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FEATURED

Vodacom Super Rugby Preview – Round 10

PUBLISHED: April 26, 2012



The DHL Stormers can cement their place at the top of the South African Vodacom Super Rugby Conference when they take on the Force in their final tour game of 2012.

Apart from the log points, the DHL Stormers will also be looking for a third win on tour – a feat only achieved five times before by South African teams, in a total of 70 Vodacom Super Rugby tours to Australasia.

In South Africa, the MTN Lions and Toyota Cheetahs are back in action after last weekend’s byes when they host the Brumbies and Highlanders respectively.

These will be tricky matches against two teams that both occupy spots in the top six of the Combined Log.

The Vodacom Bulls and The Sharks have byes this weekend.

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.

MTN Lions v Brumbies

It’s been five long years since the Brumbies last won at Coca-Cola Park and while they will probably run out as favourites – they are the Australian Conference leaders after all – the MTN Lions will be looking to regain some momentum before heading overseas on their Vodacom Super Rugby tour on Friday evening.

In 2007, the Brumbies beat the MTN Lions by 14-9 in Johannesburg. They’ve since lost at Coca-Cola Park again, in 2009, but also conceded defeat to the team from Gauteng in Canberra last year – the MTN Lions’ first ever win in the Australian capital since the Cats franchise split before the 2006-season.

The Brumbies did go through a couple of difficult seasons, but under former Springbok coach Jake White, who earned his coaching stripes at Jeppe High School for Boys, a mere 2km down the road from Coca-Cola Park, they have been rejuvenated.

They lost to the Vodacom Bulls in Pretoria last weekend, but outscored their hosts by five tries to two.

MTN Lions coach John Mitchell had this to say about the Brumbies: “They’ve got a lot of energy and they play with a lot of heart. Clearly they have got very few reputations and that impresses me. They are a bunch of guys who play for each other.

“That’s something we haven’t achieved this year yet, and that’s up to us to try and achieve over whats left of the competition, starting this week. We’re suffering because we have a few players playing Super Rugby who shouldn’t be playing Super Rugby. Unfortunately the Lions have not been a place of patience in recent times and now there is no other option but to be patient.”

 

Head to head (since 2006)

MTN Lions

 

Brumbies

2

Won

4

4

Lost

2

0

Drawn

0

104

Points for

131

131

Points against

104

12

Tries scored

14

14

Tries conceded

12

 

 

MTN Lions v Brumbies

Date: 27 April

SA Time: 19:10

Venue: Coca-Cola Park, Johannesburg

Referee: Keith Brown (New Zealand)

Assistant referees: Garratt Williamson (New Zealand), Tiaan Jonker (South Africa)

Television match officials: Gerrie Coetzee (South Africa)

Force v DHL Stormers

The DHL Stormers will be looking to return with three wins from an Australasian Vodacom Super Rugby tour for only the sixth time by a South African team when they face the Force in Perth on Saturday morning.

The Vodacom Bulls have achieved three tour wins twice – in 2007 and 2009, but on both those tours they played five games in total.

The Sharks did it in 2009 when they won three from four, and the DHL Stormers won three from four tour games twice before, in 2009 and 2011.

The Western Australians are now coach-less after they sacked head coach Richard Graham last week following his announcement that he will be joining the Reds from next season. Force defence coach Phil Blake, ‘A’ team coach Andrew Scotney and forwards coach Nick Stiles now form a coaching panel for the remainder of the season, while senior Wallabies David Pocock and Nathan Sharpe will also help with the coaching.

Not that their opponents’ coaching shenanigans have bothered the DHL Stormers much. At this stage of the season, a high injury toll is foremost on coach Allister Coetzee’s mind, although he sees it as an opportunity for new players to show their worth.

“Despite the injuries this week and some enforced changes, the touring group is in high spirits and is very motivated,” said Coetzee.

“Our motto for the week is ‘nothing special has ever been achieved in ideal conditions’. A win this week will be the difference between a good tour and a great one and this group knows that. We have picked a strong side, our sessions this week have been excellent and we will be going all out for a win in this game.”

The DHL Stormers have beaten the Force four times, twice in Perth. They did lose their last match in Western Australia (by 16-15 in 2010), but on current form the Capetonians should win their third tour match.

 

Head to head (since 2006)

Force

 

DHL Stormers

2

Won

4

4

Lost

2

0

Drawn

0

119

Points for

152

152

Points against

119

11

Tries scored

17

17

Tries conceded

11

Force v DHL Stormers

Date: 28 April

SA Time: 11:40

Venue: NIB Stadium, Perth

Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa)

Assistant referees: James Leckie (Australia), Damien Mitchelmore (Australia)

Television match officials: Steve Lesczcynski (Australia)

Toyota Cheetahs v Highlanders

The Toyota Cheetahs will be looking to upset the apple cart and win their first ever match against the Highlanders when they host the team from Otago at the Free State Stadium in Bloemfontein on Saturday afternoon.

Six defeats from six starts don’t make for great reading, and the Free Staters realise it won’t be easy against the second-placed team in the New Zealand Conference, but they will still approach the game with confidence after their break last weekend.

Said Toyota Cheetahs captain Adriaan Strauss: “The bye came just at the right time. We’ve had a couple of good training sessions this week and the players are looking forward to this weekend’s match. It is a must win for us to get out confidence back.”

The Toyota Cheetahs have had an up and down season. After returning from their best-ever tour Down Under, they beat the MTN Lions at home before going down to the Chiefs, also in Bloem.

As they look to beat the Highlanders for the first time since the Cats franchise split after the 2005-season, the Toyota Cheetahs will take some confidence from one of the best ever performances by a South African team to New Zealand, when the Free State surprised the team from Otago by 49-18 in 1997.

Sure, the Highlanders did struggle in 1997, but the visitors to Dunedin scored seven converted tries and the 49 points they racked up, has since only been beaten by the DHL Stormers (51 against the Blues in 2004) and The Sharks (59 against the Reds in 2007) of the South African franchises in a match overseas.

Naka Drotske, coach of the Toyota Cheetahs, said: “The Highlanders play with a lot of confidence, especially amongst their younger players. They started the season very well, which has helped cement their place amongst the front runners. It will be a big challenge on Saturday.”

Head to head (since 2006)

Toyota Cheetahs

 

Highlanders

0

Won

6

6

Lost

0

0

Drawn

0

110

Points for

156

156

Points against

110

12

Tries scored

18

18

Tries conceded

12

Toyota Cheetahs v Highlanders

Date: 28 April

SA Time: 17:05

Venue: Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein

Referee: Marius Jonker (South Africa)

Assistant referees: Sindile Mayende (South Africa), Stefan Breytenbach (South Africa)

Television match officials: Shaun Veldsman (South Africa)

Other fixtures (SA times):

Friday, 27 April:

09:35: Blues v Reds (Auckland)

Saturday, 28 April:

09:35: Chiefs v Hurricanes (Hamilton)

Sunday, 29 April:

07:10: Waratahs v Crusaders (Sydney)

Byes: Vodacom Bulls, The Sharks, Rebels