SR PREVIEW: Round One, Part Two

Thu, 23 Feb 2017 21:49

SUPER SATURDAY: Wall-to-wall rugby, custom fit. Throw in the fact that it is Round One and you know a few household chores are abound to be left undone.

In this part of our preview, we have some of the most intriguing contests the competition has.

From the opening match, when the Sunwolves take on the defending champion Hurricanes, through to the big north-south South African derby between the Stormers and Bulls.

Sandwiched in between are other tasty snacks such as Crusaders versus Brumbies and Cheetahs against the Lions.

We look at all the Saturday matches!

Saturday, February 25

Sunwolves v Hurricanes
(Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium, Tokyo - Kick-off: 13.15; 17.15 NZDT; 04.15 GMT)

Sunwolves coach Filo Tiatia said the Japanese side have no reason to feel pressure this season, after a chastening first year in Super Rugby.

The Tokyo-based franchise won just one of their 15 games under New Zealander Mark Hammett in 2016, while former Japan coach Eddie Jones called them "embarrassing" after a 92-17 mauling by the Cheetahs.

But Tiatia told AFP the Sunwolves had learnt from that baptism of fire as he prepares for this weekend's season-opener at home to the defending champions, the Hurricanes.

"We're under no illusions," he said.

"A lot of people are saying we're going to get pumped [thrashed] every game," added the 45-year-old, who took over from his countryman Hammett after holding an assistant's role in the team's inaugural season.

"But I don't think we need to feel pressure. The fact of the matter is that we came 18th out of 18 teams last year but there were a lot of lessons.

"Our major focus is to keep learning and keep improving. It's only our second time at the dance."

Tiatia also called for patience as the Sunwolves look to improve on 2016.

"I played five years with the Hurricanes and it took them 21 years to win a championship," said the former back row forward, who twice represented the All Blacks in 2000.

"When a baby's born, you've got to start crawling, then obviously you hope to walk," he added.

"The Sunwolves are still in the infancy stage."

Previous results:
These two teams have never met before

Prediction: It is not a case of who will win, but by how much the Hurricanes will win. We feel the margin will be 30 points or more.

Teams:

Sunwolves: 15 Riaan Viljoen, 14 Takaaki Nakazuru, 13 Timothy Lafaele, 12 Derek Carpenter, 11 Kenki Fukuoka, 10 Hikaru Tamura, 9 Keisuke Uchida, 8 Willem Britz, 7 Edward Quirk, 6 Malgene Ilaua, 5 Sam Wykes, 4 Liaki Moli, 3 Heiichiro Ito, 2 Shota Horie, 1 Masataka Mikami.
Replacements: 16 Takeshi Hino, 17 Koki Yamamoto, 18 Takuma Asahara, 19 Kotaro Yatabe, 20 Shokei Kin, 21 Kaito Shigeno, 22 Ryohei Yamanaka, 23 Shota Emi.

Hurricanes: 15 Jordie Barrett, 14 Cory Jane, 13 Matt Proctor, 12 Ngani Laumape, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Otere Black, 9 TJ Perenara (captain), 8 Blade Thomson, 7 Ardie Savea, 6 Brad Shields, 5 Michael Fatialofa, 4 James Blackwell, 3 Jeff To'omaga-Allen, 2 Ricky Riccitelli, 1 Chris Eves.
Replacements: 16 Dane Coles, 17 Ben May, 18 Mike Kainga, 19 Reed Prinsep, 20 Callum Gibbins, 21 Chris Smylie, 22 Beauden Barrett, 23 Vince Aso.

Referee: Egon Seconds (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Marius van der Westhuizen (South Africa), Akihisa Aso (Japan)
TMO: Minoru Fuji (Japan)

Crusaders v Brumbies
(AMI Stadium, Christchurch - Kick-off: 19.35; 17.35 AEDT; 06.35 GMT)

At a glance, it would appear the Crusaders have two major advantages - home ground and experience.

The Brumbies, who have lost more than 500 Super Rugby caps of experience in the off-season, will throw seven rookies into a Christchurch cauldron for the first game of the season and an attempt to break a 17-year drought against the Crusaders.

However, Brumbies captain Sam Carter believes there is still enough "experience" in the side to cope with the onslaught from the seven-time champion Crusaders.

"We'll look to our experienced guys and leaders in the team to step up," Carter told The Canberra Times.

"I think we've got five or six Wallabies in our starting pack so they need to step up and show the way for the team.

"There's are a lot of blokes who got experience last year and came through really well.

"We're feeling confident in what we do and what we've got out on the park."

The Crusaders are notoriously slow starters and that may be something the Brumbies will look at.

However, Crusaders coach Scott Robertson believes he may have found a way to manage the integration of the All Blacks, one of the key issues in those early season defeats.

Robertson the key lies in how to play the All Blacks, getting them good game time and getting them fit.

"Last year we [the Crusaders] had seven All Blacks on the long-term injury list," Robertson told stuff.co.nz, adding: "This year we have none."

Recent results:
2016: Crusaders won 40-14, Canberra
2015: Crusaders won 37-24, Canberra
2014: Crusaders won 40-20, Christchurch
2013: Crusaders won 30-23, Canberra
2011: Crusaders won 52-10, Nelson

Prediction: First round matches are not easy to call, since there is no form to speak of. Bookmakers suggest the Crusaders' winning margin will be at least 16 points. We feel it will be much smaller, perhaps inside 10 points.

Teams:

Crusaders: 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Seta Tamanivalu, 13 Jack Goodhue, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 George Bridge, 10 Richie Mo'unga, 9 Bryn Hall, 8 Whetu Douglas, 7 Matt Todd, 6 Jordan Taufua, 5 Sam Whitelock (captain), 4 Scott Barrett, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Ben Funnell, 1 Joe Moody.  
Replacements: 16 Codie Taylor, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Michael Alaalatoa, 19 Luke Romano, 20 Pete Samu, 21 Ereatari Enari, 22 Mitchell Hunt, 23 David Havili.

Brumbies: 15 Aidan Toua, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Kyle Godwin, 11 James Dargaville, 10 Wharenui Hawera, 9 Joe Powell, 8 Jordan Smiler, 7 Chris Alcock, 6 Scott Fardy, 5 Sam Carter, 4 Rory Arnold, 3 Allan Alaalatoa, 2 Josh Mann-Rea, 1 Nic Mayhew.
Replacements: 16 Robbie Abel, 17 Ben Alexander, 18 Leslie Leulua'Iali'I-Makin, 19 Tom Staniforth, 20 Lolo Fakaosilea, 21 Dewet Roos, 22 Andrew Smith, 23 Isaac Thompson.

Referee: Glen Jackson (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Brendon Pickerill (New Zealand), Angus Mabey (New Zealand)
TMO: Glen Newman (New Zealand)

Waratahs v Western Force
(Allianz Stadium, Sydney - Kick-off: 19.45; 16.45 AWST; 08.45 GMT)

The Waratahs will feel a little uneasy, given that they will head into the opening round without Wallaby flyhalf Bernard Foley - ruled out with a head knock sustained in the pre-season game against the Highlanders last week.

However, there are other reasons why coach Daryl Gibson feels the Western Force - under new coach Dave Wessels - are a genuine threat.

"The Force has recruited cleverly," Gibson said.

"I think they have an excellent spine of experience and have picked up some good players around them.

"I'm expecting the Force to be very competitive this season - a change of coach and change of direction to the style of game they play.

"We expect a really tough scrum battle against the Force."

The ledger between the Force and Waratahs sits firmly in favour of the Waratahs, with the New South Welshmen boasting 10 wins to the Force's five -  with one draw way back in 2007.

Although, history won't be on the Force's mind with the men from the West boasting a host of new recruits who won't be phased by the past.

Dave Wessels' men will also take plenty off confidence across to Sydney, where the Force have a good record - most recently a 25-13 win in 2015.

The Force had a convincing win against the Melbourne Rebels at Bond University on the Gold Coast, scoring four tries for a comfortable 27-5 pre-season victory.

Defence and physicality will be key, as every single side in the competition is fighting fit in Round One.

"It's Round One of Super Rugby so everyone is pretty fresh, it's definitely going to be pretty brutal and a war of attrition," Force coach Dave Wessels said.

Recent results:
2016: Waratahs won 49-13, Perth
2015: Force won 18-11, Perth
2015: Force won 25-13, Sydney
2014: Force won 28-16, Perth
2014: Waratahs won 43-21, Sydney

Prediction: Despite the loss of Bernard Foley the Waratahs will still be favourites, but the margin will be in the single digits.

Teams:

Waratahs: 15 Andrew Kellaway, 14 Reece Robinson, 13 Israel Folau, 12 Irae Simone, 11 Rob Horne, 10 Bryce Hegarty, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Michael Wells, 7 Michael Hooper (captain), 6 Jack Dempsey, 5 Will Skelton, 4 Dean Mumm, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Tolu Latu, 1 Tom Robertson.
Replacements: 16 Hugh Roach, 17 Paddy Ryan, 18 David Lolohea, 19 David McDuling, 20 Brad Wilkin, 21 Matt Lucas, 22 David Horwitz, 23 Taqele Naiyaravoro.

Western Force: 15 Dane Haylett-Petty, 14 Luke Morahan, 13 Curtis Rona, 12 Bill Meakes, 11 Chance Peni, 10 Jono Lance, 9 Ryan Louwrens, 8 Richard Hardwick, 7 Kane Koteka, 6 Brynard Stander, 5 Adam Coleman, 4 Ross Haylett-Petty, 3 Jermaine Ainsley, 2 Heath Tessmann (captain), 1 Pek Cowan.
Replacements: 16 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 17 Ben Daley, 18 Tetera Faulkner, 19 Matt Philip, 20 Isireli Naisarani, 21 Michael Ruru, 22 Ian Prior, 23 Alex Newsome.

Referee: Ben O'Keeffe (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Angus Gardner (Australia), Will Houston (Australia)
TMO: Ian Smith (Australia)

Cheetahs v Lions
(Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein - Kick-off: 15.05; 13.05 GMT)

If it is excitement and tries you are after, then you simply can't afford to miss the battle of Bloem - the Currie Cup champions against the beaten Super Rugby finalists.

Lions captain Warren Whiteley admitted that there will be expectations of his team to improve on last year's second place.

However, he feels they have built up some great experience in recent years and with 10 guys who have played for the Springboks are mature enough to cope with those expectations.

The real challenge for the Lions will be the Cheetahs, not the off-field sideshows.

"They are a great team and we have seen how they have grown under Franco [Smith] the last few years," Whiteley told rugby365.

"We experienced the coaching of Franco at the Springboks [on the year-end tour in November] and we saw why they have improved so much."

Whiteley had no doubt spectators will get value for money in what promises to be a very exciting game.

"Both teams enjoy the expansive game," Whiteley said, adding: "Everybody knows that a game between the Cheetahs and Lions are full of excitement and played at a high tempo.

"The set pieces will be vital, because we saw how the Cheetahs improved their scrums and their line-out mauls."

Cheetahs coach Franco Smith said he is "satisfied" with where they are after the pre-season.

"Everyone trained really hard and we are as prepared as possible.

"The majority of the players has played Super Rugby and know what the intensity will be like."   

Recent results:
2016: Lions won 39-22, Johannesburg
2015: Lions won 40-17, Bloemfontein
2015: Lions won 34-29, Johannesburg
2014: Lions won 60-25, Johannesburg
2014: Lions won 21-20, Bloemfontein

Prediction: Starp yourself in, it could be a wild ride. It will be close, with the Lions scoring a late winner - eight points or less.

Teams:

Cheetahs: 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Nico Lee, 12 Clinton Swart, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Fred Zeilinga, 9 Tian Meyer, 8 Paul Schoeman, 7 Teboho Mohoje, 6 Uzair Cassiem, 5 Reniel Hugo, 4 Justin Basson, 3 Johan Coetzee, 2 Torsten van Jaarsveld (captain), 1 Charles Marais.
Replacements: 16 Elandré Huggett, 17 Danie Mienie, 18 Retshegofaditswe Nche, 19 Francois Uys, 20 Niell Jordaan, 21 Zee Mkhabela, 22 Niel Marais, 23 Ryno Benjamin.

Lions: 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Lionel Mapoe, 13 Howard Mnisi, 12 Rohan Janse van Rensburg, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Francois de Klerk, 8 Warren Whiteley (captain), 7 Ruan Ackermann, 6 Jaco Kriel, 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Andries Ferreira, 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Jacques van Rooyen.
Replacements: 16 Armand van der Merwe, 17 Corné Fourie, 18 Johannes Jonker, 19 Lourens Erasmus, 20 Albertus Smith, 21 Ross Cronjé, 22 Harold Vorster, 23 Jaco van der Walt.

Referee: Quinton Immelman (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Rasta Rasivhenge (South Africa), Lourens van der Merwe (South Africa)
TMO: Shaun Veldsman (South Africa)

Southern Kings v Jaguares
(Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium - Kick-off: 17.15; 12.15 Argentina time; 15.15 GMT)

Two of the most disappointing teams from 2016 gets a chance to show they have learnt the lessons handed out to them last year.

The Kings were never expected to do much, given the contentious circumstances that resulted in the team only being finalised in the final weeks leading up to the start of the 2016 season.

This year they have had a proper pre-season.

The quality of their playing personnel and depth remain under suspicion.

The Jaguares, despite their star-studded squad, lacks discipline and struggled to cope with the arduous travel schedule.

Both teams are looking forward to a new start.

Veteran prop Schalk Ferreira, who will lead the Kings for the first time, is expecting a fierce scrum battle against the Jaguares.

"On a global spectrum Argentina has always had a strong scrum, even of late they are very good," Ferreira said.

"The Jaguares team has the same structures.

"They will probably be the strongest scrummaging side in the competition. We have worked extra hard on it with coach Deon Davids and Springbok forwards coach Matt Proudfoot as well. We have put in the work on the scrums."

Jaguares coach Raul Perez indicated that he was expecting an improvement from his side's this season.

"Our focus is on taking thing match by match, and right now we are focusing on the Kings," Perez told a media briefing in Port Elizabeth.

"We will want to improve on the errors from last year.

"The biggest objective for the year for us is to play better throughout the tournament," Perez added.

Previous results:
2016: Kings won 29-22, Port Elizabeth
2016: Jaguares won 73-27, Buenos Aires

Prediction: Discipline, or the lack of it, was a massive issue for the Jaguares last year. If they can fix that, they should win - by 15 to 20 points.

Teams:

Southern Kings: 15 Chrysander Botha, 14 Makazole Mapimpi, 13 Berton Klaasen, 12 Waylon Murray, 11 Malcolm Jaer, 10 Lionel Cronje, 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Ruaan Lerm, 7 Stefan Willemse, 6 Andisa Ntsila, 5 Mzwanele Zito, 4 Irne Herbst, 3 Ross Geldenhuys, 2 Michael Willemse, 1 Schalk Ferreira (captain).
Replacements: 16 Martin Bezuidenhout, 17 Schalk van der Merwe, 18 Chris Heiberg, 19 Tyler Paul, 20 Chris Cloete, 21 Rudi van Rooyen, 22 Masixole Banda, 23 Luzuko Vulindlu.

Jaguares: 15 Joaquín Tuculet, 14 Matías Orlando, 13 Matías Moroni, 12 Jerónimo de la Fuente, 11 Santiago Cordero, 10 Joaquín Díaz Bonilla, 9 Gonzalo Bertranou, 8 Leonardo Senatore, 7 Pablo Matera, 6 Tomás Lezana, 5 Matías Alemanno, 4 Guido Petti, 3 Felipe Arregui, 2 Agustín Creevy (captain), 1 Lucas Noguera Paz.
Replacements: 16 Julián Montoya, 17 Santiago García Botta, 18 Cristian Bartoloni, 19 Marcos Kremer, 20 Rodrigo Báez, 21 Felipe Ezcurra, 22 Santiago González Iglesias, 23 Ramiro Moyano.

Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa)
Assistant referees: AJ Jacobs (South Africa), Archie Sehlako (South Africa)
TMO: Johan Greeff (South Africa)

Stormers v Bulls
(Newlands, Cape Town - Kick-off: 19.30; 17.30 GMT)

Both teams have spoken, repeatedly, of their desire to evolve their games.

The buzz words are 'entertaining' and 'expansive'.

That may suggest a try-fest, a rarity in the big north-south derby.

However, Bulls coach Nollis Marais was adamant that the set pieces remain crucial.

"There is no doubt the team with the best set pieces and the side making the least number of mistakes will win this game," Maras told rugby365.

"Last year we were down just 6-9 with 20 minutes to go and lost 9-33," he said of the 2016 encounter at Newlands.

"That was because we lost the set piece battle - the scrums, line-outs and mauls."

He said the Bulls must "counter" the Stormers in those aspects if they want to have a realistic chance of victory.

"Five or six of the best locks in South Africa will be on display at the Newlands at the weekend and that will be a massive battle," he added.

Stormers coach Robbie Fleck said the height of Bulls' back three could be the key.

"They are obviously a strong combination, they are big boys and they are good in the air," Fleck told a media briefing at Newlands.

"However, it is the same threat that came our way in the Currie Cup and we seemed to handle it.

"They have a good combination, but the same goes for us."

The Stormers mentor said the fact that the Stormers and Bulls are playing New Zealand teams this year, make it vital that they get the season off to a good start.

"The Bulls and ourselves are in a very tough group," he said, adding: "You want to get off to a winning start for the confidence of the squad.

"We both got to tour New Zealand.

"There are some tough obstacles in our way. Both teams have enjoyed a good pre-season and both teams are confident going into this game.

"Finally, we are here and the waiting is over. It's now time to get stuck in and see where we are and how far we have come."

Recent results:
2016: Bulls won 17-13, Pretoria
2016: Stormers won 33-9, Cape Town
2015: Stormers won 15-13, Cape Town
2015: Stormers won 29-17, Pretoria
2014: Stormers won 16-0, Cape Town
2014: Bulls won 28-12, Pretoria

Prediction: The Bulls have not won in Cape Town since 2011 and there are good reasons for that. They do have a very good chance, but we feel the Stormers will sneak it - by five points.

Teams:

Stormers: 15 Sarel Marais, 14 Cheslin Kolbe, 13 EW Viljoen, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Dillyn Leyds, 10 Jean-Luc du Plessis, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Nizaam Carr, 7 Siyamthanda Kolisi (captain), 6 Rynhardt Elstadt, 5 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Mbongeni Mbonambi, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg.
Replacements: 16 Ramone Samuels, 17 Oliver Kebble, 18 Frans Malherbe, 19 Chris van Zyl, 20 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 21 Dewaldt Duvenage, 22 Dan Kriel, 23 Robert du Preez.

Bulls: 15 Jesse Kriel, 14 Jamba Ulengo, 13 Dries Swanepoel, 12 Burger Odendaal, 11 Travis Ismaiel, 10 Handré Pollard (captain), 9 Rudy Paige, 8 Hanro Liebenberg, 7 Jacques Potgieter, 6 Nick de Jager, 5 Rudolph Snyman, 4 Lodewyk de Jager, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Jaco Visagie, 1 Pierre Schoeman.
Replacements: 16 Edgar Marutlulle, 17 Jacobie Adriaanse, 18 Lizo Gqoboka, 19 Jason Jenkins, 20 Ruan Steenkamp, 21 Piet van Zyl, 22 Tian Schoeman, 23 Warrick Gelant.

Referee: Jaco van Heerden (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Shuhei Kubo (Japan), Stuart Berry (South Africa)
TMO: Marius Jonker (South Africa)

Compiled by Jan de Koning
@king365ed
@rugby365com

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FIXTURE GMT VENUE
Fri, 20 October 2017
Scarlets v Bath 18h45 Parc y Scarlets
Sat, 21 October 2017
Australia v New Zealand 09h00 Brisbane
Glasgow Warriors v Leinster 12h00 Scotstoun
Sharks v Blue Bulls 12h30 Durban
Treviso v Toulon 14h15 Stadio Comunale di Monigo
Western Province v Golden Lions 15h00 Cape Town
Clermont Auvergne v Northampton Saints 15h15 Stade Marcel-Michelin
Leicester Tigers v Castres 16h30 Welford Road
Munster v Racing Metro 16h30 Thomond Park
Saracens v Ospreys 18h45 Allianz Park
Sun, 22 October 2017
Montpellier v Exeter Chiefs 12h00 Altrad Stadium
La Rochelle v Ulster 14h15 Paris
Wasps v Harlequins 16h30 Ricoh Arena
SUPER RUGBY
MORE LOGS
Pool AU
Team P W D L Pts
Brumbies 15 6 0 9 34
Force 15 6 0 9 26
Reds 15 4 0 11 21
Waratahs 15 4 0 11 19
Rebels 15 1 1 13 9
Pool NZ
Team P W D L Pts
Crusaders 15 14 0 1 63
Hurricanes 15 12 0 3 58
Chiefs 15 12 1 2 57
Highlanders 15 11 0 4 51
Blues 15 7 1 7 37
Pool SA1
Team P W D L Pts
Stormers 15 10 0 5 43
Cheetahs 15 4 0 11 21
Bulls 15 4 0 11 20
Sunwolves 15 2 0 13 12
Pool SA2
Team P W D L Pts
Lions 15 14 0 1 65
Sharks 15 9 1 5 42
Jaguares 15 7 0 8 33
Kings 15 6 0 9 28