Planet Rugby



Super Rugby Preview: Saturday

13th May 2011 08:53


stormers v chiefs 2010

Crunch clash: Stormers looking to bounce back against the Chiefs

Will it be lucky Round 13 this weekend? Several teams in the hunt for a play-offs spot will certainly hope so on Super Saturday!

Just five rounds remain, and with little seperating the teams still in the running for a top-six spot, there will be no room for error.

The Waratahs, Western Force and the Sharks have a bye, so that's four easy points for the three Super Rugby franchises.

But there's no rest for the remaining teams in action as the Chiefs host the Stormers, the Brumbies play the Lions, Bulls welcome the Rebels and the Cheetahs tackle the Crusaders.

Chiefs v Stormers

The Stormers begin their four-match tour of Australasia against the Chiefs in Hamilton, where the hosts will be out to avenge last year's hammering at the same ground.

Waikato Stadium holds happy memories for the Stormers, who put on their best performance of last season by running in six tries to record a comprehensive 45-17 win.

Missing for the Chiefs that game was All Blacks Mils Muliaina as well as Sitiveni Sivivatu, two game-breakers that had a big influence in last week's win against the Highlanders, who both line up this time round against the South African Conference leaders.

Indeed, the Chiefs will have a spring in their step and feel much more confident coming off a deserved 20-7 win over the more fancied Highlanders. It was a moral-boosting win, something the Stormers desperately needed against the Crusaders before embarking on month-long tour.

Instead, the Stormers are still smarting from a 20-14 reverse at the hands of a second-rate Crusaders outfit.

The match was the Stormers to lose after the Crusaders' star back-line was depleted early on through injuries to Israel Dagg, Sean Maitland, Kahn Fotuali'i and Adam Whitelock. Add no Dan Carter or Andy Ellis to the mix, and you can see why Stormers fans have a lot less hair after their team's painful result in Cape Town.

The Stormers must now bounce back to winning ways against the Chiefs to maintain their conference lead and avoid the pitfalls of a slow start to a long tour.

Easier said than done.

After 11 matches the Chiefs are sitting in ninth place on the standings with just four wins to their name, but the Stormers will do well not to underestimate a team that have knocked over the Sharks at home this season, and led the Bulls 20-3 at one point in Pretoria.

"They came off a good win (against the Highlanders) last week and they will feed off that victory," said Stormers coach Allister Coetzee.

"Make no mistake, it will be a tough game and a big challenge, but we've prepared well and we understand the importance of winning this week. Playing at home will give them a lot of confidence, as will our loss against the Crusaders."

Prediction: The Stormers have eight wins from 10 matches this season, but seven of those outings were in Cape Town so this will be the first glimpse of how they perform on foreign soil against a team that have won three from five at home in 2011. This is tougher than we thought! Stormers by five.

The teams:

Chiefs: 15 Mils Muliaina (c), 14 Lelia Masaga, 13 Richard Kahui, 12 Dwayne Sweeney, 11 Sitiveni Sivivatu, 10 Stephen Donald, 9 Brendon Leonard, 8 Fritz Lee, 7 Tanerau Latimer, 6 Liam Messam, 5 Romana Graham, 4 Craig Clarke, 3 Ben Afeaki, 2 Hika Elliot, 1 Toby Smith.
Replacements: 16 Aled de Malmanche, 17 Sona Taumalolo, 18 Isaac Ross, 19 Sam Cane, 20 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 21 Tim Nanai-Williams, 22 Jackson Willison.

Stormers: 15 Conrad Jantjes, 14 Gio Aplon, 13 Jaque Fourie, 12 Jean De Villiers, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Peter Grant, 9 Ricky Januarie, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Francois Louw, 6 Schalk Burger (c), 5 Andries Bekker, 4 Rynhardt Elstadt, 3 Brok Harris, 2 Deon Fourie, 1 Wicus Blaauw.
Replacements: 16 Tiaan Liebenberg, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 De Kock Steenkamp, 19 Anton Van Zyl, 20 Dewaldt Duvenage, 21 Lionel Cronje, 22 Juan De Jongh.

Referee: Stuart Dickinson (Australia)

Brumbies v Lions

Both teams will be playing for lost pride when they meet in this dead-rubber clash in Canberra on Saturday.

The Super Rugby outfits have been struggling this season and will be eager to make amends with only a few rounds remaining by notching a win.

The Lions are at the bottom of the points table on 14 points with a single win from 11 matches, while the Brumbies are in 12th position on 22 points after 10 matches.

The hosts have won just two of their matches, a far cry from the 2001 and 2004 seasons when they were crowned champions.

Despite their poor seasons, both teams enjoy the running game and neither side will deviate from this game-plan.

The Brumbies have held the upper-hand in this fixture over the years and in the last fixture between the two sides, they beat the Lions 24-13 in the Australian capital last year.

Prediction: Both teams have nothing to lose - so hopefully we'll see the ball given plenty of air, with the Lions on the receiving end of another try-fest. Brumbies by 16.

The teams:

Brumbies: 15 Pat McCabe, 14 Andrew Smith, 13 Tyrone Smith, 12 Christian Lealiifano, 11 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 10 Matt Giteau (c), 9 Josh Valentine, 8 Ita Vaea, 7 Colby Faingaa, 6 Mitch Chapman, 5 Ben Hand, 4 Peter Kimlin, 3 Jono Owen/Dan Palmer, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 Ben Alexander.
Replacements: 16 Huia Edmonds, 17 Salesi Ma'afu/Jono Owen, 18 Mark Chisholm, 19 Michael Hooper, 20 Patrick Phibbs, 21 Robbie Coleman, 22 Henry Speight.

Lions: 15 Jaco Taute, 14 Lionel Mapoe, 13 Dylan des Fountain, 12 Alwyn Hollenbach, 11 Deon van Rensburg, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Josh Strauss (c), 7 Michael Rhodes, 6 Derick Minnie, 5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 Wikus van Heerden, 3 Patric Cilliers, 2 Bandise Maku, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg.
Replacements: 16 Edgar Marutlulle, 17 Kevin Buys, 18 Cobus Grobbelaar, 19 Rory Kockott, 20 Burton Francis, 21 Jannie Boshoff.

Referee: Nathan Pearce (Australia)

Bulls v Rebels

The Bulls will have the perfect opportunity to build on their recent win over the Chiefs when they host the Melbourne Rebels in Pretoria on Saturday.

After their indifferent start to the tournament, where they lost five of their first nine matches, the defending champions gave a clinical second half display in their 43-27 win over the Chiefs.

That performance was reminscent of dominant Bulls teams of the past and after trailing in the first half in that match they returned to their traditional strengths with fine forward play and fly-half Morne Steyn kicking well out of hand.

Expect more of the same against the Rebels who have lost heavily against teams with domineering packs like the Reds, Waratahs and Highlanders.

Bulls stalwarts Fourie du Preez and Pierre Spies, who were struggling with form in the earlier rounds, came to life against the Chiefs and will be keen to put in another solid display at the weekend.

The Rebels' away form has been poor this season. From five matches they've won only one - a 26-25 victory over the Western Force - and the prospect of facing a Bulls team fresh from a bye must be a daunting prospect for the tournament newbies who are playing their first match outside Australasia.

The Bulls need to win all their remaining matches to stay in contention for a play-off spot while the Rebels have already exceeded their expectations in their debut season by winning three matches against the Brumbies, Hurricanes and the Force.

Prediction: The Rebels can expect a long day at the office against a Bulls team who are desperate to remain in the competition. Bulls by 14.

The teams:

Bulls: 15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Gerhard van den Heever, 13 Stephan Dippenaar, 12 Wynand Olivier, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Mornť Steyn, 9 Fourie du Preez (c), 8 Pierre Spies, 7 Dewald Potgieter, 6 Deon Stegmann, 5 Danie Rossouw, 4 Bakkies Botha, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Gary Botha, 1 Dean Greyling.
Replacements: 16 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 17 Rossouw de Klerk, 18 Flip van der Merwe, 19 Victor Matfield, 20 Derick KuŁn, 21 Francois Hougaard, 22 Francois Brummer.

Melbourne Rebels: 15 Richard Kingi, 14 Lachlan Mitchell, 13 Afusipa Taumoepeau, 12 Stirling Mortlock (c), 11 Luke Rooney, 10 Julian Huxley, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Gareth Delve, 7 Michael Lipman, 6 Hoani Macdonald, 5 Alastair Campbell, 4 Hugh Pyle, 3 Greg Somerville, 2 Ged Robinson, 1 Laurie Weeks.
Replacements: 16 Heath Tessmann, 17 Nic Henderson, 18 Kevin O'Neill, 19 Jarrod Saffy, 20 Tim Davidson, 21 Peter Betham, 22 Cooper Vuna.

Referee: Chris Pollock (New Zealand)

Cheetahs v Crusaders

The Crusaders will look to make it two from two in South Africa with a win against the Cheetahs on Saturday, before returning home.

Another victory for the Kiwi outfit will be the Crusaders' third on the trot, and if the Blues in Brisbane, Todd Blackadder's team will take over as New Zealand Conference leaders.

While the seven-time Super Rugby champs might be considered favourites in Bloemfontein, the hosts will not lose any sleep as they look back to 2009 for inspiration when they shocked the Kiwis 20-13.

The Crusaders will be hoping to avenge that result two years ago by securing their ninth victory of the competition.

The Cheetahs, currently lie ninth position on the overall log with 25 points - six points adrift of the Bulls in eighth - after bonus-point wins over the bumbling Brumbies and lowly Lions.

Those wins, albeit against teams struggling for form, will give the Free Staters a massive confidence boost ahead of Saturday's clash with the Crusaders. However with the likes of Richie McCaw and Dan Carter back in business, the Cheetahs' task just got a whole lot tougher.

Prediction: The Cheetahs will certainly give the Crusaders a run for their money. But we just can't see another upset. Crusaders by 12.

The teams:

Cheetahs: 15 Riaan Viljoen, 14 Riaan Smit, 13 Robert Ebersohn, 12 Corne Uys, 11 Rayno Benjamin, 10 Sias Ebersohn, 9 Sarel Pretorius, 8 Davon Raubenheimer, 7 Ashley Johnson, 6 Heinrich Brussow, 5 Wilhelm Steenkamp, 4 Francois Uys, 3 WP Nel, 2 Adriaan Strauss (capt), 1 Coenie Oosthuizen.
Replacements: 16 Ryno Barnes, 17 Lourens Adriaanse, 18 Waltie Vermeulen, 19 Kabamba Floors, 20 Tewis de Bruyn, 21 Naas Olivier, 22 Hennie Daniller.

Crusaders: 15 Tom Marshall, 14 Robbie Fruean, 13 Ryan Crotty, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Zac Guildford, 10 Dan Carter, 9 Willi Heinz, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Richie McCaw (capt), 6 George Whitelock, 5 Chris Jack, 4 Luke Romano, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Corey Flynn, 1 Ben Franks.
Replacements: 16 Quentin MacDonald, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Joe Wheeler, 19 Matt Todd, 20 Steve Alfeld, 21 Matt Berquist, 22 Brent Ward.

Referee: Bryce Lawrence (New Zealand)

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