S15 Preview: Round Eight, Part Two
S15 Preview: Round Eight, Part TwoSHARE
Saturday will see three matches played in three different countries to wrap up Week Eight of Super Rugby.
All three encounters promise to be tight games, with little separating each of the teams doing battle on the standings.
First-up in Wellington the Waratahs will be out to make it three wins on the trot when they take on a Hurricanes team just one point ahead of them on the log.
From there it is off to Perth where the Force and the Rebels will fight it out to see which side ends the weekend on the bottom of the Australian conference.
Finally we move to Bloemfontein where the Cheetahs will want to prove that they deserve their place in the top six when they take on the Stormers.
We take a closer look at Saturday's matches:
Hurricanes v Waratahs
(Westpac Stadium, Wellington – Kick-off: 19.35; 06.35 GMT)
After gaining some momentum with consecutive wins at home, the Waratahs will want to show that they can do the business on the road against the Hurricanes in Wellington.
Coach Michael Cheika's team have shown good character in recent weeks, and they will be put to the test against a dangerous Hurricanes outfit that will be full of confidence after their victory over the Kings last week.
Cheika has not made many changes to the team that put the Force away last week, so expect them to give it a full go with their bye coming up next week.
The Hurricanes have looked a well-rounded team this season, with a tough forward pack giving them a hard edge up front which has allowed their backline to let loose.
Although they have added more structure to their game they have still been prone to some defensive lapses, which could give the Waratahs a sniff away from home.
All eyes will be on Julian Savea's younger brother Ardie who is making his Super Rugby debut this weekend.
After starting out as a wing, he has since moved to the flank where he provided a dynamic presence in the National Provincial Championship last year, so it will be interesting to see how he takes to the next level.
Prediction: The Waratahs have got some good momentum going, but the Hurricanes should have too much firepower for them and should win by about six points.
Hurricanes: 15 Andre Taylor, 14 Alapati Leiua, 13 Conrad Smith (captain), 12 Tim Bateman, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Victor Vito/Faifili Levave, 7 Ardie Savea, 6 Brad Shields, 5 Jason Eaton, 4 Mark Reddish, 3 Ben May, 2 Motu Matu’u, 1 Ben Franks.
Replacements: 16 Ash Dixon/Reggie Goodes, 17 Jeffery Toomaga-Allen/Reggie Goodes, 18 James Broadhurst, 19 Faifili Levave/Jack Lam, 20 Chris Smylie, 21 Tusi Pisi, 22 Reynold Lee-Lo.
Waratahs: 15 Israel Folau, 14 Peter Betham, 13 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 12 Rob Horne, 11 Drew Mitchell, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Brendan McKibbin, 8 Pat McCutcheon, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Dave Dennis, 5 Kane Douglas, 4 Sitaleki Timani, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 John Ulugia, 1 Benn Robinson.
Replacements: 16 Luke Holmes, 17 Paddy Ryan, 18 Mitchell Chapman, 19 Wycliff Palu, 20 Matt Lucas, 21 Ben Volavola, 22 Tom Kingston.
Referee: Jonathan Kaplan (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Nick Briant (New Zealand), Kade McBride (New Zealand)
TMO: Glenn Newman (New Zealand)
Force v Rebels
(NIB Stadium, Perth – Kick-off: 16.40; 08.40 GMT)
Matches between the Force and the Rebels are normally tightly-contested, and with both teams desperate for a win this encounter in Perth should be no different.
The Rebels took a narrow victory when the sides met in Melbourne earlier this season, but they will be low on confidence after coming off a brutal South African tour.
Wallaby loose forward Scott Higginbotham becomes their third captain this season when he leads the Rebels out on Saturday, and they will be hoping that he will be able to povide some inspiration in this Australian derby.
The Force have just the one win over the Reds to show for their efforts this season, so they will be lining this home game against the Rebels as a must-win.
The Perth team are just one log point ahead of the Rebels on the standings, so this represents a chance to open up a gap and leave them at the bottom of the Australian conference.
Prediction: The Rebels will want to put their troubles behind them, but the Force should have enough at home to win by about eight points.
Western Force: 15 Will Tupou, 14 Patrick Dellit, 13 Winston Stanley, 12 Kyle Godwin, 11 Alfie Mafi, 10 Sias Ebersohn, 9 Alby Mathewson, 8 Ben McCalman, 7 Matt Hodgson (captain), 6 Angus Cottrell, 5 Hugh McMeniman, 4 Toby Lynn, 3 Salesi Ma'afu, 2 Heath Tessmann, 1 Kieran Longbottom.
Replacements: 16 Ben Whittaker, 17 Tetera Faulkner, 18 Sam Wykes, 19 Chris Alcock, 20 Mick Snowden, 21 Sam Christie, 22 Sam Norton-Knight.
Rebels: 15 James O'Connor, 14 Jason Woodward, 13 Mitch Inman, 12 Rory Sidey, 11 Richard Kingi, 10 Angus Roberts, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Scott Higginbotham (captain), 7 Scott Fuglistaller, 6 Luke Jones, 5 Cadeyrn Neville, 4 Hugh Pyle, 3 Paul Alo-Emile, 2 Ged Robinson, 1 Nic Henderson.
Replacements: 16 Shota Horie, 17 Laurie Weeks, 18 Jarrod Saffy, 19 Jordy Reid, 20 Nic Stirzaker, 21 Tom English, 22 Cooper Vuna.
Referee: Mike Fraser (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Rohan Hoffman (Australia), James Leckie (Australia)
TMO: Matt Goddard (Australia)
Cheetahs v Stormers
(Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein – Kick-off: 17.05; 15.05 GMT)
The Stormers travel to Bloemfontein this weekend looking to get their campaign back on track against a high-flying Cheetahs team on a record winning streak.
The Free State side have won their last four games and have hit the rarified air of the top six in the competition, whilst the embattled Stormers are down in the bottom five following their defeat to the Crusaders at Newlands.
Although the Cheetahs are running hot and winning fans with their fast-paced game, it must be noted that their wins have come against teams in the bottom half of the standings, whilst the Stormers' two wins this season have been against the top two.
Coach Allister Coetzee's team will be desperate to set things right after their disappointing performance last week when they were exposed by a cunning Crusaders team that targeted their line-out and refused to give in.
As a result they will want to play a clinical brand of rugby, with an emphasis on set-piece dominance and forcing the Cheetahs to play from their own half.
It should be an intriguing match-up, with the free-running attacking style of the Cheetahs pitted against the solid defensive structure of the Stormers, which should make for a typically hard-fought South African derby.
The Cheetahs have employed more of a kicking game against the Stormers in the past in order to combat their defensive strengths, but assistant coach Hawies Fourie believes that it would be foolish for them to deviate from the blueprint that has brought them success this season.
"It is not good to fiddle too much with that which has worked for us this season – we all know how effective their defence is and we'll have to ensure that our handling is accurate and we are effective at the breakdown," he said.
Fourie believes that his side will be able to put the Stormers under pressure if they manage to control the ball as the Stormers have shown some signs of defensive frailty this season.
"We must ensure we don't concede too many turnovers – we would like to put them under pressure with how we attack. Our method of attack is slightly different to most of the other teams," he explained.
"We saw in their games against the Chiefs and Brumbies that you can score tries against the Stormers, it is not impossible – two years ago we scored four tries against them in Bloemfontein and we were the only team that year which scored four tries against them.
"We know we are capable of it [scoring tries against the Stormers] – if we are in their half we would certainly look to keep the ball in hand and take it through the phases and thus put pressure on them," he said.
Prediction: The Cheetahs may be the side that everyone loves to watch, but this will be an uncompromising South African derby which should play to the Stormers' strengths so we are backing them to win by a few points.
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 Pieter Labuschagne, 6 Heinrich Brüssow, 5 Francois Uys, 4 Lodewyk de Jager, 3 Lourens Adriaanse, 2 Adriaan Strauss (captain), 1 Trevor Nyakane
Replacements: 16 Ryno Barnes, 17 Coenie Oosthuizen, 18 Rynhardt Landman, 19 Johannes Prinsloo, 20 Sarel Pretorius, 21 Francois Brummer, 22 Ryno Benjamin.
Stormers: 15 Jaco Taute, 14 Joe Pietersen, 13 Juan De Jongh, 12 Jean De Villiers (captain), 11 Gio Aplon, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Michael Rhodes, 6 Siya Kolisi, 5 Andries Bekker, 4 De Kock Steenkamp, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Deon Fourie, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Replacements: 16 Martin Bezuidenhout, 17 Pat Cilliers, 18 Gerbrandt Grobler, 19 Nizaam Carr, 20 Louis Schreuder, 21 Gary Van Aswegen, 22 Damian De Allende.
Referee: Stuart Berry (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Sindile Mayende (South Africa), Francois de Bruin (South Africa)
TMO: Gerrie Coetzee (South Africa)
By Michael de Vries