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Super Rugby Preview – Round 3

PUBLISHED: March 8, 2012



The Toyota Cheetahs have hit the road and will face the Brumbies in Canberra first up on their four-week Australasian Vodacom Super Rugby tour on Saturday.

The men from Bloemfontein are the first to leave South Africa this year as they travel to the Australian capital for a match against a team now coached by former Springbok boss Jake White.

 

On home soil, The Sharks will be aiming for their first victory of the season when they host the MTN Lions in Durban, before the Vodacom Bulls aim to prolong the Blues’ blues on the Highveld.

 

Note: For all the South African team announcements, fixtures, results, logs, live score updates, top points and try scorers as well as and match summaries, click here.

 

Brumbies vs Toyota Cheetahs

 

On the surface it might look like an uphill battle, but the Toyota Cheetahs will go into Saturday’s Vodacom Super Rugby match against two-time champions, the Brumbies, buoyed by the knowledge that they can win in Australia.

 

Looking at the stats between these teams, the Brumbies clearly have the upper hand. The Free Staters have never won in the Australian capital in three visits and have only won this corresponding fixture two times out of six.

 

And while it’s taken them 11 games since 2006, the Toyota Cheetahs proved last year in Sydney that they can win Down Under when they shocked the Waratahs by 23-3 – to date their only victory in Australia in 12 attempts. They also scored a good victory against the Brumbies in Bloemfontein.

 

After conceding six tries to the Vodacom Bulls last weekend, the Toyota Cheetahs will have an improvement on defence in mind when they take on the team now coached by Jake White, who lead the Boks to the Rugby World Cup in 2007.

 

Toyota Cheetahs coach Naka Drotské admitted after the Bulls defeat it would not help to start to panic this early in the season.

 

“We have to try and win some games on this tour. There will always be pressure and our focus will be to handle it,” said Drotské.

 

“The first two matches, against the Brumbies and the Rebels, will be very important for us. The Brumbies have lost a heap of experienced players and the Rebels are still rather new in Vodacom Super Rugby. We need to compensate for the two defeats this season.”

 

Head to head (since 2006)

Brumbies

 

Toyota Cheetahs

4

Won

2

2

Lost

4

0

Drawn

0

239

Points for

170

170

Points against

239

32

Tries scored

18

18

Tries conceded

32

 

Brumbies vs Toyota Cheetahs

Date: Saturday, 10 March

SA time: 06:35

Venue: Canberra Stadium, Canberra

Referee: Keith Brown (New Zealand)

Assistant referees: Angus Gardner (Australia), Julian Pritchard (Australia)

Television match official: George Ayoub (Australia)

 

The Sharks vs MTN Lions

 

In some quarters it’s billed as a rematch of the Absa Currie Cup final of 2011, but the landscape will be quite different when The Sharks host the MTN Lions in the third round of the 2012 Vodacom Super Rugby competition in Durban on Saturday.

 

MTN Lions coach John Mitchell doesn’t think last year’s Absa Currie Cup final will have any bearing on what happens this weekend. While the Lions have won one and lost one in 2012, the Sharks are still winless and will be hard-pressed to turn their fortunes around at Mr Price Kings Park.

 

“Both teams have changed a lot since the Currie Cup. We’re certainly not banking on the team coherency that we had back then, because we’ve got a lot of players out, so we are integrating a lot of new players,” said Mitchell.

 

“To think that we are at full strength or have the same team from last year’s Currie Cup final is a misnomer. And it’s the same with the Sharks actually – they are probably also not at full strength or with the same team of last year.”

 

While the Sharks have been lifted with the inclusion of fit-again Springbok loose forward Willem Alberts, they still realise it won’t be an easy outing against the Lions – a team they have never lost to. In the seven outings between these sides (since 2006, when the former Cats franchise was disbanded), the best performance from the men from Johannesburg, was a 30-30 draw last year.

 

“This is a massive game for us, the next two home games are,” said Sharks coach John Plumtree.

 

“If you want to do well in this competition, you have to do well at home. We’ve picked up two log points away from home and those could prove to be valuable at the end of the day. But winning at home is vital in this competition.

 

“We’ll back ourselves to win away from home as well – we haven’t talked about getting bonus points away from home – but we know this game is hugely important for us.”

 

Head to head (since 2006)

The Sharks

 

MTN Lions

6

Won

0

0

Lost

6

1

Drawn

1

199

Points for

90

90

Points against

199

22

Tries scored

9

9

Tries conceded

22

 

The Sharks vs MTN Lions

Date: Saturday, 10 March 2012

SA time: 17:05

Venue: Mr Price Kings Park, Durban

Referee: Mark Lawrence (South Africa)

Assistant referees: Quinton Immelman (South Africa), Marc van Zyl (South Africa)

Television match official: Johann Meuwesen (South Africa)

 

Vodacom Bulls vs Blues

 

It’s been nine long years for the Blues since they last won at Loftus Versfeld and judging by the way they started the season, compared to the Vodacom Bulls, this trend might just continue when these two sides face off in Pretoria on Saturday.

 

The Blues’ last victory in South Africa over the Bulls came in 2003, the same year in which they lost only one game en route to the last of their three Vodacom Super Rugby titles. That victory, by 56-28, was the only time in the history between these two teams that a visiting side won.

 

While their confidence would probably not be at its highest after losing their opening two matches, the Blues also have to live with the fact that during their last three visits to Pretoria, they have conceded four or more tries on each occasion.

 

Still, Vodacom Bulls coach Frans Ludeke rates the Aucklanders as one of the most dangerous sides in the competition.

 

“They have firepower in the pack and firepower at the back. Adding to their ability in broken play, they have a very solid kicking game and good set phases. They will be a severe test of our abilities,” Ludeke said.

 

Ludeke has picked former Cats and Lions scrumhalf Jano Vermaak in the place of the suspended Francois Hougaard. With a total of 75 Vodacom Super Rugby caps to his name (11 Cats, 63 Lions, 1 Bulls), Vermaak and captain Pierre Spies are the joint third most experienced players in the team behind Morné Steyn (91 caps) and Wynand Olivier (88).

 

Head to head (since 1998)

Vodacom Bulls

 

Blues

5

Won

8

8

Lost

5

0

Drawn

0

347

Points for

463

463

Points against

347

40

Tries scored

56

56

Tries conceded

40

 

Vodacom Bulls vs Blues

Date: Saturday, 10 March 2012

SA time: 19:10

Venue: Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria

Referee: Steve Walsh (Australia)

Assistant referees: Pro Legoete (South Africa), Stefan Breytenbach (South Africa)

Television match official: Gerrie Coetzee (South Africa)

 

Other fixtures this weekend (SA times):

 

Friday, 9 March

08:35: Crusaders vs Chiefs (Napier)

13:05: Force vs Hurricanes (Perth)

 

Saturday, 10 March

08:35: Highlanders vs Waratahs (Dunedin)

10:40: Reds vs Rebels (Brisbane)

 

Bye: DHL Stormers