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S15 Preview: Round 13, Part One

Wed, 08 May 2013 17:58
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We predict three home wins
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Round 13 of Super Rugby will get underway with three matches in three different countries on Friday.

Friday's matches will see two teams from each conference involved in the action, but it looks tough for those on the road as we predict three home wins.

The defending champion Chiefs have returned from their trip to Melbourne, but they face another Australian team in the Force who will take them on in the town of Pukekohe.

From there the focus shifts to Brisbane where the Reds will defend their impressive record at Suncorp Stadium against a battling Sharks team who have yet to win on tour.

Friday's action concludes in Bloemfontein where the Cheetahs will be hoping to boost their play-off hopes against the Hurricanes.

We take a closer look at the match-ups:

Chiefs v Western Force
(ECOLight Stadium, Pukekohe - Kick-off: 19.35; 07.35 GMT)

If recent form is anything to go by, expect the Chiefs to race to an early 24-0 lead before letting the Force back into the game and ultimately holding on for a tense win.

The Waikato outfit have done exactly that in their last two fixtures, so the focus for them will no doubt be on producing an 80-minute effort against the Force.

The Force have shown great determination this season despite not having as much firepower as some of the top teams, and the Chiefs will have taken note of their giant-killing exploits against the Crusaders and Reds.

The Perth side have relied on an abrasive forward pack and committed defensive system to claim their big scalps, so they should be fairly direct in Pukekohe.

The Chiefs have a tough forward pack of their own, and should be able to match the Force up front. Tight forwards like Ben Afeaki, Hika Elliot and Brodie Retallick should provide a good platform in the set-pieces whilst All Black flanks Sam Cane and Liam Messam complement each other well.

However, the key for the home side will be just behind the scrum where the brand new halfback pairing of Tawera Kerr-Barlow and Gareth Anscombe will link up.

Anscombe has been impressive at fullback this season and gets his opportunity as playmaker ahead of Aaron Cruden, whilst the lively Kerr-Barow should also provide some spark.

The Force are a hardworking team that rarely give much away, and they will be hoping that the changes to the Chiefs team will give them another opportunity to cause a big upset.

Prediction: The Force have shown that they are capable of springing surprises, but the Chiefs should win this one by about seven points.

Teams:

Chiefs: 15 Robbie Robinson, 14 Lelia Masaga, 13 Save Tokula, 12 Bundee Aki, 11 Patrick Osborne, 10 Gareth Anscombe, 9 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 8 Matt Vant Leven, 7 Sam Cane, 6 Liam Messam, 5 Brodie Retallick, 4 Craig Clarke (captain), 3 Ben Afeaki, 2 Hika Elliot, 1 Toby Smith.
Replacements: 16 Mahonri Schwalger, 17 Ben Tameifuna, 18 Michael Fitzgerald, 19 Tanerau Latimer, 20 Augustine Pulu, 21 Aaron Cruden, 22 Asaeli Tikoirotuma.

Western Force: 15 Jayden Hayward, 14 Patrick Dellit, 13 Ben Jacobs, 12 Kyle Godwin, 11 Nick Cummins, 10 Sias Ebersohn, 9 Brett Sheehan, 8  Ben McCalman, 7 Chris Alcock, 6 Matt Hodgson (captain), 5 Sam Wykes, 4 Toby Lynn, 3 Kieran Longbottom, 2 Heath Tessmann, 1 Pek Cowan.
Replacements: 6 James Hilterbrand, 17 Tetera Faulkner, 18 Rory Walton, 19 Richard Brown, 20 Alby Mathewson, 21 Junior Rasolea, 22 Sam Norton-Knight.

Referee: Mike Fraser (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Nick Briant (New Zealand), Sheldon Eden-Whaitiri (New Zealand)
TMO: Vinny Munro (New Zealand)

Reds v Sharks
(Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane - Kick-off: 19.40; 09.40 GMT)

The Sharks will have their backs firmly against the wall in Brisbane as they look for their first win on a tour that has all but ended their play-off hopes.

The Durban side will have to produce a barnstorming end to the season to sneak into the knock-out phase of the competition again, but right now they will take any win given their recent struggles.

The Reds will also be hurting after a frustrating draw with the Force in Perth last week, and they will be focused on putting some pressure on the Brumbies at the top of the Australian conference with a win at home.

The last time these two team met at Suncorp Stadium the Sharks spoiled the Reds' party and booked a semifinal, but this is a very different Sharks side from the one that finished last season so well so this should be a different prospect for them.

Although there have been more casualties for the visitors this week, they have been boosted by the presence of powerful Lions loosehead JC Janse van Rensburg and will also be able to call on big Willem Alberts from the bench.
 
The Reds have battled to get their attacking game going recently, and they will be intent on building some good momentum against a Sharks team low on confidence.

JP Pietersen finds himself back at outside centre for the Sharks, so the Reds will surely look to test his defensive organisation with the inexperienced Piet Lindeque outside him.

Despite their struggles there have been some encouraging signs on tour for the Sharks who have scored six tries in their two matches on the road without much reward.

The Sharks have an imposing pack that will target set-piece dominance, but they will have their work cut out for them at the breakdown where the Reds are very strong.

Prediction: The Sharks ware desperate which makes them a dangerous prospect, but the Reds should do enough to win this one by about five points.

Teams:

Reds: 15 Jono Lance, 14 Rod Davies, 13 Chris Feauai-Sautia, 12 Anthony Faingaa, 11 Digby Ioane, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Will Genia (captain), 8 Jake Schatz, 7 Liam Gill, 6 Eddie Quirk, 5 Ed O’Donoghue, 4 Rob Simmons, 3 James Slipper, 2 Saia Faingaa, 1 Greg Holmes.
Replacements: 16 James Hanson, 17 Albert Anae, 18 Adam Wallace-Harrison, 19 Jarrad Butler, 20 Beau Robinson, 21 Ben Lucas, 22 Ben Tapuai.

Sharks: 15 Riaan Viljoen, 14 Piet Lindeque, 13 JP Pietersen, 12 Meyer Bosman, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Patrick Lambie, 9 Charl McLeod, 8 Keegan Daniel (captain), 7 Jean Deysel, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 3 Wiehahn Herbst, 2 Kyle Cooper, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg.
Replacements: 16 Monde Hadebe, 17 Jannie du Plessis, 18 Anton Bresler, 19 Derick Minnie, 20 Willem Alberts, 21 Tian Meyer, 22 Odwa Ndungane.

Referee: Glen Jackson (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Rohan Hoffmann (Australia), Graham Cooper (Australia)
TMO: Steve Leszczynski (Australia)

Cheetahs v Hurricanes
(Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein - Kick-off: 19.10; 17.10 GMT)

The last time these two team met in Bloemfontein there was not much tackling going on as a late try saw the Hurricanes clinch a 50-47 win.

However, whilst these teams are still recognised as two of the biggest attacking threats in the competition, things could be a little different this time around.

The Cheetahs' defence has been far more solid this season, and consequently they have managed to win some tight games instead of the narrow losses which were once their curse.

This has catapulted them into the top six, and with a free four points for their second bye still to come the Free State side have a realistic shot at securing their first play-off spot.

The Hurricanes are coming off a demoralising defeat at the hands of the Bulls last week, and they will be determined not to leave South Africa empty-handed so expect them to tighten things up considerably.

The Wellington side have lacked fluency in recent weeks, but if they click then they can take any team apart so the Cheetahs will have to be on their guard.

The visitors were dominated in the set-pieces at Loftus Versfeld last week, so their forward pack will be looking for a big response and if they manage to get parity up front then their dangerous backline can get going.

The Cheetahs have scrapped well this season, but they will see this game against a Hurricanes team missing captain Conrad Smith as the perfect opportunity to break loose and notch a big win to set them up for a run at the play-offs.

Prediction: The Hurricanes are always a threat, but the Cheetahs should have too much at home so we expect them to win by about ten points.

Teams:

Cheetahs: 15 Hennie Daniller, 14 Willie le Roux, 13 Johann Sadie, 12 Robert Ebersohn, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Burton Francis, 9 Piet van Zyl, 8 Philip van der Walt, 7 Frans Viljoen, 6 Heinrich Brüssow, 5 Francois Uys, 4 Lodewyk de Jager, 3 Lourens Adriaanse, 2 Adriaan Strauss (captain), 1 Coenie Oosthuizen.
Replacements: 16 Ryno Barnes, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Ligtoring Landman, 19 Boom Prinsloo, 20 SarelPretorius, 21 Elgar Watts, 22 Rayno Benjamin.

Hurricanes: 15 Andre Taylor / James Marshall, 14 Alapati Leiua, 13 Reynold Lee-Lo, 12 Tim Bateman, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Victor Vito (captain), 7 Jack Lam/Karl Lowe, 6 Faifili Levave, 5 Jason Eaton, 4 Jeremy Thrush, 3 Ben May, 2 Ash Dixon, 1 Ben Franks.
Replacements: 16 Reggie Goodes, 17 Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, 18 James Broadhurst, 19 Brad Shields, 20 Chris Smylie, 21 Tusi Pisi, 22 James Marshall/Karl Lowe.

Referee: Stuart Berry (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Lourens van der Merwe (South Africa), Francois de Bruin (South Africa)
TMO: Gerrie Coetzee (South Africa)

By Michael de Vries

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