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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.

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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.

Reds gut Shraks

The Reds put in an impressive first half showing to beat the Sharks 32-17 in Brisbane on Friday. They led 29-3 at the break.

The Sharks looked like a bunch of school boys learning how to play rugby as the Reds capitalised on their mistakes. The Reds scored early and had the Sharks guessing on the defence. The Sharks then build up and were on the Reds tryline when they conceded a turnover. The Reds literally ran from behind their own line to score on the other side of the field. This will be a try that will be talked about for years to come. Quade Cooper made the break and run the ball wide up the left wing. A quick swithc to Genia on the inside before he gave a cross field kick into the hands of Davies who was unmarked and scored.

The Sharks mounted a fight back in the second half and scored quickly after the break. The main thing about the Lindeque try was that the Sharks didn’t kick the ball and ran with it. Something that they might want to think about in future. When Mvovo intercept a few minutes later it looked like a Sharks win was one. The intercept however came of a knock from a Sharks player. Although Minnie did score after this it was 20 minutes later. Cooper kicked a penalty with 8 minutes to go.

The Sharks only have themselves to blame as their first half handling and lack of defence cost them the game. Keegan Daniel had a bad game as did Patrick Lambie.

SCORERS
Reds 32 – Tries:
Saia Faingaa, Rod Davies (2), Anthony Faingaa. Conversions: Quade Cooper (3). Penalties: Cooper (2).
Sharks 17 – Tries: Petrus Lindeque, Derrick Minnie. Conversions: Patrick Lambie (2). Penalty: Lambie.

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Reds, Brumbies in stalemate

The Reds and Brumbies were involved in a battle for conference supremacy and the game was set to be a thriller. And that is just what it turned into as it ended 19-19.

The Brumbies had the lead and needed to protect it in doing so they conceded two yellow cards and this probably cost them the game in the end. The Reds on their part could have won the game by just taking their kickable penalties instead of trying to maul for a try. It must be said that the Reds maul is an impressive one but spending 10 minutes mauling the ball in search of an equalising try is not really good rugby. Not when you get 8 shots at goal and go for the line-out.

The Reds did however score 3 tries to 1 and that will give them hope. A concern however will be that their backs have to join the maul at line-out time and sometimes it does look like they are coming in early. Depending on the referees view this might just see them getting the penalty turned over. It can also result in turn over ball leaving them exposed.

Not the most impressive game of running rugby but in the end it was still entertaining to watch. Both teams still have a chance of heading the overall log at the end of the season with only two points seperating them.

SCORERS
Reds 19 – Tries:
Jake Schatz, Rod Davies, Liam Gill. Conversions: Quade Cooper (2).
Brumbies 19 – Try: Christian Lealiifano. Conversion: Lealiifano. Penalties: Lealiifano (2).

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Chiefs own worst enemies as Reds win

The Chiefs were their own worst enemies in Waikato as the reds beat then 23-32 in a high paced game.

The game started off at a scintillating pace that had both teams on the attack early on, but it was the Reds that smelled first blood. The Reds were over the line within 5 minutes but the ball was held up. The Chiefs counter attacked but a pass gone astray gave Rod Davies an intercept try. The CHiefs fought back and soon reduced the deficit with a penalty. They took the lead minutes later when Bundee Aki scored. The Reds hit back through Jakes Schatz and never relinquished the lead again.

The second half saw the Reds come out on attack and soon they crossed the line again as Quade Cooper this time went over. Rob Davies then scored his second for the night. A yellow card saw the Chiefs come back against 14 Reds defenders as Patrick Osborne scored. After this it was a exchange of penalties.

The Reds played some of their best rugby to date this season and even with the Chiefs controlling most of the ball and field in the second half they never really looked like losing the game. The Chiefs on their part will rue the chances that went begging because of handling errors. It seemed as though they didn’t really want to win this one.

Scorers
Chiefs 23 – Penalties:
Gareth Anscombe x 3. Conversions: Gareth Anscombe x 2. Tries: Bundee Aki, Patrick Osborne
Reds 31 – Penalty: Quade Cooper. Conversions: Quade Cooper x 4. Tries: Jake Schatz, Rod Davies x 2, Quade Cooper.

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Reds make history despite fightback

The Reds recorded their first win against the Highlanders in New Zealand. A solitary point separated the two sides after 80 minutes. The Reds did hold a 15 point lead after 60 minutes before the Highlanders launched a come back, but they left it just a little to late.

The Reds opened the scoring with a well worked try by their hooker, James Hanson. Quade Cooper set it up when he took a gap and held on to the ball before Hanson reached over to score. Colin slade pulled back two penalties before the Highlanders scored their first try through Elliot Dixon. The Reds came back at them and when Quade Cooper’s try was disallowed because of obstruction, Liam Gill went over.

Gill’s try came from a well worked rolling maul after a line out. The Reds kept up the pressure after this and should have scored a try, but they knocked it over the line. Andrew Hore got carded for a professional foul during the move. Cooper struck the upright but the Reds recovered the ball. Jake Shatz dotted down for them to make it 21-13. Slade once again reduced the lead with a penalty before halftime.

After the break Cooper once again kicked a penalty to extend the lead to 24-16. After getting back into the Highlanders half and winning a 5m scrum, Will Genia sliced through a gap the size of the Kimberley Big Hole to score the Bonus point try for the Reds. The Highlanders fought back with two tries in the space of 10 minutes through Hosea Gear and Ma’a Nonu, but it was not enough in the end.

The Highlanders seem to be caught up in a rut of losing while the Reds are steadily gaining momentum. Both teams however have a lot of work to do before next week’s games.

SCORERS
Highlanders 30 – Tries:
Elliot Dixon, Hosea Gear, Ma’a Nonu. Conversions: Colin Slade, Lima Sopoaga (2). Penalties: Slade (3), Sopoaga.
Reds 31 – Tries: James Hanson, Liam Gill, Jake Schatz, Will Genia. Conversions: Quade Cooper (4). Penalties: Cooper (2).

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Reds beat Bulls, but Referee biggest winner

The Reds might have beaten the Bulls 23-18 in Brisbane, but the referee and TMO probably walked away with the man of the match award. In closely contested game it was evident the effect the match officials had on the game.

The Reds led 13-6 after the first half but it could have been worse. They had to play with 14 men for ten minutes after a yellow card for a tip-tackle. The tackle was not dangerous but the player went through the 90 degrees. The Reds didn’t conceed any points from this.

The second half saw the Bulls came out with a purpose. This was soon evident after they added 6 points to make it 13-12. Then the referee struck once again. This time the Bulls was at the receiving and as Lionel Mapoe got sin-binned for a tip-tackle. Mapoe went low and the attacking player went over him. Again the TMO/referee ruled it as a card. The Bulls conceded 10 points and just couldn’t come back from it.

Both captains constantly discussed issues and infringements with the referee, but he never once acted or even ruled on these. Instead he gave soft cards that will not even make it through a citing.

SCORERS
Reds 23 – Tries:
Jonno Lance, Quade Cooper. Conversions: Cooper (2). Penalty: Cooper (3).
Bulls 18 – Penalties: Louis Fouche (5), Morne Steyn.

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9 changes to Bulls team for Reds

Frans Ludeke made no less than 9 changes to the side that lost against the Crusaders las week. 4 of the changes are due to injury. Only Kirchner, Engelbrecht, Vermaak, Spies, Stegmann and Mellet will start again this week. The rest of the run on 15 is all replacements.

Lionel mapoe and Bjorn Basson returns after injuries in the hope that they will continue scoring tries as they are known to do. Francois Venter replaces the injured Wynand Olivier. In a suprise move Louis Fouche replaces Morne Steyn who will start of the bench for the first time in around 2 seasons. Dewald Potgieter also returns after injury and Arno Botha moves to the bench.

A new lock pairing in Grant Hattingh and Paul Willemse replaces the Springbok duo of Juandre Kruger and Flip vd Merwe. Chilliboy Ralepelle and Werner Kruger completes the changes.

The Bulls have chosen a peculiar time to make wholesale changes to their side. The Reds are not an easy team to beat at home and coming of a loss the Bulls might just lose momentum if these changes backfire on them. Then again 5 weeks into the competition and coaches will start looking at resting key players and keeping them fit. A fine line to toe.

Bulls team: Zane Kirchner, Lionel Mapoe, JJ Engelbrecht, Francois Venter, Bjorn Basson, Louis Fouchè, Jano Vermaak, Pierre Spies (c), Dewald Potgieter, Deon Stegmann, Grant Hattingh, Paul Willemse, Werner Kruger, Chiliboy Ralepelle, Mornè Mellett. Substitutes: Willie Wepener, Frik Kirsten, Juandrè Kruger, Jacques Potgieter, Ruan Snyman, Mornè Steyn, Jan Serfontein.

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Victory in Brisbane taken by Force

The Force came to Brisbane as the 7/1 outsiders after two losses so far this season. It was however the Reds that had to settle for a single bonus point in the end as the Force beat them 12-19. This is the Force first win in Brisbane and their second consecutive win over the Reds in as many seasons.

The Force took a slender 12-13 lead into the break over the Reds. The half was marked by penalties being exchanged between Sias Ebersohn and Quade Cooper in the first 25 minutes. The Force then got a break with the score at 9-6 to the Reds. A break and then some brillioant finishing saw Alfi Mafi score the only try of the half. Ebersohn converted to give the Force a 13-9 lead. Cooper did pull it back with a penalty. On the stroke of halftime Cooper chipped one over the Force defence but it was helped over the dead ball line to take it to halftime.

The second half delivered a couple of opportunities for both sides, but handling errors and unforced mistakes cost both teams. It was the Force that scored the only points in the second half through two penalties by Ebersohn. This was your typical mundane Australian derby with neither side really taking control of the game. Neither coach will really be happy with his teams performance although the Force will take the win any day of the week.

Scorers:
Reds: Tries:
Conversions: Penalties: Quade Cooper (4)
Force: Tries: Alfi Mafi Conversions: Sias Ebersohn Penalties: Sias Ebersohn (4)

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Sloppy win by Reds over Rebels

This game was your typical Australian derby that we have become used to over the last couple of seasons. A back and forth bashing up oif the ball with a bit of running here and there.

The first half started of with O’Conner and Cooper trading penalties in the first 5 minutes. the Reds scored the first try of the game through some brilliant work by Tapaui. Cooper converted the try and gave the Reds a 10-3 lead. After that it was O’Connor and Cooper trading penalties again. On the stroke of halftime Mitchell went over under the posts for the Rebels. O’Connor converted for the Rebels to take a 13-10 halftime lead.

The second half started with what lloked like a flair, but it was short lived. Frisby went over for the reds in the first minute after the restart. Cooper converted to take back the lead. O’Conner missed another. 2 penalties before the 50th minute. For the next 10 minutes the game belonged to the Rebels but they could not convert it into points.

Cooper got a shot at goal in the 60th minute and extended the Reds lead to 7 points. The Rebels however kept control of play. The Rebels could however not control the breakdown or ball when they got within 5m of the Reds line.

The Rebels had the Reds pinned in their half from the 50th minute to the 70th minute. They could however not score a single point. They won a penalty and it looked like they would go for goal. There was however a TMO referal for foul play. The Reds got the penalty over turned in what was a bad call from both referee and TMO. A rebels player did make contact with a Reds players face with his boot. It was however unintentional as the player was driving forward into the ruck. The Reds player was lying on the wrong side and not rolling away. This however gave the Reds a chance to get out of their half and go on the attack.

The next 10 minutes was spend in the Rebels 22. The end result a penalty by Cooper to seal the game for the Reds. They came away with a sloppy 23-13 win.

Scorers:
Rebels: Tries: Mitchell. Conversons: O’Connor. Penalties: O’Connor 2

Reds: Tries: Tapaui, Frisby. Conversions: Cooper 2. Penalties: Cooper 3

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