Smart money on usual suspects

Sun, 10 Feb 2013 12:07
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It's once again the usual suspects of the South African franchises showing who the smart money should be on in Super Rugby this year.

As the build-up to this year's Super Rugby tournament moves into its final countdown, it is once again the usual suspects of the South African franchises showing who the smart money should be on.

The Bulls demonstrated in their 32-10 victory over the Cheetahs in their pre-season friendly in Polokwane that one would be foolish to bet against the Pretoria-based side.

Newbies in Super Rugby, the Southern Kings may have fielded for all practical reasons a second-string side in their match against the Lions in Johannesburg, but their 41-31 loss to relegated franchise does not bode well for their debut year.

Another worrying factor for the Eastern Cape franchise is that they have not yet fielded a team reflecting that of a likely starting line-up that would withstand the pressures of Super Rugby.

Injuries have not made their preparations any easier as they were unable to send some of their top players to Johannesburg due to niggling injuries.

Captain Darron Nel, however, found some positives from their second warm-up match ahead of their inaugural Super Rugby match against the Western Force in Port Elizabeth on February 23.

"With any side, they have their starting line-up and you know who will play, there is always a chance and there might be four or five guys here today that find themselves in the starting line-up against the Force," Nel said on Saturday.

As most of the seasoned top teams in Super Rugby had demonstrated over the years, depth is key to being competitive in the uncompromising competition.

The Kings' performance on Saturday might have set off warning bells in Port Elizabeth as their fringe players were found wanting for the majority of the match.

Nel nevertheless felt that the side got exactly what they wanted out of the contest.

"There were things we worked on during the off-season, and we wanted to come out and make sure we do those things well. There were a couple of boys who put their hands up," Nel said.

The Lions were in fine form as they continued with their entertaining brand of rugby attacking the gain line at pace showing little inhibition on attack.

The Lions ran in four tries within the first 45 minutes of the match, and lost some vital rhythm when coach Johan Ackermann was forced to ring the changes.

The Kings pounced on the Lions' untested combinations and got themselves within striking distances to turn the tables on the Highveld team.

The Johannesburg-based side, however, kept their composure at the end to clinch the victory.

Ackermann admitted that he might have been overzealous with the rolling subs in the second half, which he believed swung the balance of the match in favour of the Kings.

"I am obviously disappointed with our defence in the second half, I may have used too many rolling subs at once, which led to miscommunication on defence," Ackermann said.

"It is something small that we will have to rectify because you won't always enjoy such a lead."

The Lions will now enjoy a four-week break before their next match on March 16, while the Kings are likely to select their strongest combinations for their final warm-up match against Griquas.

Elsewhere, the Sharks were in rampant form in their pre-season friendly against the Leopards when they dismantled the North West team 71-8.

The Durbanites ran in 11 tries to the one of the Leopards, signalling that they will, along with the Bulls and the Stormers, be strong candidates for the Super Rugby title.
     
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FIXTURE GMT VENUE
Fri, 24 February 2017
Highlanders v Chiefs 06h35 Dunedin
Reds v Sharks 09h00 Brisbane
Harlequins v Leicester Tigers 17h45 Twickenham Stoop
Edinburgh v Cardiff Blues 19h05 Myreside
Dragons v Leinster 19h30 Rodney Parade
Munster v Scarlets 19h35 Thomond Park
Sat, 25 February 2017
Sunwolves v Hurricanes 04h15 Tokyo
Crusaders v Brumbies 06h35 Christchurch
Waratahs v Force 08h45 Allianz Park
Saracens v Sale Sharks 12h45 Allianz Park
Northampton Saints v Worcester Warriors 13h00 Franklin's Gardens
Exeter Chiefs v Newcastle Falcons 13h00 Sandy Park
Cheetahs v Lions 13h05 Bloemfontein
Scotland v Wales 14h25 BT Murrayfield
Kings v Jaguares 15h15 Port Elizabeth
Ireland v France 16h50 Aviva Stadium
Stormers v Bulls 17h30 Cape Town
Sun, 26 February 2017
Bristol v Bath 11h00 Ashton Gate
Treviso v Connacht 12h30 Stadio Comunale di Monigo
Wasps v Gloucester 12h30 Ricoh Arena
Zebre v Ulster 12h30 Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi
Ospreys v Glasgow Warriors 13h05 Liberty Stadium
England v Italy 15h00 Twickenham Stadium
Mon, 27 February 2017
UCT-Ikeys v Maties 14h45 Cape Town
Rhodes v Fort Hare 16h30 Grahamstown
CPUT v UKZN-Impi 16h30 Cape Town
UWC v TUT 16h30 Cape Town
UP-Tuks v Wits 16h30 Pretoria
CUT-Ixias v UJ 16h30 Bloemfontein
Shimlas v NWU-Pukke 17h00 Bloemfontein
Thu, 02 March 2017
Force v Reds 10h30 Perth
RESULT SCORE
Thu, 23 February 2017
Rebels v Blues 18 | 56
Tue, 21 February 2017
CUT-Ixias v Shimlas 13 | 22
Mon, 20 February 2017
UJ v UP-Tuks 18 | 11
UKZN-Impi v Fort Hare 16 | 10
Maties v NMMU-Madibaz 35 | 16
UWC v Rhodes 88 | 8
TUT v WSU 13 | 17
NWU-Pukke v UCT-Ikeys 20 | 15
Sun, 19 February 2017
Newcastle Falcons v Northampton Saints 46 | 31
Sale Sharks v Wasps 34 | 28
Sat, 18 February 2017
Connacht v Dragons 14 | 9
Ospreys v Munster 23 | 25
Leicester Tigers v Bristol 50 | 17
Ulster v Glasgow Warriors 37 | 17
Bath v Harlequins 22 | 12
SUPER RUGBY
MORE LOGS
Pool AU
Team P W D L Pts
Brumbies 0 0 0 0 0
Waratahs 0 0 0 0 0
Reds 0 0 0 0 0
Force 0 0 0 0 0
Rebels 1 0 0 1 0
Pool NZ
Team P W D L Pts
Blues 1 1 0 0 5
Hurricanes 0 0 0 0 0
Highlanders 0 0 0 0 0
Chiefs 0 0 0 0 0
Crusaders 0 0 0 0 0
Pool SA1
Team P W D L Pts
Stormers 0 0 0 0 0
Bulls 0 0 0 0 0
Cheetahs 0 0 0 0 0
Sunwolves 0 0 0 0 0
Pool SA2
Team P W D L Pts
Lions 0 0 0 0 0
Sharks 0 0 0 0 0
Jaguares 0 0 0 0 0
Kings 0 0 0 0 0