The Vodacom Bulls will be chasing a fourth away win when they face the Brumbies on Friday morning at 11h45 (SA time) in the GIO Stadium in Canberra. This will be their second fixture of their three-match Australian trip.
Success for the Pretoria side will allow them to leapfrog the DHL Stormers as leaders on the South African conference standings. They have named an unchanged side for the Brumbies clash.
As things stand, the DHL Stormers have amassed 29 points from nine matches, while the Vodacom Bulls have 28 from eight games.
The DHL Stormers and Emirates Lions are two of four teams who are enjoying byes this coming weekend. The Jaguares from Argentina and Australian side the Rebels, are the other two teams who are not in action.
The remaining three South African sides are all involved in Saturday fixtures. The Waratahs welcome the Toyota Cheetahs to the Allianz Stadium in Sydney on Saturday morning, where the two sides will kick off at 11h45 SA time. This will be the Bloemfontein side’s third away match in a row.Then, in the first of two matches on South African soil, the Cell C Sharks mark their return from their overseas leg with a home match against the Hurricanes. Kick-off time in this encounter at Growthpoint Kings Park in Durban is set for 15h00.
In the late afternoon fixture, the Southern Kings are at home to New Zealand side the Blues, with the match starting at 17h10 in the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth.
Elsewhere, the Crusaders are playing at home in Christchurch against the Reds, the Sunwolves host the Western Force in Tokyo while the Chiefs and the Highlanders will test each other in a New Zealand derby in Hamilton.
Brumbies vs Vodacom Bulls
Date: Friday 6 May 2016
SA Time: 11h45
Venue: GIO Stadium, Canberra
Referee: Ben O’Keeffe
Assistant Referees: Will Houston, Ed Martin
Television Match Official: Peter Marshall
· Vodacom Bulls coach Nollis Marais has kept the starting fifteen unchanged for the visit to Canberra.
· There is one change on the bench however, with centre Dan Kriel getting his first run on tour and Dries Swanepoel dropping out of match day squad.
· Lock Jason Jenkins has not recovered from his niggle and was not considered, but experienced wing Bjorn Basson overcame an ankle sprain and is fit to face the Australians.
· The Brumbies have won three of their last four matches against the Vodacom Bulls, though the last time they beat them by more than a converted try was in Round 5, 2003.
· A brace of matches against New Zealand opposition leaves the Brumbies with a streak of two losses going into this fixture, the last time they lost more than two matches in a row in Vodacom Super Rugby was in Round 13, 2011.
· The Vodacom Bulls have won their last three matches away from home – in Singapore, Port Elizabeth and Perth – a fourth straight away would make it their longest streak in their franchise history.
· Christian Lealiifano has kicked 34 goals so far this season, and missed only seven, the most of any Australia-based player in the competition.
· Francois Brummer has scored 67 points so far this season, the most of any player who is yet to cross for a try.
Nollis Marais, Vodacom Bulls head coach: “We had a good start and I was pleased with the way we played in Perth, but it all begin again this week. The Brumbies are one of the powerhouse teams in Australia and will ask different questions to our attack and defence. They are playing good rugby and we need to be sharp. I am pleased that we have the same team, as it means that we will go into the match with some consistency and momentum.”
Adriaan Strauss, Vodacom Bulls captain: “We played well last weekend, but cannot afford to sit back as the Brumbies will be coming at us from the start. Canberra can be a difficult place to play, but we have won there before. The team are really gelling nicely and I am looking forward to a good match where we will try to be competitive in all aspects.”
Brumbies: 15. Aidan Toua, 14. Nigel Ah Wong, 13. Tevita Kuridrani, 12. Robbie Coleman, 11. James Dargaville, 10. Christian Lealiifano, 9. Tomas Cubelli, 8. Jarrad Butler, 7. David Pocock, 6. Scott Fardy, 5. Sam Carter, 4. Rory Arnold, 3. Ben Alexander, 2. Stephen Moore (captain), 1. Scott Sio. Replacements: 16. Josh Mann-Rea, 17. Allan Alaalatoa, 18. Ruan-Henry Smith, 19. Tom Staniforth, 20. Blake Enever, 21. Jordan Smiler, 22. Joe Powell, 23. Lausii Taliauli.
Vodacom Bulls: 15 SP Marais, 14 Travis Ismaiel, 13 Jesse Kriel, 14 Jan Serfontein, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Francois Brummer, 9 Piet van Zyl, 8 Hanro Liebenberg, 7 Arno Botha, 6 Lappies Labuschagne, 5 RG Snyman, 4 Marvin Orie, 3 Marcel van der Merwe, 2 Adriaan Strauss (captain), 1 Trevor Nyakane. Replacements: 16 Bandise Maku, 17 Lizo Gqoboka, 18 Werner Kruger, 19 Jannes Kirsten, 20 Roelof Smit, 21 Rudy Paige, 22 Tian Schoeman, 23 Dan Kriel.
Waratahs vs Toyota Cheetahs
Date: Saturday, 7 May 2016
SA Time: 11h45
Venue: Allianz Stadium, Sydney
Referee: Nic Berry
Assistant Referees: Andrew Lees, Graham Cooper
Television Match Official: George Ayoub
· Franco Smith, the Toyota Cheetahs coach, has made several changes from the side that went down 30-17 to the Reds in Brisbane last weekend, for the clash in Sydney.
· Up front, Ox Nche, Elandre Huggett, Luan de Bruin, Francois Uys, Willie Britz and Oupa Mohoje are all included in the starting line-up, with Torsten van Jaarsveld, Charles Marais, Maks van Dyk, Lood de Jager and Uzair Cassiem moving to the replacement bench.
· Among the backs, Tian Meyer and Shaun Venter switch places at scrumhalf, with Venter starting on the bench.
· Captain Francois Venter is also back at inside centre after his withdrawal against the Reds due to a calf injury, with Michael van der Spuy moving back to the bench.
· The Waratahs have lost their last three matches on home soil, all by less than a converted try, with their last home triumph coming in the opening round of the season.
· This will be the Toyota Cheetahs’ third match in a tour of Australia in which they are yet to register a win; they’ve won only one of their last seven matches away from home against Australian opposition.
· On average the Bloemfontein side have seen one of their scrums per game stolen by the opposition, the most of any team in the competition.
· The Waratahs have scored 13 tries from possession originating within their own half of the field, the most of any Australian team and the third most in the competition.
Waratahs: 15 Andrew Kellaway, 14 Reece Robinson, 13 Israel Folau, 12 Kurtley Beale, 11 Rob Horne, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Jed Holloway, 7 Michael Hooper (captain), 6 Dean Mumm, 5 Will Skelton, 4 David Dennis, 3 Tom Robertson, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 Paddy Ryan. Replacements: 16 Hugh Roach, 17 Jeremy Tilse, 18 Angus Taavao, 19 Sam Lousi, 20 Wycliff Palu, 21 Matt Lucas, 22 David Horwitz, 23 Matt Carraro.
Toyota Cheetahs: 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Nico Lee, 12 Francois Venter (captain), 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Fred Zeilinga, 9 Tian Meyer, 8 Henco Venter, 7 Oupa Mohoje, 6 Willie Britz, 5 Francois Uys, 4 Carl Wegner, 3 Luan de Bruin, 2 Elandre Huggett, 1 Ox Nche. Replacements: 16 Torsten van Jaarsveld, 17 Charles Marais, 18 Maks van Dyk, 19 Lood de Jager, 20 Uzair Cassiem, 21 Shaun Venter, 22 Niel Marais, 23 Michael van der Spuy.
Cell C Sharks vs Hurricanes
Date: Saturday, 7 May 2016
SA Time: 15h00
Venue: Growthpoint Kings Park, Durban
Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen
Assistant Referees: Quinton Immelman, Rodney Bonaparte
Television Match Official: Marius Jonker
· In a planned rotational switch, Springbok prop Beast Mtawarira returns to the starting team and will lead the side after sitting out last week’s game against the Chiefs in New Plymouth.
· In the front-row, due to the rotation, Franco Marais comes back at hooker for Kyle Cooper and Mtawarira replaces Dale Chadwick, who moves to the bench.
· Bok flyhalf Patrick Lambie, the man who was appointed as the permanent captain for the season, also returned from injury and is on the bench for the match.
· Utility back Joe Pietersen drops out of the match day 23 to accommodate the returning Lambie, with the promising Garth April continuing as the starting No 10.
· The Cell C Sharks have won four of their last six matches against the Hurricanes, though the New Zealand side have won two of the last three including an eight point win in their most recent encounter.
· The Durban side returns home to where they have lost their last two games – the last time they lost more than two consecutive home games was across the 2009 and 2010 campaigns.
· The Hurricanes have won their last eight games against teams from South Africa, more than double their next longest streak (three games).
· The Cell C Sharks have scored the second fewest tries so far this season (17) behind the Force (11), but they have also conceded the fewest tries (15).
· Beauden Barrett has converted more tries this season than any other player (27) and is one of only four players so far this season to have scored more than 100 points.
Gary Gold, Cell C Sharks Director of Rugby: “They will pose a similar challenge to the other three New Zealand teams we faced on tour, and that added to the confidence they will have after their great victory over the Lions will make them even more formidable. (But) it’s fantastic to be back at home and playing in front of our own crowd.
“This is the fourth New Zealand side we are playing in succession and we are excited about that. We want to build on our courageous performance against the Chiefs last Friday and our focus is on being accurate and utilising our opportunities.”
Cell C Sharks: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Paul Jordaan, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Garth April, 9 Michael Claassens, 8 Daniel du Preez, 7 Jean-Luc du Preez, 6 Keegan Daniel, 5 Stephan Lewies, 4 Etienne Oosthuizen, 3 Lourens Adriaanse, 2 Franco Marais, 1 Beast Mtawarira (captain). Replacements: 16 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 17 Dale Chadwick, 18 Thomas du Toit, 19 Hyron Andrews, 20 Jean Deysel, 21 Stefan Ungerer, 22 Patrick Lambie, 23 Odwa Ndungane.
Hurricanes: 15. James Marshall, 14. Cory Jane, 13. Matt Proctor, 12. Vince Aso, 11. Julian Savea, 10. Beauden Barrett, 9. TJ Perenara, 8. Victor Vito, 7. Ardie Savea, 6. Brad Shields, 5. Michael Fatialofa, 4. Vaea Fifita, 3. Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, 2. Dane Coles (captain), 1. Reg Goodes. Replacements: 16. Motu Matu’u, 17. Chris Eves, 18. Ben May, 19. Mark Abbott, 20. Blade Thomson, 21. Jamison Gibson-Park, 22. Willis Halaholo, 23. Jason Woodward.
Southern Kings vs Blues
Date: Saturday, 7 May 2016
SA Time: 17h10
Venue: Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth
Referee: Federico Anselmi
Assistant Referees: Rasta Rasivhenge, Archie Sehlako
Television Match Official: Christie du Preez
· Southern Kings coach, Deon Davids, made several changes to his side that suffered a heavy defeat to the Jaguares last week for their home clash this Saturday against the Blues in PE.
· Sithembiso Sithole comes in at prop for Schalk Ferreira, who will miss the clash because of a hand injury sustained last weekend.
· James Hall is due to start at scrumhalf in place of Ntando Kebe and Jurgen Visser now features at fullback in place of Jaco van Tonder.
· Lock Schalk Oelofse is over the mild bout of concussion and returns on the bench.
· This will be the first Vodacom Super Rugby encounter between the Kings and the Blues, though the South African side have lost their last three games against opponents from New Zealand, conceding 157 points in the process.
· The Kings have won two of their last four matches, though they conceded a team record 73 points in their most recent fixture against Jaguares.
· The Blues have won only one of their last 26 matches away from home and haven’t won in South Africa since Round 3, 2012.
· The Blues are the only team yet to score a try after forcing a turnover from the opposition so far this season while the Kings have done so seven times.
· The Kings are the only South African team with more than one player having won more than 10 turnovers so far this season (CJ Velleman 17, Chris Cloete 12).
Kings head coach, Deon Davids: “On Saturday it will be windy and rainy, so we opted to swap James [Hall] around with Ntando Kebe for tactical reasons.”
Southern Kings: 15 Jurgen Visser, 14 Lukhanyo Am, 13 Stefan Watermeyer, 12 Shane Gates, 11 Luzuko Vulindlu, 10 Elgar Watts, 9 James Hall, 8 Cyril-John Velleman, 7 Thembelani Bholi, 6 Chris Cloete, 5 John-Charles Astle, 4 Steven Sykes (captain), 3 Tom Botha, 2 Edgar Marutlulle, 1 Sithembiso Sithole. Replacements: 16 Martin Ferreira, 17 Justin Ackerman, 18 Jacobie Adriaanse, 19 Schalk Oelofse, 20 Stefan Willemse, 21 Ntando Kebe, 22 Louis Fouche, 23 Leighton Eksteen.
Blues: 15. Lolagi Visinia, 14. Melani Nanai, 13. George Moala, 12. Pierts Francis, 11. Tevita Li, 10. Ihaia West, 9. Bryn Hall, 8. Steven Luatua, 7. Tanerau Latimer, 6. Jerome Kaino, 5. Josh Bekhuis, 4. Patrick Tuipoluto, 3. Ofa Tu’ungafasi, 2. James Parsons (Captain), 1. Sam Prattley. Replacements: 16. Matt Moulds, 17. Nic Mayhew, 18. Charlie Faumuina, 19. Hoani Matenga, 20. Kara Pryor, 21. Billy Guyton, 22. Matt McGahan, 23. Male Sa’u
Friday, 6 May
09h35: Crusaders vs Reds, AMI Stadium, Christchurch
Saturday, 7 May
07h15: Sunwolves vs Western Force, Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium, Tokyo
09h35: Chiefs vs Highlanders, FMG Stadium, Hamilton