Hurricanes (5) 14 / 21 (13) Highlanders (Final Score)
The Hurricanes and Highlanders did battle in the 2015 Super Rugby Final at
Westpac Stadium, Wellington at 09:35 SA Time (19:35 NZ Time, 17:35 AEST, 07:35 GMT).
This was the live match discussion Article.
The match was broadcast LIVE on SuperSport 1 & M-Net on TV in SA.
It is the Final of Super Rugby 2015 this weekend.
The long awaited game to determine the champions of 2015 is finally upon us!
Of course, the South African and Australian Franchises are already done and dusted and only 2 New Zealand sides remain in the race, the all season Log leading Hurricanes and the New Zealand Cinderella side, the Highlanders.
The Final takes place in Wellington, New Zealand at 09:35 SA Time (19:35 NZ Time, 17:35 AEST, 07:35 GMT), at Westpac Stadium.
The Hurricanes are firm favourites for the game, having had by far the best overall performance of all 15 Super Rugby franchises in Super Rugby 2015, and running away with the Combined Log. They certainly played entertaining rugby and a lot of it has to be attributed to their forwards finally stepping up to the plate to match their tremendous backline.
Their defensive structures were much improved and their dangerous backline fired.. if one did not know any better one would swear that every last player was on some serious performance enhancing drugs.
I’ve always said that the Hurricanes were always underperforming in relation to the team they have on paper, but in 2015 all the elements finally came together to make them a fabulous side.
Whatever happens in the final, they deserve plaudits for the season of 2015!
The Highlanders on the other side, turned a lot of seemingly no-name forwards into a monster pack and their backline players turned into a dangerous unit with All Blacks written all over every member.
The Highlanders have lost twice to the Hurricanes already in 2015 but last weekend in the semi-final against the Waratahs they showed that they have progressed upwards a number of rungs in the 2015 season and specifically in the last few weekends.
The Highlanders, having almost always been considered New zealand’s step-child Super Rugby side, have had a real Cinderella season and deserve to be in the final and one is almost unwillingly tempted to urge them on for all the honours in the Final.
As a totally neutral observer, all I can say is that I enjoyed the rugby these two teams dished up for us all in 2015… and may the best team win!
Let the Final roll on… no guts, no glory!
Enjoy it with me, folks.
After 124 games spread across 18 Rounds and a fortnight of finals, we stand at the cusp of crowning a 1st-time Super Rugby champion.
We run the rule over both teams – examine their strengths, potntial weaknesses and try to decipher where the game will be won.
Chris Boyd has announced his side to battle the Highlanders for the Super Rugby title but is still sweating on Ardie Savea who is yet to prove his fitness.
Meanwhile, Saturday night’s finale will quietly take on an extra meaning for a few of the men in black and yellow.
For long-serving Hurricanes Conrad Smith, Ma’a Nonu and Jeremy Thrush, and fellow teammates Chris Smylie, Rey Lee-Lo and Ben Franks, it will be the last time they run onto Westpac Stadium as Hurricanes.
With 468 caps between them, the 6 players will leave a sizeable hole at the Hurricanes when they depart at the end of the season, but not before they do their best to help lift a Super Rugby trophy for their club.
Boyd has named a similar line-up to help those 6 guys do the job, with the only change coming at reserve hooker where Motu Matu’u returns from a knee injury.
Savea’s knee will continue to be monitored throughout the remainder of the week, with Callum Gibbins bracketed as cover should Savea not be deemed fit.
The Highlanders will line up with an unchanged side for the Super Rugby Final against the Hurricanes in Wellington.
Head coach Jamie Joseph has chosen to stick with the same 15 that knocked off the defending champion Waratahs in Sydney a week ago.
On Saturday Elliot Dixon will make his 50th Super Rugby appearance for the Highlanders, while co-captains Ben Smith and Nasi Manu will once more lead the side.
The only change to the squad comes on the bench, where Marty Banks replaces Trent Renata, while Joseph has stuck with 6 forwards on the bench.
Jaco Peyper of South Africa has been appointed to referee the Final of Super Rugby 2015. He will thus be heading for Wellington, New Zealand for this great match.
When he heard of the appointment on Sunday, Peyper was understandably excited, as was André Watson, South Africa’s refereeing boss.
Peyper, a Bloemfontein lawyer, is no stranger to finals. On his way up the refereeing ladder, when he was doing mainly Under 19 matches, he refereed the provincial Under 19 Final. When he was further up the ladder, he refereed the Under 21 Final. Then higher still, he refereed the Vodacom Cup Final. Then in 2012 he refereed the Currie Cup Final and now the Super Rugby Final.
It is the 23rd Super Rugby Final since the 1st one in 1993. Of the 22 finals already refereed South African referees have refereed 14 – André Watson (5), Jonathan Kaplan (3), Craig Joubert (3) and Freek Burger, Tappe Henning and Mark Lawrence (1 each). Peyper will be the 6th South African referee to referee a Final.
Peyper is now on the way to being a vastly experienced referee – after 22 Tests, 60 Super Rugby matches and 55 Currie Cup matches.
Hurricanes head coach Chris Boyd said he is taking nothing from his team’s 2 wins over the Highlanders this season ahead of their Final with same opponents on Saturday.
The Hurricanes won their Round 6 encounter 20 / 13 in Dunedin and then in dominant fashion thrashed the Highlanders side 56 / 20 in the return fixture in Round 17 in Napier. However, the latter win was against a considerably weaker Highlanders outfit than the one that they will be facing this Saturday.
“If you remember the last game in Napier they rested their 3 All Blacks (Aaron Smith, Ben Smith and Malakai Fekitoa),” Boyd said.
“Patrick Osborne and Nasi Manu also did not play. It was 5 key players for them – so we will take absolutely no energy from that performance at all.”
Conditions for Saturday’s Final is expected to be wet, which might nullify the attacking threats of both teams who are the competition’s leading try scorers. Boyd, on the other hand, feels that there will be running rugby regardless of the conditions.
This week’s Super Rugby news is of course dominated by the only 2 sides left in the 2015 competition, who will meet in the Final on Saturday, namely the Highlanders and Hurricanes.
In this article we focus on various aspects in the final week for the Hurricanes. We look at how they will approach the final, Conrad Smith discusses his 12-year Hurricanes career and we look at the Hurricane sinjury situation ahead of Saturday’s final.
Game Approch – Keep attacking:
Hurricanes coach Chris Boyd says that his team will not change their attacking approach when they host their first Super Rugby Final.
The Wellington side will host the Highlanders on the weekend which means that Super Rugby will have a 1st-time titleholder, and for the 5th time it will be an all-New Zealand affair.
The table-topping Hurricanes sealed their home final with a 29 / 9 victory over the Brumbies, while the Highlanders travelled to Sydney and beat the defending champion Waratahs to secure their spot.
Highlanders co-captain Nasi Manu said that his side are happy to be written off ahead of the Super Rugby Final against the Hurricanes.
Despite having just 3 All Blacks in their side the Highlanders upset the defending champion Waratahs in their Sydney semi-final on Saturday, and Manu said they relish being underdogs.
“It just added fuel to the fire, coming over here and everyone writing us off,” Manu said. “No-one really expected anything from us. I guess we have always been the underdogs and I believe we thrive off that.”
The Highlanders will be up against the weight of history as well in Wellington, as since the conference system was implemented in 2011 no team that finished outside the Top-2 places on the competition ladder has won.
The Brumbies, Sharks and Crusaders have all made it all the way to the final, only to stumble at the final hurdle.
A new Vodacom Cup champion was crowned in Cape Town on Saturday afternoon when the Steval Pumas lifted the coveted trophy for the 1st time ever. The Lowvelders, coached by former Springbok Sevens player MJ Mentz, became the 8th team to win this competition since its inception in 1998.
The Steval Pumas completed a remarkable run in their 3 playoff matches – they beat the Vodacom Cup champions of 2012, 2013 and 2014 on 3 consecutive weekends away from home.
On Saturday, they upset the odds yet again by beating DHL Western Province, the only unbeaten team left in the competition, in the final. The scoreline of 24 / 7 suggests it was a walk in the park for the Steval Pumas, but they had to dig deep and showed the value of playing knock-out rugby with experienced players.
And as they did in the semi-final last weekend, big lock Rudi Mathee scored a try for the visitors and livewire flanker Marnus Schoeman added a brace of 5-pointers.
Although he could only add 4 points to his overall tally, Steval Pumas flyhalf JC Roos finished the season as the top points scorer with 115 – the only player in 2015 to surpass 100 competition points – while SWD Eagles speedster Alshaun Bock scored the most tries, with 8.
Schoeman, courtesy of his 4 tries in the last 2 matches, ended 2nd on the list of try scorers with 7, while DHL WP’s Sikhumbuzo Notshe, Kefentse Mahlo of the Vodacom Blue Bulls, Martin Sithole of the Down Touch Griffons and the Hino Valke duo of Riaan Arends and Anrich Richter all scored 6 tries.
The Steval Pumas and DHL Western Province have travelled as far afield as Windhoek, Secunda, Kimberley and Caledon, and will converge on Cape Town this weekend for the Vodacom Cup Final.
The match – the 1st time ever the Vodacom Cup Final will be hosted in Cape Town – will form part of Newlands celebrating its 125th year of existence this weekend. And to add a little spice, it’s a replay of last year’s quarter-final, won 13 / 8 by the Steval Pumas in Nelspruit.
One member of that Steval Pumas side, who will be watching from the sidelines in the colours of the DHL Stormers, is Vincent Koch. 10 Of his team-mates from last year’s quarter-final will return to Cape Town this weekend – Jacques Momberg, Frankie Herne, DJ Terblanche, Marius Coetzer, Uzair Cassiem, JC Roos, Wilmaure Louw, Jerome Pretorius, JW Bell and Reynier van Rooyen.
For the home team, only 6 members of their match-22 this weekend were part of the side that tasted defeat in the Mbombela Stadium last year. They are Jan de Klerk, Rayn Smid, Michael Willemse, Sti Sithole, Deacon Chowles and Robert du Preez.
DHL WP coach John Dobson has selected Wilhelm van der Sluys as the “sole survivor” of their 2012 title winning side. Louw and Simon Westraadt, now plying their trade in the Lowveld, were in the colours of GWK Griquas that night 3 years ago.
Louw was also member of the Steval Pumas side which lost in the final against the Xerox Golden Lions in 2013, and will return for the final along with 10 other members of that team – Momberg, Terblanche, Coetzer, Cassiem, Pretorius, Bell, Herne, Eduan van der Walt, Stefan Watermeyer and Blitzbok Rosko Specman.
The last time these 2 sides met in Cape Town, was in semi-final in 2012, with DHL WP winning comfortably by 33 / 20 en route to their maiden Vodacom Cup title.
At home, DHL Western Province hold a commanding 4 / 1 lead over the Steval Pumas, with the visitors from Mpumalanga recording their 1st and only win at DHL Newlands in 2002 (58 / 18). The Capetonians though emerged victorious at home in 2012 (33 / 20), 2011 (27 / 14), 2008 (59 / 19) and 2003 (33 / 28).
Overall, they’ve played against each other 9 times in the Vodacom Cup, with DHL WP winning 6 times and the Steval Pumas on 3 occasions.
“It’s a great occasion for Western Province rugby and we’d like to go out there on Saturday and make our supporters proud of this team,” said Dobson, who will be head coach of the Cape Town-based union in the ABSA Currie Cup.
“We’ve put in a lot of hard work this season and it’s wonderful that we can play a final in front of our supporters at DHL Newlands, but we know it will be a tough encounter against a well-coached and experienced Pumas side. You only have to look at the way in which they won their playoffs in the last fortnight to see that they are peaking at the right time of the season.”
Steval Pumas coach MJ Mentz said: “We’ve already eliminated the champions from 2014 and 2013, and now we have an opportunity to do the same against the champions from 2012.
“It sounds easier than it is though and playing at Newlands provides us with yet another massive challenge. The structures at Western Province are very well established, they are a well-coached side and always bring through some superb young players.
“But we’re focused on our own game and what we want to achieve. We saw against the Golden Lions last weekend what our experienced players can do and we’ll be counting on them again to pull this one through.
“We’re going to Cape Town with a belief that we can win, otherwise we may just as well stay at home. We’ve shown what we can do in the last two weeks by winning tough matches away from home and Newlands will be even tougher.”
Shimlas (26) 63 / 33 (20) Pukke (Final Score)
FNB UFS-Shimlas (University of the Free State) and FNB NWU-Pukke (Nort West University) did
battle in Super Rugby at Shimla Park, Bloemfontein at 19:00 SA Time (17:00 GMT).
This was the live match discussion Article.
The match was broadcast LIVE on SuperSport 1 & CSN on TV in SA.
WP (13) 19 / 16 (0) Golden Lions (Final Score)
DHL Western Province and the Xerox Golden Lions doidbattle in the ABSA Currie Cup Premier Division at
Newlands, Cape Town at 17:00 SA Time (15:00 GMT).
This was the live match discussion Article.
The match was broadcast LIVE on SuperSport 1 & M-Net on TV in SA.
After the Xerox Golden Lions demolition of the Cell C Sharks scrum in the Currie Cup Semi-Final last weekend and the average performance of DHL Western Province in the scrums against the Vodacom Blue Bulls in the other Semi-Final, this week’s hottest debates has raged about what will happen in the scrums in the Final and how the referee, Craig Joubert, will officiate this aspect of the game.
Balie Swart, adviser to SARU and to the Referees on scrumming in South Africa, came under heavy bombardment from DHL Western Province and in particular Gert Smal and Allister Coetzee. They are unhappy that SARU’s man is not impartial, when he declared that the Golden Lions scrum is ahead of all other South African scrumming units.
DHL Western Province coach Allister Coetzee has kept the changes to a minimum for Saturday’s 2014 ABSA Currie Cup Final clash against the Xerox Golden Lions at DHL Newlands (kick-off 17:00 SA Time).
In the only change to the starting XV that beat the Blue Bulls by 31-23 last weekend, fit-again centre Jaco Taute returns in the No 12 jersey to resume his partnership with skipper Juan de Jongh, who will be playing in his 50th match in the Blue & White hoops of DHL Western Province.
Michael van der Spuy reverts to the bench for Saturday’s final, where he is joined by lock Gerbrandt Grobler, who comes into the matchday squad at the expense of prop Oli Kebble, who came off the bench last weekend.
No 8 Nizaam Carr, who left the field in the first half of last week’s semifinal, has been passed fit for the final, with coach Coetzee praising the consistency in selection during the business-end of the 2014 ABSA Currie Cup.
The Blue Bulls Company have released the team sheets for the Under 19 and Under 21 teams for the ABSA Currie Cup Finals at Newlands, Cape Town against the age group sides of DHL Western Province.
Some of the Blue Bulls senior Currie Cup players have been added to the Vodacom Blue Bulls Under 21 team, with Jesse Kriel starting at Centre, Jacques du Plessis at Blindside flank and with Nicolaas Janse van Rensburg on the bench.
DHL Western Province’s injury concerns have improved ahead of their Currie Cup Final against the Xerox Golden Lions at Newlands in Cape Town on Saturday.
Eighthman Nizaam Carr, who cried off with a hip injury midway through the first half of the Semi-Final clash against the Vodacom Blue Bulls last Saturday was walking comfortably on Monday afternoon.
Centre / fullback Jaco Taute was running without discomfort after he was forced to miss the Semi-Final because of a rib injury and was tested in a contact session on Tuesday.
Western Province coach Allister Coetzee said it was pleasing to read the team’s latest medical report because the wider training squad had been given a clean bill of health.
“Nemo (Carr) is feeling much better and is walking with ease,” Coetzee said.
Craig Joubert will take charge of the ABSA Currie Cup final between DHL Western Province and the Xerox Golden Lions at Newlands on Saturday, with Jaco Peyper and Pro Legoete named as the Assistant Referees.
Legoete has also been tasked with handling the ABSA Under 21 A Division final between DHL Western Province and the Vodacom Blue Bulls, while Rodney Boneparte will officiate the ABSA Under 19 A Division final also between DHL Western Province and the Vodacom Blue Bulls.
The referee appointments for the provincial play-off matches this weekend were made by the South African Rugby Union on Monday.
Retired South African referee Jonathan Kaplan says the Crusaders can feel hard done by after a late penalty cost them the Super Rugby title.
The Waratahs beat the Crusaders 33-32 in the Super Rugby final in Sydney last Saturday courtesy of a late penalty by flyhalf Bernard Foley.
The Crusaders looked headed for their eighth Super Rugby crown when flyhalf Colin Slade put them in front with a penalty in the 76th minute.
The Waratahs won a drama-laden Super Rugby grand final 33-32 in Sydney with Bernard Foley breaking the Crusaders hearts by kicking a 45m penalty in the final seconds.
This frantic contest had multiple dramas, starting with the Crusaders trailing 14-0 in as many minutes, losing their talismanic general Dan Carter with an ankle injury in the first half and then having to mount a spirited comeback in front of a record 62,000-strong crowd.
Michael Chieka didn’t quite take a sledgehammer to the Waratahs’ chronic problems; he took golf clubs instead.
As his players gathered in the change-room before the biggest Super Rugby game of their careers, and for most the biggest in their lives, Cheika slowly began to pull out 23 golf clubs, each personalised with female names.
He’s loath to talk about dynasties and sustained dominance, but NSW Waratahs coach Michael Cheika is already plotting a path to back-to-back Super Rugby titles.
With a season remaining on his three-year contract, Cheika laughed off speculation he could be heading off to coach the Argentine national team after guiding the Waratahs to their Holy Grail.
“What, for a holiday? No, I’m here. We’re well into our planning for next season,” Cheika said after the Waratahs’ last-gasp 33-32 win over the Crusaders in Saturday night’s final.
Two of the Crusaders’ favourite sons were ironically also their own worst enemies during an epic Super Rugby final last night, as Richie McCaw and Andrew Mehrtens both made significant contributions to the Waratahs’ historic triumph.
The All Blacks captain was a focal point of the Waratahs’ match-winning penalty in the final minute at ANZ Stadium while Mehrtens – who famously confirmed the Crusaders third title in Canberra in 2000 with a coolly taken three-pointer – played a more peripheral role in the Waratahs dramatic 33-32 victory.
Ultimately it was Wallabies flyhalf Bernard Foley who took centre stage by directing his seventh successful penalty attempt just clear of the crossbar with less than 30 seconds to play in a contest that completed the Waratahs resurrection as the dominant force in Australian rugby.
Todd Blackadder’s pre-match prediction that the Super Rugby final would be determined by a few crucial moments came back to haunt him as a “50-50″ call condemned the one-time competition kings to another bridesmaid experience.
Bernard Foley’s last minute penalty secured the Waratahs their maiden title on Saturday in Sydney and extended the Crusaders wait for their eighth to at least an eighth year.
When the Waratahs were awarded a penalty inside the last minute of Saturday’s night Super Rugby final against the Crusaders at ANZ Stadium, Waratahs flyhalf Bernard Foley didn’t flinch.
He immediately stepped up to take the kick – even though from 43-metre the attempt might be slightly out of his range.
Waratahs (20) 33 / 32 (13) Crusaders (Final Score)
The Waratahs and Crusaders did battle in the 2014 Super Rugby Final at
ANZ Stadium, Sydney at 11:40 SA Time (19:40 AEST, 21:40 NZ Time, 09:40 GMT).
This was the live match discussion Article.
The match was broadcast LIVE on SuperSport 1, SHD & M-Net on TV in SA.
When the scholars trawl through history and attempt to unearth the origins of a Waratahs premiership, they may settle on two names.
Michael Cheika and Israel Folau? No? Okay, what about Kurtley Beale, or Nathan Grey?
All those will feature, certainly.
But in the timeline but they’d have to go back further and head 287km south to Canberra.
There they’d find the names Jake White and Ita Vaea, and a moment-in-time conversation between the new Brumbies coach and a kid with six starts called Michael Hooper.
The year was 2011 and Hooper had been at the Brumbies for two seasons; serving as back-up to the legendary George Smith in his debut year.
It is the Finals of Super Rugby 2014 this weekend! The Waratahs host the Crusaders.
This weekend decides the honors for the 2014 Super Rugby season.
What a game we have to look forward to!
The Waratahs have been good and consistent all season whereas the resurgent Crusaders, who absolutely pummelled the Cell C Sharks last weekend have hit a rich vein of form.
A winner is difficult to predict, there are game breakers on either side, no matter how you look at it. In the final analysis the 2 best Super Rugby sides of 2014 are in the Final and both deserve to contest for ultimate glory in 2014.
13 Other Challengers already now lay by the wayside, done and dusted, only 1 more game to come…. this one!
Who do you think will take the crown and Why?
Let the game continue…. let the battle commence!
The day the Waratahs wrapped up the minor premiership was the day Jacques Potgieter decided to tell his old club he was not interested.
The Bulls were having a chronic case of the Joni Mitchells – “You don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone”. They had let Potgieter go after two seasons and watched him go from strength to damaging strength with a team that appreciated his skill set.
Now they wanted him back. Immediately. For three years.
Phil Waugh says he will be one of the great Waratahs and Daryl Gibson believes he is the “free spirit” rugby badly needs.
Jacques Potgieter just thinks he has never played with anyone better.
“I think Kurtley is the best rugby player I’ve ever played with and the best I ever will play with,” Potgieter says. “The best of the best. When he gets the ball it is like in slow motion, he has got so much time with the ball. And the thing he has taught me is that he always backs himself.”
From horror Tahs to Super stars – it’s been a rocky, 19-year ride for Waratahs rugby fans.
It certainly hasn’t always been pretty – think Matt Dunning’s brain explosion field goal, the 96-19 debacle in Christchurch and getting belted by the Brumbies in the semi-finals.
Yes, the Waratahs have had plenty of lows to match their rugby highs.
Perennial underachievers in the world’s toughest provincial competition, the Waratahs had always boasted one of the most talented playing rosters but were unable to turn that into on-field success.
Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder has a chance to go where no man has gone before him in the Super Rugby annals.
The 42-year-old former All Blacks skipper could become the first person to captain and coach title-winning teams.
Blackadder guided the Crusaders to the first three of their record seven championship victories, the first coming in 1998 when they beat the Blues, 20-13 at Eden Park, breaking the Auckland-based franchise’s hold on the title.
Blackadder endeared himself to the entire top of the South Island region by making a post-game speech acknowledging the team represented Nelson Bays, Marlborough, Buller, West Coast, South Canterbury, Mid Canterbury and Canterbury.
Unusually it was Michael Cheika who found himself on the receiving end, even if the abuse wasn’t personal when he was appointed head coach of the NSW Waratahs after another forlorn Super Rugby campaign.
The abrasive former club rugby No 8 was appointed after Australian rugby’s under-achieving franchise finished a disappointing 11th in 2012 – an outcome that prompted disillusioned fans to detail their frustrations for head office.
Cheika, a Heineken Cup-winning coach with Leinster in 2009, could afford to smile when, on the eve of the Waratahs’ historic home final with the Crusaders, he recalled handling the correspondence.
He is renowned for arguably changing the course of the 2001 British and Irish Lions tour in the Wallabies’ favour by concussing key English flanker Richard Hill, but now Nathan Grey is devising more cerebral tactics to knock the Crusaders of out whack.
Grey’s elbow to the temple of the Lions blindside in the 32nd minute of the second test in Melbourne was credited with shifting momentum against Graham Henry’s team who were unable to recover from the loss of the inspirational Hill for the remainder of the three-test series.
The 39-year-old doesn’t like to dwell on his airborne assault at Docklands (now Etihad) Stadium – it took until the Lions’ next tour to Australia last year for the hard-hitting midfield back to revisit a controversial incident that paled only in comparison to Duncan McRae’s unprovoked attack on Ronan O’Gara in the tour match against New South Wales.
NSW Waratahs have stoked the fire ahead of the Super Rugby final after skipper Michael Hooper failed to turn up for a photo promoting Saturday night’s blockbuster.
Hooper was supposed to be photographed alongside Crusaders captain Kieran Read and the Super Rugby trophy on Friday.
But the All Blacks No.8 and reigning IRB Player of the Year got sick of waiting and walked off ANZ Stadium with Hooper still a no-show 20 minutes after the scheduled time.