Planet Rugby

Super Rugby Preview: Saturday

25th February 2011 08:50


rob horne waratahs

Waratahs: Host the Reds in Sydney

The Crusaders and Hurricanes clash may have been called off, but there's still plenty to look forward to when Super Saturday kicks off.

An all-Aussie derby kicks off proceedings when the Waratahs host the Reds in Sydney. There's been plenty of mind games in the build-up to this clash, but the players will get to do their talking on the field come kick-off at ANZ Stadium.

Attention then turns to Durban in South Africa where the Sharks host the Blues for what is expected to be a titanic battle between these old rivals, before the Stormers make their first appearance of the 2011 season when last year's finalists take on the rejuvinated Lions in Cape Town.

Waratahs vs Reds

The Waratahs will be attempting to maintain a six-year domination over the Reds when the two teams go head to head in this all-Aussie derby clash in Sydney.

The Reds come into the match following a hard-fought 21-20 victory over the Western Force while the Waratahs piled on seven tries in a 43-0 shutout of the Rebels.

Recently the Waratahs have enjoyed interstate supremacy with the Queenslanders last tasting success against their southern rivals back in 2004. Since then the 'Tahs have gotten the upper hand in some brutal and entertaining affairs, four of which were decided by seven points or less.

The Reds looked certain to break their drought last season but a try in the last play of the match to number eight Wycliff Palu saw the visitors walk away from Suncorp Stadium with a 30-28 win.

While disappointed with the loss, that game, their first of the 2010 Super Rugby season, catapulted the Reds onto bigger and better as they finished the season in fifth place.

Since the inception of Super Rugby the Reds have beaten the Waratahs eight times, lost six and drawn once.

The teams:

Waratahs: 15 Kurtley Beale, 14 Lachie Turner, 13 Rob Horne, 12 Tom Carter, 11 Drew Mitchell, 10 Berrick Barnes, 9 Luke Burgess , 8 Ben Mowen, 7 Phil Waugh (c), 6 Dave Dennis, 5 Kane Douglas, 4 Dean Mumm, 3 Al Baxter, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 Sekope Kepu.
Replacements: 16 Damien Fitzpatrick, 17 Benn Robinson, 18 Sitaleki Timani, 19 Chris Alcock, 20 Brendan McKibbin, 21 Daniel Halangahu, 22 Ryan Cross.

Reds: 15 Peter Hynes, 14 Rod Davies, 13 Will Chambers, 12 Anthony Faingaa, 11 Digby Ioane, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Will Genia, 8 Scott Higginbotham, 7 Ed Quirk, 6 James Horwill (c), 5 Van Humphries, 4 Rob Simmons, 3 James Slipper, 2 Saia Faingaa, 1 Ben Daley.
Replacements: 16 James Hanson, 17 Greg Holmes, 18 Leroy Houston, 19 Beau Robinson, 20 Ben Lucas, 21 Mike Harris, 22 Aidan Toua.

Referee: Bryce Lawrence (New Zealand)

Sharks vs Blues

This has all the ingredients to be a cracker of a game when the Sharks host the Blues in Durban.

Both teams will take a lot of confidence into Saturday's match, with the Sharks having defeated the Cheetahs fairly comprehensively last week while the Blues kicked off their campaign beating the Crusaders 24-22 at Eden Park.

The Blues are second on the New Zealand conference behind the Highlanders while the Sharks top the South African conference and shade the Blues on the overall log thanks to a superior points' differential.

The Blues had a tough start to the 2011 season when they trailed the Crusaders 6-19 at the break, but managed to score three second-half tries to clinch the victory which was also their first over the Crusaders since 2007.

In the kicking stakes, fly-half Stephen Brett converted 3 of his 8 attempts and will look to improve on that statistic. Patrick Lambie's 80 per cent success rate with the boot against the Cheetahs was second best of the weekend and he'll look for more of the same on Saturday.

These two teams have enjoyed a strong sense of competitive spirit over the years with some huge clashes taking place both in Durban and Auckland (and the smaller venues when the game was taken there).

The early days of Super Rugby were dominated by the Blues who appeared in the first three Super finals from 1996 to 1998, winning the first two (beating Natal in 1996 and the Brumbies in 1997) but losing to the Crusaders in 1998.

In the history of the tournament, they have played in four finals, interestingly enough, they've hosted all four, winning their last outing in 2003 when they avenged their 1998 loss to the Crusaders by defeating them 21-17 in Auckland.

Their early record against the Sharks was successful initially, winning the first four contests including the 1996 final and the 1997 semi-final (along with the league matches). As the decade closed out and the new millenium arrived, there were wins for the Sharks that preceded a three match losing series between 2003 and 2005.

However, the tide turned in 2006 when the Sharks gained the upper hand and stretched the consecutive run of wins between then and last year to six. This year sees the Sharks on a quest to extend that to seven while the visitors will want to stem the tide.

With x-factor players in the backline and powerful forwards, the Blues will certainly bring out the best in the Sharks who will also look to their ball-carriers to do some damage on attack.

The teams:

Sharks: 15 Louis Ludik, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 Stefan Terblanche (c), 12 Meyer Bosman, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Patrick Lambie, 9 Charl McLeod, 8 Ryan Kankowski, 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Keegan Daniel, 5 Alistair Hargreaves, 4 Steven Sykes, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Replacements: 16 John Smit, 17 Eugene van Staden, 18 Anton Bresler, 19 Jacques Botes/Lambert Groenewald, 20 Conrad Hoffmann, 21 Jacques-Louis Potgieter, 22 JP Pietersen.

Blues: 15 Isaia Toeava, 14 Joe Rokocoko, 13 Jared Payne, 12 Benson Stanley, 11 Rene Ranger, 10 Stephen Brett, 9 Alby Mathewson, 8 Chris Lowrey, 7 Daniel Braid, 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Ali Williams, 4 Anthony Boric, 3 John Afoa, 2 Keven Mealamu (c), 1 Tony Woodcock.
Replacements: 16 Tom McCartney, 17 Charlie Faumuina, 18 Kurtis Haiu, 19 Luke Braid, 20 Toby Morland, 21 Luke McAlister, 22 Sherwin Stowers.

Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa)

Stormers vs Lions

The Stormers get into the Super Rugby ring after last week's bye when they take on the Lions in Cape Town.

It wasn't exactly a welcomed break from last year's finalists who would have preferred to kick off their campaign with the rest of the teams, but at least had the benefit of taking notes on their upcoming opposition.

They will also be happy at entering this match with four points already to their name - an unfathomable quirk of the restructured tournament. So the Lions, with one bonus point after their 24-20 defeat by the Bulls last week, are three points adrift of the Stormers, who have yet to play a game.

Still, the Lions will enter Saturday's Newlands clash with their tails up after running the defending champion Bulls close in last week's opener in Jo'burg. Had they been on target with some straight-forward kicks at goal, they could have caused one of the biggest upsets in Super Rugby.

It wasn't the case then, but get a second bite at the cherry this weekend against a team they ran circles around in last year's Currie Cup - the Stormers under the guise of Western Province.

However, in Super Rugby, the Lions' record against the Stormers tells a different story as the hosts take aim for their 10th consecutive win against their South African counterparts - the second-longest winning streak against a single opponent in Super Rugby history. Only the Crusaders, with 11 straight wins against the Reds, have done better.

The teams:

Stormers: 15 Conrad Jantjes, 14 Danie Poolman, 13 Jaque Fourie, 12 Jean de Villiers, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Gary van Aswegen, 9 Ricky Januarie, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Francois Louw, 6 Schalk Burger (captain), 5 Andries Bekker, 4 Rynhardt Elstadt, 3 Brok Harris, 2 Deon Fourie, 1 CJ van der Linde.
Replacements: 16 Siyabonga Ntubeni, 17 Frans Malherbe, 18 De Kock Steenkamp, 19 Pieter Louw, 20 Dewaldt Duvenage, 21 Peter Grant, 22 Juan de Jongh.

Lions: 15 Jaco Taute, 14 Lionel Mapoe, 13 Waylon Murray, 12 Doppies La Grange, 11 Michael Killian, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Warren Whiteley, 7 Josh Strauss, 6 Derick Minnie, 5 Franco van der Merwe (c), 4 George Earl, 3 Patrick Cilliers, 2 Bandise Maku, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg.
Replacements: 16 Martin Bezuidenhout, 17 Kevin Buys, 18 Wikus van Heerden, 19 Cobus Grobbelaar, 20 Rory Kockott, 21 Burton Francis, 22 James Kamana.

Referee: Stuart Dickinson (Australia)

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8Western Force1640
15Melbourne Rebels1621
Australian Conference
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3Western Force1640
5Melbourne Rebels1621
New Zealand Conference
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South African Conference
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