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Crusaders

FULL-TIME
57     24

Stormers

Super Rugby | Christchurch
07:35 (GMT) | 22-04-2017
  • 82
Stay with us as we go straight to the Force vs the Chiefs
  • 81
The Stormers still looking for one more before the whistle but the ball is knocked on and the referee ends the massacre. FULL TIME
  • 80
The horn sounds and they make it through at the last, putting the final nail in the coffin. The referee calls for a TMO decision for playing the man in the air. The referee disallows the try and the ball is kicked into touch
  • 79
The Crusaders on the attack again after the reset, being held at the 10 of the away team
  • 78
The conversion is good
  • 77
The ball moved to the wide channel and intercepts a pass and breaks for the posts from his 22. He finds an open field and puts the ball down between the sticks. TRY
  • 76
The Stormers take their line-out and make their way forward slowly, but reaching the 22
  • 75
Line-out for the hosts at their 5 and the Stormers desperate to turn over but the ball is cleared into touch
  • 74
Scrum to the away team at their 10
  • 73
The ball kicked forward by the Crusaders and it goes straight into the dead ball zone
  • 72
The Stormers have a line-out around the half way and the ball is turned over. The referee blows for a penalty to the Crusaders
  • 71
The ball cleared after the scrum and the Crusaders have a line-out at the 22
  • 70
At the 5 now they move the ball around looking for an opening. The referee halts play as the ball is lost forward. Scrum at the 5 of the away team
  • 69
The Stormers win it but kick forward and the Crusaders take it out the air then rush forward to the 5 in seconds
  • 68
Line-out to the Crusaders after the reset. They take the ball and move forward looking to increase their lead again
  • 67
Du Preez puts on 2 points
  • 66
Kolbe carrying his team forward as he puts on his dancing shoes. Running from the 22 to the 5 meter and handing it to Malherbe in the ruck. TRY to the Stormers
  • 65
The Stormers around the 22 but finding it hard to break through
  • 64
Scrum to the away team after the reset. They win a penalty and the ball is kicked into touch
  • 62
Mo’unga puts it between the sticks
  • 61
The Stormers break after the reset. Leyds almost finding his way to the line but he is caught. The ball sent down field and a flimsy pass is picked up by Samu who runs from his own 22 all the way to score another TRY and put this game well out of reach of the visitors
  • 60
Mo’unga adds the extras
  • 59
The ball kicked into touch at the 5 and they make ground quickly in the maul. They're on the edge of the line and the referee blows for a TRY
  • 58
Penalty to the Crusaders as the Stormers front row collapses
  • 57
Scrum reset
  • 56
The Stormers give away another penalty after the line-out. Scrum to the hosts at the 5
  • 55
Penalty to the Crusaders after an offside in the ruck. Mo’unga kicks into touch at the 5
  • 54
The Crusaders in possession at the 10 of the visitors now. They make their way forward patiently
  • 53
The reset kick is deep but the Stormers take it and clear
  • 52
Du Preez adds the extras
  • 51
The away team pushing forward desperately. They're inside the 5 and the ball goes to Etzebeth who gives a sloppy pass but Basson picks it up and salvages the situation with a TRY
  • 50
The Stormers get a penalty after the scrum and kick into touch
  • 49
Another penalty scrum, this time for the Stormers. They take the scrum at the 10 and look to build from there
  • 48
The Crusaders win a penalty from the scrum and the ball is kicked into touch
  • 47
They press forward to the 5 but give away another penalty and the Crusaders have a scrum before their 5
  • 46
The Stormers tun over and kick forward and find themselves inside the 22 of the hosts
  • 45
Line-out at the 10 of the hosts for the Stormers. The away team gift the Crusaders a penalty. Scrum at the 10 of the hosts
  • 44
The ball kicked forward and the chase is there and Havili looks to play it out himself but is tackled into touch
  • 43
The Crusaders with the ball now after the restart and they work their way forward from the 10. The referee halts play for a penalty to the away team. Scrum at the 10 of the Stormers
  • 42
Du Preez adds the extras
  • 41
Kolbe finds a way through right off the bat with a good interception. He runs all the way to the sticks and puts one done for the Stormers
  • 41
The second half is underway

Half Time

  • 40
Mo’unga adds the extras. HALF TIME
  • 40
The ball moved out wide by Mo’unga to his captain and Read makes it over the line again to score the TRY. The Stormers up against it now
  • 39
The Crusaders still aggressively on the attack as the half comes to a close, now inside the 22
  • 37
Mo’unga with his first miss of the night
  • 36
The ball cleared and Leyds sends it back into touch. The Crusaders build from the half way on the wing and play the all the way to the opposite side showing incredible skill. Read finds it inside the 22 and rushes over the line with a huge smile to score the fourth TRY
  • 35
The ball lost forward by Etzebeth inside the 10 of the hosts. Scrum to the Crusaders
  • 33
Mo’unga ensures his perfect record for this fixture
  • 32
The hosts make some ground in the maul and move the ball down field to Bridge who finds himself in a world of space. He strolls over the line to score his hatrick
  • 31
The Crusaders win a penalty in the line-out and kick into touch at the 5
  • 30
Mo’unga kicks the ball out after the reset and it goes into touch for a 22 meter throw to the Stormers inside their own half
  • 29
Mo’unga adds the extras
  • 28
The Crusaders move it to the sticks then down again. The Stormers get caught short on wide and Bridge is the man who skips over the line to score another TRY
  • 27
Line-out at the 5 of the away team for the hosts
  • 26
The Stormers pushing the Crusaders back but the ball is cleared. Kolbe takes it forward but the referee blows for obstruction against the Stormers
  • 25
Penalty to the Stormers as the Crusaders scrum collapses. The ball is kicked into touch around the half way
  • 24
Scrum for the Stormers now as the ball is lost forward at the same area
  • 23
Scrum reset
  • 22
Scrum to the Crusaders inside the 22 of the away team
  • 21
The ball lost forward by the home team flyhalf and the Stormers have a 5 meter scrum
  • 20
The maul collapses and the Crusaders knocking on the Stormers front door now
  • 19
The ball kicked forward and Leyds opts to not clear and gives away a penalty in the ruck. Crusaders kick into touch at the 5
  • 18
Mo’unga adds 3 more
  • 17
The Crusaders building from the 22 of the away team and win a penalty. Mo’unga lines it up for a kick at goal
  • 16
The ball is cleared and Kolbe with a great tackle after the clearance. They try to win the ball but the referee blows for a penalty to the hosts
  • 15
Scrum for the Stormers after the restart. They play the ball from their 22
  • 13
Mo’unga adds the extras
  • 12
They move the ball around the 5 looking for a runner and Bridge is the man who takes responsibility and takes it, running over the line to score the TRY
  • 11
The hosts move forward edging closer to the 5
  • 10
Scrum inside the 22 of the Stormers for the Crusaders
  • 9
He takes the kick and puts his team in front
  • 8
The Stormers being held at the 22 of the Crusaders. The referee halts play for a penalty and Du Preez steps up for another chance at goal
  • 7
Line-out for the visitors at the 22
  • 6
The ball moved horizontally but not forward and the home team turn over. The ball is tackled into touch
  • 5
Scrum reset
  • 4
The Stormers win a scrum as the ball was knocked on after a cross kick by Du Preez. Scrum outside the 5 of the hosts for the away team
  • 3
The Stormers build from the 22 after the throw
  • 2
The Crusaders knock it forward at the 10 of the Stormers. The ball is kicked into touch at the opposite 22
  • 1
Penalty to the Stormers early in the first half. Du Preez sets up for a kick from inside the 10. Slight breeze on the pitch. He takes the kick and misses
  • 0
The referee blows and the game is underway
  • -3
The players observing a moment of silence on the field now
  • -5
The Crusaders are the only side yet to concede a try in the final 20 minutes of a game this season, while only the Lions and Hurricanes (both 12) have scored more in that period than the Crusaders (11).
  • -10
This will be the Crusaders' first game against South African opposition this year; they lost their last such game (v Lions, July 2016) but have not lost consecutive matches against South African sides since losing three on the bounce in 2010.
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The Christchurch-based side have won 37 of their last 38 home games against South African opposition, with the Sharks' five-point victory in May 2014 being the only negative result during that run.
  • -20
The Stormers have never won away to the Crusaders; they drew their first such meeting in 1996 and have lost all nine since. The Crusaders' last three home games against the Stormers have all been won by seven points or fewer.
  • -25
The Crusaders are the only unbeaten team in Super Rugby this season after the Stormers' 100 percent winning run ended against the Lions in the last round. The Crusaders have won 13 of the last 15 meetings between these sides, including the last five in a row.
  • -30
Welcome to Christchurch, home of the Crusaders. They'll be tackling the Stormers in this Super Rugby fixture
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Crusaders
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Stormers
START LINE UP
  • 1 Joe Moody
  • 2 Codie Taylor
  • 3 Owen Franks
  • 4 Scott Barrett
  • 5 Sam Whitelock
  • 6 Jordan Taufua
  • 7 Matt Todd
  • 8 Kieran Read
  • 9 Mitchell Drummond
  • 10 Richie Mo’unga
  • 11 George Bridge
  • 12 Ryan Crotty
  • 13 Jack Goodhue
  • 14 Seta Tamanivalu
  • 15 David Havili
RESERVES
  • 16 Ben Funnell
  • 17 Wyatt Crockett
  • 18 Michael Alaalatoa
  • 19 Luke Romano
  • 20 Pete Samu
  • 21 Bryn Hall
  • 22 Mitchell Hunt
  • 23 Manasa Mataele
START LINE UP
  • 1 JC Janse van Rensburg
  • 2 Bongi Mbonambi
  • 3 Wilco Louw
  • 4 Eben Etzebeth
  • 5 Chris van Zyl
  • 6 Nizaam Carr
  • 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit
  • 8 Sikhumbuzo Notshe
  • 9 Dewaldt Duvenage
  • 10 Robert du Preez
  • 11 Bjorn Basson
  • 12 Daniel du Plessis
  • 13 EW Viljoen
  • 14 Cheslin Kolbe
  • 15 Dillyn Leyds
RESERVES
  • 16 Ramone Samuels
  • 17 Oliver Kebble
  • 18 Frans Malherbe
  • 19 Jan de Klerk
  • 20 Cobus Wiese
  • 21 Jano Vermaak
  • 22 Kurt Coleman
  • 23 Dan Kriel
Mc article kieran read crusaders 800

SR Preview: Round Nine, Part Two

Thu, 20 Apr 2017 22:19

IN THE SUPER RUGBY SPOTLIGHT: Closing out games has become a popular catchphrase for coaches.

It is because the final quarter of games that have proven to be the most fruitful for teams looking to pile on the points - either to shut out the opposition or catch up when they are behind.

Nearly 30 percent of all points scored this season have been scored after the 60-minute mark, three percentage points more than any other quarter.

The South African contingent have been the main proponents of this scoring trait towards the latter point in the game, with their six sides scoring 31 percent of their total tries in the final quarter of games.

Interestingly the Australian and New Zealand teams have needed some time to warm up.

They've scored 20 percent and 21 percent of their tries respectively in the opening quarter of games this season, notably less than the South African and Argentine/Japanese groups (both 24 percent).

The Bulls (47 percent) have scored nearly half of their total tries in the final quarter of games this campaign, significantly more than any other team in the competition, while the Lions and Sunwolves (both 39 percent) rank in at equal second in that category.

In Part Two of the preview we look at all the Saturday matches!

Saturday, April 22:

Highlanders v Sunwolves
(Rugby Park Stadium, Invercargill - Kick-off: 17.15; 14.15 Japan Time; 05.15 GMT)

Tony Brown is one of several coaches who will move on at the conclusion of the Super Rugby season.

He will link up with Japan head coach and his predecessor at the Highlanders, Jamie Joseph, at the end of the season to assist with the Cherry Blossoms.

Just as it has done at the Chiefs (Dave Rennie has signed with the Glasgow Warriors) and Lions (Johan Ackermann is moving to Gloucester) the initial media hype appears to have died down.

Brown feels he is now able to focus on what his side needs to do to get a win against the Sunwolves in Invercargill on Saturday.

''For me I'm just 100 percent committed to make sure the Highlanders perform as well as they can against a pretty good Sunwolves team,'' Brown told the Otago Daily Times.

His team will certainly go into the game as overwhelming favourites.

In two games so far against New Zealand sides, the Sunwolves have conceded 135 points.

However, Highlanders lock Joe Wheeler said they will not underestimate the visitors, because no games in Super rugby are easy.

"I think the Sunwolves, what they have shown over the last few weeks, is they are a team that is improving," Wheeler told the Otago Daily Times.

"They tested the Crusaders in a few areas and if we let them play to their strengths then they can be dangerous like any team in this competition.''

Wheeler spent a year playing in Japan for the Suntory side and know what to expect.

"They play a similar brand. They like to play unstructured and throw the ball around. It is different to us - they are really good tacklers, they chop you round the ankles and bring a lot of line speed."

Previous results:
These teams have never met before.

Prediction: This will be the first meeting between these sides in Super Rugby; the Sunwolves have lost both previous games against New Zealand opposition. The Sunwolves' two previous games against New Zealand sides saw them concede 133 points in total and score just 20 in return. The Japanese side are yet to win away from home in Super Rugby, losing their previous 10 such matches by an average margin of 30 points. The Highlanders have won 11 of their last 12 home games against teams from outside New Zealand, with their only defeat in that run coming by a single point exactly a year ago (v Sharks). Four of the Highlanders' last six games have seen the defeated team come away with a losing bonus point. Both these sides have scored just three tries in the opening quarter of their games so far this season, no side has scored fewer in that period (Brumbies & Rebels also three). The Highlanders have recorded the best scrum success this season (98 percent), losing just one scrum on their own feed in 2017. The Sunwolves have averaged just 14 minutes 20 seconds in possession per game so far this season, lower than any other side. Kenki Fukuoka has scored four tries in his last five games, with three of those scores coming away from home. Marty Banks has landed all 19 of his kicks at goal this season, no other player has attempted more than 10 without missing at least one. The Sunwolves can't seem to cope with the pace and intensity of New Zealand sides. On top of that they will experience the testing climate of the deep south for the first time. The Highlanders will win by at least 35 points.

Teams:

Highlanders: 15 Ben Smith (captain), 14 Waisake Naholo, 13 Matt Faddes, 12 Malakai Fekitoa, 11 Tevita Li, 10 Marty Banks, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Luke Whitelock, 7 Elliot Dixon, 6 Liam Squire, 5 Joe Wheeler, 4 Alex Ainley, 3 Siate Tokolahi, 2 Liam Coltman, 1 Daniel Lienert-Brown.
Replacements: 16 Greg Pleasants-Tate, 17 Aki Seiuli, 18 Siosuia Halanukonuka, 19 Tom Franklin, 20 Gareth Evans, 21 Josh Renton, 22 Teihorangi Walden, 23 Sio Tomkinson.

Sunwolves: 15 Kotaro Matsushima, 14 Takaaki Nakazuru, 13 William Tupou, 12  Timothy Lafaele, 11 Yasutaka Sasakura, 10 Yu Tamura, 9 Fumiaki Tanaka, 8 Willem Britz, 7 Yuhimaru Mimura, 6 Edward Quirk (captain), 5 Uwe Helu, 4 Sam Wykes, 3 Yasuo Yamaji, 2 Yusuke Niwai, 1 Keita Inagaki.
Replacements: 16 Takeshi Kizu, 17 Koki Yamamoto, 18 Heiichiro Ito, 19 Shinya Makabe, 20 Rahboni Warren Vosayaco, 21 Yuki Yatomi, 22 Hayden Cripss, 23 Jamie-Jerry Taulagi.  

Referee: Jamie Nutbrown (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Mike Fraser (New Zealand), Cam Stone (New Zealand)
TMO: Glenn Newman (New Zealand)

Crusaders v Stormers
(AMI Stadium, Christchurch - Kick-off: 19.35; 09.35 SA Time; 07.45 GMT)

The Crusaders' toughest opposition to date has been fellow New Zealanders, the Highlanders, who were beaten 30-27 with two late tries - after the Christchurch-based side had trailed 6-27 at one point.

Although the Stormers arrived in New Zealand off the back of a 16-29 defeat to the Africa Two conference leaders the Lions, their sole loss of the year, coach Robbie Fleck said they have already put that behind them.

"Every week we start from scratch, that is what we have been good at this year," Fleck said.

"Whether it is a win or a loss we have got to come back and work hard all over again," he added.

Crusaders' strength revolves around star lock Sam Whitelock - who this week signed on for another three years - and their All Blacks-laden pack.

Stormers assistant coach, New Zealander Paul Feeney, acknowledged it will take a big effort to contain them.

"They are very good at set-piece, very physical, very organised," Feeney said.

"It is the best forward pack going around in Super Rugby, it's as simple as that."

The Crusaders have never lost to the Stormers at home, although a quirk of the Super Rugby system means the two sides have not played each other since Tom Taylor kicked the Crusaders home 14-13 in Christchurch three years ago.

Springbok lock Eben Etzebeth takes over the Stormers captaincy from Siya Kolisi - who stayed behind in Cape Town for a few days - before joining his teammates towards the end of the week.

It is the first of three tour matches in New Zealand for the Stormers and Kolisi will be available to play next wee.

Recent results:
2014: Crusaders won 14-13, Christchurch
2013: Crusaders won 19-14, Cape Town
2012: Crusaders won 31-24, Christchurch
2011: Crusaders won 29-10, Cape Town (semifinal)
2011: Crusaders won 20-14, Cape Town

Prediction: The Crusaders are the only unbeaten team in Super Rugby this season after the Stormers' 100 percent winning run ended against the Lions in the last round. The Crusaders have won 13 of the last 15 meetings between these sides, including the last five in a row. The Stormers have never won away to the Crusaders; they drew their first such meeting in 1996 and have lost all nine since. The Crusaders' last three home games against the Stormers have all been won by seven points or fewer. The Christchurch-based side have won 37 of their last 38 home games against South African opposition, with the Sharks' five-point victory in May 2014 being the only negative result during that run. This will be the Crusaders' first game against South African opposition this year; they lost their last such game (v Lions, July 2016) but have not lost consecutive matches against South African sides since losing three on the bounce in 2010. The Crusaders are the only side yet to concede a try in the final 20 minutes of a game this season, while only the Lions and Hurricanes (both 12) have scored more in that period than the Crusaders (11). Only the Hurricanes (24) have scored more first half tries this season than the Stormers (17). Crusaders' Manasa Mataele made five clean breaks last weekend, no player made more in Round Eight. SP Marais has assisted six tries this season, the third-most of any player behind Beauden Barrett and Joe Powell (both seven), and the most of any non-halfback. It will be a testing three weeks for the Stormers in New Zealand and it is likely to start with a loss. The Crusaders by 12 points.

Teams:

Crusaders: 15 David Havili, 14 Seta Tamanivalu, 13 Jack Goodhue, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 George Bridge, 10 Richie Mo'unga, 9 Mitchell Drummond, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Matt Todd, 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 Bryn Hall, 22 Mitchell Hunt, 23 Manasa Mataele.

Stormers: 15 Dillyn Leyds, 14 Cheslin Kolbe, 13 EW Viljoen, 12 Dan du Plessis, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Robert du Preez, 9 Dewaldt Duvenage, 8 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Nizaam Carr, 5 Chris van Zyl, 4 Eben Etzebeth (captain), 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Mbongeni Mbonambi, 1 Jacobus Janse van Rensburg.
Replacements: 16 Ramone Samuels, 17 Oliver Kebble, 18 Frans Malherbe, 19 Jan de Klerk, 20 Cobus Wiese, 21 Jano Vermaak, 22 Kurt Coleman, 23 Dan Kriel.

Referee: Paul Williams (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Nick Briant (New Zealand), James Doleman (New Zealand)
TMO: Aaron Paterson (New Zealand)

Western Force v Chiefs
(nib Stadium, Perth - Kick-off: 17.45; 21.45 NZ Time; 09.45 GMT)

The Western Force have gone on a massive publicity drive to get spectators to the game in the hope that they can prove to the Australian Rugby Union they need to stay in Super Rugby.

Force coach Dave Wessels said they also need to show up and perform on the field, as that is where they can make their biggest statement.

"We feel like we're making good progress as a team and to be able to test ourselves against the Chiefs, who have been one of the standout teams in Super Rugby for a few years now is exciting," the Force's South African coach said.

"We want to see as many people out at the ground as possible for what should be a really exciting game."

In form Force prop Ben Daley also spoke of the need to make a statement - both on and off the field - the ARU.

He admitted that because the Chiefs never let up, even when they are behind - like last week when they came from being 0-24 down against the Cheetahs - the home team will have to put in a massive effort for the full 80 minutes.

"We have to make sure we start well," Daley said.

"They [the Chiefs] are also coming back from a two-week tour of South Africa and we need to make sure we put the m in the 'hurt' locker."

Recent results:
2016: Chiefs won 53-10, Hamilton
2015: Chiefs won 35-27, Hamilton
2014: Force won 18-15, Perth
2013: Chiefs won 22-21, Pukekohe
2012: Chiefs won 20-12, Perth

Prediction: The Chiefs have won eight of the 10 meetings between these sides, however the Force won the last time they hosted the Chiefs. The Force have won their last two home games, the first time they've won consecutive matches in Perth since winning five on the bounce in 2014, a streak that included victory over the Chiefs. The Chiefs have won four of their last five games away to Australian sides, each by margins of 12+ points, this after losing four in a row in Australia before that. The Chiefs have recorded the best line-out success rate of any team this season (94 percent), losing just five of their 82 throws. Damian McKenzie has gained more metres than any other player this season (673) and is one of just two players to make 100+ carries (110, Samu Kerevi – 101). The Force will be competitive for the first half, but after the break the Chiefs should ease clear and win by 15 points.

Teams:

Western Force: 15 Dane Haylett-Petty, 14 Curtis Rona, 13 Marcel Brache, 12 Bill Meakes, 11 Luke Morahan, 10 Luke Burton, 9 Ian Prior, 8 Richard Hardwick, 7 Matt Hodgson (captain), 6 Isi Naisarani, 5 Ross Haylett-Petty, 4 Lewis Carmichael, 3 Tetera Faulkner, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 Ben Daley.
Replacements: 16 Heath Tessmann, 17 Francois Van Wyk, 18 Pek Cowan, 19 Onehunga Havilli, 20 Brynard Stander, 21 Mitch Short, 22 Jono Lance, 23 Alex Newsome.

Chiefs: 15 Damian McKenzie, 14 Shaun Stevenson, 13 Sam McNicol, 12 Anton Lienert-Brown, 11 James Lowe, 10 Aaron Cruden (co-captain), 9 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 8 Michael Leitch, 7 Sam Cane (co-captain), 6 Liam Messam, 5 Brodie Retallick, 4 Dominic Bird, 3 Atu Moli, 2 Brayden Mitchell, 1 Siegfried Fisi'ihoi.  
Replacements: 16 Hika Elliot, 17 Aidan Ross, 18 Sosefo Kautai, 19 Taleni Seu, 20 Lachlan Boshier, 21 Finlay Christie, 22 Stephen Donald, 23 Toni Pulu.

Referee: Nicholas Berry (Australia)
Assistant referees: William Houston (Australia), Graham Cooper (Australia)
TMO: Damien Mitchelmore (Australia)

Bulls v Cheetahs
(Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria - Kick-off: 17.15; 15.15 GMT)

Any hope that the Bulls would bring some continuity and momentum into this game was dealt  cruel blow when Springbok flyhalf Handré Pollard injured his ankle at training on Thursday.

Pollard will be sidelined for about 10 weeks.

Both coaches spoke of the importance of winning - as they sit outside the top 10 (the Bills 11th on 10 points and the Cheetahs 14th on nine points) with just two wins each.

One of the Cheetahs' victories were over the Bulls in Round Tow.

"It is a very, very important match for us," Bulls coach Nollis Marais said.

"We need to keep on building from last weekend, not only on improving on the good things we did, but also to make sure that winning feeling becomes an addictive one.

"We need to prove that the win over the Jaguares was the tipping point for us.

"We always believed we were a better team than the results showed, but we now have another opportunity to go out and prove it."

Cheetahs coach Franco Smith said he expects a "very physical" encounter with the Bulls - who have "big players" and a host of Springboks.

"They are very motivated at the moment [after a poor start to the season]," Smith said, adding: "The set pieces will be crucial.

"The Bulls have the tallest line-out players [in the competition]. Their scrum is also solid.

"We saw how the media wrote about the performance of [Springbok prop] Trevor [Nyakane].

"The other key is for us to match their physicality.

"They are a team that carries the ball towards you and dominate you physically, so we will have to be at our best in that aspect."

Bulls captain Adriaan Strauss is also not expecting any favours from the Cheetahs, whom he represented 97 times in Super Rugby.

"This will be a massive game," Strauss said.

"They have the belief that they can beat us and to be honest, have the players to do that if we don't pitch.

"Any South African derby match is huge, and I know how much it means for them to beat the Bulls."

Recent results:
2017: Cheetahs won 34-28, Bloemfontein
2016: Bulls won 43-17, Bloemfontein
2016: Bulls won 23-18, Pretoria
2015: Cheetahs won 42-29, Pretoria
2015: Bulls won 39-20, Bloemfontein

Prediction: The Cheetahs won the last meeting between these sides but have never won back-to-back matches against the Pretoria side. The Bulls have won seven of their last eight at home to the Cheetahs, although five of those seven victories came by single figure margins. The Cheetahs have lost their last nine away games, including their last five away to South African opposition. The Cheetahs have averaged more carries per game than any other side this season (130) and have kicked from hand less often than any other team (15.3 per game). Bulls' pair Jamba Ulengo and Travis Ismaiel have played every minute for their side this season, no other side has more than two players to play every possible minute this season. In Pretoria the smart money will be on the Bulls, but it is unlikely to be by more than seven points.

Teams:

Bulls: 15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Travis Ismaiel, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Burger Odendaal, 11 Jamba Ulengo, 10 Tian Schoeman, 9 Piet van Zyl, 8 Hanro Liebenberg, 7 Jannes Kirsten, 6 Nick de Jager, 5 Lodewyk de Jager, 4 Jason Jenkins, 3 Jacobie Adriaanse, 2 Adriaan Strauss (captain), 1 Pierre Schoeman.
Replacements: 16 Jaco Visagie, 17 Lizo Gqoboka, 18 Martin Dreyer, 19 Rudolph Snyman, 20 Marnus Schoeman/Jacques Potgieter, 21 Rudy Paige, 22 Francois Brummer, 23 Franco Naude.

Cheetahs: 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 William Small-Smith, 13 Francois Venter (captain), 12 Nico Lee, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Niel Marais, 9 Shaun Venter, 8 Henco Venter, 7 Teboho Mohoje, 6 Paul Schoeman, 5 Carl Wegner, 4 Armandt Koster, 3 Johan Coetzee, 2 Torsten van Jaarsveld, 1 Charles Marais.
Replacements: 16 Elandré Huggett, 17 Retshegofaditswe Nche, 18 Tom Botha, 19 Francois Uys, 20 Niell Jordaan, 21 Uzair Cassiem, 22 Tian Meyer, 23 Fred Zeilinga

Referee: Ben O'Keeffe (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Angus Gardner (Australia), AJ Jacobs (South Africa)
TMO: Willie Vos (South Africa)

Sharks v Rebels
(Kings Park, Durban - Kick-off: 19.30; 17.30 GMT; 03.30 AUS Time Sunday, April 23)

Two teams coming off impressive wins.

The difference is that the Sharks had a bye since they beat the Jaguares, while the Rebels had to travel 16,000 kilometres over the Indian Ocean since their win over the Brumbies last week.

Sharks lock Etienne Oosthuizen, who knows what to expect from the visitors from his time with the Brumbies, cautioned his teammates that the Australian outfit are much better than what their record of just one win in six starts suggest.

He admitted that after the physical, confrontational match against the Jaguares a fortnight ago, they expect something different from the Rebels.

"They are typical of Australian sides in that they like to throw the ball around, so our challenge will be to stop their momentum and also to play to our game," Oosthuizen said.

That doesn't make them any less dangerous and despite sitting bottom of the log, they beat the Brumbies - who were top of the log.

"It is really down to what happens on the day," the lock said, adding: "One team was probably more up for it on the day, and the two teams have quite a rivalry going, matches between them are always quite tough.

"The Brumbies have struggled against the Rebels in the past, so this was nothing new and not totally unexpected."

Rebels centre Tom English believes last week's win in the dying minutes against the Brumbies has given the Rebels plenty of confidence for their trip to South Africa.

However, the Sharks pose a serious threat - especially as they are notoriously physical.

"We need to look to tick the scoreboard over at every opportunity we get," English said in Durban.

"South Africans are generally good kickers and they're going to take those penalties and before you know it they're nine points ahead so for us it's taking those opportunities.

"We saw what our set piece can do on the weekend with that scrum in the last minutes of the game so we need to back our set piece, the South Africans pride themselves on that so it will be a good challenge up front."

Recent results:
2015: Sharks won 25-21, Durban
2014: Sharks won 22-16, Melbourne
2013: Sharks won 64-7, Durban
2011: Sharks won 34-32, Melbourne

Prediction: The Sharks have won all four previous meetings between these sides, with their 57 point win (64-7) against the Rebels in March 2013 representing their biggest Super Rugby victory. The Sharks have won their last seven home games, their best run since winning eight on the bounce from 2013 to 2014. The Rebels have won just twice outside of Australia (L25), and have not won in South Africa in 11 attempts. The Sharks have conceded just two tries in the opening quarter of games so far this season, no side has conceded fewer, while the Rebels have scored the joint-fewest in that period (3). Ruan Botha has won 37 line-outs this season (including steals), more than any other player and 16 more than the Rebels' top line-out winner Steven Cummins (21). The Rebels seldom travel well and the Sharks have had a break. We feel the Sharks should win by 12 points.

Teams:

Sharks: 15 Rhyno Smith, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Curwin Bosch, 9 Cobus Reinach, 8 Daniel du Preez, 7 Philip van der Walt, 6 Lubabalo Mtembu (captain), 5 Stephan Lewies, 4 Etienne Oosthuizen, 3 Coenraad Oosthuizen, 2 Franco Marais, 1 Tendai  Mtawarira.
Replacements: 16 Mahlatse Ralepelle, 17 Thomas du Toit, 18 Lourens Adriaanse, 19 Ruan Botha, 20 Jacques Vermeulen, 21 Michael Claassens, 22 Benhard Janse van Rensburg, 23 Jeremy Ward.

Melbourne Rebels: 15 Reece Hodge, 14 Sefa Naivalu, 13 Tom English, 12 Mitch Inman, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Jack Debreczeni, 9 Nic Stirzaker (captain), 8 Amanaki Mafi, 7 Will Miller, 6 Jake Schatz, 5 Steve Cummins, 4 Culum Retallick, 3 Tyrel Lomax, 2 Siliva Siliva, 1 Fereti Sa'aga.
Replacements: 16 James Hanson, 17 Laurie Weeks, 18 Tom Moloney, 19 Esei Haangana, 20 Hugh Sinclair, 21 Mick Snowden, 22 Jackson Garden-Bachop, 23 Ben Volavola.
 
Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Egon Seconds (South Africa), Stuart Berry (South Africa)
TMO: Marius Jonker (South Africa)

Compiled by Jan de Koning
@king365ed
@rugby365com

* Statistics provided by Opta Sports

Mc article george bridge crusaders v stormers 800

Crusaders' first-half blitz too much for Stormers

Sat, 22 Apr 2017 06:52

SUPER RUGBY REPORT: The Crusaders eased past the Stormers, winning 57-24 in a sublime display of skill - to reclaim top spot on the standings.

The Crusaders blew the Stormers away with a 26-point blitz in 12 minutes late in the first half.

Although the men from Cape Town briefly held the lead at the start, four tries just before the break ended the match as a contest.

The Stormers managed three second-half tries, but it was scant consolation for the visitors - who where thoroughly outplayed by the seven-time champions.

The biggest concern for the visitors is how predictable the Stormers were - both on attack and defence - allowing the Crusaders to put their full range of brilliant skills on show in an entertaining display.

The Stormers will also sweat over the injury of young midfielder Daniel du Plessis, who went to the hospital for scans after leaving the field early in the first half with what appears to be a serious shoulder injury.

George Bridge bagged a hat-trick, Kieran Read added two tries and Michael Alaalatoa, Pete Samu and Manasa Mataele also made their way to the tryline as the Crusaders mounted an eight-try stampede to remain unbeaten after eight matches.

It was a record score for the Crusaders over the Stormers and was built on a spree of outlandish off-loads which saw the Crusaders race to a 36-3 lead by half-time.

The Stormers, who have now suffered back-to-back losses after falling to the Lions last week, started out determined to record their first ever win in Christchurch.

They dominated the first 10 minutes and led 3-0 courtesy of a Robert du Preez penalty.

But the first time the Crusaders were able to mount an attack of consequence, Bridge scored the first of his tries to open the floodgates.

"I don't think we touched the ball for the first 10-15 minutes but when we did get our hands on it we used it well," captain Sam Whitelock said, but adding it was not a complete performance.

"There's a couple of things we need to work on. They're a big side, big forwards and they put us under some pressure, stole a couple of line-outs."

Stormers captain Eben Etzebeth saw too many errors in his side's performance.

"In the second half for the first 10 minutes we played some good footy but in the end they just blew us off the park," he said.

"Back-to-back defeats is not what we wanted. We have to go back to the drawing board."

As the Crusaders shredded the Stormers defensive wall, Bridge completed his treble in the space of 20 minutes.

Read closed the first half with a try in the left corner then one in the right and his night was done with Crusaders coach Scott Robertson benching the All Blacks back row forward for the second half.

But the Stormers were not done. They opened up the second half with a 60-metre intercept try to Cheslin Kolbe followed by a try to left wing Bjorn Basson with conversions from du Preez closing the gap to 36-17.

That woke the Crusaders from their third quarter slumber and in a three-minute burst Michael Alaalatoa crashed from close range before Pete Samu produced an 80-metre intercept try with Mo'unga's conversion bringing up the 50 points.

Frans Malherbe and Manasa Mataele traded tries in the closing stages.

The Crusaders next week head to South Africa to play the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein, while the Stormers play the Highlanders in Dunedin.

Man of the match: You can almost pick the entire Crusaders team and we were tempted. For starters, Kieran Read required just 40 minutes to prove why he is the best Mo.8 in the world. However, we eventually went with Crusaders flyhalf Richie Mo'unga, who reminded the All Black selectors of just how much depth they do have in the No.10 channel.

Scorers:

For the Crusaders:
Tries: 
Bridge 3, Read 2, Alaalatoa, Samu, Mataele
Cons: Mo'unga 7
Pen: Mo'unga

For the Stormers:
Tries:
 Kolbe, Basson, Malherbe
Cons: Du Preez 3
Pen: Du Preez

Teams:

Crusaders: 15 David Havili, 14 Seta Tamanivalu, 13 Jack Goodhue, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 George Bridge, 10 Richie Mo'unga, 9 Mitchell Drummond, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Matt Todd, 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 Bryn Hall, 22 Mitchell Hunt, 23 Manasa Mataele.

Stormers: 15 Dillyn Leyds, 14 Cheslin Kolbe, 13 EW Viljoen, 12 Dan du Plessis, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Robert du Preez, 9 Dewaldt Duvenage, 8 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Nizaam Carr, 5 Chris van Zyl, 4 Eben Etzebeth (captain), 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Mbongeni Mbonambi, 1 Jacobus Janse van Rensburg.
Replacements: 16 Ramone Samuels, 17 Oliver Kebble, 18 Frans Malherbe, 19 Jan de Klerk, 20 Cobus Wiese, 21 Jano Vermaak, 22 Kurt Coleman, 23 Dan Kriel.

Referee: Paul Williams (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Nick Briant (New Zealand), James Doleman (New Zealand)
TMO: Aaron Paterson (New Zealand)

George Bridge (12min), George Bridge (28min), George Bridge (32min), Kieran Read (36min), Kieran Read (40min), Michael Alaalatoa (59min), Pete Samu (61min), and Manasa Mataele (77min)
TRIES
Cheslin Kolbe (41min), Bjorn Basson (51min), and Frans Malherbe (66min)
Richie Mo’unga (13min), Richie Mo’unga (29min), Richie Mo’unga (33min), Richie Mo’unga (40min), Richie Mo’unga (60min), Richie Mo’unga (62min), and Richie Mo’unga (78min)
CONVERSIONS
Robert du Preez (42min), Robert du Preez (52min), and Robert du Preez (67min)
Richie Mo’unga (18min)
PENALTIES
Robert du Preez (9min)
 
PENALTY TRIES
 
DROP GOALS
 
 
 
VENUE Christchurch
REFEREE Paul Williams (New Zealand)