SANZAR 26.Jul.2012Getty Images
The Chiefs, second place finishers overall on the table and New Zealand Conference champions, had a break during the first week of the Super Rugby Finals Series, and will look to prove their status as the new top dogs in NZ rugby as the competition’s benchmark team arrives in town.
The Crusaders, beaten finalists last year and seven-time winners, have remained by-and-large the best franchise in New Zealand since 1998, but if one team looks capable of taking over that mantle, it is the Chiefs.
The Chiefs will be confident with home comforts, having established a franchise record six straight wins at Waikato Stadium this season, while setting a new New Zealand record for most wins achieved (with 12) during the regular season.
Yet the Crusaders ended that run at home at the beginning of the month, continuing their solid form on the road with their fifth win in eight matches away this year.
If the Chiefs are to emerge from the might of the Crusaders, they will need to join the Bulls as the only franchise ever to defeat the red and blacks in a Super Rugby Semi-Final, and overcome a recent record that has just one win for the New Zealand Conference champions over their incoming visitors in their last five matches.
Never has a New Zealand Conference team, with the exception of the Blues in 2003 when they won their third title, stopped the Crusaders during the Super Rugby Finals Series, so if the Chiefs can do the business in front of their home crowd – there will be high hopes for a tickertape parade in Hamilton in the weeks to come.
Friday, 27 July, 2012
Chiefs v Crusaders
Waikato Stadium, Hamilton, New Zealand
Kick off (1935 local, 1935 NZT, 1735 NSW/ACT,0935 SAT, 0735 GMT)
Referee Craig Joubert
AR Jonathan Kaplan
AR Keith Brown
TMO Garratt Williamson
HEAD TO HEAD:
Played 19: Crusaders 14, Chiefs 5
Points aggregate: Chiefs 373, Crusaders549
Tries aggregate: Chiefs 32, Crusaders57
Last match: Chiefs 21 – 28 Crusaders @Waikato Stadium, Hamilton (2012SR, RD17)
Record in Hamilton/Tauranga/Albany - Played 10, Chiefs 3, Crusaders 7
Record in Super Rugby Finals Series – MAIDEN MATCH
Chiefs 2012 Record – Played 16, Won 12,Lost 4
444 PF (4th overall), 358 PA (6th overall), 47 tries (3rd equal overall)
Crusaders 2012 Record – Played 16, Won11, Lost 5,
485 PF (2nd overall), 342 PA (3rd overall), 47 tries (3rd equal overall)
Chiefs: 15 Robbie Robinson, 14 Tim Nanai-Williams, 13 Andrew Horrell, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Asaeli Tikoirotuma, 10 Aaron Cruden, 9 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 8 Kane Thompson, 7 Tanerau Latimer, 6 Liam Messam, 5 Brodie Retallick, 4 Craig Clarke (captain), 3 Ben Tameifuna, 2 Mahonri Schwalger, 1 Sona Taumalolo.
Replacements: 16 Hika Elliot,17 Ben Afeaki, 18 Michael Fitzgerald, 19 Sam Cane, 20 Brendon Leonard, 21 Jackson Willison, 22 Lelia Masaga.
Crusaders: 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Adam Whitelock, 13 Robbie Fruean, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 Zac Guildford, 10 Dan Carter, 9 Andy Ellis, 8 Richie McCaw (c), 7 Matt Todd, 6 George Whitelock, 5 Samuel Whitelock, 4 Luke Romano, 3 Ben Franks, 2 Corey Flynn, 1 Wyatt Crockett.
Replacements: 16 Quentin MacDonald, 17 Ben Franks, 18 Tom Donnelly, 19 Luke Whitelock, 20 Willi Heinz, 21 Tom Taylor, 22 Sean Maitland.
Stormers versus Sharks
The Sharks 30-17 win over the defending champion Reds in Brisbane ensured that the men from Durban (the sixth placed wildcard qualifiers) have now travelled back to South Africa to take on the Stormers at DHL Newlands in Cape Town for the Super Rugby Semi-Finals.
The Stormers, top-of-the-table finishers and South African Conference champions, had a break during the first week of the Super Rugby Finals Series, and will now welcome the Sharks in a blockbuster derby in the Republic.
With the Bulls the pre-eminent team in South Africa with three titles, this weekend represents a wonderful opportunity for the Stormers and Sharks to emerge from their shadow, and look to become the second franchise from the Republic to lift a Super Rugby trophy.
The Sharks, who have won four of their last six on the road, are now in their eighth Super Rugby Finals Series, the most of any South African team, and will be bidding to reach their fourth decider, having lost in 1996 (v Reds), 2001 (v Brumbies) and 2007 (v Bulls) in those season’s Super Rugby Finals.
For the Stormers, this match is a big test to see if one of the most consistent teams in Super Rugby over recent years can go all the way – with the Cape Town based side finishing second (2010), second (2011)and first (2012) after the regular season in each of these years.
For the Sharks to deny the Stormers a Super Rugby Final, they will need to become the first team this season to win at DHL Newlands, with the South African Conference champions winning eight from eight there, including a round two 15-12 win over this weekend’s visitors.
Overall the two teams have an even ledger, with the Stormers having won nine matches to the Sharks eight over 17 encounters – and while the home team has won three of the last four, the Sharks have won two of the last four in Cape Town.
Saturday, 28 July, 2012
Stormers v Sharks
DHL Newlands Stadium, Cape Town, South Africa
Kick-off (1705 local, 1505 GMT, Sun 29 Jul 0305 NZT, Sun 29 Jul 0105 NSW/ACT,1705 SAT)
Referee Steve Walsh
AR Jaco Peyper
AR Marius Jonker
TMO Shaun Veldsman
HEAD TO HEAD:
Played 17: Stormers 9, Sharks 8
Points aggregate: Stormers 374, Sharks 341
Tries aggregate: Stormers 42, Sharks 36
Last match: Sharks 25 – 20 Stormers @ Mr Price King’sPark (2012SR, RD14)
Record in Cape Town: Played 8, Stormers 5, Sharks 3
Record in Super Rugby Finals Series – MAIDEN MATCH
Stormers 2012 Record – Played 16, Won 14, Lost 2
350 PF (12th overall), 254 PA (1st overall), 28 tries (15thoverall)
Sharks 2012 Record – Played 16, Won 10, Lost 6
436 PF (5th overall), 348 PA (5th overall), 47 tries(3rd equal)
Stormers:15 Joe Pietersen, 14 Gio Aplon, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Jean de Villiers (captain), 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Peter Grant, 9 Dewaldt Duvenage, 8 Deon Fourie, 7 Rynhardt Elstadt, 6 Siya Kolisi, 5 Andries Bekker, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3Brok Harris, 2 Tiaan Liebenberg, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Replacements: 16 FransMalherbe, 17 Deon Carstens, 18 De Kock Steenkamp, 19 Don Armand, 20 Louis Schreuder, 21 Burton Francis, 22 Gerhard van den Heever.
Sharks: 15 Louis Ludik, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Tim Whitehead, 12 Meyer Bosman, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Frederic Michalak, 9 Charl McLeod, 8 Ryan Kankowski, 7 Marcell Coetzee, 6 Keegan Daniel (captain), 5 Anton Bresler, 4 Willem Alberts, 3 Jannie duPlessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Replacements: 16 Craig Burden,17 Wiehahn Herbst, 18 Steven Sykes, 19 Jean Deysel, 20 Jacques Botes, 21 Odwa Ndungane, 22 Riaan Viljoen.