tries: Cam Crawford, Israel Folau, John Ulugia. Conversions: Brendan McKibbin (2). Penalties: McKibbin (2).
Chiefs 20 – Tries: Gareth Anscombe, Ben Tameifuna. Conversions: Anscombe (2). Penalties: Anscombe (2).

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