S15 Preview: Round Nine, Part Two
Thu, 11 Apr 2013 21:37
Both teams are full of talent but it’s the side that puts it together
We are at the halfway stage of the Super Rugby season, so it is time to produce the goods or risk getting left behind.
The Force will know that better than most after a frustrating season which has seen them earn just one win, and they will have their work cut out for them once more against the Crusaders.
The weekend wraps up with two big South African derbies in Cape Town and Pretoria, and the fact that both could go either way illustrates how competitive the conference is this year.
The Sharks and the Stormers meet at Newlands, and with both teams heading overseas soon this clash could have a big bearing on how they fare in the second half of the season.
Finally it is off to Loftus Versfeld where the Cheetahs will be out to make it six of the best against a Bulls side hungry to get over the line after two narrow losses.
We take a closer look at the matches:
Western Force v Crusaders
(NIB Stadium, Perth - Kick-off: 19.45; 11.45 GMT)
The Force will be hoping for a repeat of their 2010 victory over the Crusaders when they host the seven-time champions in Perth on Saturday.
However, having gone down to the Rebels at home last week they will need to raise their game considerably if they want to recreate that performance.
The Crusaders are on their way home after two tough games in South Africa, so the Force will be hoping to catch them off guard.
The Christchurch team did well to take five points from their South African tour, but they will be determined to bounce back from the narrow loss to the Sharks in Durban last week in a game, so expect them to have a go at the bonus point.
The visitors should have an advantage up front and will look to attack the Force in the set-pieces to get themselves on the front foot.
Although they are missing some key players the Crusaders still have plenty of firepower and if they are allowed the majority of possession by the Force they will make it count.
The Force have won just one match this season, and they will be desperate to get off the bottom of the Australian conference, but it will take a big effort to take down the Crusaders.
Prediction: The Force will play hard in front of their home fans, but the Crusaders are in another class and should win by about ten points.
Western Force: 15 Jayden Hayward, 14 Alfie Mafi, 13 Junior Rasolea, 12 Kyle Godwin, 11 Ed Stubbs, 10 Sam Norton-Knight, 9 Alby Mathewson, 8 Richard Brown, 7 Matt Hodgson (captain), 6 Ben McCalman, 5 Sam Wykes, 4 Toby Lynn, 3 Salesi Ma'afu, 2 Heath Tessmann, 1 Pek Cowan.
Replacements: 16 Ben Whittaker, 17 Tetera Faulkner, 18 Rory Walton, 19 Chris Alcock, 20 Mick Snowden, 21 Sias Ebersohn, 22 Patrick Dellit.
Crusaders: 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Adam Whitelock, 13 Robbie Fruean, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 Tom Marshall, 10 Tyler Bleyendaal, 9 Andy Ellis, 8 Luke Whitelock, 7 Shane Christie, 6 George Whitelock (captain), 5 Dominic Bird, 4 Luke Romano, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Corey Flynn, 1 Wyatt Crockett.
Replacements: 16 Ben Funnell, 17 Joe Moody, 18 Tom Donnelly, 19 Jordan Taufua, 20 Willi Heinz, 21 Telusa Veainu, 22 Zac Guildford.
Referee: Jonathan Kaplan (South Africa)
Assistant referees: James Leckie (Australia), Damien Mitchelmore (Australia)
TMO: George Ayoub (Australia)
Stormers v Sharks
(Newlands, Cape Town - Kick-off: 17.05; 15.05 GMT)
The Sharks will be aiming to consolidate their lead at the top of the South African conference by doing the season double over the Stormers when the two coastal sides meet at Newlands this weekend.
The Durban side earned a grinding win over the Crusaders last week, and they can expect the same sort of hard graft on Saturday against a desperate Stormers side.
The Cape outfit has already lost more games than they did last year, and after a demoralising last-minute loss to the Cheetahs last week they are in dire need of a boost before they head overseas.
Both teams have lost a fair amount of players to injury, but there should be no lack of intensity in a clash that is always highly physical.
Sharks coach John Plumtree knows that the Stormers always pose a big threat at Newlands, and is expecting a typically tough match.
"They still have household names and they’ll probably look at us and say the same thing, both sides are probably in double figures in terms of injuries which is a bit alarming.
"It shows how much talent we have in South Africa that we can put out two good teams despite 20 injuries between us," he said.
Plumtree knows that discipline will play a major role, and has urged his team to play hard until the final whistle in what should be an even tussle.
"The side that arrives and sticks to the gameplan and plays well is probably going to be the winner. In these big derby games, it’s the side that consistently plays at a high intensity for the 80 minutes. Both teams are full of talent but it’s the side that puts it together," he explained.
The Stormers' set-pieces have been put under pressure in recent weeks, with the Crusaders attacking their line-out and the Cheetahs taking them on at scrum-time last week, so they will be intent on securing their set-phase possession.
For the Sharks it is about getting their attacking game going up against the renowned Stormers defence in what should be a tense derby.
"We’ve shown bits and pieces on attack but we haven’t shown enough. When times are tough and it’s all about digging in deep, working hard for each other," said Plumtree.
Prediction: There is never much between these teams, but the Stormers are more desperate and should do enough at home to take victory by a few points.
Stormers: 15 Joe Pietersen, 14 Damian de Allende, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Jean de Villiers (captain), 11 Gio Aplon, 10 Gary van Aswegen, 9 Dewaldt Duvenage, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Michael Rhodes, 6 Siya Kolisi, 5 Andries Bekker, 4 De Kock Steenkamp, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Deon Fourie, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Replacements: 16 Martin Bezuidenhout, 17 Pat Cilliers, 18 Gerbrandt Grobler, 19 Nizaam Carr, 20 Louis Schreuder, 21 Kurt Coleman, 22 Cheslin Kolbe.
Sharks: 15 Francois Steyn, 14 Sean Robinson, 13 Paul Jordaan, 12 Meyer Bosman, 11 JP Pietersen, 10 Patrick Lambie, 9 Cobus Reinach, 8 Keegan Daniel (captain), 7 Ryan Kankowski, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Kyle Cooper, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Replacements: 16 Craig Burden, 17 Wiehahn Herbst, 18 Anton Bresler, 19 Jean Deysel, 20 Charl McLeod, 21 Riaan Viljoen, 22 Odwa Ndungane.
Referee: Craig Joubert (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Quinton Immelman (South Africa), Marc van Zyl (South Africa)
TMO: Shaun Veldsman (South Africa)
Bulls v Cheetahs
(Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria - Kick-off: 19.10; 17.10 GMT)
The Bulls are back at home, and face a confident Cheetahs team three points ahead of them after a record five consecutive wins.
The Pretoria side suffered two narrow defeats in Australia to end their tour on a frustrating note, whilst the Cheetahs showed plenty of character to snatch a late win against the Stormers last week.
That victory showed the fighting quality and belief in this Cheetahs side, and Bulls captain Pierre Spies is expecting to be pushed all the way in front of their home crowd.
"We will certainly need all the support we can get against a Cheetahs side that is playing with a lot of confidence and momentum. History counts for nothing in this one, so past performances will have no bearing on this clash.
"We will have to front up from the first minute of play to the last. The Cheetahs play for 80 minutes and we need to make sure we play our style and on our terms," he said.
The Bulls will attack the gainline and attempt to force the Cheetahs onto the back foot with some typically robust driving play, but the Cheetahs' defence has been impressive this season so we should see some bone-crunching collisions.
The Cheetahs have their tails up and will be keen to test the Bulls out wide, but as exciting as their backline can be, the hard work will have to be done by their inexperienced tight five.
The Free State side have not beaten the Bulls since they broke away from the Cats, but they will feel that this is their best chance yet given their current hot streak.
Prediction: The Cheetahs have won some tense game playing an attractive brand, but the Bulls are under pressure to get back on a winning track, so we are backing them to take this one by about five points.
Bulls: 15 Jürgen Visser, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Lionel Mapoe, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Pierre Spies (captain), 7 Dewald Potgieter, 6 Deon Stegmann, 5 Juandré Kruger, 4 Flip van der Merwe, 3 Frik Kirsten, 2 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 1 Morné Mellet.
Replacements: 16 Callie Visagie, 17 Werner Kruger, 18 Paul Willemse, 19 Arno Botha, 20 Rudi Paige, 21 Louis Fouché, 22 Ulrich Beyers.
Cheetahs: 15 Hennie Daniller, 14 Willie le Roux, 13 Johan Sadie, 12 Robert Ebersohn, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Burton Francis, 9 Piet van Zyl, 8 Philip van der Walt, 7 Pieter Labuschagne, 6 Heinrich Brüssow, 5 Francois Uys, 4 Lodewyk De Jager, 3 Lourens Adriaanse, 2 Adriaan Strauss (captain), 1 Trevor Nyakane.
Replacements: 16 Ryno Barnes, 17 Coenie Oosthuizen, 18 Rynhard Landman, 19 Frans Viljoen, 20 Tewis de Bruyn, 21 Francois Brummer, 22 Ryno Benjamin.
Referee: Jason Jaftha (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Rasta Rasivhenge (South Africa), Sieg van Staden (South Africa)
TMO: Gerrie Coetzee (South Africa)
By Michael de Vries
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