Time for Sharks, Stormers to get back on track in Australia – Vodacom Super Rugby Round 13 Preview

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Time for Sharks, Stormers to get back on track in Australia – Vodacom Super Rugby Round 13 Preview

It’s Aussie time for The Sharks and the DHL Stormers as they move into the second half of their Vodacom Super Rugby tours in Brisbane and Sydney respectively.

Both these sides, that progressed the furthest from a South African point of view in 2012, are hoping to bounce back from defeats last weekend.

The Sharks, on a bit of a losing streak at the moment, will be in action against the Reds in Brisbane on Friday. It’s a replay of last year’s qualifier, which the team from Durban won with relative ease despite having had to travel all the way across the Indian Ocean.

The DHL Stormers face the Waratahs in Sydney on Saturday. The team from Cape Town will be aiming for their 10th win over the New South Welshmen.

On Friday evening in Bloemfontein, the Toyota Cheetahs are in action against the Hurricanes, where they will be looking at continuing with their solid defence against the top try scoring team from 2012.

And the final match of the weekend takes place in Port Elizabeth on Saturday afternoon, when Demetri Catrakilis of the Southern Kings will have a century of points in his sights when they host the Highlanders.

The Vodacom Bulls have a bye but will remain in first position in the South African Conference as they are currently two points ahead of the second-placed Toyota Cheetahs.


Reds v The Sharks

Arriving in Australia has never been a pleasant experience for The Sharks, who face a tough encounter on Friday morning (SA time) against the Vodacom Super Rugby champions from 2011, the Reds, at Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium.

Historical statistics are not the be all and end all of rugby, but what is interesting, is that the KwaZulu-Natalians have won their first match of all seasons on Australian soil only twice out of 14 visits to that country.

Considering that their overall win percentage in Australia is 27.6% (they have won eight out of 29 matches there), it’s fair to say The Sharks are probably not very fond of Oz.

To add to their woes, The Sharks have lost their last four matches this season and are in desperate need of some log points if they are not going to lose further ground to the competition front-runners.

Last weekend’s performance against the Highlanders in Dunedin was encouraging, especially considering the good tries The Sharks scored, but it wasn’t enough for the injury-hit team from Durban.

“We worked really hard on attack, but it hasn’t been easy losing personnel and combinations keep changing,” said Sharks coach John Plumtree.

“The boys have gone out there and looked to play adventurous rugby – ball in hand, building up some real pressure on the opposition. People who know rugby will see that, but ultimately we didn’t get the results, they just haven’t gone our way.

“We want to take the pressure off, play for each other, play for jersey, that’s important. We’re in a different set of circumstance with the team because of the fact that we have so many guys out, we just have to put our heads together. We’ve sent four to five guys home and we are only halfway through the tour. We’ve had to change personnel, we’ve had to play players out of position and that is not great. Right now the focus is getting a team prepared for the weekend.”

Experienced wing Odwa Ndungane, who missed out on the match 22 last weekend, will play in his 100th Vodacom Super Rugby match on Friday if he gets game time off the bench. He’s played 89 matches for The Sharks and 10 for the Vodacom Bulls in 2004.

Jean Deysel (flank) and Charl McCleod (scrumhalf) will both earn their 50th Vodacom Super Rugby caps for The Sharks in Brisbane.


The teams are:

Reds: Jono Lance, Rod Davies, Chris Feauai-Sautia, Anthony Faingaa, Digby Ioane, Quade Cooper, Will Genia (captain), Jake Schatz, Liam Gill, Eddie Quirk, Ed O’Donoghue, Rob Simmons, James Slipper, Saia Faingaa, Greg Holmes. Replacements: James Hanson, Albert Anae, Adam Wallace-Harrison, Jarrad Butler, Beau Robinson, Ben Lucas, Ben Tapuai.

The Sharks: Riaan Viljoen, Piet Lindeque, JP Pietersen, Meyer Bosman, Lwazi Mvovo, Pat Lambie, Charl McLeod, Keegan Daniel (captain), Jean Deysel, Marcell Coetzee, Franco van der Merwe, Pieter Steph du Toit, Wiehahn Herbst, Kyle Cooper, JC Janse van Rensburg. Replacements: Monde Hadebe, Jannie du Plessis, Anton Bresler, Derick Minnie, Willem Alberts, Tian Meyer, Odwa Ndungane.

Head to head (since 1998)

Reds The Sharks
8 Won 7
7 Lost 8
0 Drawn 0
344 Points for 372
372 Points against 344
37 Tries scored 46
46 Tries conceded 37
23 Average score 25

Reds v The Sharks

Date: Friday, 10 May

SA Time: 11h40

Venue: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane

Referee: Glen Jackson (New Zealand)

Assistant referees: Rohan Hoffmann (Australia), Graham Cooper (Australia)

Television match official: Steve Leszczynski (Australia)


Toyota Cheetahs v Hurricanes

The big difference between the Toyota Cheetahs team of 2013 and that of previous years, is their defence. And that will be firmly in the spotlight when they host the Hurricanes at the Free State Stadium in Bloemfontein on Friday evening.

A look at their try scoring stats after their first four home games in the last five seasons show that only twice the Toyota Cheetahs have scored more tries than they conceded, and that was back in 2008 (scored 13, conceded 12) and 2009 (scored 10, conceded eight).

This year, after four home games, the team from Central South Africa have scored 13 tries and leaked only five, showing the massive improvement in their defence.

Last season, they scored eight and conceded 15 in their first four home games, in 2011 they scored 13 and conceded 16 and in 2010 the Toyota Cheetahs crossed for seven tries, but had to stand behind their own posts 14 times.

But the Hurricanes, despite coming off a demoralising loss to the Vodacom Bulls last weekend, are still a very dangerous side. They’ve won twice and lost twice in their four visits to Bloemfontein.

It’s a good return for the Toyota Cheetahs, who have only won five times and drawn once out of 17 home matches against teams from New Zealand.

Toyota Cheetahs coach Naka Drotské this week warned his team not to underestimate the Hurricanes, who like to play a similar expansive game than the men from Bloem.

“They are also an expansive team and like to play wide with their very exciting outside backs,” said Drotské.

“But we won’t be focusing too much on what happened to them against the Bulls. Those two intercept tries in the first half basically took game away from the Hurricanes and I’m sure they won‘t play like that in their own half again.

“They remain a special team that can create tries from anywhere on the field, so our defensive lines from tactical kicking will have to be very good. We’ve worked hard on that.

“Our matches against them in the last two years were high scoring games, but our defence has improved a lot since then.”

The teams are:

Toyota Cheetahs: Hennie Daniller, Willie le Roux, Johann Sadie, Robert Ebersohn, Raymond Rhule, Burton Francis, Piet van Zyl, Phillip van der Walt, Frans Viljoen, Heinrich Brüssow, Francois Uys, Lood de Jager, Lourens Adriaanse, Adriaan Strauss (captain), Coenie Oosthuizen. Replacements: Ryno Barnes, Trevor Nyakane, Ligtoring Landman, Boom Prinsloo, Sarel Pretorius, Elgar Watts, Ryno Benjamin.

Hurricanes: Andre Taylor / James Marshall, Alapati Leiua, Reynold Lee-Lo, Tim Bateman, Julian Savea, Beauden Barrett, TJ Perenara, Victor Vito (captain), Jack Lam / Karl Lowe, Faifili Levave, Jason Eaton, Jeremy Thrush, Ben May, Ash Dixon, Ben Franks. Replacements: Reggie Goodes, Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, James Broadhurst, Brad Shields, Chris Smylie, Tusi Pisi, James Marshall / Karl Lowe.

Head to head (since 2006)

Toyota Cheetahs Hurricanes
3 Won 4
4 Lost 3
0 Drawn 0
186 Points for 229
229 Points against 186
20 Tries scored 29
29 Tries conceded 20
27 Average score 33

Toyota Cheetahs v Hurricanes

Date: Friday, 10 May

SA Time: 19h10

Venue: Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein

Referee: Stuart Berry (South Africa)

Assistant referees: Lourens van der Merwe (South Africa), Francois de Bruin (South Africa)

Television match official: Gerrie Coetzee (South Africa)


Waratahs v DHL Stormers

With the best record of any South African Vodacom Super Rugby team in Australia, the DHL Stormers must be looking forward to their encounter with the Waratahs at the Allianz Stadium in Sydney on Saturday.

The Capetonians have an impressive record in Oz – they’ve played there 26 times and won 12 of those, which is better than the Vodacom Bulls and The Sharks, who both have won only eight matches on Aussie soil out of 29.

Last weekend, the DHL Stormers were unlucky to lose by two points to the Blues. They now have an opportunity to right that wrong, but it will be tough against a Waratahs side hitting their straps in the last month or so, especially at home.

The Waratahs have lost only once at Allianz Stadium this year – in round five against the Toyota Cheetahs – and their victories include good wins over the Blues and defending champion Chiefs.

Israel Folau has been in the spotlight recently, but DHL Stormers captain Jean de Villiers said his team will be making a mistake if they focus only on the Waratahs’ in-form fullback.

“He (Folau) obviously played well last week, but, for us, it’s more what the whole team can bring and what they’re going to offer on the weekend,” said De Villiers.

“The whole Waratahs team played well against the Kings and we will be tested defensively and on attack.

“The thing for us at the moment is that we are creating opportunities and putting ourselves in a position to score tries, but we’re just not taking those chances or finishing (it off). That’s been a concern the last couple of weeks, but there are a lot of positives as well and hopefully we can just capitalise on that this week.”

The teams are:

Waratahs: Israel Folau, Cam Crawford, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Rob Horne, Peter Betham, Bernard Foley, Brendan McKibbin, Wycliff Palu, Michael Hooper, Dave Dennis (captain), Kane Douglas, Sitaleki Timani, Sekope Kepu, Tatafu Polota-Nau, Benn Robinson. Replacements (from): John Ulugia, Paddy Ryan, Will Skelton, Mitchell Chapman, Pat McCutcheon, Matt Lucas, Berrick Barnes, Drew Mitchell.

DHL Stormers: Joe Pietersen, Gio Aplon, Juan de Jongh, Jean de Villiers (captain), Bryan Habana, Gary van Aswegen, Dewaldt Duvenage, Duane Vermeulen, Rynhardt Elstadt, Siya Kolisi, Andries Bekker, Eben Etzebeth, Frans Malherbe, Deon Fourie, Steven Kitshoff. Replacements: Scarra Ntubeni, Pat Cilliers, Don Armand, Nizaam Carr, Louis Schreuder, Elton Jantjies, Damian de Allende.

Head to head (since 1998)

Waratahs DHL Stormers
5 Won 9
9 Lost 5
0 Drawn 0
296 Points for 325
325 Points against 296
30 Tries scored 33
33 Tries conceded 30
20 Average score 22

Waratahs v DHL Stormers

Date: Saturday, 11 May

SA Time: 11h40

Venue: Allianz Stadium, Sydney

Referee: Chris Pollock (New Zealand)

Assistant referees: Andrew Lees (Australia), James Leckie (Australia)

Television match official: George Ayoub (Australia)


Southern Kings v Highlanders

Southern Kings flyhalf Demetri Catrakilis is on the verge of a special Vodacom Super Rugby milestone when his team hosts the Highlanders at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth on Saturday.

Catrakilis, in his first season of Vodacom Super Rugby, needs seven points to advance his season total to 100. If he manages this, he will become the 10th player to reach a century of points in 2013, joining fellow-South Africans Morné Steyn (Vodacom Bulls, 148 points), Pat Lambie (The Sharks, 119) and Joe Pietersen (DHL Stormers, 104) in Club 100.

Last year’s Vodacom Cup Player of the Year (then still in the colours of DHL Western Province), has thus far kicked nine conversions, 24 penalty goals and one drop goal for a total of 93 season points.

Should be make it to 100 on Saturday, Catrakilis will become the first South African in seven years to hit this magic figure in his debut season at Vodacom Super Rugby level.

The last local player to do this, was Peter Grant for the DHL Stormers in 2006, while Steyn did it for the Vodacom Bulls in 2005.

Six more South Africans have reached 100 points in their first season of Vodacom Super Rugby – four of them in 1996. They are Jannie Kruger (Northern Transvaal), Henry Honiball (Natal), Joel Stransky (WP), Gavin Lawless (Transvaal) and André Joubert. In 2001, Butch James scored 100 points for The Sharks in his first season.

The Kings’ Director of Rugby, Alan Solomons, said his team has “freshened up” before the Highlanders encounter after last weekend’s disappointing defeat to the Waratahs.

“We looked at ways to freshen things up generally,” said Solomons.

“With that in mind there have been some changes to the squad. Luke (Watson) comes through and I thought that was one of the big positives of the weekend. He played well and is back to full form and takes his position as captain.”

Andries Strauss, who captained the Kings in Watson’s absence this season, will play in his 50th Vodacom Super Rugby match on Saturday. He made his debut for The Sharks in 2006 and represented them 22 times, before playing 18 matches at this level for the Toyota Cheetahs. This will be his 10th in Kings colours.

The teams are:

Southern Kings: George Whitehead, Marcello Sampson, Ronnie Cooke, Andries Strauss, Siyanda Grey, Demetri Catrakilis, Shaun Venter, Cornell du Preez, Luke Watson (captain), Wimpie van der Walt, David Bulbring, Steven Sykes, Kevin Buys, Bandise Maku, Schalk Ferreira. Replacements: Virgile Lacombe, Grant Kemp, Daniel Adongo, Devin Oosthuizen, Nicolas Vergallo, Shane Gates, SP Marais.

Highlanders: TBC

Southern Kings v Waratahs

Date: Saturday 11 May

SA Time: 17h05

Venue: Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth

Referee: Jason Jaftha (South Africa)

Assistant referees: Sindile Mayende (South Africa), Christie du Preez (South Africa)

Television match official: Johann Meuwesen (South Africa)


Other fixtures (SA times):

Friday, 10 May:

09h35: Chiefs v Force (Pukekohe)

Saturday, 11 May:

11h40: Blues v Rebels (Auckland)

Byes: Vodacom Bulls, Crusaders, Brumbies

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