Thursday, February 28, 2008

2008 Super14. Week 3 Preview (

Super 14 preview panel for this weekend's round three action (all times AEDT):
at Westpac Stadium, Wellington, 5.35pm
Last meeting: Hurricanes 39-32, in Hamilton, February 2007

Both sides come off tight wins at home where they showed glimpses of form but were still a long way from their best. The Chiefs, lucky to overcome NSW with a last-minute penalty goal, have a reshuffled backline after losing halfback Brendon Leonard and centre Richard Kahui. Mils Muliaina has moved into the centres with lethal winger Sitiveni Sivivatu taking over at fullback. The Hurricanes have a 3-1 record in Wellington over the men from Waikato.

Hurricanes: Cory Jane, Ma'a Nonu, Conrad Smith, Tane Tu'ipulotu, Hosea Gear, Jimmy Gopperth, Piri Weepu, Rodney So'oialo (capt), Chris Masoe, Jerry Collins, Jason Eaton, Craig Clarke, Neemia Tialata, Andrew Hore, John Schwalger. Reserves: Hikawera Elliot, Tim Fairbrother, Jeremy Thrush, Scott Waldrom, Alby Mathewson, Willie Ripia, Shannon Paku.

Chiefs: Sitiveni Sivivatu, Lelia Masaga, Mils Muliaina, Dwayne Sweeney, Viliame Waqaseduadua, Stephen Donald, David Bason, Sione Lauaki, Tanerau Latimer, Liam Messam, Kevin O'Neill, Jono Gibbes (capt), Ben Castle, Tom Willis, Simms Davison. Reserves: Aled de Malmanche, Ben May, Toby Lynn, Faifili Levave, Matt France, Callum Bruce, Sosene Anesi.


at Ellis Park, Johannesburg, 3.30am
Last meeting:
Lions 25-24, in Perth, February '07

The Lions remain the only South African team which the Force haven't beaten in their two and a bit seasons. Coach John Mitchell has again rung the changes despite their 16-15 win over the Cheetahs, particularly in the forward pack. In a major boost, fullback Cameron Shepherd is back from injury, enabling speedster Drew Mitchell to revert to the wing. The Lions are licking their wounds after a thrashing by the red-hot Blues when they looked totally inept in defence.

Lions: Louis Ludik, Dusty Noble, Jaco Pretorius, Doppies la Grange, Ryno Benjamin, Louis Strydom, Jano Vermaak, Willem Alberts, Franco van der Merwe, Cobus Grobbelaar (capt), Gerhard Mostert, Anton van Zyl, Ross Geldenhuys, Willie Wepener, Heinke van der Merwe. Reserves: Gavin Williamson, Gert-Andries van der Merwe, Altenstadt Hulme, Joe van Niekerk, Chris Jonck, Earl Rose, Jaco van Schalkwyk.

Western Force: Cameron Shepherd, Nick Cummins, Ryan Cross, Scott Staniforth, Drew Mitchell, Matt Giteau, James Stannard, Tamaiti Horua, Matt Hodgson, Scott Fava, Nathan Sharpe (capt), Tom Hockings, Troy Takiari, Luke Holmes, Gareth Hardy. Reserves: Tai McIsaac, AJ Whalley, Sam Wykes, Richard Brown, David Pocock, Scott Daruda, Lachlan MacKay.

at Newlands, Cape Town, 5.35am
Last meeting: Crusaders 36-11 in Christchurch, March 2007

The Crusaders look to be playing a different game to the rest after their 54-19 thumping of the defending champion Bulls. But coach Robbie Deans is wary of a repeat of the 28-17 2006 defeat in Cape Town. Deans has has made three changes to his team, rotating his props and replacing winger Scott Hamilton with Caleb Ralph. The winless Stormers have suffered narrow defeats to the Bulls and Sharks and are also without suspended back-rower Schalk Burger. Back-up flanker Luke Watson is ill and will start at No.8.

Stormers: Conrad Jantjes, Tonderaj Chavhanga, Gcobani Bobo, Jean de Villiers (capt), Sireli Naqelevuki, Peter Grant, Ricky Januarie, Luke Watson, Francois Louw, Pieter Myburgh, Andries Bekker, Adriaan Fondse, Brian Mujati, Tiaan Liebenberg, JD Moller. Reserves: Schalk Brits, Brok Harris, Ross Skeate, Robbie Diack, Bolla Conradie, Gio Aplon, Dylan Des Fountain.

Crusaders: Leon MacDonald, Kade Poki, Casey Laulala, Stephen Brett, Caleb Ralph, Daniel Carter, Andrew Ellis, Mose Tuiali'i, Richard McCaw (capt), Kieran Read, Ali Williams, Brad Thorn, Campbell Johnstone, Corey Flynn, Wyatt Crockett. Reserves: Ti'i Paulo, Greg Somerville, Reuben Thorne, Nasi Manu, Kahn Fotuali'i, Tim Bateman, Sean Maitland.

at Carisbrook, Dunedin, 5.35pm
Last meeting: Highlanders 26-25, in Sydney, April 2007

The Waratahs have suffered a blow with the loss of tight-head prop Al Baxter, forcing a front-row reshuffle for their showdown with the big, bruising Highlanders pack. Matt Dunning has moved to the other side while little-known Sekope Kepu will make his debut at loose-head. Ewen McKenzie's other problem is the poor tackling of young playmaker Kurtley Beale who may be hidden on the wing in defence with Timana Tahu at five-eighth. The Highlanders have gone close against the Brumbies and Reds and are desperate to open their account.

Highlanders: James Wilson, Paul Williams, Niva Ta'auso, Johnny Leota, Fetu'u Vainikolo, Michael Delany, Jimmy Cowan, Steven Setephano, Alando Soakai, Hayden Triggs, Tom Donnelly, Isaac Ross, Clint Newland, Jason Macdonald (capt), Jamie Mackintosh. Reserves: David Hall, Chris King, Adam Thomson, Tim Boys, Toby Morland, Ben W Smith, Brett Mather.

Waratahs: Lachie Turner, Timana Tahu, Ben Jacobs, Tom Carter, Lote Tuqiri, Kurtley Beale, Brett Sheehan, Wycliff Palu, Phil Waugh (capt), Rocky Elsom, Dan Vickerman, Will Caldwell, Matt Dunning, Adam Freier, Sekope Kepu. Reserves: Tatafu Polota-Nau, Dan Palmer, Dean Mumm, Beau Robinson, Luke Burgess, Sam Harris, Alfi Mafi.

at Canberra Stadium, Canberra, 7.40pm
Last meeting: Brumbies 6-3, Brisbane, February 2007

Queensland have never won in Canberra and have beaten the Brumbies just once in 13 meetings. But they will never get a better chance against Laurie Fisher's men who are vulnerable due to a dreadful injury run. Fisher has picked his fourth-choice centre pair in Tyrone Smith and rookie Leo Afeaki, giving the Reds a pocket to attack. The Reds have suffered costly blows of their own with Hugh McMeniman (ankle) and Sam Cordingley (groin) injured. The Reds more experienced backline should win the day if their forwards stand up.

Brumbies: Julian Huxley, Mark Gerrard, Sanualio Afeaki, Tyrone Smith, Francis Fainifo, Christian Lealiifano, Patrick Phibbs, Stephen Hoiles, George Smith (capt), Mitch Chapman, Mark Chisholm, Adam Wallace-Harrison, Guy Shepherdson, Saia Faingaa, Nic Henderson. Reserves: Huia Edmonds, Salesi Ma'afu, Peter Kimlin, Julian Salvi, Josh Holmes, Peter Playford, Afusipa Taumoepeau.

Reds: Chris Latham, Clinton Schifcofske, Morgan Turinui, Christopher Siale, Digby Ioane, Berrick Barnes, Sam Cordingley, Leroy Houston, David Croft, John Roe (capt), James Horwill, Van Humphries, Rodney Blake, Stephen Moore, Greg Holmes. Reserves: Sean Hardman, Dayna Edwards, Ed O'Donoghue, AJ Gilbert, Will Genia, Peter Hynes, Quade Cooper.


in Bloemfontein, 2am
Last meeting: Blues 26-8, in Auckland, April 2007

The Blues are flying and loving the experimental laws, playing 15-man sevens in their big win over the Lions. They should again be way too strong for the Cheetahs who are kicking themselves for letting the Force out of jail last week. It was the second straight week they have lost to a penalty goal after the full-time siren. Blues coach David Nucifora has made one slight change to his talented backline with Rudi Wulf starting for Anthony Tuitavake.

Cheetahs: Hennie Daniller, Eddie Fredericks, JW Jonker, Meyer Bosman, Gavin Passens, Jacques-Louis Potgieter, Noel Oelschig, Duane Vermeulen, Juan Smith (capt), Heinrich Brussow, David de Villiers, Rory Duncan, Kobus Calldo, Adriaan Strauss, Wian du Preez. Reserves: Richardt Strauss, Bees Roux, Flip van der Merwe, Kabamba Fllors, Tewis de Bruyn, Conrad Barnard, Hendrik Meyer.

Blues: Isa Nacewa, Rudi Wulf, Isaia Toeva, Benson Stanley, Joe Rokocoko, Nick Evans, Danny Lee, Nick Williams, Justin Collins, Jerome Kaino, Troy Flavell (capt), Kurtis Haiu, John Afoa, Keven Mealamu, Tony Woodcock. Reserves: Tom McCartney, Bronson Murray, Anthony Boric, Onosa's Tololima-Auva'a, Taniela Moa, Ben Atiga, Anthony Tuitavake.
Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria, 4.05am
Last meeting: Bulls 20-19 in Durban, May 2007

A rematch of last year's gripping final, the Durban-based Sharks will be pumped up to avenge their heart-breaking loss through an injury-time Bryan Habana try. While the Sharks have adapted quickly to the ELVs, the Bulls looked mere shadows of the 2007 champions in the second half against the Crusaders last weekend after leading 12-0 early. But they have Springboks duo Bakkies Botha and Akona Ndungane back this week. There are concerns about lock Botha's desire, though, as he is reportedly eying a move to France. Morne Steyn has taken over the playmaking duties from Derick Hougaard

Bulls: Zane Kirchner, Akona Ndungane, JP Nel, Wynand Olivier, Danwel Demas, Morne Steyn, Fourie du Preez (capt), Pedrie Wannenburg, Wikus van Heerden, Danie Rossouw, Wilhelm Steenkamp, Bakkies Botha, Rayno Gerber, Derick Kuun, Gurthro Steenkamp. Reserves: James van der Walt, Werner Kruger, Jaco Engels, Deon Stegmann, Heini Adams, Derick Hougaard, John Mametsa.

Sharks: Francois Steyn, Odwa Ndungane, Waylon Murray, Bradley Barritt, JP Pietersen, Frederic Michalak, Rory Kockott, Ryan Kankowski, AJ Venter, Jacques Botes, Johann Muller (capt), Johan Ackermann, BJ Botha, Bismarck du Plessis, Tendai Mtawarira. Reserves: Craig Burden, Jannie du Plessis, Albert van den Berg, Keegan Daniel, Charl Mcleod, Adrian Jacobs, Stefan Terblanche.

Note : I cancelled the lines devoted to bets -but you can find them by clicking on the source of the article (upper in pink)


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