Planet Rugby

Super Rugby Preview: Friday

31st March 2011 14:03

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Jimmy Cowan leading out Highlanders

Back in action: Highlanders

Two fixtures are on the Super Rugby schedule this Friday with both billed as being entertaining affairs as the season moves into Round Seven.

Fresh from a bye week, the Highlanders kick things off against a Brumbies outfit that has won just one of its five clashes so far in the year.

Following those events in Invercargill we are off to Sydney where the Waratahs will have to be smart for 80 minutes in order to keep the Chiefs quiet.

Very much a mid-table theme then to this Friday, but the Highlanders and 'Tahs will be driven by the knowledge a win here would see them climb.


Highlanders vs Brumbies

It was apparent at the time that the Highlanders were in need of a round off when they fell quite convincingly to the Crusaders on March 19.

That runaway 44-13 defeat at this very ground illustrated just how much effort they had exerted during the opening five rounds. The hosts were down only 13-6 at the interval against their South Island rivals but then could not keep up with the pace that has ousted all that's stood in the 'Saders path of late. Just ask the Sharks.

But following a two-week break, the Highlanders should be able to pick up from the top form that upset the Bulls in Pretoria. Helping their cause will be the return to fitness of both Kade Poki and off-season signing Colin Slade while there is a second start of the season for New Zealand second-row forward Tom Donnelly.

Slade could well be the missing piece of the jigsaw for coach Jamie Joseph, as we rate his back-row highly along with other areas of the field also not found lacking.

Meanwhile the Brumbies have not had themselves the most enjoyable start to the campaign and will hope a victory in Invercargill can be a catalyst for two winnable home fixtures against the Hurricanes and Western Force. However, it seems the days of the Canberra outfit challenging for silverware are over - for now at least.

It is clear they are missing talismen George Smith and Stirling Mortlock while the loss to injury of Stephen Hoiles is also an issue. Again without hooker Stephen Moore and with Adam Ashley-Cooper's move to the Waratahs next season being announced this week, the wise money would be on the hosts to win on Friday..

Prediction: Freshened hosts is good enough for me. Highlanders by 10!

The teams:

Highlanders: 15 Ben Smith, 14 Kade Poki, 13 Kendrick Lynn, 12 Shaun Treeby, 11 Siale Piutau, 10 Colin Slade, 9 Jimmy Cowan, 8 Nasi Manu, 7 Alando Soakai, 6 Adam Thomson, 5 Tom Donnelly, 4 Jarrad Hoeata, 3 Chris King, 2 Jason Rutledge, 1 Jamie Mackintosh (capt).
Replacements: 16 Mo Schwalger, 17 Halani Aulika, 18 Josh Bekhuis, 19 Nick Crosswell, 20 Aaron Smith, 21 Tony Brown, 22 James Paterson.

Brumbies: 15 Matt Toomua, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Andrew Smith, 12 Christian Lealiifano, 11 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 10 Matt Giteau, 9 Josh Valentine, 8 Ita Vaea, 7 Julian Salvi, 6 Peter Kimlin, 5 Mark Chisholm, 4 Ben Hand, 3 Salesi Maafu, 2 Huia Edmonds, 1 Ben Alexander.
Replacements: 16 Anthony Hegarty, 17 Dan Palmer, 18 Colby Faingaa, 19 Michael Hooper, 20 Patrick Phibbs, 21 Tyrone Smith, 22 Franky Fainifo.

Date: Friday, April 1
Kick-off: 19:35 (06:35 GMT)
Venue: Rugby Park, Invercargill
Referee: Stuart Dickinson (Australia)
Assistant referee: Garratt Williamson (New Zealand), Kane McBride (New Zealand)
Television match official: Keith Brown (New Zealand)


Waratahs vs Chiefs

Changes have been necessary for the Waratahs this week following injuries to pivot Berrick Barnes and second-row Kane Douglas, but the return to fitness of hooker Tatafu Polota-Nau comes at just the right time for head coach Chris Hickey.

The physicality of the Wallaby has been sorely missed over the recent rounds and he will add some grunt alongside fellow returnee Benn Robinson. Elsewhere and there is a shift for Kurtley Beale, who'll bring an air of maverick-ness to the 10 role.

Hickey's side are the second most stingiest franchise in the competition to date, with only the table-topping Stormers letting in fewer points to date. And they will need their defence to be at its best on Friday as this Chiefs back-line can punish teams.

Tana Umaga will not be involved from the outset this week though as the assured figure of Dwayne Sweeney comes in at 12 alongside Richard Kahui. But it is the back-three at Ian Foster's disposal that can hurt teams as messieurs Masaga, Sivivatu and Nanai-Williams could play a role if they can establish parity up front.

But much like the Blues, this Chiefs side have an air of frustration attached to them. As much as the neutral loves both these aforementioned franchises, they can go off the boil in games and/or let errors creep into their play. So will it be Jekyll or Hyde?

Prediction: Again, home advantage should help. Waratahs by 7!

Waratahs: 15 Lachie Turner, 14 Atieli Pakalani, 13 Ryan Cross, 12 Tom Carter, 11 Drew Mitchell, 10 Kurtley Beale, 9 Luke Burgess, 8 Wycliff Palu, 7 Phil Waugh (capt), 6 Ben Mowen, 5 Pat O'Connor, 4 Dean Mumm, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 Benn Robinson.
Replacements: 16 Damien Fitzpatrick, 17 Paddy Ryan, 18 Sitaleki Timani, 19 Dave Dennis, 20 Pat McCutcheon, 21 Brendan McKibbin, 22 Daniel Halangahu.

Chiefs: 15 Tim Nanai-Williams, 14 Lelia Masaga, 13 Richard Kahui, 12 Dwayne Sweeney, 11 Sitiveni Sivivatu, 10 Mike Delany, 9 Brendon Leonard, 8 Liam Messam (capt), 7 Tanerau Latimer, 6 Scott Waldrom, 5 Isaac Ross, 4 Craig Clarke, 3 Nathan White, 2 Hika Elliot, 1 Toby Smith.
Replacements: 16 Aled de Malmanche, 17 Sona Taumalolo, 18 Culum Retallick, 19 Fritz Lee, 20 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 21 Tana Umaga, 22 Save Tokula.

Date: Friday, April 1
Kick-off: 19:40 (08:40)
Venue: Sydney Football Stadium
Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa)
Assistant referee: James Leckie (Australia), Lourens van der Merwe (South Africa)
Television match official: George Ayoub (Australia)

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
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Friday , September 26
London Welsh vs Gloucester19:45
Saturday , September 27
Saracens vs Sale15:00
Leicester vs London Irish15:00
Northampton vs Bath15:15
Sunday , September 28
Exeter vs Harlequins14:00
Wasps vs Newcastle14:00
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Saturday , September 27
South Africa vs Australia16:05
Argentina vs New Zealand23:10
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Guinness PRO12
Friday , September 26
Edinburgh vs Scarlets19:35
Leinster vs Cardiff Blues19:35
Glasgow vs Connacht19:35
Saturday , September 27
Zebre vs Ulster15:00
Munster vs Ospreys18:30
Sunday , September 28
Newport Gwent D'gons vs Benetton Treviso16:00
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Top 14
Saturday , September 27
Toulon vs Montpellier18:00
Stade Francais vs La Rochelle18:00
Bayonne vs Toulouse18:00
Brive vs Bordeaux-Begles18:00
Oyonnax vs Clermont Auvergne18:00
Lyon vs Castres18:00
Grenoble vs Racing Metro Paris18:00
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Currie Cup
Friday , September 26
Cheetahs vs Blue Bulls19:10
Saturday , September 27
Sharks vs Eastern Province Kings14:00
Pumas vs Western Province15:00
Griquas vs Lions15:00
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Recent Results
FixtureDetails
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Aviva Premiership
Sunday , September 21
Newcastle 10 - 35 NorthamptonNewcastle vs Northampton Report
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Guinness PRO12
Ospreys 62 - 13 EdinburghOspreys vs Edinburgh Report
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ITM Cup
Otago 38 - 7 WaikatoOtago vs Waikato Report
Wellington 20 - 42 TasmanWellington vs Tasman Report
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Aviva Premiership
Saturday , September 20
Sale 46 - 8 London WelshSale vs London Welsh Report
Harlequins 26 - 23 WaspsHarlequins vs Wasps Report
London Irish 32 - 36 SaracensLondon Irish vs Saracens Report
Bath 45 - 0 LeicesterBath vs Leicester Report
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Guinness PRO12
Newport Gwent D'gons 13 - 33 GlasgowNewport Gwent D
Scarlets 43 - 0 Benetton TrevisoScarlets vs Benetton Treviso Report
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Top 14
Racing Metro Paris 27 - 16 ToulouseRacing Metro Paris vs Toulouse Report
Grenoble 24 - 15 Bayonne
Montpellier 23 - 3 Stade FrancaisMontpellier vs Stade Francais Report
La Rochelle 26 - 29 Bordeaux-Begles
Clermont Auvergne 43 - 12 LyonClermont Auvergne vs Lyon Report
Castres 27 - 18 Oyonnax
More Top 14 results
Currie Cup
Western Province 36 - 12 GriquasWestern Province vs Griquas Report
Blue Bulls 15 - 26 SharksBlue Bulls vs Sharks Report
Eastern Province Kings 22 - 37 CheetahsEastern Province Kings vs Cheetahs Report
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ITM Cup
Hawkes Bay 36 - 17 Bay Of Plenty
Manawatu 36 - 17 Southland
Auckland 32 - 7 North HarbourAuckland vs North Harbour Report
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Friday , September 19
Gloucester 22 - 25 ExeterGloucester vs Exeter Report
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Munster 31 - 5 ZebreMunster vs Zebre Report
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Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Bath314
2Saracens313
3Northampton311
4Exeter310
5Leicester Tigers39