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Toyota Cheetahs

Cell C SharksBullsStormersLionsCheetahsThe South African Conference resumes this weekend in Round 18, after watching the Australian and New Zealand franchises in action which ensured that there is likely to be only one team from the Republic in the finals.

The Sharks, long guaranteed the South African Conference, will finish in the top three while two more victories will ensure that Jake White’s team finish in the top two position and lock up a home Semi Final.

The Bulls still have an outside chance of reaching the Finals Series, but their hopes were dealt a blow with a 32-21 loss to the Lions before the June break.

The Stormers have become one of the premier spoilers in Super Rugby so far, while the Lions and Cheetahs have likely already begun planning for the Currie Cup and 2015 season.

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Heinrich Brussow

Heinrich Brussow

CheetahsThe Cheetahs will not able to call on the services of Heinrich Brüssow for their Super Rugby clash against the Sharks in Bloemfontein on Saturday.

Coach Naka Drotské said that the loose forward is still struggling with a groin injury and won’t be risked for the game.

Philip van der Walt (hand) and Jean Cook (shoulder) are ready for action again, while Oupa Mohoje has also returned from the Springboks.

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Adriaan Strauss

Adriaan Strauss

The Vodacom Bulls could have snapped up the signing of the year locally as Springbok hooker and Toyota Cheetahs captain Adriaan Strauss looks set to be heading back to Pretoria.

Strauss is yet to sign the contract, and the Bulls could only open negotiations with him today – 1 July – but sources close to the Cheetahs camp have confirmed that Strauss has already said no to a contract extension with his province and now seems set on returning to Pretoria.

The Grey College graduate, who played his junior rugby in Pretoria and made his Vodacom Super Rugby debut there as well, before returning to the Cheetahs is being chased as well by the Stormers, who also have made a big money offer to sign him.

But it seems the Bulls have won the race, with indications that the deal could be finalised this week already and that Strauss will be a possible captain for the Bulls in next year’s Super Rugby series.

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Johann Sadie

Johann Sadie

The Cheetahs were hit by another massive blow when they lost their ninth player of the season, with midfielder Johann Sadie heading to Japan to join the NTT Docomo Red Hurricanes at the end of the current Super Rugby season.

Sadie will make the move to the Japanese club, which also has South Africans Heinrich Brüssow and Riaan Viljoen on their books, after again missing on the Springbok training squad.

The Cheetahs midfielder has had a good season despite his team’s poor form in this year’s competition and will definitely be able to use his attacking skills in the pacy Japanese league.

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Johannes 'Boom' Prinsloo

Johannes ‘Boom’ Prinsloo

Die Cheetahs agsteman, Johannes ‘Boom’ Prinsloo, het sy betrokkenheid met die Bloemfontein-gebasseerde eenheid verleng tot aan die einde van 2015.

Die 25-jarige wat ‘n uitnemende en vooraanstaande verhouding en geskiedenis met die SA Sewes Blitzbokke gehad het, het gesê hy is gelukkig by die Cheetahs en sien geen rede om daaraan te verander nie.

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Philip van der Walt

Philip van der Walt

The Cheetahs have announced that eighthman Philip van der Walt will leave the Bloemfontein Super Rugby franchise in order to play in France.

The Free-state franchise have released Van der Walt from his contract so that he can join French club Biarritz.

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Hilton Lobberts

Hilton Lobberts

CheetahsFormer Springbok forward Hilton Lobberts has been named on the Cheetahs bench for Saturday’s clash with the Stormers at Newlands.

The two-Test former Stormers player replaces lock Waltie Vermeulen in one of two changes made to the Cheetahs bench. Scrumhalf Tian Meyer, who like Lobberts was part Vodacom Cup-winning Griquas team – also comes onto the bench for Renier Botha.

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Hennie DanillerThe Toyota Cheetahs have lost their second player with the news that fullback Hennie Daniller will move to Italian club Zebre at the end of the current Vodacom Super Rugby season.

Daniller, who has just turned 30, has been released early by the Cheetahs to make the move, and the news comes a few days after French club Oyonnax confirmed they had signed utility back Riaan “True Blue” Smit.

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Super RugbyCheetahsStormersCell C SharksSaturday’s three Vodacom Super Rugby matches involving the Cell C Sharks, DHL Stormers and Toyota Cheetahs ended in a whitewash for the South African teams as they all recorded good victories.

The Cell C Sharks consolidated their spot at the top of the Vodacom Super Rugby log with a superb 30-25 victory over the in-form Crusaders in Christchurch – the first defeat for the team from Canterbury in New Zealand since 2001 against South African opposition and also the maiden victory for a team from the Republic in the Land of the Long White Cloud this season.

The Durbanites became the first South African team to ever in Christchurch since the franchise system was put in place in 1998.

It was only the second time a SA team managed to beat the Crusaders in Christchurch, when Northern Transvaal won there in 1996, and the third time out of 46 matches that the seven-time Vodacom Super Rugby champions lost at home to a team from the Republic – the Cats beat the Crusaders in Nelson in 2001.

The Crusaders also drew twice at home to teams from South Africa in the early years of Super 12, in 1996 against Western Province and in 1997 against the Sharks.

Later on Saturday afternoon, the DHL Stormers won their third successive home game of 2014 when they easily beat the high-flying Force by 24-8 in Cape Town, outscoring their visitors by three tries to one – ironically the same try count as in the Sharks/Crusaders match.

Saturday ended in ecstasy for the Toyota Cheetahs as they managed to beat the Brumbies for the first time since 2011 when they won this replay of their 2013 qualifier by 27-21, thanks mainly to a very good second half performance.

On Sunday morning, the Lions started very well against the Waratahs in Sydney, but the home team had too much left in the second half and eventually won this match by 41-13.

The Vodacom Bulls, currently second in the South African Conference behind the Cell C Sharks, had a bye this weekend.

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Johan GoosenCheetahsThe Cheetahs remain in the dark over the future of Springbok flyhalf Johan Goosen, amidst escalating rumours that he is to depart from the Cheetahs.

The most recent dispatches from the Bloemfontein media suggest Goosen will make an announcement in the “next few days” – having been linked to French clubs Racing Metro and Toulon, as well as the Stormers.

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Trevor NyakaneThe Vodacom Bulls may well add Springbok prop Trevor Nyakane to their ranks as their next acquisition when his contract expires at the end of the season.

Nyakane, who became a Springbok last season but was dropped because of disciplinary issues, is known to be on the target list of the Bulls as they look to strengthen their squad ahead of the 2015 season.

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Sias EbersohnWestern ForceA move back to the Cheetahs may not be the wisest move for Western Force flyhalf Sias Ebersohn.

Ebersohn is having a stellar season for this year’s Super Rugby surprise packages, and last weekend returned to haunt his former team-mates by kicking 13 points in a 23-16 win in Bloemfontein.

He held his own against opposite number Johan Goosen – ironically the player who kept him out of the Cheetahs team a couple of seasons ago – which eventually led to Ebersohn’s move abroad.

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Sias EbersohnWestern ForceFormer South African Schools flyhalf Sias Ebersohn left his country of birth under a cloud, seemingly unable to convert his potential into form at Super Rugby level.

However, the 25-year-old made a triumphant return to Bloemfontein at the weekend – producing a mature performance and played a key role in the Western Force’s 23-16 Super Rugby Round 13 win over his former team, the Cheetahs.

Force coach Michael Foley commended the No 10, who left Bloemfontein for Perth two years ago after being overlooked – with Springbok Johan Goosen the preferred choice.

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Special EditionStormersSharksLionsCheetahsBullsThis is the last article in the 3-part series where we run the rule over team performances so far and take a look at the chances of teams as we enter the final stretch of the regular season.

We conclude with the South African Conference, who are positioned as the bottom performing country overall, with 4 teams in the bottom 6 at present.

SUMMARY: While the Sharks fly the SA flag and have established the 1st major break at the top of the table, now 5 points clear, only the Bulls have any chance of joining Jake White’s team in the knockout stage of the season.

The Lions’ promising start has been tarnished, the Cheetahs record season last year is a distant memory, while the Stormers haven’t been so far down the table since 1996.

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coenie_oosthuizenJohan GoosenCheetahsCheetahs coach Naka Drotske has included two Springbok stalwarts in his run on side for their Super Rugby encounter against the Western Force in Bloemfontein on Saturday afternoon.

Flyhalf Johan Goosen and prop Coenie Oosthuizen are back in the starting line-up after making an impact from the bench against the Bulls in Pretoria last week.

Goosen, who has recovered from a concussion, replaces Elgar Watts, while Oosthuizen comes in for Maks van Dyk at tight head prop. Both Watts and Van Dyk find themselves among the replacements.

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Jean CookLigtoring LandmanCheetahsNet toe die Cheetahs se diepte begin beter lyk het, het die beseringspook weer in hul kamp toegeslaan.

Dié sentrale streekspan sal Saterdag hier in sy Superrugby-wedstryd teen die Western Force sonder die beseerde flank Jean Cook (skouer) én slot Ligtoring Landman (kuit) moet klaarkom.

Wat die terugslae erger maak, is dat dit in posisies is waar Naka Drotské, die Cheetahs se afrigter, se span reeds uitgedun is.

Boonop sukkel die vleuel Raymond Rhule (enkel) ook met ’n besering, maar kan hy volgens Drotské nog betyds herstel.

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Cheetahscoenie_oosthuizenJohan GoosenCheetahs coach Naka Drotské has included two Springboks on his replacement bench in an otherwise unchanged line up for his side’s Super Rugby encounter against the Bulls in Pretoria on Saturday.

Springbok flyhalf Johan Goosen and Bok prop Coenie Oosthuizen have both been cleared to play after recovering from injuries. Goosen was sidelined for a couple of weeks with concussion, while Oosthuizen has finally recovered from a lengthy neck injury he sustained during the Cheetahs’ overseas tour to Australasia.

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Super RugbyThe Toyota Cheetahs delivered their best performance of the Vodacom Super Rugby season when they won comfortably against the DHL Stormers in an exciting local derby, but the Vodacom Bulls and Cell C Sharks were kept try-less as they ended up on the losing side in Round 11.

The team from Central South Africa and the Capetonians were involved in an thrilling derby where the most tries were scored this season. The Toyota Cheetahs won this encounter in Bloemfontein on Saturday afternoon by 35-22, outscoring the visitors by five tries to three.

It was the most tries scored against the DHL Stormers in a local derby since the Cell C Sharks and Vodacom Bulls put five and seven respectively past them in 2007.

Earlier on Saturday, the Vodacom Bulls had to battle the elements and Sias Ebersohn’s boot in Perth. The Force beat the visitors from Pretoria by 15-9 in a kick-fest where no tries were scored.

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