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Vodacom Super Rugby Preview – Round 4

PUBLISHED: March 15, 2012



Only three South African sides are in action in Vodacom Super Rugby this weekend – the first of 2012 that doesn’t include any local derbies.

That doesn’t mean the rugby will be less intense though, with the DHL Stormers taking on the Blues in Cape Town on Friday and The Sharks playing host to the defending champions, the Reds, in Durban on Saturday.

Early on Sunday morning, the Toyota Cheetahs will try to put last week’s disappointment behind them and to keep up the South African dominance against the Melbourne Rebels down in Australia.

The Vodacom Bulls and MTN Lions have byes this week.

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.

DHL Stormers vs Blues

The last time the Blues visited Cape Town, they left satisfied, having beaten the DHL Stormers by 14-8 and keeping the home side scoreless for the entire second half.

That was three years ago and a lot has changed in the meantime.

Not only have the DHL Stormers won two successive games against the Blues in Auckland, but they also ranked amongst the top teams in 2010 and 2011. Following victories in their first two matches this year (they had a bye last weekend), they will take to the field on Friday evening as favourites against the team from Auckland.

DHL Stormers coach Allister Coetzee said his team is refreshed and ready to take on the team from Auckland, that beat the Vodacom Bulls in Pretoria last weekend while the Capetonians had a bye.

“I’m always a bit worried about our performance after the bye, but I could see that the players were re-energised and focused this week,” said Coetzee.

“This is a very tough Blues side, as we saw last week. They had the Bulls under pressure at the set pieces, which means our accuracy in the tight phases will be very important. It’s also vital against any New Zealand side to make sure you are physical and direct to gain forward momentum.

“It’s nice to still be at Newlands and we would like to keep our winning momentum, but we realise it will be tough against a very powerful Blues side.”

The Blues hold a slight advantage over the DHL Stormers with an average score of 28-24 in their 14 previous encounters.

Interestingly, the Blues have won four of their six matches in Cape Town, while the DHL Stormers have a 50% success rate over the Aucklanders in New Zealand.

Head to head

DHL Stormers

 

Blues

6

Won

8

8

Lost

6

0

Drawn

0

336

Points for

392

392

Points against

336

36

Tries scored

46

46

Tries conceded

36

DHL Stormers vs Blues

Date: Friday, 16 March

SA Time: 19:10

Venue: DHL Newlands, Cape Town

Referee: Glen Jackson (New Zealand)

Assistant referees: Jaco Peyper (South Africa), Stefan Breytenbach (South Africa)

Television match official: Johann Meuwesen (South Africa)

The Sharks vs Reds

It’s been almost two years since The Sharks and the Reds last faced each other in Vodacom Super Rugby, but the Brisbanians won’t mind the trip to Durban as it’s a venue they’ve been relatively successful at.

Yes, The Sharks have won their last three matches against the Reds at Mr Price Kings Park, but between 2000 and 2004 the Queenslanders won three straight matches in Durban. That run included probably one of the worst Vodacom Super Rugby matches ever, in 2004, when they won 6-5. Only the Highlanders’ victory with 6-0 against the Crusaders in 2009 had a lower aggregate score in the history of the competition.

The Reds have a strong pack of forwards and have arrived in Durban as the defending champions. Even though they are unbeaten from their first three matches, their form this season has not really been spectacular and that is something that Sharks coach John Plumtree is mindful of.

The Sharks won their first match of the season against the MTN Lions last weekend, but “Plum” was not satisfied with the fact that his side could not deliver an 80 minute performance.

“At times, against the Lions, we did go to sleep and let them get back into the game and you can’t allow that,” said Plumtree.

“We worked really hard to get into a good position and then took the foot off the pedal and allowed them back into the game. That stressed us so we’ve got to be more ruthless in that area.

“The Reds will present something a little bit different on the weekend and we need to be able to cope with that.”

After losing seven straight matches against the Reds from 1999 to 2005, The Sharks have won four of the last five encounters with the team from Queensland, including the last three in Durban as well as a massive 59-16 win in Brisbane in 2007. That victory is still the biggest winning margin in matches between these two sides, where the average score in 13 matches since 1998 is 24-23 to the Sharks.

Head to head

The Sharks

 

Reds

5

Won

8

8

Lost

5

0

Drawn

0

315

Points for

305

305

Points against

315

40

Tries scored

32

32

Tries conceded

40

 

The Sharks vs Reds

Date: Saturday, 17 March

SA Time: 17:05

Venue: Mr Price Kings Park, Durban

Referee: Jonathan Kaplan (South Africa)

Assistant referees: Mark Lawrence (South Africa), Cobus Wessels (South Africa)

Television match official: Shaun Veldsman (South Africa)

Melbourne Rebels vs Toyota Cheetahs

In their first season of Vodacom Super Rugby, the Melbourne Rebels lost all four their matches against South African opposition and the Toyota Cheetahs will be aiming to continue that record at AAMI Park early on Sunday morning.

Being the new kid on the block is never easy, as the Toyota Cheetahs would remember from their first season in 2006.

Looking at their record against overseas opposition in 2006, the Toyota Cheetahs could only record home victories against the Hurricanes and the Reds. Last year, the Rebels won one of their eight games against foreign opposition, also against the Hurricanes.

In their second season, the Toyota Cheetahs improved against the Aussies by beating the Waratahs and the Brumbies at home, but unfortunately came up short in four of their five matches against Kiwi opposition (they drew 22-22 against the Chiefs in Bloem).

The Rebels have shown an improvement in the last few weeks, going down by only 6-11 to defending champions the Reds last weekend. They will mean business when they face the Cheetahs and although both sides have not won a game this season, their performances in round three (the Free Staters lost in the dying second by 24-23 to the Brumbies in Canberra) could point to a humdinger on Sunday.

In the off season, the Rebels signed two high-profile Wallaby backs, Kurtley Beale and James O’Connor, and both are in line to play against the Toyota Cheetahs on Sunday.

Head to head

Rebels

 

Toyota Cheetahs

0

Won

1

1

Lost

0

0

Drawn

0

21

Points for

41

41

Points against

21

3

Tries scored

5

5

Tries conceded

3

Melbourne Rebels vs Toyota Cheetahs

Date: Sunday, 18 March

SA Time: 07:10

Venue: AAMI Park, Melbourne

Referee: Garratt Williamson (New Zealand)

Assistant referees: Andrew Lees (Australia), James Leckie (Australia)

Television match official: Steve Lesczcynski (Australia)

Other fixtures (SA times):

Friday, 16 March:

08:35: Chiefs vs Brumbies (Tauranga)

Saturday, 17 March:

08:35: Hurricanes vs Highlanders (Wellington)

10:40: Waratahs vs Force (Sydney)

Byes: Vodacom Bulls, MTN Lions, Crusaders