Clash of the Unbeatens in Durban – Vodacom Super Rugby Round 5 Preview
March 14, 2013
Two of the three unbeaten teams left in Vodacom Super Rugby clash at Kings Park in Durban on Saturday afternoon when The Sharks host the table-topping Australian Brumbies.

The Brumbies, with former Springbok coach Jake White in charge, have been quite impressive lately – they have conceded only one try in 240 minutes of rugby. On the contrary, The Sharks have not really set the world alight in their first three matches, but despite their wavering form, they are still unbeaten.

The third unbeaten side in 2013, the Vodacom Bulls, will aim to break another duck when they face the winless Crusaders in Christchurch on Saturday morning. These two sides count amongst the most successful teams in the history of Vodacom Super Rugby.

In the two other matches featuring South African teams, the Toyota Cheetahs will play the their “favourite Aussie team”, the Waratahs, in Sydney on Friday morning and the Southern Kings will have their work cut out for them against the defending champion Chiefs in Port Elizabeth on Friday evening.

Waratahs v Toyota Cheetahs

It’s probably unfair to say that the Waratahs are the Aussies the Toyota Cheetahs prefer to play most, but looking at their past results, it’s probably not too far from the truth.

In fact, the three victories the Toyota Cheetahs have achieved over the Waratahs, is more than against any of the other four Australian teams.

The Central South Africans have beaten each of the other Aussie franchises twice – they’ve played the Force and Brumbies seven times each, the Reds six times and the Rebels on two occasions.

And out of their 14 previous Vodacom Super Rugby matches played on Australian soil, the Toyota Cheetahs have only beaten the Waratahs in Sydney (2011) and the Rebels in Melbourne (2012).

On Friday morning (SA time), the Toyota Cheetahs will try and replicate their famous 23-3 victory in Sydney in 2011 – their first-ever outside South Africa – when they face the Waratahs at the Allianz Stadium.

Toyota Cheetahs coach Naka Drotské has named the same starting XV for the third week running, with Springboks Coenie Oosthuizen and Heinrich Brüssow again likely to provide impact off the bench. Sarel Pretorius, who still played for the Waratahs last season, will again start at scrumhalf.

The teams are:

Waratahs: Israel Folau, Lachie Turner, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Berrick Barnes, Peter Betham, Bernard Foley, Brendan McKibbin, Pat McCutcheon, Michael Hooper, Dave Dennis, Kane Douglas, Sitaleki Timani, Paddy Ryan, John Ulugia, Benn Robinson. Replacements: Luke Holmes, Jeremy Tilse, Mitchell Chapman, Lopeti Timani, Matt Lucas, Ben Volavola, Rob Horne.

Toyota Cheetahs: Hennie Daniller, Willie le Roux, Johann Sadie, Robert Ebersohn, Raymond Rhule, Johan Goosen, Sarel Pretorius, Philip van der Walt, Lappies Labuschagne, Frans Viljoen, Francois Uys, Lood de Jager, Lourens Adriaanse, Adriaan Strauss (captain), Trevor Nyakane. Replacements: Ryno Barnes, Coenie Oosthuizen, Ligtoring Landman, Heinrich Brüssow, Piet van Zyl, Riaan Smit, Ryno Benjamin.

Waratahs v Toyota Cheetahs
Date: Friday, 15 March
SA Time: 10h40
Venue: Allianz Stadium, Sydney
Referee: Garratt Williamson
Assistant referees: Andrew Lees (Australia), James Leckie (Australia)
Television match official: Matt Goddard (Australia)

Southern Kings v Chiefs

From Vodacom Super Rugby runners-up to champions – that is the new challenge that faces the Southern Kings in Port Elizabeth on Friday evening when they will get their first taste of an opponent from New Zealand.

Last weekend, the Kings managed to keep The Sharks tryless, although going down 21-12 at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium. This time, the Chiefs are in town, and as the DHL Stormers experienced first-hand last weekend, keeping them at bay is not as easy.

With 14 tries from their first three matches, the Chiefs are leading the stakes when it comes to five-pointers in 2013. The Blues, with 11, and Brumbies with 10, are already lagging behind, with less than a quarter of the season completed.

So good are the Chiefs with ball in hand, that last weekend they became the first team in almost four years to score four tries against the DHL Stormers at DHL Newlands.

But the Kings themselves will be looking at more of a ball in hand approach this weekend, if only to keep the Chiefs’ attacking opportunities to a minimum. They’ve only scored two tries thus far in 2013, both by exciting wing prospect Sergeal Petersen in their opening match against the Force three weeks ago.

“The Chiefs have good depth right across the board … so we will have a bit of a job on our hands and look forward to the challenge,” said Matt Sexton, head coach of the Kings.

“Part of being defensive (last week) was that we didn’t hold onto the ball properly. We made some silly errors and turned over ball when we shouldn’t have. I think if we held onto the ball for a number of phases it might have been a different story.

“So we’ve been working on that at training. The players have seen the pictures and the implications of letting go of the ball to easily. The Chiefs have threats right across the board. They’re pretty clinical when you turn over the ball or on a miscued kick or things like that.

“We want to be nice and tidy with what we do and I think that if we do that we’ll present a good challenge to them.”

Darron Nell, who will once again captain the Kings in the absence of the injured Luke Watson, said he was looking forward to Friday’s match against the defending Vodacom Super Rugby champions.

“Last week we had the Sharks and this week we have the Chiefs, the two finalists from last year,” said Nell. “I think we just want to concentrate on our processes and make sure that they work well and I think the results will look after themselves. Without a doubt it’s going to be a tough game but we just want to look at ourselves and make sure we can do what we can do properly.”

The teams are:

Southern Kings: SP Marais, Sergeal Petersen, Ronnie Cooke, Andries Strauss, Marcello Sampson, Demetri Catrakillis, Shaun Venter; Jacques Engelbrecht, Wimpie van der Walt, Cornell du Preez, Steve Sykes, Darron Nell (captain), Kevin Buys, Bandise Maku, Schalk Ferreira. Replacements: Edgar Marutlulle, Jaco Engels, David Bulbring, Daniel Adongo, Nicolas Vergallo, George Whitehead, Hadleigh Parkes.

Chiefs: Gareth Anscombe, Lelia Masaga, Tim Nanai-Williams, Andrew Horrell, Asaeli Tikoirotuma, Aaron Cruden, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Ross Filipo, Tanerau Latimer, Liam Messam, Michael Fitzgerald, Craig Clarke (captain), Ben Afeaki, Hika Elliot, Pauliasi Manu. Replacements: Rhys Marshall, Pauliasi Manu, Brodie Retallick, Sam Cane, Augustine Pulu, Charlie Ngatai, Patrick Osborne.

Southern Kings v Chiefs
Date: Friday, 15 March
SA Time: 19h10
Venue: Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth
Referee: Stuart Berry (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Jason Jaftha (South Africa), Christie du Preez (South Africa)
Television match official: Johann Meuwessen (South Africa)

Crusaders v Vodacom Bulls

Can the Vodacom Bulls make Vodacom Super Rugby history for a second successive weekend in New Zealand when they face the Crusaders in Christchurch on Saturday morning?

That is what they will be aiming for against a hurt and dangerous seven-time champion side at AMI Stadium. Yes, it may sound funny, but the Crusaders are still without a win in 2013 (they have only played twice). The last time they lost their first two matches, was in 2005.

On the other hand, the Vodacom Bulls have won all three thus far this season and are one of only three unbeaten teams left in the competition.

On Saturday, the Vodacom Bulls will try to beat the Crusaders for the first time ever in New Zealand, but they will also aim to win back to back Vodacom Super Rugby matches in New Zealand for the first time ever.

In 1996, in the pre-franchise days and playing as Northern Transvaal, the team from Pretoria beat the Crusaders at the old Lancaster Park by 32-18. Since then, they’ve lost in Christchurch eight times, including twice in knock-out matches (2006 and 2012), and once in Timaru. The average score in these matches was 37-15 to the Cantabrians.

The closest the Vodacom Bulls ever came to upsetting the Crusaders in Christchurch, was in 2009, when they lost 13-16 despite scoring two tries to one.

Frans Ludeke, who made only one change to his team for Saturday’s match, said his team would like to emulate their first-ever win in New Zealand over the Blues last Sunday.

“We got the momentum we wanted on tour with the good win against the Blues,” said Ludeke.

“By naming the same side bar the injury, we hope to continue the way we finished against the Blues. We will need a good performance against a very good side.”

Vodacom Bulls captain Pierre Spies said: “We came close here in the past and now must try and get that rare win in Christchurch.”

The teams are:

Crusaders: Israel Dagg, Tom Marshall, Robbie Fruean, Ryan Crotty, Johnny McNicholl, Dan Carter, Andy Ellis, Kieran Read (captain), Matt Todd, George Whitelock, Dominic Bird, Samuel Whitelock, Owen Franks, Corey Flynn, Wyatt Crockett. Replacements: Ben Funnell, Joe Moody, Tom Donnelly, Luke Whitelock, Willi Heinz, Tyler Bleyendaal, Adam Whitelock.

Vodacom Bulls: Zane Kirchner, Akona Ndungane, JJ Engelbrecht, Wynand Olivier, Jürgen Visser, Morné Steyn, Jano Vermaak, Pierre Spies (captain), Arno Botha, Deon Stegmann, Juandré Kruger, Flip van der Merwe, Frik Kirsten, Willie Wepener, Morné Mellett. Replacements: Chiliboy Ralepelle, Werner Kruger, Grant Hattingh, Jacques Potgieter, Francois Hougaard, Louis Fouché, Jan Serfontein.

Crusaders v Vodacom Bulls
Date: Saturday, 16 March
SA Time: 08h35 (SA time)
Venue: AMI Stadium, Christchurch
Referee: Chris Pollock (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Nick Briant (New Zealand), Kane McBride (New Zealand)
Television match official: Vinny Munro (New Zealand)

The Sharks v Brumbies

Tough-as-nails Jean Deysel may be out injured, but regular skipper Keegan Daniel is back to captain The Sharks this week as they prepare to face the Brumbies at Kings Park on Saturday.

As two of only three unbeaten teams in Vodacom Super Rugby in 2013, this makes for a mouth-watering encounter. Add to this that the Brumbies will be looking for their first win over The Sharks since 2010, and it becomes clear why many are billing this as the match of the weekend.

Historically, there is almost nothing to separate the KwaZulu-Natalians and the team from Canberra. Both have beaten each other eight times and the average score in all their matches since 1998 is 25-23 to the Brumbies.

But this statistic changes dramatically in Durban, where The Sharks have lost only once out of seven previous encounters with the Brumbies, by 10-21 in 2007. The average score at Kings Park is 25-18 to the home team.

“We’re in for a massive match this weekend and so are they,” said Hugh Reece-Edwards, one of The Sharks’ assistant coaches.

“It’s a home match for us, that’s the most important thing: the result is what it’s all about playing at home. The guys also enjoy playing international opposition and the fact that they’re on top of their conference means that we have to really focus. But the guys love the challenge and they can get easily motivated knowing they are in for a big game.

“The Brumbies show some South African styles with their driving mentality – they drive quite a bit – yet they also maintain their running patterns that they do so well. They’re the leading Australian side which shows in their log position. The way they dismantled the Waratahs was fantastic for them and they played a great game.

“We know we have a lot of work to do, in all departments, but we’re excited, we’re playing an overseas side and we’re really looking forward to it.”

The teams are:

The Sharks: Louis Ludik, Odwa Ndungane, Paul Jordaan, Frans Steyn, JP Pietersen, Pat Lambie, Charl McLeod, Ryan Kankowski, Keegan Daniel (captain), Marcell Coetzee, Franco van der Merwe, Anton Bresler, Jannie du Plessis, Craig Burden, Tendai Mtawarira. Replacements: Kyle Cooper, Wiehahn Herbst, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Jacques Botes, Cobus Reinach, Meyer Bosman, Lwazi Mvovo.

Brumbies: TBC

The Sharks v Brumbies
Date: Saturday, 16 March
SA Time: 17h05
Venue: Kings Park, Durban
Referee: Jonathan Kaplan (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Quinton Immelman (South Africa), Reuben Rossouw (South Africa)
Television match official: Deon van Blommestein (South Africa)

Other fixtures (SA times):

Friday, 15 March:
08h35: Highlanders v Hurricanes (Dunedin)

Saturday, 16 March:
10h40: Reds v Force (Brisbane)

Byes: DHL Stormers, Blues, Rebels

Inter Provincial Women A
Saturday, August 01 2015
12:30 - WP vs Border
City Park Stadium, Cape Town
Absa Under 19 Competition
13:00 - Sharks U19 vs Leopards U19
Growthpoint KINGS PARK, Durban
14:00 - Western Province U19 vs Golden Lions U19
DHL Newlands, Cape Town
Inter Provincial Women B
14:00 - Leopards vs Limpopo Blue Bulls
Profert Olen Park, Potchefstroom
Absa Under 21 Competition
15:00 - Sharks U21 vs Leopards U21
Growthpoint KINGS PARK, Durban
Inter Provincial Women A
15:00 - Blue Bulls vs SWD
Loftus B
15:00 - EP vs KZN
NMMU Missionvale Campus, PE
Inter Provincial Women B
15:00 - Griquas vs Boland
Nababeep Sport Grounds, Springbok
15:00 - Griffons vs Free State
Bronville Stadium
15:00 - Valke vs Golden Lions
Isak Steyl Stadium

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