SANZAR

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Michael Hooper

Michael Hooper

Wallabies flank Michael Hooper will have to wait at least 1 more day to find out if he will be available for his team’s Rugby Championship decider against the All Blacks.

Hooper appeared before a SANZAR judicial hearing on Wednesday, where he was charged with having punched Argentina flyhalf Nicolas Sanchez in his team’s 34 / 9 win over the Pumas at the Estadio Malvinas Argentinas at the weekend.

Hooper was cited to appear before Nigel Hampton – via video conference – on Wednesday.

The Wallaby is alleged to have contravened Law 10.4 (a): Punching or striking.

The hearing has been adjourned until Thursday 30 July.

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The Rugby Championship This weekend saw Round 2 of The Rugby Championship.

In johannesburg, South Africa it was heart-break for the Springboks again, 2nd week in a row, this time losing in the dying minutes against a better conditiond and fitter All Blacks side, by 20 / 27, with All Blacks capatin Richie McCaw doing the damage to snatch the lead from the South Africans with only 6 minutes to go in the match.

In Mendoza, Argentinia, the Wallabies led 8 / 6 at halftime before tuning in all the screws and beating Los Pumas comfortably by 34 / 9, also earning their bonus point for tries in the process.

As a result of the Round 2 results, the All Blacks and Wallabies are joint leaders of The Rugby Championship Log, with 2 wins apiece, whereas the Springboks and Los Pumas are still winless in the Competition, with the Springboks on a paltry 2 Log points and Los Pumas still not out of the starting gates, on 0 Log Points.

In 2015 there is of course only 3 Rounds in total, in the abbreviated version of the prime Southern Hemisphere international competition due to this year being a Rugby World Cup year. In this shortened version of the competition, where in stead of the normal double Round of matches by every side against the other sides, there is only a single Round of matches by every side against each of the other nations.

Round 3 is only in a fortnight, where the focus will be on the Bledisloe clash between the Wallabies and All Blacks for this year’s overall title.

The Springboks dominated most of the 1st half but at the break the scores were still tied on 10 / 10 and later on 17 / 17 before South Africa took a slender 20 / 17 lead and held that lead untill 6 minutes from time, whereafter the All Blacks showed their class and superior fitness and better bench selections to add 10 further points and running out 7-point winners.

All is not lost for the Springboks and one feels that they showed some quality rugby 2 weeks in a row, but they will surely now realize that their overall conditioning, fitness as well as the impact their bench is supposed to have in the vital Rugby World Cup during September and October still need a massive amount of work if they are to stand a proper chance of winning the world showpiece in 2015.

The All Blacks once again appear to be massive favourites to not only win theis year’s Rugby Championship but to also go on to clinch the Rugby World Cup title in October.

Argentina seem to be dogged by the same “Illness” that the Springboks are suffering from, as they also seem incapable of ending games strong enough and also tend to kick tactically poorly, which invariably results in scores against them in the latter stages of games when defences are no longer as tight as in the beginning of matches.

The Wallabies are building up nicely towards the Rugby World Cup, having first narrowly dispatched the Springboks week before last and now comforably beating Los Pumas on the weekend. They managed to score 2 quick-fire tries towards the end of the clash in Argentina, first by Tevita Kuridrani and then barely 3 minutes later one by Adam Ashley-Cooper (to earn them the bonus point for tries) to hammer the nails in properly against the Pumas.

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Michael Hooper

Michael Hooper

Michael Hooper of Australia’s Wallabies has been cited for alleged foul play during a Rugby Championship match at the weekend.

Hooper is alleged to have contravened Law 10.4 (a) Punching or striking, when he made contact with Los Pumas flyhalf, Nicolas Sanchez in an incident that occurred in the 59th minute of the match between the Pumas and Wallabies at Estadio Malvinas Argentinas in Mendoza on 25 July.

The case is to be considered in the first instance by SANZAR Duty Judicial Officer Chris Morris.

All SANZAR disciplinary matters are in the first instance referred to a Duty Judicial Officer hearing to provide the option of expediting the judicial process.

For a matter to be dispensed with at this hearing, the person appearing must plead guilty and accept the penalty offered by the DJO.

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Springboks vs All Blacks

We look at the key statistics from yesterday’s game and discuss some of the more telling moments of the match. Statistics are courtesy of Vodacom, opinion is this writer’s own. Where at all possible, blame will be placed squarely at the feet of non-WP players and / or the match officials, pitch conditions and Jan van Riebeeck.

They say you get lies, damn lies and statistics and when you look at the comparisons, it would appear to be a very close game, and indeed it was, with the All Blacks making decisive scoring breaks in injury time in the 1st half as well as the last 10 minutes of the game to sneak the victory. They clearly have higher fitness levels than the Springboks, both physically and mentally and managed to out last as well as out think the Springboks, the try scored by Richie McCaw being a prime example of excellent tactical superiority.

The statistic that is most interesting is the breakdown of meters run. When you analyze which positions made the most meters the following is apparent:

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ArgentinaAustraliaLos Pumas (6) 9 / 34 (8) Wallabies (Final Score)

The Argentinian Pumas and Australian Wallabies did battle in Round 2 of The Rugby

Championship at Estadio Malvinas, Mendoza at Sunday 00:40 SA Time (19:40 Arg Time, 22:40

GMT, Sunday 08:40 AEST, Sunday 10:40 NZ Time). This was the live match discussion Article.

The match was broadcast LIVE on SuperSport 1 & CSN on TV in SA.

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South AfricaNew ZealandSpringboks (10) 20 / 27 (10) All Blacks (Final Score)

The South African Springboks and New Zealand All Blacks did battle in Round 2 of The Rugby

Championship at Emirates Airline Park, Johannesburg at 17:05 SA Time (15:05 GMT, 12:05 Arg Time,

Sunday 03:05 NZ Time, Sunday 01:05 AEST). 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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The Rugby ChampionshipIt is Round 2 of the abbreviated Rugby Championship of 2015 (Only 1 Round of matches against each side in 2015 as opposed to a double Round of matches against all sides – home and away in non Rugby World Cup years).

There are 2 games on Saturday 25 July.

The Action of the Round is kicked off in South Africa, where the Springboks take on the old foe, the All Blacks in Johannesburg and concludes with the late night match between the Argentinian Pumas against the Australian Wallabies in Mendoza.

On Saturday at Emirates Airline Park (Ellis Park) in Johannesburg at 17:05 SA Time (15:05 GMT, 12:05 Arg Time, Sunday 03:05 NZ Time, Sunday 01:05 AEST) referee Jérôme Garcès is in charge in the Springboks vs All Blacks game.

On Saturday at Estadio Malvinas in Mendoza, at Sunday 00:40 SA Time (19:40 Arg Time, 22:40 GMT, Sunday 08:40 AEST, Sunday 10:40 NZ Time) referee Jaco Peyper of South Africa is in charge of the Pumas vs Wallabies game.

The game between the Springboks and the All Blacks should be a humdinger of note and the result could go either way. Last time these 2 sides met, also at the same venue, the Springboks won by a measly 2 points. Both sides have made some bold selections, with 2 debutants on the All Blacks side and on the Springbok side we see the return of Heinrich Brüssow, who makes his 1st Springbok appearance since November 2011. One cannot help but feel that the All Blacks have ironed out most if not almost all the chinks in their armour, whereas the Springboks still seem to be a work in progress.

The Pumas and the Wallabies have each made 7 changes to their starting line-ups and the question begs whether Los Pumas could repeat their win over the Wallabies of last year in Mendoza. The Wallabies came back very strongly against the Springboks last week, so I quite fancy them for a win against the Pumas… in Argentina.

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The Castle Rugby ChampionshipIn a shortened version of The Rugby Championship, the 2 losers of Round 1 are practically in last chance saloon while victories for Round 1’s winners would set up a winner-takes-all Bledisloe Cup clash in Round 3.

It makes for a must-see weekend of action.

 

South AfricaNew ZealandSpringboks vs All Blacks:

It’s been 6 years since South Africa managed back-to-back wins over New Zealand and Saturday’s clash between the world’s top 2 teams represents an important chance to lay down a marker.

Last year’s last-minute victory for the Springboks in Johannesburg – only their 2nd win over the All Blacks since 2009 – ended a 3-year losing streak against their great rivals.

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WhistleSANZAR has released the names of the Match Officials for Round 2 of The Rugby Championship.

Jerome Garces starts the action this weekend in Johannesburg when South Africa’s Springboks host the All Blacks from New Zealand.

In the 2nd match of this Round, Argentina’s Los Pumas host the Wallabies from Australia in Mendoza and the referee is Jaco Peyper.

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Will Genia

Will Genia

Rob Horne

Rob Horne

The Wallabies have announced a 31-man touring squad for the next Round of The Rugby Championship in Argentina on Saturday 25 July.

Will Genia and Rob Horne have both been ruled out of the squad due to injury, following Australia’s 4 point victory over the Springboks in Brisbane on the weekend.

Genia suffered bone bruising and minor cartilage damage to his knee, while Horne will return to Sydney with a calf strain.

Head coach Michael Cheika said, “It’s disappointing for Will and Rob to miss this upcoming Test. They have both made an outstanding contribution to the group this past 2 weeks, and will continue to remain part of the wider squad from afar.”

“Will is due to have some minor surgery this week and we are confident he will be available for selection for the Bledisloe Cup series.

“We have taken a conservative approach with Rob and the additional week off will serve him well going into the next stage of our campaign.

Nick Cummins and Nic White will join the squad as their replacements, with 2 further additions in hooker James Hanson and prop Tetera Faulkner.

They will return as official members of the 31-man squad, after being used as additional training squad players in the lead-up to the Springboks Test.

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Wallabies jubelant for the last gasp try by Tevita Kuridrani

Wallabies jubelant for the last gasp try by Tevita Kuridrani

 

The Australian Wallabies overturned a 13-point deficit to beat the South African Springboks 24 / 20 in an enthralling Rugby Championship contest in Brisbane on Saturday.

The TMO awarded Tevita Kuridrani a try after the final hooter, which capped a brave comeback by the hosts, who had trailed 20 / 7 early in the 2nd half.

The sides scored a try apiece late in the 1st half via Adam Ashley-Cooper and Eben Etzebeth but 2 early penalties from the boot of Handré Pollard meant the Springboks led 13 / 7 at the interval, which was a fair reflection of the opening 40 minutes.

The South African scrum was on top and their loose trio were doing well at the breakdown, although Israel Folau proved a threat every time he touched the ball for the hosts.

Test debutant Jesse Kriel announced his arrival on the international scene with a fabulous try early in the 2nd half but the visitors were made to do a huge amount of defending as Australia swung the territory and possession stats around.

A change in front-row personnel on both sides ended the Springboks’ set-piece dominance and the tandem threat of Michael Hooper and David Pocock helped the Wallabies hang onto the ball in the last half hour.

Hooper muscled his way over in the dying minutes to set up a grandstand finish, before Kuridrani managed to get the tip of the ball down on the chalk to snatch victory in dramatic style.

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Kieran Read on the rampage

Kieran Read on the rampage

 

New Zealand kicked off their Rugby Championship campaign with a comfortable 39 / 18 win over Argentina in Christchurch on Friday.

Impressive at scrum time, the All Blacks showed their power in defence and attack in the 1st half, running in 2 tries through Richie McCaw and Ma’a Nonu, allowing them to take an 18 / 6 halftime lead.

Despite 2 2nd-half tries from Agustin Creevy, it was the All Blacks who controlled things, running in 3 more scores through Charles Piutau, Kieran Read and debutant Codie Taylor.

The key to the game was the difference in defence, with New Zealand able to knock back runners all day long, while the Pumas were constantly on the back foot.

With quick ball, they created plenty of opportunities and were never really in danger, giving McCaw and Dan Carter a fitting farewell for their final international games in Christchurch.

Argentina had rested a number of experienced players, putting in faith in the likes of Guido Petti and Facundo Isa, who impressed last November, as well as promising winger Santiago Cordero.

In contrast New Zealand were playing the most experienced side in Test history, despite the absence of the likes of Conrad Smith, Julian Savea and Sam Whitelock. There was an All Black debut for Waisake Naholo, the Highlanders winger who topped the try-scoring charts in Super Rugby this season.

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AustraliaSouth AfricaWallabies (7) 24 / 20 (13) Springboks (Final Score)

The Australian Wallabies and South Arfican Springboks did battle in The Rugby Championship at

Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane at 12:05 SA Time (20:05 AEST, 22:05 NZ Time, 07:05 ARG Time, 10:05 GMT).

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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New ZealandArgentinaAll Blacks (18) 39 / 18 (6) Los Pumas (Final Score)

The New Zealand All Blacks and Argentinian Pumas did battle in The Rugby Championship at

AMI Stadium, Christchurch, New Zealand at 09:35 SA Time (19:35 NZ Time, 04:35 ARG Time, 17:35 AEST, 07:35 GMT).

This was the live match discussion Article.

The match was broadcast LIVE on SuperSport 1 & CSN on TV in SA.

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The Rugby ChampionshipIt is Round 1 of the abbreviated Rugby Championship of 2015 (Only 1 Round of matches against each side in 2015 as opposed to a double Round of matches against all sides – home and away in non Rugby World Cup years).

There is 1 games on Friday 17 July and 1 game on Saturday 18 July.

The Action of the Round is kicked off in New Zealand, where the All Blacks take on Los Pumas of Argentinia in Christchurch and concludes with the match between the Australian Wallabies against the South African Springboks in Brisbane.

On Friday at AMI Stadium in Christchurch at 09:35 SA Time (19:35 NZ Time, 04:35 ARG Time, 17:35 AEST, 07:35 GMT) referee Craig Joubert is in charge in the All Blacks vs Los Pumas game.

On Saturday at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane, at 12:05 SA Time (20:05 AEST, 22:05 NZ Time, 07:05 ARG Time, 10:05 GMT) referee Nigel Owens of Wales is in charge of the Wallabies vs Springboks game.

The game between the All Blacks and Los Pumas should only produce 1 result and that is a comfortable win for the All Blacks. All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has opted for a very experienced run-on side and replacement bench, whereas Argentinian coach Daniel Hourcade has included a number of inexperienced players in a very experimental Pumas side.

The game between the Wallabies and Springboks is extremely difficult to call but Rugby Championship and Tri-Nations history favours the Wallabies greatly at home in Australia against the Springboks. Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has opted to haul back some big guns, 2 from overseas (Matt Giteau and Drew Mitchell) and 2 recent Australian-based Wallabies who missed some of last year’s internationals (Will Genia & Quade Cooper) to bolster his match-day 23. Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer has changed just 1 player from the run-on side which demolished the World XV side last weekend, namely Schalk Burger in place of Warren Whiteley at No 8 and has made 4 further changes on the bench.

One would have to flip a coin or be very bold to nominate a winner here, but I suppose the home side goes in with a slight advantage.

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Super RugbyIt 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.

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Super Rugby finalists' NAME PLATES, which one will be engraved?

Super Rugby finalists’ NAME PLATES, which one will be engraved?

 

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.

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HurricanesChris 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.

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HighlandersThe 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.

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Jaco Peyper

Jaco Peyper

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.

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Henry Speight

Henry Speight

A SANZAR Appeals Committee, chaired by Nigel Hampton QC (New Zealand) and comprising Lex Mpati (South Africa) and Terry Willis (Australia) unanimously dismissed an appeal brought by the Brumbies against the decision that found Henry Speight had contravened Law 10.4 (j) – Lifting Tackle.

The Committee dismissed the appeal on the basis that the appellant was unable to show that the Judicial Officer’s central factual findings, that the tackle involved both a lifting and driving, were in error.

The Committee also unanimously dismissed the appeal brought against the 5-week (4-match) suspension imposed on Speight, finding that the Judicial Officer had not erred in principle and that the sanction imposed was not manifestly excessive.

As such, the player remains suspended from all forms of the game for 5 weeks up to and including Saturday 25 July 2015.

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Super RugbyIt is the Semi-Final Round of Super Rugby 2015 this weekend.

There are only 2 matches in the Round, 1 in New Zealand and 1 in Australia.

1St Place on the Combined Log, the Hurricanes hosts the lowest Qualifier, the Brumbies. In the other match 2nd on the Log, the Waratahs hosts the other qualifier from last weekend, the Highlanders.

The 2 Franchises who finished in the No 1 and No 2 spots on the Combined Log, the Hurricanes and Waratahs respectively, have had wonderful rest weekends, as they sat out during the Top 6 Qualification Round last weekend.

The action is kicked off by the Hurricanes vs Brumbies who do battle in Wellington at 09:35 SA Time (19:35 NZ Time, 17:35 AEST, 07:35 GMT) on Saturday 27 June.

A little later, over in Sydney, Australia, the Waratahs plays the Highlanders at 11:55 SA Time (19:55 AEST, 21:55 NZ Time, 09:55 GMT).

After this Round only 2 Teams remain to contest the Final next weekend.

The Hurricanes vs Brumbies game should be an absolute cracker after the Brumbies’ massive win over the DHL Stormers last weekend, but one would have to give a nod to the most consistent team of this year’s series, the Hurricanes, who have stood out head and shoulders above all comers in 2015.

Both teams sport great backlines but I am of the opinion that the Hurricanes are punching at the weight they should always punch at in 2015, and I give the win to them, but not by a large margin.

As far as the other match is concerned, do we give home ground advantage enough weight to speculate that the Waratahs will overcome the staunch Highlanders in Sydney… even though their regular league season was not as brilliant as last season, OR do we say that the Highlander’s faerie tale will continue in 2015?

It is a difficult call to make and I’m leaning towards the Waratahs making it at home in Sydney!

Meanwhile 11Teams are already lounging around, no longer part of the race to the finish line.

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Super RugbyIt is the Top 6 Qualifying Round of Super Rugby 2015 this weekend.

There are only 2 matches in the Round, 1 in New Zealand and 1 in South Africa.

3rd Placed on the Combined Log, the DHL Stormers (albeit 3rd only by reason of the Conference Syystem), hosts 6th on the Log, the Brumbies. In the other match 4th on the Log, the Highlanders, hosts 5th on the Log, the Chiefs.

The 2 Franchises who finished in the No1 and No 2 spots on the Combined Log, the Hurricanes and Waratahs respectively, have lovely rest weekends, as they only meet the winners of this Round’s matches next weekend in the Semi-Finals.

The action is kicked off by the Highlanders vs Chiefs who do battle in Dunedin at 09:35 SA Time (19:35 NZ Time, 17:35 AEST, 07:35 GMT)

Much later in the day, in Cape Town, South Africa, the DHL Stormers host the Brumbies at 17:05 SA Time (15:05 GMT, Sunday 01:05 AEST, Sunday 03:05 NZ Time).

After this Round of Top 6 Qualifying matches, only 4 teams will remain and there will be 2 Semi-Final matches next weekend, followed by a Final match for the ultimate winner a week later.

The Highlanders vs Chiefs game should be an absolute cracker, with both teams getting some injured players back into the fold. It is extremely difficult to pick a winner for this game and the different pundits differ on the winner of the match, with probable the bigger percentage backing the Chiefs for an away win. I differ from that though, and I think if there is ONE YEAR where the Highlanders could make it to the Semi-Finals, it is this year, at home, at Forsyth Barr stadium.

Both teams sport great backlines but I am of the opinion that the Highlanders might have a slightly more abrasive forwards pack and possibly also a better scrumhalf and flyhalf, both of whom have come on in leaps and bounds in 2015, namely Aaron Smith and Lima Sopoaga.

I predict the Highlanders to squeek a win, in a very entertaining match.

As far as the other match is concerned, do we give home ground advantage enough weight to speculate that the DHL Stormers will overcome the Brumbies in Cape Town… even though their regular league game was only a 21 / 20 win for the Stormers and with Christian Lealiifano missing an absolute peach of a conversion attempt, from right in front, OR do we say that the Brumbies will win the game in the absense of Duane Vermeulen and likely also Schalk Burger, both with some injury concerns?

The South African scribes and pundits all patriotically pick the Stormers for a win, but I am hesitant to do so and think this game’s result is a perfect 50 / 50 guess, so may the best team take it!

Meanwhile 9 Teams are already lounging around, no longer part of the race to the finish line.

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Super RugbyIt was a weekend of high drama in the final Open Round of Super Rugby, with a number of upsets and quite a few emotional good-byes as the regular season came to an end.

On Saturday afternoon, the Toyota Cheetahs gave their new coach, Franco Smith, something to smile about at the end of a tough season when they won for the 1st time ever in Pretoria as they beat the Vodacom Bulls by 42 / 29.

Shortly after the match, the Blue Bulls Company (Pty) Ltd and the Blue Bulls Company Board of Directors confirmed that Frans Ludeke had stepped down from his position as Super Rugby and ABSA Currie Cup head coach with immediate effect.

The DHL Stormers were crowned champions of the South African Conference despite going down by 34 / 10 to the Cell C Sharks in Durban, as the KwaZulu-Natalians bid farewell to a number of Springbok stalwarts.

The Capetonians will host the Brumbies at DHL Newlands in the 2nd Qualifier next Saturday afternoon, at 17:05 SA Time. The 1st Qualifier is an all-New Zealand affair between the Highlanders and the Chiefs in Dunedin (09:35 SA Time), also on Saturday.

Tickets for the DHL Stormers’ match against the Brumbies match go on sale from Monday 15 June at 12:00 SA Time. Prices range from R 80.00 to R 350.00 and DHL Newlands season tickets are valid for this match. For more information or to book tickets, visit www.wprugby.computicket.com.

DHL Newlands Box Office ticket sales open on Tuesday 16 June. Tickets can also be bought at Computicket outlets and Shoprite / Checkers stores nationwide.

The Hurricanes and Waratahs finished in the Top 2 Combined Log positions and will enjoy a BYE next weekend before hosting semi-finals the week thereafter.

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