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Play-Off’s

Cell C Sharks celebations

Celebrations at Kings Park as Bismarck du Plessis scores for the Cell C Sharks

Cell C SharksThe Cell C Sharks are still in contention for their first Super Rugby trophy after beating the Highlanders 31 to 27 at Kings Park tonight.

The Sharks must thank their forwards, and in particular their front row for this victory. Their scrum absolutely decimated the Highlander’s scrum and lead to 6 points in penalties and an all important try to man of the match, Bismarck Du Plessis.

The tactics of not kicking to touch almost cost the Sharks the match as the Highlander’s counter attack was devastating and almost won the game for them. It is a dangerous ploy from the Sharks to gift the ball back to the opposition, considering that their next opponents are also a New Zealand side, and that’s not even taking into account that they might also still have to face the Waratahs or Brumbies, who in Israel Folau and Jessie Mogg have devastating counter runners at their disposal as well.

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Ben Mowen

Brumbies skipper Ben Mowen in action

BrumbiesACT Brumbies captain Ben Mowen has lauded the club’s courageous Super Rugby finals win against the Waikato Chiefs as the best performance of the past three years.

But Mowen, the most-capped skipper in Brumbies history, insists the ACT side can improve on its epic eight-try win which ended the Chiefs’ two-year reign as Super Rugby champions.

The Brumbies held on for a cliffhanger 32-30 triumph at Canberra Stadium on Saturday night, setting up a likely week-two finals clash against arch rivals the NSW Waratahs next weekend.

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Cell C SharksHighlandersSharks (13) 31 / 27 (17) Highlanders (Final Score)

The Cell C Sharks and Highlanders did battle in the Play-Off Round of Super Rugby at

Growthpoint Kings Park, Durban at 17:05 SA Time (15:05 GMT, 03:05 Sunday NZ Time, 01:05 Sunday AEST).

This was the live match discussion Article.

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

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Mt Everest

The Sharks have their own Mt. Everest to climb

If one were to ask people who the first person was to climb Mt. Everest, their answers would invariably be Sir Edmund Hillary.

While technically correct, and the reason I say technically is because Hillary was the first to successfully climb to the summit, there were 8 other expeditions before him. The 1922 British Mount Everest expedition was the first mountaineering expedition with the express aim of making the first ascent of Mount Everest.

Between 1922 and 1953 there were 8 expeditions that tried and failed. The term failed is used lightly I might add, climbers succumbed from illnesses ranging from malaria to altitude sickness, and those were the lucky ones. Death was the common reason for the majority of the failures.

Why am I writing about the ascent of Mt. Everest on a rugby site you might ask, well simply put, Jake White and his Sharks are currently standing at the foot of their own Mt. Everest and tomorrow evening when Steve Walsh blows his whistle to signal the kick off between them and the Highlanders, they will take their first steps on a journey that will hopefully end with them planting the South African flag on the summit in three weeks time.

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Rod Macqueen

For the Brumbies to win, they need to play “Macqueenball”

They say in sports you have to lose a grand final before you win one. That is the prospect, anyway, facing the ACT Brumbies as they go into a successive Super Rugby finals campaign on Saturday night.

The team they play, the Chiefs, defeated them in the 2013 grand final at Hamilton. It took the All Blacks 24 years to understand that finals rugby is an entirely different ball game from pool-round rugby. After the All Blacks lost in the quarter-finals to France in the 2007 Rugby World Cup, the coaching staff did some deep thinking into how to play finals rugby.

What they discovered is that they needed to have total clarity on how to play each specific final. And they had to have contingency plans for coping with unforeseeable events. The best contingency plan is to score enough points before trouble arrives, as it did for the Brumbies in the last 20 minutes of their final against the Chiefs.

Where the Brumbies need clarity in their qualifying final is knowing whether to play “Jakeball” or “Macqueenball”.

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imageimageThe Cell C Sharks will play in their 14th Vodacom Super Rugby knock-out match when they host the Highlanders in the second Qualifier for 2014 at Growthpoint Kings Park in Durban on Saturday afternoon.

The newly-crowned South African Conference champions are one of the most successful teams in the history of the competition when it comes to reaching the playoff rounds, although they are yet to take the trophy back to Durban.

The Sharks are without doubt the most successful team in the history of the competition never to have won the title.

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Special EditionSuper RugbyThe 2014 Super Rugby season is slowly drawing to a close and tomorrow sees the two Play-Off matches in the form of a Qualifying Round. Tomorrow’s victorious teams will qualify for the right to play in the Semi-Finals.

The only certainty is that the Crusaders and the Waratahs will be hosting those Semi-Finals, but against whom, and what happens after that?

There are multiple scenarios and permutations that could come into play.

3 Weekends of Super Rugby remain in 2014, this weekend’s Play-Off Round, the Semi-Final Weekend and the Final the week thereafter.

The Final takes place on 2 August 2014.

 

If you are a Sharks fan:

image

Your team qualified 3rd on the Combined Log.

They’re up against the Highlanders in Durban, on Saturday night.

  • If the Sharks win, then they travel to Christchurch to take on the Crusaders in the one Semi-Final.
  • If the Sharks beat the Crusaders and the Waratahs beat the Brumbies, the Sharks travel to Sydney to take on the Waratahs.
  • The Sharks can host the Final if they beat the Crusaders and the Brumbies beat the Waratahs.

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SuperBruBefore making those all important SuperBru picks for the Super Rugby qualifying matches, let’s have a look at some predictions, thoughts and statistics from the sides taking the field this Saturday.

Blue Bird aka Carol is still leading the Rugby-Talk Super Rugby 2014 SuperBru log on a stellar 106.50 points.

Sharks_Lover has gained ground on her after his yellow cap winning Round 19 and is sitting in second spot on 106.20. Winston Champ dropped one place to 3rd on 104.50 points.

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Super RugbyIt is the Play-Off Round of Super Rugby 2014 this weekend! We have only the 2 Play-Off games in this Round, as all teams below Log position 6 has now been dispatched and the Top 2 teams have a nice rest weekend, with both games on Saturday.

This is the final crunch to sort the men from the boys, to sort the teams going forward into the Semi-Finals.

The Waratahs and Crusaders sit comfortably at the Top of the table and the Brumbies, Chiefs, Cell C Sharks and Highlanders compete in this Round.

It is winners take all in these Play-Off games, the losers joing the other 9 Teams who have already been dispatched to also-ran’s.

Bonus points for tries and losses within 7 now does not matter anymore, all that is needed is a win.

Let the games continue….

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Cell C SharksHighlandersA midfield match-up, the scrumhalves, the battle between the pilferers on the deck and an arm-wrestle at scrum-time come under focus as Sport24 pinpoints a quartet of areas that could tilt the balance between the Sharks and Highlanders.

The teams meet in a Super Rugby finals series first-round knockout match at Kings Park on Saturday (17:05) and these are the individual contests Rob Houwing highlights for special attention…

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Cell C SharksIn the second of the Qualifying Round matches, the Cell C Sharks hosts the Highlanders from Otago. The Sharks won the SA Conference and thereby ensured they booked a home qualifier by ending 3rd on the Combined Log. The Highlanders took the last of the wild card positions by ending their season 6th.

The long-awaited return of Springbok Patrick Lambie highlights the Sharks team for their Super Rugby play-off encounter with the Highlanders in Durban on Saturday.

Scrumhalf Cobus Reinach also makes a welcome return ahead of this preliminary qualifier.

However, it is the return of Lambie’s – albeit on the replacement bench – that will hog the headlines.

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BrumbiesThe Super Rugby Qualifying Rounds kick off in Canberra on Saturday morning SA time when the ACT Brumbies hosts the current champions, the Chiefs.  The Brumbies ended 4th on the combined Super Rugby log and the Chiefs 5th.

Robbie Coleman returns to the Brumbies starting side on Saturday when his team takes on the Chiefs in their Super Rugby Qualifier at GIO Stadium. Coleman’s elevation to the starting side shifts Clyde Rathbone out of the matchday 23, with rookie prop Allan Alaalatoa’s inclusion on the bench the only other change to last week’s squad.

With seven tries to his name in 2014, Coleman leads the Brumbies try-scoring tally alongside his fellow-back-three member, Jesse Mogg. It’s been a big season for the Brumbies outside backs, with Henry Speight, Joe Tomane, Pat McCabe, Mogg and Coleman combining for a total of 22 five-pointers.

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Jessie Mogg

Jessie Mogg has regained his starting role for the Brumbies after being dropped earlier this season

Brumbies fullback Jesse Mogg is using his Super Rugby axing to reignite his passion, admitting he took his position in the team for granted after being the first-choice No.15 for more than two years.

Mogg was benched for the Brumbies’ clash against the Melbourne Rebels in June, with coach Stephen Larkham opting to promote Wallabies warrior Pat McCabe to the starting XV.

But Mogg has regained his fullback jersey after McCabe was injured while on Wallabies duty, and the Wests speedster says being dropped was the wake-up call he needed to help the Brumbies’ charge to the championship.

“It was about me turning things around and working a little bit harder,” he said. “I’ve come back and played solid over the last two weeks, I’ll look to build on that into the finals series.”

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HighlandersCell C SharksHighlanders coach Jamie Joseph denies his side is lacking energy heading into the play-offs and says it is time to get excited about playing in the finals.

After a poor outing against the Crusaders in their last pool game the Highlanders know they will have to play much better if they are to be competitive in their long-awaited play-off match against the Sharks.

They never fired in Christchurch on Saturday, the 34-8 defeat from the Crusaders ensured they finished sixth in the competition and have to head to Durban to take on the Sharks.

Earlier this season, the Highlanders beat the Sharks 34-18 in Durban. The Sharks are not looking as impressive as they were at the start of the season, when they led the table for a long period of time.

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BrumbiesChiefsThe Brumbies are determined to avoid getting into a ‘brutal arm-wrestle’ with the two-time defending champion Chiefs.

The two sides meet in Canberra on Saturday in the first match of the 2014 Super Rugby play-offs, a preliminary qualifier.

Having found some late-season form – with victories over the Blues (11-8 this past weekend) and Hurricanes (24-16 the week before) – the Chiefs muscled their way from ninth to fifth on the table in the past fortnight.

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Special EditionSuper RugbyAs we head into the Super Rugby Finals Series, here is an overview of what happens should the scores be level at full time in any of our remaining matches.

(a) Extra Time – the procedure will be:

After a five minute rest period, the extra time is played in two 10-minute periods with a two minute half time;

Before extra time begins, the referee will do a coin toss with the two captains one minute before the new kick-off. The winner of the coin toss decides if his team wants to kick-off or if his team wants to choose the side of the pitch it wants to play on for the first 10 minute period;

For the second 10 minute period, the teams change sides and the team that did not kick off in the first period does so;

Coaches are not permitted on the field during the rest period or half time.

Teams and match officials must remain on the field during the rest period and at half time.

Injury time is added to the two 10 minute periods.

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Steve Walsh

Steve Walsh

Sanzar has announced that South Africa’s Craig Joubert and Steve Walsh from Australia will referee the two Vodacom Super Rugby Qualifiers this weekend.

Joubert will be the man in the middle in Canberra, where the Brumbies host the Chiefs, while Walsh will be in action in Durban in the second Qualifier between the Cell C Sharks and the Highlanders.

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BullsBye weekends can be a curse to teams with a bit of momentum, but perhaps the Bulls should be grateful for theirs in the next round of Super Rugby.

The optimistic view about an “off” week for Frans Ludeke’s charges, you see, is that it will refresh them for what shapes up as a pressure-cooker, make-or-break match against the Brumbies at Loftus on Friday 23 May.

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Super RugbyFollowing the completion of the regular season in Super Rugby the top 6 teams have been determined and the 4 teams that will play in the qualifiers next weekend.

By finishing the season as the competition’s two highest-ranked conference winners, the Chiefs (66 points, 12 wins) and the Bulls (63 points, 12 wins) have earned the week off and progress straight to the Super Rugby Semi Finals where they await the winners of the qualifying matches.

The match officials for the 2 games have also been decided.

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Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder has appealed to television match officials to get “the big moments” right as the Super Rugby enters the sudden death rounds on Saturday.

History favours the Crusaders and Reds in their playoff clashes against the Bulls and Sharks, and Blackadder does not want the results decided by controversial rulings.

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