Super Rugby preview: Saturday

Date published: March 23 2012

We're in for a busy day on Super Saturday with five key fixtures set to keep us entertained as the Round Five action continues.

We're in for a busy day on Super Saturday with five key fixtures set to keep us entertained as the Round Five action continues.

Lets skip the chit-chat and get straight to it shall we?

Waratahs v Sharks
The Waratahs will be looking to get their season back on track when they host the Sharks at Allianz Stadium in Sydney on Saturday.
It's a must-win encounter for the hosts, who have only managed one victory from their four outings thus far and looking to avoid their worst start to a Super Rugby season.
Despite having a formidable team, their one win over the lowly Rebels is all the Waratahs have to show for their efforts in 2012.
Losing bonus points picked up against the Reds, Highlanders and Western Force have kept the Sydneysiders afloat – albeit barely. But a third consecutive defeat will surely see their title aspirations sink with a two away games in between a bye still to come.
It's not that they're incapable of matching it with the big teams (their performance against the in-form Highlanders proves that), but have lacked the killer blow against teams they should have beaten.
They came unstuck against the lowly Force, and unsurprisingly their disgruntled fans were simply fed up of watching their team – who scored more tries than any other side in 2011 – playing like a bunch of zombies. As a result, the Waratahs were booed off the pitch.
A big improvement is needed if they are to win back their supporters with a vital win over the Sharks, who arrive Down Under brimming with confidence following last week's come-from-behind victory against the reigning champion Reds.
Indeed, the Sharks will be buoyed by the result of that game after fighting their way back from seventeen points down to win 27-22 and will have landed in Sydney in high spirits.
However, the South Africans don't have the best record against the Waratahs in Sydney (they have recorded just two wins in nine games, the last win in 2000), and this is not something that has escaped the coaching staff.
“We had a long meeting about this: why we've failed in Sydney,” said Sharks coach John Plumtree.
“We've managed to beat them at home, but we haven't had much success here. We just need to put emphasis on making sure we don't get distracted while we're here, that rugby is the reason why we're here, winning is why we're here.”

Prediction: History certainly favours the home side. They've beaten the Sharks on the past six occasions at Allianz Stadium and they've won four of the past five and nine of the last eleven overall. Waratahs by six!
The teams:
Waratahs: 15 Bernard Foley, 14 Tom Kingston, 13 Rob Horne, 12 Tom Carter 11 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 10 Berrick Barnes, 9 Brendan McKibbin, 8 Wycliff Palu, 7 Chris Alcock, 6 Dave Dennis, 5 Kane Douglas, 4 Dean Mumm, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 Benn Robinson (c).
Replacements (from): John Ulugia, Paddy Ryan, Sitaleki Timani, Lopeti Timani, Jono Jenkins, Sarel Pretorius, Daniel Halangahu, Peter Betham, Brackin Kauraria-Henry.
Sharks: 15 Riaan Viljoen, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 Tim Whitehead, 12 Meyer Bosman, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Patrick Lambie, 9 Charl McLeod, 8 Keegan Daniel (c), 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Anton Bresler , 4 Jandre Marais, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Dale Chadwick.
Replacements: 16 Craig Burden, 17 Nick Schonert, 18 Steven Sykes, 19 Jacques Botes, 20 Frederic Michalak, 21 Marius Joubert, 22 Louis Ludik.

Crusaders v Cheetahs
Christchurch Stadium, Christchurch

The Crusaders will be determined to return to winning ways when they host the Cheetahs at the newly built Christchurch Stadium.
After two consecutive losses, the match shapes as a must-win for the Crusaders and it is sure to be an emotional one for the home side as they play their first match in Christchurch since May 2010.
The town will be buzzing with excitement with a packed house anticipated, and what was already going to be a tough road trip, will become a daunting experience for the South Africans.
This season the Crusaders' defeats to the Highlanders and Chiefs have been by slim margins and could easily have been victories but coach Todd Blackadder won't be satisfied at the manner in which they were lost.
In both cases his All Blacks-laden forwards were out-muscled and no team wants a reputation as lacking stomach for a fight. The worry for Blackadder will be that teams will see a weakness there and continue to exploit it.
That, though, is not likely to be an issue against the Cheetahs, although they did break their six-match losing streak with a 33-26 victory over the Rebels in Melbourne, only the second time they have won in Australia.
Although they often trouble the Crusaders at home in Bloemfontein, they have never won in Christchurch and could be the perfect stage for the Crusaders to play their high-pressure, fast-paced game.
Prediction: You get the feeling the Cheetahs are in for a long night up against the Crusaders. It's their return to Christchurch and star fly-half Dan Carter is back on deck, albeit off the bench. Crusaders by 17!

The teams:

Crusaders: 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Sean Maitland, 13 Robbie Fruean, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 Zac Guildford, 10 Tom Taylor, 9 Andy Ellis, 8 Kieran Read (c), 7 Matt Todd, 6 Luke Whitelock, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Luke Romano, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Corey Flynn, 1 Ben Franks.
Replacements: 16 Quentin MacDonald, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Ross Kennedy, 19 Brendon O'Connor, 20 Willi Heinz, 21 Dan Carter, 22 Tom Marshall.
Cheetahs: 15 Hennie Daniller, 14 Cameron Jacobs, 13 Robert Ebersohn, 12 Andries Strauss, 11 Willie le Roux, 10 Johan Goosen, 9 Tewis de Bruyn, 8 Philip van der Walt, 7 Justin Downey, 6 Heinrich Brussow, 5 Izak van der Westhuizen, 4 George Earle, 3 Lourens Adriaanse, 2 Adriaan Strauss (c), 1 Trevor Nyakane.
Replacements: 16 Hercu Liebenberg, 17 Coenie Oosthuizen, 18 Andries Ferreira, 19 Ashley Johnson, 20 Piet van Zyl, 21 Sias Ebersohn, 22 Ryno Benjamin.
Referee: Keith Brown (New Zealand)

Brumbies v Highlanders
Canberra Stadium, Canberra

The Brumbies are back in the Aussie capital where they play host to the unbeaten Highlanders at Canberra Stadium.
Undefeated against the Waratahs, Crusaders, Chiefs and Blues, the Highlanders present a massive challenge for the Brumbies looking for their third win from four games.
A victory on Saturday for the hosts would go a long way towards a finals drive, claiming valued home-ground competition points against the Super Rugby ladder-leaders who are struggling somewhat with key injuries.
After four consecutive wins, the Highlanders will be without forwards duo John Hardie and Adam Thomson, as well as valuable centre Phil Burleigh for their second away clash of the season.
However, new Brumbies boss Jake White is correct with his warning not to take the