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Super RugbyIt is Round 7 of Super Rugby 2015 this weekend.

There are 2 games on Friday 27 March and 5 games on Saturday 28 March.

The Brumbies a BYE weekend.

There are no South African derbies on the weekend again, with 3 SA sides currently on tour and both the Vodacom Bulls and Cell C Sharks envolved in games on South African soil against Anzac counterparts.

Only 1 undefeated team remains prior to the start of the weekend, the Hurricanes, and they will be up against the struggling Melbourne Rebels, at home, in the 1st game of the weekend (08:35 SA Time on Friday 27 March).

The Struggling Reds, who boast a return of a number of Wallabies take on the Emirates Lions at 11:00 SA Time on Friday.

On Saturday morning, early (05:30 SA Time) the Chiefs host the Toyota Cheetahs, whereafter the Highlanders host the DHL Stormers in their first game on tour, at 08:35 SA Time.

Next up, at 10:40 SA Time, the Waratahs host the battling Blues in Sydney.

The Cell C Sharks, resting a number of Springboks host the Western Force in Durban at 17:05 SA Time.

The Vodacom Bulls take on a resurgent Crusaders side at 19:10 SA Time in Pretoria in the last game of the Round.

The Hurricanes should coast to victory in the first Friday game but the second Friday game between the Reds and Emirates Lions is difficult to call.

The Chiefs should dispense with the Toyota Cheetahs early on Saturday, but the game between the Highlanders and the DHL Stormers is once again a difficult one to call. The Waratahs should put the Blues to the sword in Sydney.

One cannot help but feel that the Crusaders should beat the Vodacom Bulls…. even in Pretoria, whereas the Cell C Sharks should beat the Western Force in Durban.

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CrusadersCrusaders coach Todd Blackadder wasted no time in bringing back All Black captain Richie McCaw for his team’s Super Rugby Round 7 encounter with the Vodacom Bulls.

The 7-time champion Crusaders start their South African tour against the 3-time champion Bulls in Pretoria on Saturday.

McCaw, who was rested last week as the Crusaders demolished the Cheetahs 57 / 14, replaces Matt Todd at openside flank – with the latter dropping down to the replacement bench.

In all Blackadder made 5 changes to his starting line-up for the trip to Loftus Versfeld.

Blackadder has made 2 rotations in the front row, with prop Joe Moody and hooker Ben Funnell coming in for All Black Wyatt Crockett and Codie Taylor respectively. Crockett and Taylor both drop to the bench.

Dan Carter, who last week started at inside centre, returns to his more customary role in the No 10 jersey.

Tom Taylor moves out one position to No 12 and Colin Slade will play off the bench.

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ChiefsThe Chiefs have made several changes to their starting line-up for Saturday’s clash with the Cheetahs in Hamilton.

Amongst the backs, All Blacks midfielder Sonny Bill Williams returns to the run-on side after missing last weekend’s narrow loss to the Sharks due to concussion, and Charlie Ngatai is bracketed with Seta Tamanivalu at outside centre.

Tom Marshall comes on to the left wing.

Andrew Horrell moves to the reserves and is joined by prop Siate Tokolahi and Marty McKenzie.

In the pack, there’s a brand new front row.

Pauliasi Manu returns from injury and is joined by Quentin MacDonald and Ben Tameifuna.

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Francois Steyn

Francois Steyn

SANZAR has lodged an appeal against the outcome of a judicial hearing held on Monday 23 March that found Francois Steyn of the Sharks not guilty of contravening Law 10.4 (j).

A SANZAR Appeals Committee, chaired by Terry Willis, with Nigel Hampton QC and Robert Stelzner SC as members, will hear the appeal via videoconference on Friday 27 March 2015 at 08:00 SA Time (17:00 AEDT, 19:00 NZ Time).

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TJ Perenara

TJ Perenara

All Blacks scrumhalf TJ Perenara will play his 50th match for the Hurricanes when they face the Rebels in Wellington on Friday.

Perenara made his debut for the ‘Canes against the Stormers in 2012, and has since racked up 105 points for the franchise by way of 21 tries.

The 23-year-old will pair with James Marshall this weekend in what will be the 1st start for the halfback combination, with coach Chris Boyd opting to rest Beauden Barrett.

Also taking a break this week is prop Ben Franks, along with wing Julian Savea, which has allowed Boyd to shuffle his back 3.

Matt Proctor comes in for Savea, while Jason Woodward has been given another start at fullback. Manawatu flyhalf Otere Black will also get his 1st chance for the Hurricanes, should he come off the bench.

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Jonathan Kaplan

Jonathan Kaplan

Prominent ex-Test referee Jonathan Kaplan has joined the chorus calling for scrutiny of the Crusaders scrumming action after their win over the Toyota Cheetahs last weekend.

The Crusaders scrum has dominated in their contests against both the Emirates Lions and Cheetahs in their 2 Vodacom Super Rugby games over the past fortnight, and in both cases it seems as if the scrum – and All Black prop Wyatt Crockett in particular – have gotten away with murder.

Crockett’s supposed dominance in the scrum has seen both Julian Redelinghuys and Coenie Oosthuizen, both Springbok props, being sin-binned during the game and a plethora of penalties given against their teams by referees who believe the tighthead can’t handle the pressure when the loosehead packs down.

But on a number of occasions – and ironically picked up by both former All Blacks Jeff Wilson and Justin Marshall – the scrum has never packed down straight.

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WhistleSANZAR has announced the appointments of the Match Officials for Round 7 of the 2015 Super Rugby season.

The Brumbies have a BYE weekend.

There are 7 Super Rugby games this weekend, 2 on Friday and 5 games on Saturday.

The weekend’s action is kicked off by Stuart Berry in the game between the Hurricans vs Melbourne Rebels at 08:35 SA Time. Thereafter also on Friday the Reds host the Emirates Lions at 11:00 SA Time, where Glen Jackson will be the man with the whistle.

On Saturday the action starts early, at 05:30 SA Time, when the Chiefs host the Toyota Cheetahs in Hamilton, controlled by Craig Joubert in the middle. Thereafter it is the Highlanders vs DHL Stormers in Dunedin at 08:35, where Rohan Hoffman will be in charge. Next up, at 10:40 SA Time in Sydney, the Waratahs host the Blues where Jaco Peyper will preside.

On Saturday afternoon and evening in South Africa, the Cell C Sharks host the Western Force in Durban at 17:05 SA Time, with Nick Briant in charge. The Last game of the weekend sees the Vodacom Bulls take on the Crusaders in Pretoria at 19:10 SA Time, where Angus Gardner will be the man in the middle.

Considering the shenannigans last weekend in the game between the Cell C Sharks and the Chiefs, where 3 Red cards were dished out and a further player cited after the game, here’s hoping that the Match Officials are impartial and sees themselves as facilitators of the game and not controllers and here’s hoping that player-dicipline is markedly better than in Round 6!

All we can and should ask for is even-handed application of the Laws and rules.

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Liam Messam

Liam Messam

Chiefs captain Liam Messam’s citing has been upheld after the charge was amended to an act contrary to good sportsmanship.

However, there has been no sanction placed on the All Black flank.

Messam was cited, along with teammate Hika Elliot, Sharks captain Bismarck du Plessis and centre Frans Steyn, after a spiteful game in Durban last weekend.

The Chiefs captain was cited after the match for tackling and gripping Sharks flank Renaldo Bothma around the neck in a ruck – the incident went unnoticed by the match officials on the day.

A SANZAR judicial hearing has found Messam guilty of contravening Law 10.4 (m) Acts contrary to good sportsmanship.

No sanction has been imposed on the player.

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Nasi Manu

Nasi Manu

Highlanders co-captain Nasi Manu has signed for Scottish club Edinburgh and will leave at the end of the current Super Rugby season.

Manu has played 53 games for the Highlanders and has been co-captain with Ben Smith for the last 2 seasons.

“Believe me it was a very hard decision to leave the Highlanders, my team mates, my friends and family. This place, this team, it gets under your skin, becomes part of you and I will always treasure my time here” said Manu.

“Obviously I want to go out on a good note and I am keen to finish off my time here really successfully and that’s my focus at the moment.

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Ardie Savea

Ardie Savea

Hurricanes flank Ardie Savea will be sidelined for up to 6 weeks after dislocating his finger in Friday’s 20 / 13 win over the Highlanders.

Hurricanes assistant coach Clark Laidlaw said 21-year-old Savea had an operation on Saturday, and would be out for between 3 to 6 weeks.

“He dislocated his finger and it popped out the side, so he had to get it pushed back in and tidied up,” Laidlaw said on Monday.

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Super RugbyThe Emirates Lions won their 2nd tour match as the Vodacom Bulls and Cell C Sharks had to dig deep to win at home in an interesting 6th Round of Vodacom Super Rugby.

The men from Johannesburg weathered an early storm and clinched their 3rd successive win over the Melbourne Rebels, by 20 / 16, courtesy of a late try by Lionel Mapoe on Friday in Melbourne. With this victory, the Emirates Lions emulated their feats in 2007 and 2011, when they also won 2 tour matches.

On Saturday, the Toyota Cheetahs started well and were in front at the break against the Crusaders in Christchurch, but the home team took proper advantage of 2 second-half Yellow Cards against the visitors from Bloemfontein to win comfortably by 57 / 14.

2 Matches were played in South Africa on Saturday afternoon, both in less-than-perfect conditions.

First up, the Vodacom Bulls had to rely on a late penalty goal by Handré Pollard to pip the Force by 25 / 24 in Pretoria before the Cell C Sharks, playing for more than 50 minutes with 13 men against 14, following 3 Red Cards, had to dig deep to beat the Chiefs by 12 / 11 in Durban.

The DHL Stormers had a BYE.

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Gary Gold

Gary Gold

Sharks coach Gary Gold has not condoned Bismark du Plessis’s Red Card offence but he has come to the support of his physical captain’s firey nature.

The Sharks captain was shown a Red Card in his team’s 1 point victory against the Chiefs in Durban on Saturday for kicking Michael Leitch’s head.

This came only a few minutes after the opposition hooker, Hika Elliot, was sent for an early shower for an illegal clean-out on Tendai Mtawarira in the 1st half.

Du Plessis is already well known as an incredibly abrasive and physical character on the field, but more and more it seems that teams are figuring out he has a short fuse.

Gold made it clear that what Du Plessis did to earn his Red Card was silly and he did not justify the foul play.

“I am not going to justify foul play, it is silly to do that,” Gold said after the match.

“I feel it was a silly thing for Bismarck to do, he lashed out from trying to free his foot – but you cannot make contact with someone’s head.

“For what it is worth, he has apologized to the group, and in his words he said he is ashamed by his behaviour.”

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The SANZAR Duty Judicial Officer Adam Casselden has accepted a guilty plea from Bismarck du Plessis of the Sharks for contravening Law 10.4 (c) A player must not kick an opponent, after he was sent off following a Super Rugby match at the weekend.

Du Plessis has been suspended from all forms of the game for 4 weeks up to and including 18 April 2015.

The incident occurred in the 18th minute of the match between the Sharks and Chiefs played at Kings Park in Durban.

SANZAR Duty Judicial Officer Adam Casselden assessed the case.

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Cell C SharksChiefsSharks (9) 12 / 11 (11) Chiefs (Final Score)

The Cell C Sharks and Chiefs did battle in Super Rugby at

Growthpoint Kings Park, Durban at 19:10 SA Time (17:10 GMT, Sunday 06:10 NZ Time).

This was the live match discussion Article.

The match was broadcast LIVE on SuperSport 1 & M-Net on TV in SA.

*******************

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Super RugbyIt is Round 6 of Super Rugby 2015 this weekend.

There are 2 games on Friday 20 March, 3 games on Saturday 21 March and 1 game on Sunday 22 March.

The Blues, Reds & DHL stormers have a BYE weekend.

There are no South African derbies on the weekend, with 2 SA sides currently on tour, the DHL Stormers on a bye and both the Vodacom Bulls and Cell C Sharks envolved in games on South African soil against Anzac counterparts.

Only 1 undefeated team remains prior to the start of the weekend, the Hurricanes, and they will be up against the hard-hitting Highlanders, away from home, in the 1st game of the weekend (08:35 SA Time on Friday 20 March).

The Vodacom Bulls take on a struggling Western Force side on Saturday afternoon at Loftus Versfeld and the Cell C Sharks are up against it against a rampant Chiefs side, who just this past weekend took care of the DHL Stormers at Newlands.

This weekend, to predict winners are maybe even more difficult than normal, where at least 4 of the 6 games could go either way. It also does not help to select the home team as your bankers, seeing as away wins have been more predominant than home wins so far in 2015!

Round 6 will have us rivited to the TV screens and marching to the stadia again!

The Friday games are: Highlanders vs Hurricanes in Dunedin as well as the Melbourne Rebels vs Emirates Lions in Melbourne.

On Saturday the action starts at 08:35 SA Time, with the Crusaders hosting the Toyota Cheetahs in Christchurch. Thereafter there will be time to play with the children and go shopping with the wifey before the Vodacom Bulls host the Western Force at Loftus at 17:05 SA Time, before the Cell C Sharks battle the Chiefs at 19:10 SA Time in Durban.

Once again 6 Nations Rugby, well 2 of the 3 games in that competition’s finale is on at the same time as the 2 Super Rugby games on South African soil… so the PVR will be busy again in my household!

On Sunday morning early, 07:05 SA Time, the derby between the Waratahs vs Brumbies takes place in Sydney.

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Super RugbyThis week, we look at the last 4 years of Super Rugby to examine which sides have been the best when not in occupancy of the ball and whether strong defence has been key to overall success.

 

2011

Despite being 1 of the 5 sides that completed over 1800 tackles in the season, eventual champions, the Reds, still maintained a strong tackling success rate of 89%.

The Queenslanders were middle-of-the-pack in many aspects with the ball during their title-winning season, but proved a tough nut to crack in other areas. They were among the top defensive sides when it came to winning ‘jackals’ (overall turnovers won from tackles) and were well-disciplined, going all the way to the Final with 6 other teams accumulating more defensive penalties than them in fewer matches.

Other conference winners, the Crusaders and the Stormers ranked equal-1st for total turnovers won, as well as figuring close to the summit with their tackling success rates. Good defence was definitely a match winner in 2011.

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CrusadersTodd Blackadder has named his side to take on the Cheetahs this Saturday, making 4 changes to the starting line-up that beat the Lions last weekend.

In the forwards, hookers Codie Taylor and Ben Funnell will rotate so that Taylor starts at No 2.

Matt Todd, named captain for the season, returns to the team to play at No 7 this week – replacing All Black captain Richie McCaw.

However, Kieran Read retains the captaincy for this match.

In the backline, Israel Dagg returns from injury to take the fullback spot, while Kieron Fonotia moves onto the wing following Johnny McNicholl’s knee (posterior cruciate ligament) injury last week.

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HighlandersThe Highlanders have named Dan Pryor on the openside flank for their Super Rugby derby showdown with the Hurricanes in Dunedin on Friday.

Pryor returns from injury to take the place of Shane Christie, who was forced to withdraw from the starting 15 during last Saturday’s warm-up at the venue.

His replacement in that victory over the Waratahs, John Hardie, misses out due to injury so Gareth Evans is the Highlanders’ back-row option on the bench.

Prop Daniel Leniert-Brown will potentially make his Super Rugby debut from the bench while the starting backline is unchanged from last weekend’s triumph.

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HurricanesThe Hurricanes will be without hooker Dane Coles for Friday’s Super Rugby clash against the Highlanders but 2 other All Blacks return to the starting 15.

Coles was originally named in the starting for 15 for the game in Dunedin but was withdrawn as a precaution, following Wednesday’s training session with a hyper-extended elbow.

He has been replaced in the run-on side by Motu Matu’u, with Brayden Mitchell coming onto the bench.

There are 3 other changes to the team that beat the Blues last week.

Jeremy Thrush comes back into the starting line-up and will pair with Blade Thomson in what will be his 1st start at lock for 2015, while Cory Jane replaces Matt Proctor on the right wing.

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Sonny Bill Williams

Sonny Bill Williams

Sonny Bill Williams’ delayed concussion symptoms are giving Chiefs coach Dave Rennie headaches of his own.

Rennie said he will wait until Friday, to give his star centre a shot at playing against the Sharks in Durban on Saturday.

The All Black superstar suffered a head-clash with Stormers prop Vincent Koch last weekend in Cape Town, forcing him to leave the field for a concussion test.

Williams returned to the playing field to complete most of the game, but has been suffering from headaches and showing symptoms of concussion.

For the Chiefs coach, Rennie, there is now a nervous wait to see if Williams can complete the mandatory protocols – in order to be declared fit to face the Sharks in this Super Rugby Round 6 crunch clash.

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