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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.

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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

 

Fruean to face further heart surgery

The Crusaders have today announced that Centre Robbie Fruean has withdrawn from the remainder of the 2013 Investec Super Rugby Season as he is set to undergo heart surgery.
 
24–year–old Fruean requires a further valve replacement as a result of rheumatic fever he suffered as 20 year old. His cardiac function has been slowly deteriorating over the last 6 months and his specialist has recommended further surgery at this point. 
 
Crusaders Doctor Dr Deborah Robinson says “Robbie has been closely monitored over the past few months and in conjunction with his specialist team the decision has been made to withdraw him from the remainder of the season and to have surgery. While Robbie is facing major surgery he is otherwise fit & healthy which should stand him in good stead for his recovery.”
 
Head Coach Todd Blackadder is fully behind Robbie  “Robbie is a true inspiration to us all. He is positive about his upcoming surgery and is looking forward to getting his recovery underway. The Crusaders will miss his presence on the field plus all the laughter he brings to the team off the field. However we are fully behind Robbie and our thoughts and prayers are with him.”
 
‘I have no doubt that if the surgery goes well Robbie will be back next year and will be a force to be reckoned with. He is a fantastic rugby player. I know it’s been frustrating for him over the last few months that his body has not been able to perform to level he would like it to.
 
Fruean’s rugby career had to be put temporarily on hold in 2009 when his pancarditis was first identified following rheumatic fever and he underwent open-heart surgery.  It didn’t hold him back for long though and in his debut season with Canterbury in 2010 ITM Cup he was the joint leading try scorer and ITM Cup Player of the year 2010 and 2012. He was selected for the Crusaders in 2010 and with 61 caps under his belt has racked up an impressive 80 points.
 
Prior to his elevation to Super Rugby the Centre also represented New Zealand in the 2007 Under 19’s championship-winning side. He also won the IRB Under 19 Player of the Year 2007.

Following surgery Fruean is likely to be in hospital for 4-5 days and it is expected that he can start gentle exercise within six weeks of surgery.

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Crusaders win ill-disciplined affair

The Crusaders came away 12-40 winners at the Forsyth-Barr stadium against the Higlanders. It might have been a Bonus point win that sees the Crusaders well into the top six places, but it was an ill-disciplined game.

The Highlanders played with 14 men for more than 30 minutes as a first half yellow card to Jarrad Hoeata and a 60th minutes red to Ma’a Nonu had them reduced. Nonu is the first player to get a red this season in Super Rugby. The Highlanders did get some respite as Cory Flynn got yellow carded seconds after making his 130th appearance for the Crusaders. Flynn has now played the most games. By anyone in a ‘Saders jersey.

The Highlanders looked like they might get one over the Crusaders as they sped out to a 7-3 lead after a brilliant Ben Smith try. The Crusaders however took control of the game and ran in a couple of tries by Whitelock and Marshall. Hosea Gear, in his 100th super Rugby match, pulled back 5 points as he scored his 37th try and 6th of the season.

Carter however took control and from there on in it was all Crusaders. Carted scored 25 points including a try of his own. It was also his quick throw in that saw the Crusaders run 100m to score the bonus point try. Veinua dotting down for Carter to convert.

SCORERS

Highlanders – Tries: Ben Smith, Hosea Gear. Conversion: Colin Slade.

Crusaders – Tries: George Whitelock, Andy Ellis, Dan Carter, Telusa Veainu. Conversions: Carter (4). Penalties: Carter (4).

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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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Rbels lose, but can hold their heads high

The Rebels ventured to Christchurch for the first time ever to play the 7-time champion Crusaders, and though they ultimately suffered a 30-26 defeat the Rebels snared a bonus point and no shortage of admirers for their efforts.

After a tribute to fallen soldiers from both nations to commemorate ANZAC Day, the game got underway beneath slight cloud cover, and with the famed Christchurch nor-westerly appearing uncharacteristically gentle. Wallabies coach Robbie Deans was amongst the interested onlookers.

The home side took the lead just two minutes in. The Rebels looked solid in possession from the kick-off and completed sixteen phases to threaten initially, but a turnover and counter-attack allowed Zac Guildford to score in the left hand corner. Tom Taylor struck the right-hand upright with the conversion attempt, but after just three and a half minutes the Crusaders led 5-0.

Both sides enjoyed their fair share of the ball as the players began to acclimatise to the pace of the game, but the Crusaders were able to extend their advantage from a five metre scrum when Tyler Bleyendaal stormed over in the 13th minute. Taylor added the extras.

The Rebels were struggling at lineout time and with handling errors, but Scott Fuglistaller continued an industrious start with a great break just before the twenty minute mark. The Rebels again strung together numerous phases, and were rewarded as James O’Connor scored their first three points when George Whitelock was penalised.

And just a minute later, the Rebels scored their first try. Cooper Vuna made plenty of metres down the left wing, and a clever offload from O’Connor set up a fluid passing move across the length of the field, with stand-in captain, Scott Higginbotham, on hand to touch down. O’Connor missed a tough conversion attempt, and another good break from Vuna minutes later was unable to be capitalised upon.

The Rebels continued to create opportunities, with Fuglistaller doing a massive amount of work around the ruck and both Vuna and Woodward looking promising every time they had the ball in hand.

The Crusaders added another penalty just five minutes before half time. The Rebels then reciprocated with one of their own two minutes later, but there was still time for the Crusaders to add one more penalty goal and restore their seven point lead as the sides ran into the sheds at halftime.

The wind had picked up significantly, and it played a major part in the Rebels reduction of the deficit not long after the break as they took advantage of the difficulty it caused the hosts when they were kicking into it.

After peppering the Crusaders’ goal line, Israel Dagg’s clearance kick sat up in the wind and straight into the AFL-style leap of Nick Phipps. From the resulting play, the Crusaders were pinged offside and O’Connor was able to slot a penalty goal to get the scoring underway for the second half, but the sides continued to exchange penalties when Taylor made the Rebels’ scrum pay after they collapsed on their own 22.

The Rebels were looking the more likely, and finally profited with their second try of the evening. O’Connor’s break set it up, and it was fitting that the flyhalf finished the move with a fantastic lunge. Woodward stepped up with the kick but was unsuccessful.

Just two minutes later, following a great high take by Pyle from the kick-off, the Rebels scored their third when Ged Robinson plundered over for another try. It was duly deserved, and when O’Connor slotted brilliantly from the sideline even the home fans applauded.

Dan Carter & Andy Ellis were introduced for the home side, and their team mates inevitably lifted. A sixteen phase effort allowed Taylor to kick his fourth penalty goal, and Taylor’s kicking master class continued as he offset the heavy wind to sneak over his fifth penalty goal and with it the lead.

Substitute Wyatt Crockett was dominating the scrum, and with the Rebels starved of possession their phenomenal defence was ultimately in vain. Taylor slotted his sixth penalty goal of the evening to seal a 30-26 victory for the Crusaders.

Rebels’ Head Coach Damien Hill rued some indiscipline from his troops in the latter stages of the match.

“The last 15 minutes, we really didn’t get the possession that we had been having and some back to back penalties to them meant the momentum started to change,” Hill said. “At this level, against a team like that, it only takes a missed tackle here or a knock on there and they are on the front foot.

“In saying that, I’m exceptionally proud of the performance the boys put in tonight. I’m bitterly disappointed we weren’t able to come away with the win for our supporters back home but the effort is definitely there. We need to continually work and fine tune the discipline, which is improving, and our execution, but the team stuck to the game plan very well.

“I am confident no matter who we are playing in this competition that if we put our game together we are exceptional competitors. We just need to work on the 5 or 10% to turn close losses into wins.”

The impressive Fuglistaller and Robinson were amongst the players to catch Hill’s eye, and he was impressed with the players he brought into the starting lineup.

“Scott Fuglistaller was one of our best, and Ged Robinson was too; he has been one of our best performers game in, game out, all year,” Hill said. “Jason Woodward made a couple of errors, but I thought he was overall very good. I also thought for a debut Tom English had an outstanding game, and Jarrod Saffy for his first start this year really added to the performance.”

Flyhalf James O’Connor had an outstanding second half, but couldn’t hide the disappointment of coming so close and leaving without the win.

“I’m definitely disappointed to say the least,” he said. “We controlled that game and played to our structures, but in the last 20 minutes a couple of simple errors cost us.”

“Quality sides like the Crusaders are always going to make you pay, and they win the close ones. That’s the difference between a champion team and teams that are growing and earning experience.

“There is definitely a belief there and the boys know that we almost did enough, but have to finish it better.”

The Rebels host the Chiefs at AAMI Park on Friday, and O’Connor believes the five day break and parochial home crowd are just the tonic that the disappointed Rebels need.

“The short turnaround is probably the best thing for us. We really want to win against the Chiefs, at home in front of our fans, and we will get straight into it.”

Scorers
Crusaders 30 – Tries:
Guildford, Bleyendaal. Conversion: Taylor Penalties: Taylor (6)
Rebels 26 – Tries: Higginbotham, O’Connor, Robinson. Conversion: O’Connor. Penalties: O’Connor (3)

Via the Rebels

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Highlanders slump to 8th loss as Crusaders get back to winning

The Crusaders got back on the winning trail after handing the Highlanders their 8th straight defeat. Losing 24-8 it means the Highlanders are now solidly last on just 6 points, 9 behind the Kings.

Although the scoreline suggest a struggling display by the Crusaders it was anything but that. The Highlanders did put up a good showing on defence and that was the only thing that saved them from a bigger defeat. The Crusaders kicked three penalties Tyler Bleyendaal before Robbie Fruean scored the opening try. Thois gave the Crusaders a 16-0 lead at the break. The second half saw both sides scoring an unconverted try and a penalty.

The Crusaders dominated the lineouts through out the game and as the game progressed they gained dominance in the scrums as well. The backs took control and it might seem like they ran lateral instead of going forward at times. This however was to protect the ball and possession. This win has put the Crusaders back into contention in the New Zealand conference and the overall log as well.

SCORERS
Crusaders 24 – Tries:
Robert Fruean, Tom Taylor. Conversion: Tyler Bleyendaal. Penalties: Blyendaal (4).
Highlanders 8 – Try: Jason Emery. Penalty: Colin Slade.

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Crusaders make 3 changes for Highlanders

Crusaders Head Coach Todd Blackadder has named his team to play the Highlanders making three changes to the starting fifteen that played the Force.
 
Sam Whitelock returns to the starting fifteen as does flanker Matt Todd. Winger Zac Guildford takes the number 11 jersey moving Adam Whitelock to the bench.
 
“The team are excited to be home again and playing at AMI Stadium. We’ve been travelling for 3 weeks and there is nothing like hearing the roar of the home crowd. We hope Crusader fans will give the boys a home-coming to remember. “
 
‘There is nothing like a classic Southern Derby to bring out the best in both the Crusaders and the Highlanders. It is always a great game with an amazing atmosphere and with both teams hungry for the win there is sure to be plenty of passion on the field this Saturday ’ says Blackadder.
 
The game will mark a special occasion for Sam Whitelock who will be playing his 50th Super Rugby game for the Crusaders. His brother Adam will also mark his 50th cap if he makes the field. All four Whitelock brothers are named in the 22 this weekend as is cousin Ben Funnell.

Crusaders team: 15.Israel Dagg, 14.Tom Marshall, 13.Robbie Fruean, 12.Ryan Crotty, 11.Zac Guildford, 10. Tyler Bleyendaal, 9. Andy Ellis, 8. Luke Whitelock, 7. Matt Todd, 6. George Whitelock (c), 5. Sam Whitelock, 4. Luke Romano, 3. Owen Franks, 2. Corey Flynn,
1. Wyatt Crockett. Replacements: 16. Ben Funnell, 17. Joe Moody, 18. Dominic Bird, 19. Jordan Taufua, 20. Willi Heinz, 21. Tom Taylor, 22. Adam Whitelock

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