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Vodacom Super Rugby Preview – Round 12

PUBLISHED: May 10, 2012



Vodacom Super Rugby has been attracting bumper TV audiences as it reached the halfway mark at the weekend.

Average viewership has increased by 15% on 2011, while viewership of South African derbies averages 685 581, making it easily the most popular sporting event on DSTV’s premium bouquet – apart from Springbok test matches.

These figures exclude the audience from the 500 000 households in South Africa who are on the High Definition bouquet and are bound to increase later in the season, with a high number of season-defining South African derbies as well as play offs to come. Those fixtures will inevitably further push up those average audiences.

The highest average audience for a single game was recorded for the DHL Stormers/Vodacom Bulls clash in round six – which drew an audience of 843 244 people. The four local derbies in rounds one and two (Bulls/Sharks, Lions/Cheetahs, Cheetahs/Bulls and Stormers/Sharks) also made for good viewership numbers as a total of 2 758 203 watched these four encounters.

Vodacom Super Rugby matches have already been watched by a cumulative audience of 22 625 051 in South Africa (up to and including Round 10). At the same time last year, the cumulative total stood at 19 675 145 – according to TAMS (Television Audience Measurement System).

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.

Blues v MTN Lions

A try fest is on the cards when the two bottom-placed teams on the Vodacom Super Rugby log, the MTN Lions and the Blues, play each other in Auckland on Friday morning.

In the history of matches between these two sides (since the Cats split), there have been a total of 51 tries scored in six matches at an average of 8.5 tries per match.

Unfortunately for the injury-hit MTN Lions, the bulk of these (36) were scored by the Aucklanders, who have secured a try-scoring bonus point in each of the six encounters between these teams.

Even when they lost their only game to the team from Gauteng, in 2006 in Johannesburg, the Blues still managed to cross the MTN Lions’ try-line five times – one more than the four tries the home team scored in their 34-33 victory.

Since that defeat, the Blues have been rampant though, winning each one of their next five clashes against the MTN Lions and scoring six or more tries on four occasions.

Head to head (since 2006)

Blues

 

MTN Lions

5

Won

1

1

Lost

5

0

Drawn

0

262

Points for

116

116

Points against

262

36

Tries scored

15

15

Tries conceded

36

Blues v MTN Lions

Date: 11 May

SA Time: 09:35

Venue: Eden Park, Auckland

Referee: Angus Gardner (Australia)

Assistant referees: Bryce Lawrence (New Zealand), Sheldon Eden-Whaitiri (New Zealand)

Television match official: Ben Skeen (New Zealand)

Waratahs v Vodacom Bulls

Second-week syndrome has been a problem for the Vodacom Bulls on tour to Australasia over the years and they have only twice managed to win this specific fixture while overseas, in 2004 and 2007, as they look for a 2012 clean-sweep over the Aussie sides.

On Friday morning they face the Waratahs, along with the Reds the only team ever to lose in week two of a tour to the Vodacom Bulls.

From 1998 to 2002, the Vodacom Bulls have lost every single match overseas. Their first victory ever Down Under came in their tour opener 2003 against the Hurricanes, but they lost the next week.

In 2004 their only tour victory came in week two against the Reds in Brisbane. The Pretorians won once on tour in 2005 (week three against the Hurricanes) and once in 2006 (week one against the Force), but in 2007, they managed three victories in Australasia, including a 32-19 week two win over the Waratahs.

Since then, the Vodacom Bulls have lost four straight second tour matches.

But this week they will rather focus on something else, because since their 2005 semifinal defeat to the Waratahs in Sydney, they have not lost to the team from New South Wales again. That is six on the trot since, including two wins in Sydney.

Vodacom Bulls captain, Pierre Spies, expressed confidence ahead of the clash: “We have not played well during week two of previous tours, so we worked on changing the mind-set. The win over the Rebels showed what we can do on attack and what work is left on defence. We needed to fix those errors. We hope to deliver an all-round performance against a very dangerous opponent.”

If the Vodacom Bulls can win their seventh consecutive match against the Waratahs, they will complete a clean sweep against Australian opposition this year. They do not play the Force in 2012 though.

Head to head (since 1998)

Waratahs

 

Vodacom Bulls

7

Won

8

8

Lost

7

0

Drawn

0

423

Points for

340

340

Points against

423

47

Tries scored

33

33

Tries conceded

47

Waratahs v Vodacom Bulls

Date: 11 May

SA Time: 11:40

Venue: Allianz Stadium, Sydney

Referee: Chris Pollock (New Zealand)

Assistant referees: Ian Smith (Australia), Francisco Pastrana (Argentina)

Television match official: George Ayoub (Australia)

The Sharks v Force

The Sharks will try to repeat their 39-12 Vodacom Super Rugby victory over the Force in Perth last year when they host the Western Australians at Mr Price Kings Park in Durban on Saturday afternoon.

That was the KwaZulu-Natalians’ biggest victory over the Force – a team they have only lost to once before. And that win by the team from Perth came in their best-ever season yet.

In 2007, The Sharks and the Vodacom Bulls, eventual Vodacom Super Rugby finalists, both lost to the Force. In fact, the only South African team that managed to beat the Force that year was the MTN Lions.

Thus far this year, the Force have lost both their matches against South African sides, conceding 17 points on each occasion. The Sharks will be looking to add to that list.

“The key thing is winning, winning breeds confidence,” said Sharks coach John Plumtree this week. “If we have extra belief and confidence in our ability and train with smiles on our faces because we have log points and that helps unbelievably.”

The Sharks have been a bit of a mixed bag lately, but they will be looking to build on their home win last weekend against the Highlanders.

“We’re always going to set a plan in place, sometimes it works nicely and sometimes it fails. That’s sport, but there is no coincidence that when our defence functions very well, we win. That’s what we’ve seen in this competition this year,” said Plumtree.

Head to head (since 2006)

The Sharks

 

Force

5

Won

1

1

Lost

5

0

Drawn

0

158

Points for

101

101

Points against

158

18

Tries scored

8

8

Tries conceded

18

The Sharks v Force

Date: 12 May

SA Time: 17:05

Venue: Mr Price Kings Park, Durban

Referee: Mark Lawrence (South Africa)

Assistant referees: Joey Salmans (South Africa), Christie du Preez (South Africa)

Television match official: Johann Meuwesen (South Africa)

DHL Stormers v Toyota Cheetahs

History suggests one way traffic at DHL Newlands in Cape Town on Saturday evening, but the DHL Stormers will not have forgotten what the Toyota Cheetahs did to them a few years ago.

In recent years, the DHL Stormers have done much better than the team from Central South Africa, but the first two times these sides have met, it was quite different.

In fact, the Toyota Cheetahs won first two matches between these franchises, in 2006 and 2007. Since then however, the DHL Stormers won five consecutive encounters, including a try-less match in Cape Town last year (21-15).

Allister Coetzee, coach of the DHL Stormers, has emphasised the importance of their next four games before the June break, where the team from Cape Town would like to entrench themselves in the top six.

“These next four games are crucial to our campaign and it’s all about the rugby for us,” said Coetzee, whose team enjoyed a bye last weekend. “The Cheetahs are a good side and we will need to be top of our game.

“They play with great width, have an excellent set piece and have a good kicking game. It’s going to be tough. We are all back after a short break and training and preparation is progressing well.”

Toyota Cheetahs captain Adriaan Strauss, who started at hooker when they beat the DHL Stormers in Bloemfontein in 2007, knows how tough it is to travel to DHL Newlands.

“This game against the Stormers promises to be very hard,” said Strauss. “It’s always very tough against them in Cape Town, but we’re excited to be travelling down there after a week of good preparation.”

Meanwhile, Toyota Cheetahs lock Andries Ferreira was found not guilty by a Sanzar Judicial Hearing of contravening Law 10.4 (e), relating to a dangerous tackle. He was cited following last weekend’s Vodacom Super Rugby match.

In his finding, Jannie Lubbe SC ruled the following: After careful consideration of the limited video evidence available and the testimony of the player, the Judicial Officer concluded that he was not convinced on the balance of probabilities that the player acted in breach of the said law. Accordingly the citing is dismissed.

Head to head (since 2006)

DHL Stormers

 

Toyota Cheetahs

5

Won

2

2

Lost

5

0

Drawn

0

182

Points for

159

159

Points against

182

17

Tries scored

15

15

Tries conceded

17

DHL Stormers v Toyota Cheetahs

Date: 12 May

SA Time: 19:10

Venue: DHL Newlands, Cape Town

Referee: Steve Walsh (Australia)

Assistant referees: Stuart Berry (South Africa), Cobus Wessels (South Africa)

Television match official: Shaun Veldsman (South Africa)

Other fixtures (SA times):

Saturday, May 12

09:35: Highlanders v Hurricanes (Dunedin)

11:40: Rebels v Crusaders (Melbourne)

Sunday, May 13

08:10: Reds v Chiefs (Brisbane)