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
Aviva Premiership
Friday , November 28
Bath vs Harlequins19:45
Saturday , November 29
Leicester Tigers vs Wasps15:00
Exeter vs Saracens16:30
Sunday , November 30
London Irish vs Gloucester13:00
London Welsh vs Northampton14:30
Newcastle vs Sale15:15
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International Match
Saturday , November 29
Wales vs South Africa14:30
England vs Australia14:30
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Guinness PRO12
Friday , November 28
Munster vs Ulster19:35
Cardiff Blues vs Treviso19:35
Saturday , November 29
Zebre vs Edinburgh15:00
Leinster vs Ospreys17:15
Connacht vs Scarlets19:30
Sunday , November 30
Glasgow vs Newport Gwent D'gons16:00
More Guinness PRO12 fixtures
Top 14
Saturday , November 29
Oyonnax vs Bordeaux-Begles18:00
Lyon vs Montpellier18:00
La Rochelle vs Bayonne18:00
Toulon vs Clermont Auvergne18:00
Castres vs Racing Metro Paris18:00
Sunday , November 30
Stade Francais vs Brive18:00
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Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Sunday , November 23
Saracens 24 - 31 NorthamptonSaracens vs Northampton Report
London Welsh 5 - 26 Leicester TigersLondon Welsh vs Leicester Tigers Report
More Aviva Premiership results
International Match
Georgia 35 - 24 JapanGeorgia vs Japan Report
More International Match results
Guinness PRO12
Treviso 24 - 24 LeinsterTreviso vs Leinster Report
Edinburgh 28 - 13 Cardiff BluesEdinburgh vs Cardiff Blues Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
Aviva Premiership
Saturday , November 22
London Irish 23 - 33 BathLondon Irish vs Bath Report
Exeter 31 - 15 WaspsExeter vs Wasps Report
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International Match
Italy 6 - 22 South AfricaItaly vs South Africa Report
England 28 - 9 SamoaEngland vs Samoa Report
France 13 - 18 ArgentinaFrance vs Argentina Report
Wales 16 - 34 New ZealandWales vs New Zealand Report
Scotland 37 - 12 TongaScotland vs Tonga Report
Ireland 26 - 23 AustraliaIreland vs Australia Report
Romania 18 - 9 CanadaRomania vs Canada Report
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Aviva Premiership
Friday , November 21
Harlequins 12 - 16 Sale SharksHarlequins vs Sale Sharks Report
Newcastle Falcons 20 - 10 GloucesterNewcastle Falcons vs Gloucester Report
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International Match
Fiji 20 - 14 USAFiji vs USA Report
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Guinness PRO12
Dragons 12 - 38 MunsterDragons vs Munster Report
Ulster 25 - 16 OspreysUlster vs Ospreys Report
Connacht 43 - 3 ZebreConnacht vs Zebre Report
Scarlets 19 - 9 Glasgow WarriorsScarlets vs Glasgow Warriors Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
Aviva Premiership
Sunday , November 16
Leicester Tigers 21 - 21 SaracensLeicester Tigers vs Saracens Report
Wasps 71 - 7 London WelshWasps vs London Welsh Report
More Aviva Premiership results
International Match
Ireland 49 - 7 GeorgiaIreland vs Georgia Report
More International Match results
Aviva Premiership
Saturday , November 15
Sale Sharks 36 - 8 London IrishSale Sharks vs London Irish Report
More Aviva Premiership results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Northampton830
2Exeter828
3Bath828
4Saracens825
5Leicester Tigers821