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
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
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.
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
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
- 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
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.
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
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
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
- 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.
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
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.
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
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.
- 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
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.
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.
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 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:
|South African Group|
|New Zealand Conference|
|Africa 1 Conference|
|Africa 2 Conference|
|26 February 2016||Blues||v||Highlanders||Eden Park, Auckland|
|26 February 2016||Brumbies||v||Hurricanes||GIO Stadium, Canberra|
|26 February 2016||Cheetahs||v||Jaguares||Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein|
|27 February 2016||Sunwolves||v||Lions||Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium, Tokyo|
|27 February 2016||Crusaders||v||Chiefs||AMI Stadium, Christchurch||[show]|
|27 February 2016||Waratahs||v||Reds||Allianz Stadium, Sydney||[show]|
|27 February 2016||Force||v||Rebels||nib Stadium, Perth||[show]|
|27 February 2016||Kings||v||Sharks||Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth||[show]|
|27 February 2016||Stormers||v||Bulls||DHL Newlands, Cape Town||[show]|
|4 March 2016||Crusaders||v||Blues||AMI Stadium, Christchurch||[show]|
|4 March 2016||Brumbies||v||Waratahs||GIO Stadium, Canberra||[show]|
|5 March 2016||Chiefs||v||Lions||Waikato Stadium, Hamilton||[show]|
|5 March 2016||Highlanders||v||Hurricanes||Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin||[show]|
|5 March 2016||Reds||v||Force||Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane||[show]|
|5 March 2016||Bulls||v||Rebels||Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria||[show]|
|5 March 2016||Cheetahs||v||Stormers||Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein||[show]|
|5 March 2016||Sharks||v||Jaguares||Kings Park Stadium, Durban||[show]|
|Bye/s: Sunwolves, Kings|
|11 March 2016||Blues||v||Hurricanes||Eden Park, Auckland||[show]|
|11 March 2016||Force||v||Brumbies||nib Stadium, Perth||[show]|
|12 March 2016||Highlanders||v||Lions||Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin||[show]|
|12 March 2016||Rebels||v||Reds||AAMI Park, Melbourne||[show]|
|12 March 2016||Sunwolves||v||Cheetahs||National Stadium, Singapore||[show]|
|12 March 2016||Kings||v||Chiefs||Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth||[show]|
|12 March 2016||Stormers||v||Sharks||DHL Newlands, Cape Town||[show]|
|Bye/s: Bulls, Crusaders, Jaguares, Waratahs|
|18 March 2016||Hurricanes||v||Force||Central Energy Trust Arena, Palmerston North||[show]|
|18 March 2016||Waratahs||v||Highlanders||Allianz Stadium, Sydney||[show]|
|18 March 2016||Bulls||v||Sharks||Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria||[show]|
|19 March 2016||Sunwolves||v||Rebels||Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium, Tokyo||[show]|
|19 March 2016||Crusaders||v||Kings||AMI Stadium, Christchurch||[show]|
|19 March 2016||Reds||v||Blues||Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane||[show]|
|19 March 2016||Lions||v||Cheetahs||Ellis Park Stadium, Johannesburg||[show]|
|19 March 2016||Stormers||v||Brumbies||DHL Newlands, Cape Town||[show]|
|19 March 2016||Jaguares||v||Chiefs||José Amalfitani Stadium, Buenos Aires||[show]|
|25 March 2016||Hurricanes||v||Kings||Westpac Stadium, Wellington||[show]|
|26 March 2016||Chiefs||v||Force||Waikato Stadium, Hamilton||[show]|
|26 March 2016||Rebels||v||Highlanders||AAMI Park, Melbourne||[show]|
|26 March 2016||Sunwolves||v||Bulls||National Stadium, Singapore||[show]|
|26 March 2016||Cheetahs||v||Brumbies||Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein||[show]|
|26 March 2016||Sharks||v||Crusaders||Kings Park Stadium, Durban||[show]|
|26 March 2016||Jaguares||v||Stormers||José Amalfitani Stadium, Buenos Aires||[show]|
|27 March 2016||Reds||v||Waratahs||Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane||[show]|
|Bye/s: Blues, Lions|
|1 April 2016||Highlanders||v||Force||Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin||[show]|
|1 April 2016||Lions||v||Crusaders||Ellis Park Stadium, Johannesburg||[show]|
|2 April 2016||Blues||v||Jaguares||QBE Stadium, Albany||[show]|
|2 April 2016||Brumbies||v||Chiefs||GIO Stadium, Canberra||[show]|
|2 April 2016||Kings||v||Sunwolves||Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth||[show]|
|2 April 2016||Bulls||v||Cheetahs||Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria||[show]|
|3 April 2016||Waratahs||v||Rebels||Allianz Stadium, Sydney||[show]|
|Bye/s: Hurricanes, Reds, Sharks, Stormers|
|8 April 2016||Chiefs||v||Blues||Waikato Stadium, Hamilton||[show]|
|8 April 2016||Force||v||Crusaders||nib Stadium, Perth||[show]|
|8 April 2016||Stormers||v||Sunwolves||DHL Newlands, Cape Town||[show]|
|9 April 2016||Hurricanes||v||Jaguares||Westpac Stadium, Wellington||[show]|
|9 April 2016||Reds||v||Highlanders||Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane||[show]|
|9 April 2016||Sharks||v||Lions||Kings Park Stadium, Durban||[show]|
|9 April 2016||Kings||v||Bulls||Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth||[show]|
|Bye/s: Brumbies, Cheetahs, Rebels, Waratahs|
|15 April 2016||Crusaders||v||Jaguares||AMI Stadium, Christchurch||[show]|
|15 April 2016||Rebels||v||Hurricanes||AAMI Park, Melbourne||[show]|
|15 April 2016||Cheetahs||v||Sunwolves||Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein||[show]|
|16 April 2016||Blues||v||Sharks||Eden Park, Auckland||[show]|
|16 April 2016||Waratahs||v||Brumbies||Allianz Stadium, Sydney||[show]|
|16 April 2016||Bulls||v||Reds||Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria||[show]|
|16 April 2016||Lions||v||Stormers||Ellis Park Stadium, Johannesburg||[show]|
|Bye/s: Chiefs, Force, Highlanders, Kings|
|22 April 2016||Highlanders||v||Sharks||Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin||[show]|
|22 April 2016||Rebels||v||Cheetahs||AAMI Park, Melbourne||[show]|
|23 April 2016||Sunwolves||v||Jaguares||Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium, Tokyo||[show]|
|23 April 2016||Hurricanes||v||Chiefs||Westpac Stadium, Wellington||[show]|
|23 April 2016||Force||v||Waratahs||nib Stadium, Perth||[show]|
|23 April 2016||Stormers||v||Reds||DHL Newlands, Cape Town||[show]|
|23 April 2016||Kings||v||Lions||Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth||[show]|
|24 April 2016||Brumbies||v||Crusaders||GIO Stadium, Canberra||[show]|
|Bye/s: Blues, Bulls|
|29 April 2016||Chiefs||v||Sharks||Yarrow Stadium, New Plymouth||[show]|
|29 April 2016||Force||v||Bulls||nib Stadium, Perth||[show]|
|30 April 2016||Highlanders||v||Brumbies||Rugby Park Stadium, Invercargill||[show]|
|30 April 2016||Blues||v||Rebels||Eden Park, Auckland||[show]|
|30 April 2016||Reds||v||Cheetahs||Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane||[show]|
|30 April 2016||Lions||v||Hurricanes||Ellis Park Stadium, Johannesburg||[show]|
|30 April 2016||Stormers||v||Waratahs||DHL Newlands, Cape Town||[show]|
|30 April 2016||Jaguares||v||Kings||José Amalfitani Stadium, Buenos Aires||[show]|
|Bye/s: Crusaders, Sunwolves|
|6 May 2016||Crusaders||v||Reds||AMI Stadium, Christchurch||[show]|
|6 May 2016||Brumbies||v||Bulls||GIO Stadium, Canberra||[show]|
|7 May 2016||Sunwolves||v||Force||Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium, Tokyo||[show]|
|7 May 2016||Chiefs||v||Highlanders||Waikato Stadium, Hamilton||[show]|
|7 May 2016||Waratahs||v||Cheetahs||Allianz Stadium, Sydney||[show]|
|7 May 2016||Sharks||v||Hurricanes||Kings Park Stadium, Durban||[show]|
|7 May 2016||Kings||v||Blues||Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth||[show]|
|Bye/s: Jaguares, Lions, Rebels, Stormers|
|13 May 2016||Highlanders||v||Crusaders||Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin||[show]|
|13 May 2016||Rebels||v||Brumbies||AAMI Park, Melbourne||[show]|
|14 May 2016||Hurricanes||v||Reds||Westpac Stadium, Wellington||[show]|
|14 May 2016||Waratahs||v||Bulls||Allianz Stadium, Sydney||[show]|
|14 May 2016||Sunwolves||v||Stormers||National Stadium, Singapore||[show]|
|14 May 2016||Cheetahs||v||Kings||Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein||[show]|
|14 May 2016||Lions||v||Blues||Ellis Park Stadium, Johannesburg||[show]|
|14 May 2016||Jaguares||v||Sharks||José Amalfitani Stadium, Buenos Aires||[show]|
|Bye/s: Chiefs, Force|
|20 May 2016||Crusaders||v||Waratahs||AMI Stadium, Christchurch||[show]|
|21 May 2016||Reds||v||Sunwolves||Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane||[show]|
|21 May 2016||Chiefs||v||Rebels||Waikato Stadium, Hamilton||[show]|
|21 May 2016||Force||v||Blues||nib Stadium, Perth||[show]|
|21 May 2016||Lions||v||Jaguares||Ellis Park Stadium, Johannesburg||[show]|
|21 May 2016||Sharks||v||Kings||Kings Park Stadium, Durban||[show]|
|21 May 2016||Bulls||v||Stormers||Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria||[show]|
|Bye/s: Brumbies, Cheetahs, Highlanders, Hurricanes|
|27 May 2016||Hurricanes||v||Highlanders||Westpac Stadium, Wellington||[show]|
|27 May 2016||Waratahs||v||Chiefs||Allianz Stadium, Sydney||[show]|
|27 May 2016||Kings||v||Jaguares||Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth||[show]|
|28 May 2016||Blues||v||Crusaders||Eden Park, Auckland||[show]|
|28 May 2016||Brumbies||v||Sunwolves||GIO Stadium, Canberra||[show]|
|28 May 2016||Stormers||v||Cheetahs||DHL Newlands, Cape Town||[show]|
|28 May 2016||Bulls||v||Lions||Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria||[show]|
|29 May 2016||Rebels||v||Force||AAMI Park, Melbourne||[show]|
|Bye/s: Reds, Sharks|
|1 July 2016||Chiefs||v||Crusaders||ANZ National Stadium, Suva, Fiji||[show]|
|1 July 2016||Brumbies||v||Reds||GIO Stadium, Canberra||[show]|
|2 July 2016||Sunwolves||v||Waratahs||Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium, Tokyo||[show]|
|2 July 2016||Hurricanes||v||Blues||Westpac Stadium, Wellington||[show]|
|2 July 2016||Rebels||v||Stormers||AAMI Park, Melbourne||[show]|
|2 July 2016||Cheetahs||v||Force||Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein||[show]|
|2 July 2016||Kings||v||Highlanders||Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth||[show]|
|2 July 2016||Lions||v||Sharks||Ellis Park Stadium, Johannesburg||[show]|
|2 July 2016||Jaguares||v||Bulls||José Amalfitani Stadium, Buenos Aires||[show]|
|8 July 2016||Blues||v||Brumbies||Eden Park, Auckland||[show]|
|8 July 2016||Reds||v||Chiefs||Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane||[show]|
|8 July 2016||Lions||v||Kings||Ellis Park Stadium, Johannesburg||[show]|
|9 July 2016||Crusaders||v||Rebels||AMI Stadium, Christchurch||[show]|
|9 July 2016||Waratahs||v||Hurricanes||Allianz Stadium, Sydney||[show]|
|9 July 2016||Force||v||Stormers||nib Stadium, Perth||[show]|
|9 July 2016||Bulls||v||Sunwolves||Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria||[show]|
|9 July 2016||Sharks||v||Cheetahs||Kings Park Stadium, Durban||[show]|
|9 July 2016||Jaguares||v||Highlanders||José Amalfitani Stadium, Buenos Aires||[show]|
|15 July 2016||Blues||v||Waratahs||Eden Park, Auckland||[show]|
|15 July 2016||Reds||v||Rebels||Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane||[show]|
|15 July 2016||Sharks||v||Sunwolves||Kings Park Stadium, Durban||[show]|
|16 July 2016||Crusaders||v||Hurricanes||AMI Stadium, Christchurch||[show]|
|16 July 2016||Highlanders||v||Chiefs||Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin||[show]|
|16 July 2016||Brumbies||v||Force||GIO Stadium, Canberra||[show]|
|16 July 2016||Stormers||v||Kings||DHL Newlands, Cape Town||[show]|
|16 July 2016||Cheetahs||v||Bulls||Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein||[show]|
|16 July 2016||Jaguares||v||Lions||José Amalfitani Stadium, Buenos Aires||[show]|
|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]|
|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]|
|6 August 2016||Higher ranked Semi-Final winner||v||Lower ranked Semi-Final winner||[show]|
The schedule and conference groups care of Wikipedia.com
Veteran Cell C Sharks flank Jacques Botes will break new ground in the Absa Currie Cup competition on Friday as he extends his Absa Currie Cup record to 150 matches, which will make him the first player ever to reach this significant milestone.
Interestingly the player will mark this achievement against the Steval Pumas, the team he first represented in SA’s premier domestic competition. Botes made his provincial debut for the Pumas in 2002 and remained at the union until 2004 before joining the Sharks in 2005.
The Cell C Sharks face the Steval Pumas at the Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit on Friday in the opening match of the weekend and with both teams having had good starts to the competition it could prove to be a thrilling clash.
In Saturday’s matches GWK Griquas host the Toyota Free State Cheetahs in Kimberley, the Vodacom Blue Bulls take on DHL Western Province in Pretoria and the EP Kings go up against the Xerox Golden Lions in Port Elizabeth.
In Nelspruit, history and form favours the Cell C Sharks as they have won 17 out of the 19 matches between the sides since the 1996 season and they remain one of only two unbeaten teams in the competition. The home team, however, proved against GWK Griquas and the Toyota Free State Cheetahs that their pack could stand their ground and that they can score tries, and they will bank on these skills to challenge the visitors.
The match-up between GWK Griquas and the Toyota Free State Cheetahs is expected to be hard-fought as the teams both attempt to bounce back from defeats last weekend. This will mark the second clash between the teams in the series. They met in Bloemfontein two weekends ago and the home team secured a narrow 34-27 victory. With former Free State backline coach Hawies Fourie at the helm at GWK Griquas, he is expected to use his knowledge of the visitors’ structures and some players to register their first victory in the series. Interestingly the Free State have won the last five matches between the teams.
The Vodacom Blue Bulls will face another tough test against log-leaders DHL Western Province, this time in Pretoria, following their heavy 41-17 defeat against the Cape side at DHL Newlands earlier in the month. The visitors will enter the clash as overwhelming favourites following three victories in as many matches, but the hosts will be desperate to build on their first victory in the series at home last week. With DHL Western Province’s attack proving to be one of their main strengths, the Vodacom Blue Bulls will have to tighten up their defence significantly to prevent the Capetonians from registering their second successive Absa Currie Cup victory at Loftus Versfeld.
The Xerox Golden Lions, meanwhile, will look to bounce back strongly from their first defeat in the series against DHL Western Province when they line up against the EP Kings in Port Elizabeth. The Premier Division newcomers have their backs against the wall after three defeats and only one log point to show for their efforts so far in the series. They are also still carrying the scars of the 60-19 hiding by the Johannesburg team two weekends back. Given this the EP Kings will have to deliver their best performance yet to topple the Johannesburg side.
Cell C Sharks coach Brad Mcleod-Henderson has handed scrumhalf Conrad Hoffmann his first start while Springbok lock Stephan Lewies continues his return from injury off the bench. In the Steval Pumas camp coach Jimmy Stonehouse has handed former Western Province scrumhalf Dylon Frylinck a start, while Springbok Sevens star Rosko Speckman will start on the wing and JW Bell at fullback. The match will be particularly special for centre JW Jonker, who will play his 50th Absa Currie Cup match.
GWK Griquas coach Hawies Fourie, meanwhile, named an unchanged side for their Heartland derby against the Toyota Free State Cheetahs, while the Bloemfontein coach has made only one change to his team, with lock Henco Venter being promoted to the starting team, while Waltie Vermeulen is drafted onto the bench.
In the Vodacom Blue Bulls camp, flyhalf Joshua Stander could make his debut after being bracketed alongside Jacques-Louis Potgieter for their clash against DHL Western Province. Potgieter is nursing a rib injury and will be given until Saturday to recover. The other changes to the run-on team were the inclusion of scrumhalf Piet van Zyl, hooker Callie Visagie and prop Werner Kruger. Meanwhile, DHL Western Province coach Allister Coetzee made only one change to his starting team, which sees Springbok Jaco Taute earn his first Absa Currie Cup start for the union as a replacement for the injured Michael van der Spuy. Pat Howard has been drafted onto the bench as cover.
In Port Elizabeth EP Kings coach Carlos Spencer has named Junior Springbok Aidon Davis as the replacement for their captain Luke Watson, who has been ruled out due to concussion, while prop BG Uys comes in Lizo Gqoboka who is being rested. At flyhalf George Whitehead replaces Gary van Aswegen, who is nursing a groin injury. His Xerox Golden Lions counterpart Johan Ackermann, meanwhile, made several changes to his team with the most notable being the inclusion of Andries Coetzee at flyhalf, which made way for Ruan Combrinck at fullback, while captain Warren Whiteley reclaims his position in the loose trio after returning from the Springbok tour to Argentina.
Absa Currie Cup Premier Division round four fixtures:
Steval Pumas vs Cell C Sharks
Venue: Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit
Date: Friday, 29 August
Referee: Ben Crouse
Assistant Referees: Marius Jonker and Stefan Breytenbach
TMO: Johan Greeff
GWK Griquas vs Toyota Free State Cheetahs
Venue: GWK Park, Kimberley
Date: Saturday, 30 August
Referee: Jaco van Heerden
Assistant Referees: Jaco Peyper and Francois de Bruin
TMO: JJ Wagner
Vodacom Blue Bulls vs DHL Western Province
Venue: Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
Date: Saturday, 30 August
Referee: Craig Joubert
Assistant Referees: Rasta Rasivhenge and Cobus Wessels
TMO: Willie Vos
EP Kings vs Xerox Golden Lions
Venue: Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth
Date: Saturday, 30 August
Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen
Assistant Referees: Francois Pretorius and Lusanda Jam
TMO: Jason Jaftha
Xerox Golden Lions head coach Johan Ackermann has named his 22-man outfit, which will face the EP Kings in Port Elizabeth on Saturday.
Ackermann has made a few changes to the Xerox Golden Lions backline, following last weekend’s match against DHL Western Province. Ruan Combrinck will start at his preferred position of fullback, Lionel Mapoe will run out at right wing and Stokkies Hanekom reverts to the outside centre berth for this match.
Alwyn Hollenbach returns to action and will start at inside centre, while Andries Coetzee will fill the flyhalf slot.
In the forwards, the Xerox Golden Lions welcome back captain Warren Whiteley at eighthman. Jaco Kriel will also start this match alongside Whiteley in the loose trio. In the front row, Armand van der Merwe will make a start at hooker.
The match will kick off at 19h10.
Xerox Golden Lions: 15. Ruan Combrinck 14. Lionel Mapoe 13. Stokkies Hanekom 12. Alwyn Hollenbach 11. Courtnall Skosan 10. Andries Coetzee 9. Ross Cronje 8. Warren Whiteley (c) 7. Warwick Tecklenburg 6. Jaco Kriel 5. Franco Mostert 4. MB Lusaseni 3. Ruan Dreyer 2. Armand van der Merwe 1. Schalk van der Merwe.
Replacements: 16. Robbie Coetzee 17. Jacques van Rooyen 18. Willie Britz 19. Derick Minnie 20. Kwagga Smith 21. Ricky Schroeder 22. Howard Mnisi
Jaco Taute will make his first Absa Currie Cup start in DHL Western Province colours, after being named at inside centre for Saturday’s meeting with the Vodacom Blue Bulls in Pretoria (kick-off 17h05).
Springbok Taute replaces the injured Michael van der Spuy (hamstring) in the No.12 shirt in the only change to the DHL WP starting XV from last weekend’s 27-14 win over the Golden Lions.
Former SA Under-20 star Pat Howard, a Round One try-scorer against the EP Kings, replaces Taute on the bench – meaning just two changes overall to the Province 22 from last week.
Taute scored a valuable try off the bench last week after replacing Van der Spuy in the 59th minute and his experience will be a major boon for the unbeaten and table-topping DHL Western Province outfit ahead of Saturday’s clash at Loftus Versfeld.
DHL WP coach Allister Coetzee told www.wprugby.com: “This is a great opportunity for Jaco. I’ve said before that his size and skill-set could make him into the ideal centre and he now has an opportunity to show us just that.
“Jaco is still very young (at 23 years of age) but he’s already very experienced having played Test and Super Rugby at centre before.
“But his skill and strength aside, his communication is his biggest attribute and I look forward to seeing him operate in the No.12 jersey.
“Your depth is tested quite severely during the Absa Currie Cup,” added Coetzee, “so having versatile players like Jaco (in our squad) is a good thing – especially ahead of a big game like Saturday.”
The Bulls picked up a welcome 30-25 win over the EP Kings last weekend and will be determined to make it back-to-back victories in front of their home support as they also look to avenge their Round Two defeat to DHL WP in Cape Town two weeks ago.
“We will respect any team we play against and it doesn’t get much bigger than playing against the Bulls at Loftus Versfeld – no matter what happened last time between us,” said Coetzee.
“The Bulls did well to beat the EP Kings. Don’t look at the scoreline, they’ve come off a difficult few weeks and it was a big and valuable win for them.”
The DHL WP team for Saturday (v the Blue Bulls, away) is as follows: 15. Cheslin Kolbe 14. Kobus van Wyk 13. Juan de Jongh (captain) 12. Jaco Taute (First Absa Currie Cup start for DHL Western Province) 11. Seabelo Senatla 10. Demetri Catrakilis 9. Nic Groom 8. Nizaam Carr 7. Michael Rhodes 6. Siya Kolisi 5. Manuel Carizza 4. Jean Kleyn 3. Pat Cilliers (vice-captain) 2. Stephan Coetzee 1. Alistair Vermaak
Replacements: 16. Neil Rautenbach 17. Brok Harris 18. Ruan Botha 19. Rynhardt Elstadt 20. Louis Schreuder 21. Kurt Coleman 22. Pat Howard
Referee: Craig Joubert Assistant referees: Rasta Rasivhenge, Cobus Wessels Television Match Official: Willie Vos
The Cell C Sharks, DHL Western Province, Vodacom Blue Bulls and Steval Pumas this weekend all registered invaluable home wins in their round-three Absa Currie Cup clashes to build momentum in their campaigns.
Steval Pumas 33 GWK Griquas 15
The Steval Pumas produced a strong second-half performance to build a progressive lead against the GWK Griquas in a tense clash at the Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit. The visitors showed fantastic innovation on attack in the first half with flashy passing and impressive running rugby, and were able to score two tries to one against the hosts before the break for a narrow 12-11 lead.
But the home team shut out the Kimberley side in the second half thanks to their solid defence, while they supported this with a quality display on attack, which earned them three more tries for an invaluable bonus point.
Steval Pumas – Tries: Corne Steenkamp, Jerome Pretorius (2), Renaldo Bothma. Conversions: JC Roos, Justin van Staden. Penalties: JC Roos, Justin van Staden (2).
GWK Griquas – Tries: Dean Grant, Marnus Schoeman. Conversion: Dean Grant. Penalty: Dean Grant.
Vodacom Blue Bulls 30 EP Kings 25
At Loftus Versfeld the clash between the Vodacom Blue Bulls and EP Kings was hard-fought from the outset as both teams tried hard to end their winless runs in the competition. The clash, however, delivered a total of seven tries, with the Vodacom Blue Bulls managing a bonus-point victory, with veteran wing Akona Ndungane contributing two tries.
The hosts held a narrow 11-8 lead at half time, but both teams found their rhythm in the second half and managed to breach the defence. Three back-to-back tries by the Vodacom Blue Bulls in the second half to only two by the EP Kings, however, guaranteed the hosts their first victory of the season and catapulted them into sixth place on the log table.
Vodacom Blue Bulls – Tries: Akona Ndungane (2), Deon Stegmann, Jesse Kriel. Conversions: Tony Jantjies (2). Penalties: Tony Jantjies (2).
EP Kings – Tries: Lizo Gqoboka, Michael van Vuuren, Shane Gates. Conversions: Scott van Breda. Penalties: Scott van Breda (2).
DHL Western Province 27 Xerox Golden Lions 14
The clash in Cape Town was closer than the scoreboard suggested as the Xerox Golden Lions dominated possession throughout the match, but battled to breach the solid DHL Western Province defence.
In stark contrast the hosts did well to convert their try-scoring chances into points, which earned them three tries to only one by the visitors, while goal kickers Demetri Catrakillis and Kurt Coleman kept the score up with three conversions and two penalties. Two of Province’s tries were scored in the first 16 minutes thanks to back-to-back tries by wing Kobus van Wyk, while the Lions hit back later in the half with a try by fullback Andries Coetzee and a penalty by Ruan Combrinck to trail 14-8 at the break.
DHL Western Province’s ability to convert their chances into points, meanwhile, allowed them to stay ahead on the scoreboard throughout the second half for their third victory, which in turn allowed them to remain at the top of the log table.
DHL Western Province – Tries: Jaco Taute, Kobus van Wyk (2). Conversions: Demetri Catrakilis (2), Kurt Coleman. Penalties: Demetri Catrakilis (2).
Xerox Golden Lions – Try: Andries Coetzee. Penalties: Ruan Combrinck (3).
Cell C Sharks 19 Toyota Free State Cheetahs 16
The clash between the Cell C Sharks and Toyota Free State Cheetahs proved to be a kicking festival as the teams both opted to kick in behind the defence throughout the match. The battle up front was tough, and with both teams defending well, they were forced to settle mainly for penalties by flyhalves Fred Zeilinga and Willie du Plessis to keep the scoreboard ticking. Such was the closeness of the match only two stunning individual tries were scored in the 80 minutes.
The Bloemfontein side built up an encouraging 13-3 lead by the end of the first half thanks to the try by fullback Clayton Blommetjies, but the Sharks levelled the scores at 16-16 in the 69th minute. A late penalty by Zeilinga, however, sealed the 19-16 victory for the Durban side.
Cell C Sharks – Try: Tonderai Chavhanga. Conversion: Fred Zeilinga. Penalties: Fred Zeilinga (4).
Toyota Free State Cheetahs – Try: Clayton Blommetjies. Conversion: Willie du Plessis. Penalties: Willie du Plessis (3).
Absa Currie Cup Premier Division log following Round 3:
|TEAM||P||W||L||D||PF||PA||PD||TF||TA||LOSS BONUS||TRIES BONUS||POINTS|
|DHL Western Province||3||3||0||0||103||47||56||13||4||0||2||14|
|Cell C Sharks||3||3||0||0||84||57||27||8||6||0||1||13|
|Xerox Golden Lions||3||2||1||0||115||59||56||14||7||0||2||10|
|Toyota FS Cheetahs||3||1||2||0||71||74||-3||8||8||2||1||7|
|Vodacom Blue Bulls||3||1||2||0||60||107||-47||6||13||0||1||5|
Luke Watson has been ruled out for the rest of the season due to an ankle injury. He will undergo surgery and this will see him out of action for 6 months.
Andries Struass will take over the captaincy for the remainder of the season with Darron Nell as vice-captain. The loose trio will consist of Cornell du Prees, Wimpie van der Walt and Jacques Engelbrecht.
Michael Killan returns at wing while Sergeal Petersen and Siyanda Grey is still out due to injury.
Kings Director of Rugby, Alan Solomons had this to say:
with a string of injuries, starting at the end of last year when he hurt an ankle against the Leopards.”
“He suffered a throat injury against the Western Force and then fell ill, and although he could feel the ankle in some matches, it was one of those situations where it sort of came and went.
“However, the problem has persisted and Watson will now enter another period of rehabilitation as the Kings move ahead with their Super Rugby requirements.”
KINGS: SP Marais, Marcello Sampson, Ronnie Cooke, Andries Strauss (c), Michael Killian, Demetri Catrakilis, Shaun Venter, Schalk Ferreira, Bandise Maku, Kevin Buys, Cornell du Preez, Darron Nell (vc), David Bulbring, Wimpie van der Walt, Jacques Engelbrecht.
Replacements: Grant Kemp, Hannes Franklin, Rynier Bernardo, Devin Oosthuizen, Nicolas Vergallo, George Whitehead, Shane Gates.
follow Dave on @djvanman on twitter
Before any Kings or Lions supporters jump on the bandwagon and crucify me, this is not an article to compare the two sides or to run any side down for that matter. This article is purely looking at the Kings as new comers to Super rugby in comparison to the 4 sides that were new sides when Super Rugby changed from Super 12 to Super 14 and then to the current 15 team format.
In 2006 the Super 12 changed to the Super 14 with a rounf robin format where every team played all the others once. The Western Force and Central Cheetahs was effectively the new teams although the Lions can be seen as a new team as well. Previously the Lions and Cheetahs played as one team called the Cats. Here is a brief look at each teams season back then.
Played 13 games, won 1, drew 2 and lost 10. They scored a total of 223 points and conceded 373 with a difference of -150. That is and average of 17.15 points for, 28.69 against. A difference of -11.53 points a game. They got 12 log points, including 4 bonus points. That is 0.92 log points a game.
Not the best start for any team. They have improved somewhat over the last 7 years but not to the extend that they are challanging for a top 10 finish as yet.
Played 13, won 5 and lost 8. They scored 272 points, conceded 367 giving them a points difference of -95. That is an average of 20.92 points for, 28.23 points against and a difference of 7.31. They achieved 27 log points at an average of 2.08 points a game. They got 7 bonus points.
Finishing 10th for a new team is never bad. They have struggled since but this season is seeing them challenge for a play-off position. They even led the South African conference for a while.
In 2006 they played 13, won 2 and drew 1, losing 10. They managed to score 220 points and conceded 405 with a differnce of -195. On average that is 16.92 for, 31.92 against at a difference of 15 points a game. They managed 15 log points and 5 bonus points. That is 1.15 points a game.
They have since been relegated from Super Rugby by SARU in a controversial manner and will have to play the bottom placed South African team to regain their place.
In 2011 the Super 14 became just Super Rugby with 15 teams partaking. The format changed to the teams playing in 3 conferences. The 5 teams from each country in a conference. Each team will play the others in their conference once home and away. They will play against two teams each from the other countries away and two teams each at home. The Melbourne Rebels joined Super Rugby in 2011 and in 2013 the Kings replaced the Lions in the South African conference. Each team receives two bye weeknds earning them 4 log points.
They played 16 games, won 3 and lost 13 with two bye weekends. They scored a total of 281 points, conceded 570 with a difference of -289. On average that is 17.56 points for, 35.63 against at a difference of -18.06. They managed 24 log points (including 8 for bye weekends). That is 16 points in actual games at 1 a game. They managed 2 bonus points.
They finished last in 2011. They have improved slightly since then. They are however still struggling to win those close games.
The Kings played 12 games (including 1 bye weekend). They have won 3, drew 1 and lost 7. The Kings has scored 222 points and conceded 381. A difference of -159. On average that is 20.18 points for and 34.63 against. A difference of -14.45 a game. They have 20 log points (4 for the bye). That is 1.45 points a game. They also have 2 bonus points.
Looking at this the Cheetahs are the only team to get more log points per game in their first season. Their points difference per game is better than the Rebels and Lions. The Cheetahs just out scored them on average per game, but only the Rebels have conceded more points. This might still change as the Kings have 5 more games to play this season.
One thing that is clear is that the Kings are playing some very exciting rugby and they have won the hearts of some of their biggest critics over. I was one of those critics and I must say I’m enjoying the running style of rugby they are putting on display.
follow Dave on @djvanman on twitter