Super Rugby Preview: Round Six

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All four South African Vodacom Super Rugby teams are in action this coming weekend, with two of them – the DHL Stormers (Wellington) and Emirates Lions (Singapore) – involved in away games, while the Vodacom Bulls and Cell C Sharks both return from their one-week bye.

The DHL Stormers are up first on Saturday morning as they kick off their month-long Australasian trip with a visit to the Hurricanes in Wellington at 08h35. This match is followed by another away fixture, the Emirates Lions versus the Sunwolves in Singapore at 12h55.

In the first local game of a packed sixth round, the Vodacom Bulls host the Chiefs from 15h05 at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria. The second home game is followed by the Durban encounter between the Cell C Sharks and the Rebels, starting at 17h15. All games will be televised live on SuperSport 1.

DHL Stormers geared up for strong Hurricanes challenge


The DHL Stormers have made three changes – two in the pack and one at the back – for their Vodacom Super Rugby clash against the Hurricanes at Westpac Stadium, which kicks off at 08h35 SA time on Saturday.

Up front, Springbok hooker Bongi Mbonambi and lock Chris van Zyl return to the starting team and the only change to the backline sees Ruhan Nel getting the nod at outside centre.

The Capetonians must improve on their current away record to have a chance of upsetting the Hurricanes, who have turned the Cake Tin into a fortress by losing just once in 25 home games.

However, the Cape side will approach the game with a measure of confidence following three straight wins since their first round defeat to the Vodacom Bulls in Pretoria.

Eben Etzebeth has been ruled out of the encounter due to concussion. Springbok tourist JD Schickerling comes into the starting line-up, with former Junior Bok captain Salmaan Moerat on the bench.

What they said: 

DHL Stormers head coach Robbie Fleck said his team will be going all-out to make a positive start to their tour: “Our first week in New Zealand has been a good one and we are hoping to build on the momentum we have created. We know this will be a big challenge on the road, but it is one we are excited about as a group.”


Hurricanes: 15 Chase Tiatia, 14 Wes Goosen, 13 Matt Proctor, 12 Jordie Barrett, 11 Ben Lam, 10 Beauden Barrett (captain), 9 Richard Judd, 8 Reed Prinsep, 7 Ardie Savea, 6 Vaea Fifita, 5 Liam Mitchell, 4 James Blackwell, 3 Ben May, 2 Ricky Riccitelli, 1 Fraser Armstrong. Replacements: 16 James O’Reilly, 17 Xavier Numia, 18 Jeffrey Toomaga-Allen, 19 Isaia Walker-Leawere, 20 Sam Henwood, 21 Finlay Christie, 22 Fletcher Smith, 23 Danny Toala.

DHL Stormers: 15 Dillyn Leyds, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Ruhan Nel, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 SP Marais, 10 Jean-Luc du Plessis, 9 Herschel Jantjies, 8 Juarno Augustus, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Siya Kolisi (captain), 5 Chris van Zyl, 4 JD Schickerling, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Steven Kitshoff. Replacements: 16 Scarra Ntubeni, 17 Corne Fourie, 18 Wilco Louw, 19 Salmaan Moerat, 20 Jaco Coetzee, 21 Justin Phillips, 22 Dan du Plessis, 23 Damian Willemse.

Head to head:

Played: 19

Hurricanes won: 8

DHL Stormers won: 11

Hurricanes points: 438

DHL Stormers points: 481

Average score: 23-25

Match information:

Date: Saturday, 23 March

SA time: 08h35

Venue: Westpac Stadium, Wellington

Referee: Glen Jackson

Assistant referees: Nic Briant, Ben O’Keeffe

Television Match Official: Glenn Newman

TV: SuperSport1

Prediction: Hurricanes by 14.

Emirates Lions anticipate fast-paced Sunwolves attack


A spate of injuries last week against the Rebels have forced Emirates Lions coach Swys de Bruin to make six changes for Saturday’s encounter with the Sunwolves in Singapore. The match gets underway at 12h55 (SA time).

The inclusion of Sylvian Mahuza (wing), Lionel Mapoe (centre) and Nic Groom (scrumhalf) are the alterations in a new-look back division. Up front, Ruan Vermaak has been handed the No 8 jersey, Stephan Lewies moves to blindside flank while Rhyno Herbest is at lock.

Meanwhile, the Sunwolves were also affected by injury, with influential centre Michael Little one of three players ruled out with concussion. The other two are props Pauliasi Manu and Sam Prattley.

Although the Sunwolves are winless in their previous three matches against the Emirates Lions, the Japanese outfit have proven to be a tricky customer so far this year.

De Bruin’s team got the better of the Jaguares in their last away fixture and this clash in Singapore should make for an open match with both sides favouring a fast-paced, attacking game.

What they said:

Emirates Lions head coach Swys de Bruin confirmed from Singapore that the weather had hampered their preparations and they were unable to train outside on Thursday: “It’s very humid here and we couldn’t train because of a lightning scare. We did all of our detail under roof cover. There is a good vibe in the camp and we are looking forward to the game.”


Sunwolves: 15 Ryohei Yamanaka, 14 Gerhard van den Heever, 13 Jason Emery, 12 Harumichi Tatekawa, 11 Semisi Masirewa, 10 Hayden Parker, 9 Jamie Booth, 8 Rahboni Warren Vosayaco, 7 Dan Pryor, 6 Ben Gunter, 5 Tom Rowe, 4 Grant Hattingh, 3 Jiwon Koo, 2 Atsushi Sakate, 1 Masataka Mikami. Replacements: 16 Nathan Vella, 17 Alex Woonton, 18 Hiroshi Yamashita, 19 Uwe Helu, 20 Amanaki Lelei Mafi, 21 Fumiaki Tanaka, 22 Takuya Yamasawa, 23 Hosea Saumaki.

Emirates Lions: 15 Tyrone Green, 14 Sylvian Mahuza, 13 Wandisile Simelane, 12 Lionel Mapoe, 11 Courntall Skosan, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Ruan Vermaak, 7 Stephan Lewies, 6 Marnus Schoeman, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Rhyno Herbst, 3 Carlu Sadie, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Sti Sithole. Replacements: TBC

Head to head:

Played: 3

Sunwolves won: 0

Emirates Lions won: 3

Sunwolves points: 58

Emirates Lions points: 160

Average score: 19-53

Match information:

Date: Saturday, 23 March

SA time: 12h55

Venue: Singapore National Stadium

Referee: Damon Murphy

Assistant referees: Shuhei Kubo, Tawasaki Kawahara

Television Match Official: Minoru Fuji

TV: SuperSport1

Prediction: Emirates Lions by five.

Vodacom Bulls expect Chiefs backlash at Loftus


Burger Odendaal (centre) and Ruan Steenkamp (flank) are both back in the Vodacom Bulls’ starting XV for their clash with the Chiefs on Saturday in Pretoria, where the action starts at 15h05.

At the back, Divan Rossouw is called into the starting line-up as fullback replacement for injured Springbok No 15 Warrick Gelant.

Coming into this clash, the Chiefs are undefeated in their last five meetings against the men from Pretoria, however, the Hamilton outfit is struggling at the moment as a result of four losses and a draw.

The Kiwis will face a menacing home forward pack who would want to continue their good form in order to lay a solid attacking platform for their backs. The Vodacom Bulls’ Springbok flyhalf Handre Pollard is the presently the competition’s leading point scorer with 74 points – 28 more than any other player.

What they said: 

Vodacom Bulls head coach Pote Human said he was pleased with their progress so far: “I am happy with the improvement and growth. It is still early days, but I am pleased we managed to tick some boxes in the first month of the competition, although the Kiwi challenge will test us in different ways.”

Chiefs head coach Colin Cooper called for his side to show an improved performance: “The Bulls are a very good team and are coming off the back of a bye. For us to be successful we need to try to be more accurate and continue to focus on delivering our game in order to improve on last week’s performance.” 


Vodacom Bulls: 15 Divan Rossouw, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Burger Odendaal, 11 Rosko Specman, 10 Handre Pollard (captain), 9 Ivan van Zyl, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Jannes Kirsten, 6 Ruan Steenkamp, 5 Jason Jenkins, 4 hanro Liebenberg, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Schalk Brits, 1 Lizo Gqoboka. Replacements: 16 Corniel Els, 17 Simphiwe Matanzima, 18 Dayan van der Westhuizen, 19 Eli Snyman, 20 Tim Agaba, 21 Embrose Papier, 22 Manie Libbok, 23 Dylan Sage. 

Chiefs: 15 Damian McKenzie, 14 Sean Wainui, 13 Tumua Manu, 12 Anton Lienert-Brown, 11 Solomon Alaimalo, 10 Jack Debreczeni, 9 Brad Weber, 8 Tyler Ardron, 7 Lachlan Boshier, 6 Luke Jacobson, 5 Mitchell Brown, 4 Brodie Retallick (captain), 3 Angus Ta’avao, 2 Nathan Harris, 1 Aidan Ross. Replacements: 16 Samisoni Taukei’aho, 17 Tevita Mafileo, 18 Nepo Laulala, 19 Michael Allardice, 20 Jesse Parete, 21 Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, 22 Alex Nankivell, 23 Ataata Moeakiola. 

Head to head:

Played: 22

Vodacom Bulls won: 8

Chiefs won: 12

Draw: 2

Vodacom Bull points: 616

Chiefs: 689

Average score: 28-32

Match information:

Date: Saturday, 23 March

SA time: 15h05

Venue: Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria

Referee: AJ Jacobs

Assistant referees: Cwengile Jadezweni, Stephan Geldenhuys

Television Match Official: Willie Vos

TV: SuperSport1

Prediction: Vodacom Bulls by eight.

Cell C Sharks seek return to winning ways in Durban


Cell C Sharks head coach Robert du Preez has picked Ruben van Heerden and Hyron Andrews at lock for their Vodacom Super Rugby match against the Rebels in Durban on Saturday, while Phepsi Buthelezi is given a welcome start at flank.

This sixth round match at Jonsson Kings Park starts at 17h15.

Both sides have suffered defeats in the previous round and neither will want to follow up with a consecutive loss. The Melbourne outfit will hope to take some points out of their visit to South Africa after tripping over a 33-5 lead to lose by 36-33 to the Emirates Lions last week in Johannesburg.

Big Springbok midfielder Andre Esterhuizen is back at inside centre, while Aphelele Fassi also returns at fullback after taking a knock against the DHL Stormers.

There is a welcome return for Craig Burden (on the bench), who played hooker in the black and white jersey between 2006 and 2013, before embarking on a five-year stint in France. Meanwhile Luke Stringer is set to make his Vodacom Super Rugby debut off the bench as replacement flank.

The Rebels scored a 46-14 triumph in the two team’s previous clash in what was their first win over the men from Duran at their sixth attempt.

What they said:

Andre Esterhuizen, the Cell C Sharks’ midfielder cannot wait to get stuck in again: “We need to get back on track and get some log points. Obviously, we were disappointed in the last two performances, but we’ve had time to reflect and this week has been about working hard on the training pitch with the emphasis on ball retention and getting back to physicality.”

Cell C Sharks: 15 Aphelele Fassi, 14 Sbu Nkosi, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Robert du Preez, 9 Louis Schreuder (captain), 8 Daniel du Preez, 7 Jacques Vermeulen, 6 Phepsi Buthelezi, 5 Hyron Andrews, 4 Ruben van Heerden, 3 Coenie Oosthuizen, 2 Akker van der Merwe, 1 Tendai Mtawarira. Replacements: 16 Craig Burden, 17 Juan Schoeman, 18 Thomas du Toit, 19 Gideon Koegelenberg, 20 Luke Stringer, 21 Grant Williams, 22 Marius Louw, 23 Curwin Bosch.

Rebels: 15 Jack Maddocks, 14 Reece Hodge, 13 Sione Tuipulotu, 12 Billy Meakes, 11 Tom English, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Michael Ruru, 8 Angus Cottrell, 7 Richard Hardwick, 6 Luke Jones, 5 Matt Philip, 4 Ross Haylett-Petty, 3 Sam Talakai, 2 Anaru Rangi, 1 Matt Gibbon. Replacements: 16 Robbie Abel, 17 Tetera Faulkner, 18 Pone Fa’amausili, 19 Rob Leota, 20 Brad Wilkin, 21 Harrison Goddard, 22 Campbell Magnay, 23 TBC.

Head to head:

Played: 6

Cell C Sharks won: 4

Jaguares: 1

Cell C Sharks points: 168

Jaguares Rebels: 131

Average score: 28-22

Match information:

Date: Saturday, 23 March

SA time: 17h15

Venue: Jonsson Kings Park, Durban

Referee: Rasta Rasivhenge

Assistant referees: Griffin Colby, Archie Sehlako

Television Match Official: Marius Jonker

TV: SuperSport1

Prediction: Cell C Sharks by five.

Other Round 6 matches this weekend:

Friday, 22 March

08h35: Blues v Highlanders, Eden Park, Auckland

Saturday, 23 March

10h45: Waratahs v Crusaders, Sydney Cricket Ground

Sunday, 24 March

07h05: Reds vs Brumbies, Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane

Bye: Jaguares

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