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Super Rugby | Loftus Versfeld
17:00 (GMT) | 17-03-2017
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Join us tomorrow morning for more Super Rugby action
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The horn sounds and the game ends rather anticlimactically. FULL TIME.
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They look to build and find a losing bonus point. They finally push over the line to show great character despite being behind. The kick is taken but the referee calls play back and disallows the try
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Line-out to the Sunwolves at the 22 of the Bulls
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They make it to the 22 of the Bulls and the chip over the top from Ogura for Fukuoka looks good but bounces into touch. Line-out for the Bulls around their 22
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The Bulls lose it forward and Nakazuru tries to go around the field so as to find space and almost does. He offloads and the Sunwolves work their way forward from the wider channels
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The ball picked up by Gallant and he kicks it forward for Ulengo who chases but it bounces into touch. The Sunwolves take their throw and clear. Line-out at the 22 of the visitors for the Bulls
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Scrum reset
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The restart kick is taken and sent back field and Emi on clean up duty again. Ogura gets it and changes pace and passes three players but his team mate not on the same wavelength as he gives a sneaky pass catches everyone off guard. The ball is lost forward and the Bulls get a scrum
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Ogura lines it up and secures the 2 points for his team
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The Sunwolves trying to pull one back but the Bulls defending their bonus point. The visitors now in their 9th phase and they finally break through with their captain Quirk
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Line-out for the visitors just outside the 5. The Sunwolves call for a scrum after a penalty
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The referee blows for a penalty to the away side. Kriel the offender and the ball is kicked into touch
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The Sunwolves have a scrum after the short reset kick
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Schoeman adds the extras from a tough angle
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Serfontein gets the ball and makes the break after the line-out and he makes it over the try line to score the TRY. The referee refers to the TMO it stands
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The Sunwolves manage the clearance and the Bulls have a line-out inside the 10 of the away team
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The Sunwolves get the penalty in the scrum. Scrum reset
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The Bulls making good ground forward now and they move the ball up field to Ulengo and the ball is passed to Jenkins who goes over the line to score the try but he loses the ball and the referee calls for a 5 meter scrum
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The ball is kicked back and forth but the ball is lost forward by Taulagi. Scrum to the Bulls at the 22 of the visitors
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He adds another 3 points to his team's scoresheet
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The referee halts play for a scrum to the Bulls inside the visitors 10. He then sounds his whistle for a penalty to the Bulls in the scrum and Tian Schoeman prepares to take his first kick of the game
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The Bulls in possession and they break quickly after a throw in at the half way. Emi picks it up inside the try area and plants it down for a 22 meter reset
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Scrum for the Sunwolves. They try to play their way out of danger.
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The Sunwolves look to build from their own 22 instead of clearing. The ball is sent backward but nobody is home and Emi is there to clean it up. They make some ground forward and the ball is knocked forward by the Bulls
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He sends it wide and is immediately replaced
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Pollard sets up for a penalty kick from inside the 10
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The Bulls struggling break forward after the scrum. Both teams kicking forward and the Bulls have it inside the 10 of the away team
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Scrum reset
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They give away a penalty and the Bulls get a scrum at the same spot: the Bulls 22
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The referee blows for a penalty after the reset kick. Scrum fro the visitors and they take their own scrum
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Pollard readies himself. He nails the conversion to add the 2 extra points
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The Bulls looking to respond quickly in the second half and Jenkins gets it and bursts through the Sunwolves back line to score the TRY
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The ball booted forward again by Pollard and it's sent back. Serfontein gets it on the wing and makes it to the 5 before offloading to Ulengo but the ball is tackled into touch
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The Bulls have a throw after the penalty to the Sunwolves. The visitors get the ball in their half and clear. The Bulls in possession after the boot out field and Pollard kicks forward fro his team to chase. The ball is lost forward by the Sunwolves and the Bulls have a scrum
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The referee blows for a penalty as a Bulls player, Bothma, gives a high tackle after the kickoff. The referee refers to the TMO. Straight red card and the Bulls now have a challenge ahead of them
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Pollard gets the second half underway

Half Time

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Cripps with his most difficult kick of this fixture thus far. He doesn't make the 2 extras
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The Bulls get a penalty and the ball is certainly meant for touch but it's caught and the Sunwolves pick it up to make a swift counter attack. The ball sent to Fukuoka who breaks from inside the 10 to go all the way to score a massive TRY
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The Sunwolves with a good break along the wing by Nakazuru. They make to within the 5 but lose it and it's cleared hurriedly by the Bulls. Line-out for the visitors at the 10 of the hosts
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Scrum reset
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The ball booted forward by Pollard and Ismaiel chases but the referee sounds his whistle as the ball knocked forward. Scrum to the Sunwolves
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Pollard tugs the ball away to the left and the score remains intact
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Line-out for the Bulls after the reset kick. They form their attack from the half way and the referee blows for a penalty tot he Bulls. Pollard places the ball on the spot for his penalty kick
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Cripps ensures another 3 points
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The referee blows for a penalty to the Sunwolves just outside the 22 of the Bulls. Cripps again preparing for a 3 point kick
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Pollard with a kick from an angle on his outside. He takes it confidently and adds the 2 extras
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Line-out just before the 5 and the Bulls rush forward with the maul and they make quick work of the Sunwolves. Pierre Schoeman takes the credit for the TRY
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The Sunwolves lose the ball forward and the Bulls get a scrum inside the 10 of the visitors. The referee blows for a penalty against the away in the scrum for illegal scrummaging. Pollard kicks into touch
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The kick is good and the gap between the two sides grow smaller
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Cripps sets up for a kick just outside the 22
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The referee blows for a penalty to the Sunwolves in a good position after De Jager finds himself being offside in the ruck
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The Sunwolves win their scrum convincingly. Penalty to the visiotrs
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The Bulls opting to play the ball out of their own half and Nyakane gets it then breaks through the middle. He makes some 10 meters before the referee blows for a scrum at the 10 of the Sunwolves for the away team
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Pollard decides to take a shot at goal and he adds 3 points
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Now the home team finds the space they need with van Zyl slipping through the gap around the middle of the field. The ball is kicked in the air but the referee blows for an ofiisde to the Bulls
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The Bulls take their own scrum and the ball is kicked forward. The Sunwolves have a line-out at their own 22 and they clear after the ball is played back. The Bulls reset their attack from the half way. The visitors win possession and clear again. The Bulls again starting their attack from the half way
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Scrum reset
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The ball lost forward straight after the throw and the Bulls win a scrum
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The referee blows for an offside against the Bulls and the Sunwolves come away with a kick. Cripps kicks into touch around the half way
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Pollard kicks into touch again. Line-out at the 5 of the away team
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The Bulls on the attack after the scrum. They make their way to the 22 and are driven back but win a penalty
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Nakazuru reads the Bulls play after the scrum and makes an excellent tackle to stop the attack. The referee blows as the ball is lost forward after the tackle. Scrum to the Bulls inside their own half
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The referee blows for a knock-on after the reset as the Sunwolves make their way to the half way. Scrum to the Bulls
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Pollard ensures the extra 2 points
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The Sunwolves take their scrum by a small margin but they fumble it at the 5 and Serfontein scoops it up then pounces after throwing a dummy. TRY to the Bulls
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The away team with solid defending as they win the ball from the driving maul. Penalty to the Sunwolves
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The Bulls make it to the 5 with some pushing and shoving from De Jager. They win a penalty at the 5 of the Sunwolves and Pollard kicks into touch at the 5
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Ulengo picks it up for the Bulls and runs to the half way. The Bulls get a penalty inside the visitors' half and kick into touch around the away team 22
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The visitors take their own scrum and clear
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The ball is lost forward again, this time inside the Sunwolves 10
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The Sunwolves showing good spirit to keep the ball in motion. Play is moved up field and the Bulls get a scrum at their 10
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He secures the first points of the game
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Cripps finds gap through the middle making it to the 10 of the Bulls. They look promising inside the 10 and the ball is knocked forward by a Bulls man and the Sunwolves have a kick from inside the 10
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Jamie Nutbrown, the referee for this fixture blows and Cripps gets us underway
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The players entering the field of play now
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The Bulls only have 58% success rate with their goal kicking for this fixture, and a 86% success rate with their scrum. The Sunwolves boast a 100% success rate with their scrum for this fixture
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The last encounter between these two sides ended with 50-3 win in the Bulls' favour at this very stadium
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Welcome to Loftus Verfeld, home of the Bulls, who will be hosting the Sunwolves
Mc bulls logo 80x50
  • 1 Pierre Schoeman
  • 2 Edgar Marutlulle
  • 3 Trevor Nyakane
  • 4 Jason Jenkins
  • 5 Nick de Jager
  • 6 Ruan Steenkamp
  • 7 Renaldo Bothma
  • 8 Hanro Liebenberg
  • 9 Piet van Zyl
  • 10 Handre Pollard
  • 11 Jamba Ulengo
  • 12 Burger Odendaal
  • 13 Jan Serfontein
  • 14 Travis Ismaiel
  • 15 Warrick Gelant
  • 16 Adriaan Strauss
  • 17 Lizo Gqoboka
  • 18 Jacobie Adriaanse
  • 19 Rudolph Snyman
  • 20 Jannes Kirsten
  • 21 Ivan van Zyl
  • 22 Tian Schoeman
  • 23 Jesse Kriel
  • 1 Koki Yamamoto
  • 2 Yusuke Niwai
  • 3 Yasuo Yamaji
  • 4 Sam Wykes
  • 5 Uwe Helu
  • 6 Ed Quirk
  • 7 Shuhei Matsuhashi
  • 8 Willie Britz
  • 9 Keisuke Uchida
  • 10 Hayden Cripps
  • 11 Kenki Fukuoka
  • 12 Timothy Lafaela
  • 13 Jamie-Jerry Taulagi
  • 14 Takaaki Nakazuru
  • 15 Shota Emi
  • 16 Atsushi Sakate
  • 17 Masataka Mikami
  • 18 Helichiro Ito
  • 19 Liaki Moli
  • 20 Yoshitaka Tokunaga
  • 21 Kaito Shigeno
  • 22 Jumpei Ogura
  • 23 Ryohei Yamanaka
Mc article sunwolves mascot with balls 800

SR Preview: Round Four, Part One

Wed, 15 Mar 2017 22:23

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: With speculation rife about the future of Super Rugby and the possible culling of teams, some franchises may be playing for survival.

The SANZAAR Executive Committee met in London last Friday to assess the 'economic and sporting environment' under which its tournaments (Super Rugby and the Rugby Championship) are operating.

SANZAAR remained tightlipped about the proposals, but that has not stopped the rumour mill from running wild.

Depending in which grapevine you follow (or believe), Super Rugby will be reduced to 16 or 15 teams. Australian and South African teams are at the top of the culling list, while Japan's Sunwolves and Argentina's Jaguares have also been mentioned.

Only the dominant New Zealand teams are safe, or so the rumour mongers are telling us.

However, SANZAAR would have us believe that nothing has been finalised.

"Following two days of robust discussion there are a number of tournament considerations that now require further discussion and consultation," a statement from the organisers - South Africa, New Zealand, Australia and Argentina Rugby - said this week.

"This includes final consultation within the national unions and discussion with key stakeholders that would allow the adoption of future changes proposed by the strategic plan," SANZAAR Chief Executive Officer Andy Marinos said.

"SANZAAR will make a formal statement on the future of the organisation, Super Rugby and the tournament format in the coming days once these further meetings have been concluded," added Marinos.

Either way, it has added spice to an already intriguing tournament and some teams will have a lot to play for this weekend - starting with the Sunwolves - who play the Bulls in Pretoria on Friday.

We look at the Friday matches!

Friday, March 17

Crusaders v Blues
(AMI Stadium, Christchurch - Kick-off: 19.35; 06.35 GMT)

What a game to start the weekend. It is a massive occasion and the expectations are high for both teams.

The Crusaders are one of just three teams that are still unbeaten, but the Blues have lost twice in the opening weeks.

Blues coach Tana Umaga said it is important for the team to make progress this week after last week's disappointing performance against the Highlanders.

"We are looking for a much more competitive effort at set piece, and with more accuracy in core skills," Umaga said.

"You cannot be competitive in this competition with the error rate that we committed last week."

Crusaders coach Scott Robertson admitted the Blues will be on fire in Christchurch.

"We have to respect them, as these derby matches are at Test match level," the Crusaders coach said.

"You can see the attrition and injury rates that have come out of them," he said of the brutal nature of the New Zealand derbies.

He admitted the Blues are desperate to get their campaign back on track.

"We have had a couple of tough matches, so we want to take those lessons on board and move forward," the Crusaders coach said.

Recent results:
2016: Crusaders won 26-21, Auckland
2016: Crusaders won 28-13, Christchurch
2015: Crusaders won 34-11, Auckland
2015: Crusaders won 29-15, Christchurch
2014: Crusaders won 21-13, Christchurch
2013: Blues won 35-24, Auckland

Prediction: The Crusaders have won their last five games against the Blues, the longest winning streak of either side in the history of the fixture. The Crusaders have won seven of their last eight games on home turf, scoring an average of 5.4 tries per game in that span. A three-point win against the Highlanders in their last game against New Zealand opposition leaves the Crusaders hunting for back-to-back wins against fellow Kiwi teams for the first time since a win against the Blues in Round 17, 2015. The Blues have won only one of their last 21 games away from home against New Zealand opposition; a 34-20 win against the Canes in Round Two, 2013 their only positive result in that span. The Crusaders lead the competition in average offloads (18.7) and passes (192.3) per game so far this season. The Blues will indeed be desperate and will run the Crusaders close, but we feel the home team will edge another thriller - by five points.


Crusaders: 15 David Havili, 14 Manasa Mataele, 13 Jack Goodhue, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 George Bridge, 10 Mitchell Hunt, 9 Bryn Hall, 8 Whetu Douglas, 7 Jed Brown, 6 Jordan Taufua, 5 Sam Whitelock (captain), 4 Scott Barrett, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Joe Moody.
Replacements: 16 Ben Funnell, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Michael Alaalatoa, 19 Luke Romano, 20 Pete Samu, 21 Mitchell Drummond, 22 Marty McKenzie, 23 Sean Wainui.

Blues: 15 Michael Collins, 14 Matt Duffie, 13 Rieko Ioane, 12 George Moala, 11 Melani Nanai, 10 Piers Francis, 9 Augustine Pulu, 8 Jerome Kaino, 7 Blake Gibson, 6 Jimmy Tupou, 5 Patrick Tuipulotu, 4 Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 3 Ofa Tu'ungafasi, 2 James Parsons (captain), 1 Pauliasi Manu.
Replacements: 16 Matt Moulds, 17 Sam Prattley, 18 Sione Mafileo, 19 Akira Ioane, 20 Murphy Taramai, 21 Billy Guyton, 22 Ihaia West, 23 TJ Faiane.

Referee: Brendon Pickerill (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Angus Mabey (New Zealand), Cam Stone (New Zealand)
TMO: Aaron Paterson (New Zealand)

Rebels v Chiefs
(AAMI Park, Melbourne - Kick-off: 19.45; 21.45 NZDT; 08.45 GMT)

While the Rebels are considered underdogs and the wake of a horror start to the season, the Chiefs said complacency will not be an issue.

The Rebels are coming off a bye round, after two disappointing outings against the Blues and Hurricanes to start their 2017 Super Rugby campaign.

"They have had two weeks to prepare for us," Chiefs coach Dave Rennie said.

"They will look to bring a lot more heat."

Rennie pointed out that in the first 20 minutes of each of their games they were right in it.

"We are certainly not going to take them lightly," he said, adding: "However, our focus is on our standards and being better than we were last week.

Rebels coach Tony McGahan remains upbeat and is looking to improve on previous performances when they take on the Chiefs.

"Our performances haven't been good enough in the first two weeks and whatever excuses we could hang onto would be nice but we know that ultimately we're judged on what we do on the field and that starts again on Friday," McGahan said.

"We understand that we had a really tough start to the season, certainly the scorelines don't reflect the work that we've put in so we need to make sure that we address that."

With 13 games still to play, the Rebels are focused on getting their season back on track with a solid performance on Friday.

"We need a performance this weekend that we can hang our hat on and something to build off because we understand the competition and where the Australian sides are," McGahan said.

"It's a long season and we understand that our performances have been anything but poor so we need to make sure that we're getting better with our performance this week."

Recent results:
2016: Chiefs won 36-15, Hamilton
2015: Rebels won 16-15, Melbourne
2014: Chiefs won 22-16, Hamilton
2013: Chiefs won 39-33, Melbourne
2011: Chiefs won 38-10, Hamilton

Prediction: The Chiefs have won four of the five previous meetings between these franchises, though their one defeat to the Rebels came away from home. The Rebels have conceded 212 points in their last three games against New Zealand opposition and they last snatched a win against them in Round 13, 2015 (v Blues) losing seven such games since. The Chiefs have won on three of their last four trips to Australia, including a 50-5 win against the Reds on their last visit in Round 16, 2016. The Chiefs have stolen 2.7 line-outs per game this season, the equal most of any team and 1.7 per game more than the Rebels. Reece Hodge is one of just four players to have kicked a goal from his own side of the halfway line this season, and his 52.5m attempt is currently the longest successful goal kicker of any player this season. You would have to be a diehard supporter to wager money on the Rebels. The Chiefs should win by 15 to 20 points.


Melbourne Rebels: 15 Jack Debreczeni, 14 Sefa Naivalu, 13 Tom English, 12 Reece Hodge, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Jackson Garden-Bachop, 9 Nic Stirzaker (captain), 8 Amanaki Mafi, 7 Colby Fainga'a, 6 Jordy Reid, 5 Steve Cummins, 4 Culum Retallick, 3 Laurie Weeks, 2 James Hanson, 1 Fereti Sa'aga.
Replacements: 16 Pat Leafa, 17 Cruze Ah-Nau, 18 Tyrel Lomax, 19 Murray Douglas, 20 Jake Schatz, 21 Ben Meehan, 22 Sione Tuipulotu, 23 Ben Volavola.

Chiefs: 15 Shaun Stevenson, 14 Toni Pulu, 13 Anton Lienert-Brown, 12 Stephen Donald, 11 Solomon Alaimalo, 10 Damian McKenzie, 9 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 8 Liam Messam, 7 Sam Cane (co-captain), 6 Tom Sanders, 5 Brodie Retallick, 4 Dominic Bird, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Sabastian Siataga, 1 Kane Hames.
Replacements: 16 Hika Elliot, 17 Siegfried Fisi'ihoi, 18 Atu Moli, 19 Mitchell Brown, 20 Mitchell Karpik, 21 Finlay Christie, 22 Aaron Cruden (co-captain), 23 Johnny Faauli.

Referee: Federico Anselmi (Argentina)
Assistant referees: Rohan Hoffmann (Australia), Graham Cooper (Australia)
TMO: Damien Mitchelmore (Australia)

Bulls v Sunwolves
(Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria - Kick-off: 19.00; 17.00 GMT; 02.00 Saturday, March 18 JST)

Neither team has won a match this season, but the Sunwolves may just have more motivation - given their name is on at least one unofficial list of teams to be culled.

They made a statement last week, about being legitimate competitors, and would like to ram that home with a first-ever win on South African soil.

Bulls coach Nollis Marais admitted that you underestimate the Sunwolves at your own peril.

"If you give them turnover ball they will punish you," Marais said.

"They are a side that keeps the ball well.

"They also bring something special every game. They do something new every game and they are an unpredictable side.

"Yes, they do have some structure. It is not just running from everywhere. They do play in certain areas of the field.

"That is why you have to be very accurate against them and not give them possession."

Sunwolves captain Edward Quirk admitted there is very little they can do about the pending boardroom decision - which could see them being axed.

However, they are determined to prove a point by upstaging the three-time former champion Bulls.

"We performed a lot better than we did the previous two weeks," he said about his team's 31-38 loss to the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein last week.

"It may be a short week for us, but we are really excited about the challenge.

"Our confidence is high after the Cheetahs game, but obviously need to keep improving.

"We will have to improve significantly, because we are playing against a very, very big bulls team.

"We are super excited for the challenge and really enjoying the tour."

Previous results:
2016: Bulls won 50-3, Pretoria
2016: Bulls won 30-27, Singapore

Prediction: The Bulls have won each of the two encounters between these teams so far in contrasting fashion, grinding to a 30-27 win in Round Five last season before cruising to a commanding 50-3 victory in Round 16. In fact, this is the Bulls' first home fixture since that 50-3 win against the Japanese side, and they have won 10 of their last 13 games at home overall. The Sunwolves have scored 29 (Round 17, 2016) and 31 (Round Three, 2017) points in their last two away fixtures respectively, setting a new franchise record for most points scored on the road in each game. The Bulls have forced their opposition to make 133.5 tackles per game so far this season, the most of any team. Kenki Fukuoka has scored three tries in his last two games for the Sunwolves, including a brace in his side's last away fixture. The Sunwolves will test the Bulls, especially in the first half. However, we feel the powerful Bulls pack will overpower the Japanese team's forwards eventually and the Bulls should race clear to win by 20 points.


Bulls: 15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Travis Ismaiel, 13 Jan Serfontein, 12 Burger Odendaal, 11 Jamba Ulengo, 10 Handré Pollard (captain), 9 Piet van Zyl, 8 Hanro Liebenberg, 7 Renaldo Bothma, 6 Ruan Steenkamp, 5 Lodewyk de Jager, 4 Jason Jenkins, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Edgar Marutlulle, 1 Pierre Schoeman.
Replacements: 16 Adriaan Strauss, 17 Lizo Gqoboka, 18 Jacobie Adriaanse, 19 Rudolph Snyman, 20 Jannes Kirsten, 21 Ivan van Zyl, 22 Tian Schoeman, 23 Jesse Kriel.

Sunwolves: 15 Shota Emi, 14 Takaaki Nakazuru, 13 Jamie-Jerry Taulagi, 12 Timothy Lafaele, 11 Kenki Fukuoka, 10 Hayden Cripps, 9 Keisuke Uchida, 8 Willie Britz, 7 Shumei Matsuhashi, 6 Ed Quirk (captain), 5 Uwe Helu, 4 Sam Wykes, 3 Yasuo Yamaji, 2 Yusuke Niwai, 1 Koki Yamamoto.
Replacements: 16 Atsushi Sakate, 17 Masataka Mikami, 18 Heiichiro Ito, 19 Liaki Moli, 20 Yoshitaka Tokunaga, 21 Kaito Shigeno, 22 Jumpei Ogura, 23 Ryohei Yamanaka.

Referee: Jamie Nutbrown
Assistant referees: Mike Fraser, Stuart Berry
TMO: Willie Vos

Compiled by Jan de Koning

* Statistics provided by Opta Sports


Mc article jan serfontein bulls grubber 2017 800

Bulls survive Sunwolves scare

Fri, 17 Mar 2017 16:22

REPORT: A 14-man Bulls outfit managed to hold on for a 34-21 victory over the Sunwolves in Pretoria, despite a late flourish by the Japanese-based side.

The Sunwolves were down 34-14 but dominated the closing minutes to push the Bulls close. A 71st minute try ensured the Bulls failed to pick up a bonus-point, however, the deficit could have been a lot closer had Liaki Moli not lost the ball in his attempt to ground the ball in the final minute.

The victory was the Bulls' first of the competition while the Sunwolves remain winless.

The Sunwolves showed early intentions of keeping ball in hand and took the lead in the third minute through a Hayden Cripps penalty. The play remained mostly between the 22s from that point until the Bulls got some momentum.

The Sunwolves found themselves with a defensive scrum on their five-metre line and the pressure took its toll as they spilt the ball and the Bulls pounced. Piet van Zyl scooped it up and handed it to Jan Serfontein, who used his massive frame to stretch over. Pollard added the extras to ensure a 7-3 lead after 12 minutes.

Pollard extended the Bulls lead to 10-3 after 23 minutes, only for Cripps to hit back with a penalty of his own. The Bulls got themselves on the front foot in the 31st minute when a massive maul from a line-out outside the Sunwolves' 22 saw them extend their lead.

Pierre Schoeman the man to dot down. Pollard added the extras to ensure a 17-6 lead but Cripps hit back once again with a three-pointer to reduce the deficit to 9-17.

The visitors had the final say of the half when a brilliant counter-attack saw them receive the ball on their 10-metre line, flung it out wide to Kenki Fukuoka, who raced away into the corner to reduce the deficit to 14-17 at the break.

The Bulls got off to the worst possible start to the second half as Renaldo Bothma was shown a straight red card for a swinging arm to the head of Ed Quirk in the 41st minute but that had no effect as they bagged the first points.

Jason Jenkins benefitted from a tap-penalty to smash his way over the line. Pollard's extras ensured a 24-14 lead. Pollard then missed a penalty kick at goal soon after and was replaced by Tiaan Schoeman who stretched the Bulls lead to 27-14 after 59 minutes.

Serfontein then grabbed his second try of the night when he got the ball at first receiver on the Sunwolves' 10-metre line. The centre ran a brilliant line and raced into the corner. Schoeman added the tricky conversion to ensure a 34-14 lead.

The Sunwolves were not going down though as they launched a patient attack. They took the ball through the phases and drew the Bulls defenders infield, which allowed Ed Quirk to go over unopposed. Jumpei Ogura added the conversion to reduce the deficit to 21-34 in the 71st minute.

Liaki Moli thought he had grabbed a last second try to bring his side closer to a losing bonus point but he lost the ball forward in his attempt to score.

Man of the match: Jamie-Jerry Taulagi and Timothy Lafaele were creative in midfield and their neat offloads kept their side on the front foot. Willie Britz and Ed Quirk were the workhorses up front while Kenki Fukuoka wracked up the metres and Hayden Cripps stood up to the challenge. Edgar Marutlulle had a good outing while Lodewyk de Jager was his big bruising self. Hanro Liebenberg worked tirelessly and Piet van Zyl pushed the tempo. Jan Serfontein ran some threatening lines and was rewarded with a brace. Our award goes to Sunwolves fullback Shota Emi who carried strongly and was elusive with ball-in-hand while he seemed untroubled under the high ball.


For Bulls:
Tries: Serfontein 2, P Schoeman, Jenkins
Cons: Pollard 3, T Schoeman
Pens: Pollard, T Schoeman

For Sunwolves:
Tries: Fukuoka, Quirk
Con: Ogura
Pens: Cripps 3

Red card: Renaldo Bothma (Bulls, foul play - swinging arm to the head, 41)


Bulls: 15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Travis Ismaiel, 13 Jan Serfontein, 12 Burger Odendaal, 11 Jamba Ulengo, 10 Handré Pollard (captain), 9 Piet van Zyl, 8 Hanro Liebenberg, 7 Renaldo Bothma, 6 Ruan Steenkamp, 5 Lodewyk de Jager, 4 Jason Jenkins, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Edgar Marutlulle, 1 Pierre Schoeman.
Replacements: 16 Adriaan Strauss, 17 Lizo Gqoboka, 18 Jacobie Adriaanse, 19 Rudolph Snyman, 20 Jannes Kirsten, 21 Ivan van Zyl, 22 Tian Schoeman, 23 Jesse Kriel.

Sunwolves: 15 Shota Emi, 14 Takaaki Nakazuru, 13 Jamie-Jerry Taulagi, 12 Timothy Lafaele, 11 Kenki Fukuoka, 10 Hayden Cripps, 9 Keisuke Uchida, 8 Willie Britz, 7 Shumei Matsuhashi, 6 Ed Quirk (captain), 5 Uwe Helu, 4 Sam Wykes, 3 Yasuo Yamaji, 2 Yusuke Niwai, 1 Koki Yamamoto.
Replacements: 16 Atsushi Sakate, 17 Masataka Mikami, 18 Heiichiro Ito, 19 Liaki Moli, 20 Yoshitaka Tokunaga, 21 Kaito Shigeno, 22 Jumpei Ogura, 23 Ryohei Yamanaka.

Referee: Jamie Nutbrown
Assistant referees: Mike Fraser, Stuart Berry
TMO: Willie Vos

Jan Serfontein (11min), Pierre Schoeman (29min), Jason Jenkins (45min), and Jan Serfontein (64min)
Kenki Fukuoka (39min) and Ed Quirk (70min)
Handre Pollard (12min), Handre Pollard (30min), Handre Pollard (46min), and Tian Schoeman (65min)
Jumpei Ogura (71min)
Handre Pollard (22min) and Tian Schoeman (59min)
Hayden Cripps (3min), Hayden Cripps (27min), and Hayden Cripps (32min)
Renaldo Bothma (41min)
VENUE Loftus Versfeld
REFEREE Jamie Nutbrown (New Zealand)