Super Rugby preview: Jaguares have best chance of SA Conference three

Super Rugby preview: Jaguares have best chance of SA Conference three

Of the three teams from the SA conference that play in this weekend’s Super Rugby quarterfinals, only the Jaguares have a reasonable chance of success. Any other win(s) should be regarded as a surprise.

The Jaguares play the Chiefs early on Saturday morning (00:05 SA time) followed by the Bulls against the Hurricanes at 09:35 while the Sharks face the Brumbies at 12:05.

The Jaguares won six of their eight home matches. In both teams’ first match of the season the Lions beat them, and then in Round 7, as long ago as March their adversaries on Saturday, the Chiefs, beat them 27-30 through a try by Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi just a minute from full time.

The Jaguares have an inhospitable support crowd, play an abrasive game mixed with excellent backs and should take the spoils by less than one score if they don’t find the occasion too overwhelming in their first play-off and freeze on the big stage.

Teams –

15 Emiliano Boffelli, 14 Sebastian Cancelliere, 13 Matias Orlando, 12 Jeronimo de la Fuente (captain), 11 Matias Moroni, 10 Joaquin Diaz Bonilla, 9 Tomas Cubelli, 8 Javier Ortega Desio, 7 Marcos Kremer, 6 Pablo Matera, 5 Tomas Lavanini, 4 Guido Petti, 3 Santiago Medrano, 2 Agustin Creevy, 1 Mayco Vivas. Replacements: 16 Julian Montoya, 17 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro, 18 Enrique Pieretto, 19 Tomas Lezana, 20 Francisco Gorrissen, 21 Felipe Ezcurra, 22 Domingo Miotti, 23 Santiago Carreras
Brodie RetallickChiefs
15 Solomon Alaimano, 14 Shaun Stevenson, 13 Tumua Manu, 12 Anton Lienert-Brown, 11 Sean Wainui, 10 Jack Debreczeni, 9 Brad Weber, 8 Pita Gus Sowakula, 7 Sam Cane (captain), 6 Lachlan Boshier, 5 Tyler Ardron, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Angus Ta’avao, 2 Nathan Harris, 1 Atu Moli. Replacements: 16 Samisoni Taukei’aho, 17 Aidan Ross, 18 Nepo Laulala, 19 Jesse Parete, 20 Mitchell Jacobson, 21 Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, 22 Marty McKenzie, 23 Alex Nankivell/Ataata Moeakiola.

 Hurricanes vs Bulls, kick-off 09:35

Of the three quarterfinalists from the SA Conference, the Bulls are up next.

South Africa’s leading side only arrived back from New Zealand nine days before their return. They spent about 24 hours to get to their destination Wellington where they play the Hurricanes.

On paper, their record is not too shabby with 10 won from 21 matches. But those wins were mostly in South Africa, many of them in the Bulls best years between 2006 and 2010, and the Hurricanes have selected probably their strongest team of the year.

More recently, the Bulls have won one of the last four, with their three losses all within five points of the winners.

While the Bulls will be buoyed by the return of Springboks Jesse Kriel and Jason Jenkins, they couldn’t consider Schalk Brits who has flu. Kriel slots in at outside centre with Johnny Kotze moving to the inside in place of Burger Odendaal who is injured.

RG Snyman At lock, Jenkins returns as RG Snyman’s lock partner with Jannes Kirsten moving to the bench.

The Hurricanes have made nine changes from the side that beat the Blues 29-24 last weekend. Both the Barretts, Jordie and Beauden, TJ Perenara, Wes-Goosen, Ngani Laumape, Peter Umaga-Jensen, props Jeff To’omaga-Allen and Toby Smith as well as James Blackwell gives the Hurricanes a whole new look.

The home side should win by 11 points or more

Teams –

15 Jordie Barrett, 14 Wes Goosen, 13 Peter Umaga-Jensen, 12 Ngani Laumape, 11 Ben Lam, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Gareth Evans, 7 Ardie Savea, 6 Reed Prinsep, 5 Isaia Walker-Leawere, 4 James Blackwell, 3 Jeff To’omaga-Allen, 2 Dane Coles (captain), 1 Toby Smith. Replacements: 16 Asafo Aumua, 17 Fraser Armstrong, 18 Ben May/Alex Fidow, 19 Kane Le’aupepel, 20 Du’Plessis Kirifi, 21 Richard Judd/Finlay Christie, 22 James Marshall, 23 Salesi Rayasi.
Bulls 15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Johnny Kotze, 11 Rosko Specman, 10 Handré Pollard (captain),  9 André Warner, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Hanro Liebenberg, 6 Marco van Staden, 5 RG Snyman, 4 Jason Jenkins, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Jaco Visagie, 1 Lizo Gqoboka. Replacements: 16 Johan Grobbelaar, 17 Simphiwe Matanzima, 18 Wiehahn Herbst, 19 Jannes Kirsten, 20 Ruan Steenkamp, 21 Ivan van Zyl, 22 Manie Libbok, 23 Divan Rossouw.

Brumbies vs Sharks, kick-off 12:05

The Sharks probably have the marginally better chance of the two South African franchises. They left South Africa a day earlier than the Bulls and also had a shorter flight and time getting to Sydney where they have stayed before they transfer 300 km to Canberra for the match.

The Durban side have enjoyed better success on the road this year than at home and they will be confident of a good showing against the Australian conference-winning Brumbies.

That is the positive side from the SA perspective. The Brumbies have won their last six matches since they lost to the Jaguares on 26 April. This included the only loss the Bulls suffered in their four-match tour to Australasia.

This will be a huge boost for their confidence.

Curwin Bosch returns at fullback for the Sharks in one of two changes to the match-day squad for their Super Rugby quarter-final against the Brumbies in Canberra on Saturday.

Aphelele Fassi has been ruled out with a shoulder injury and is replaced by a fit-again Bosch. Juan Schoeman was not considered for selection last week against the Stormers because of flu and he returns to the bench as prop cover.

The Durban side have enjoyed better success on the road this year than at home and they will be confident of a good showing against the Australian conference-winning Brumbies.

Sharks captain Louis Schreuder, speaking from the team’s base in Coogee in Sydney, said the team are focused and ready for the clash: ‘Everyone is excited and looking forward to the challenge. They’re a physical, well-organised team with a good set piece and kicking game, so we’re going to have to be well prepared for that.’

Good resolve, but the Brumbies should win by one score or less

LukhanyoAm cropTeams –

Brumbies – 15 Tom Banks, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Irae Simone, 11 Toni Pulu, 10 Christian Leali’ifano (captain), 9 Joe Powell, 8 Pete Samu, 7 Tom Cusack, 6 Rob Valetini, 5 Sam Carter, 4 Rory Arnold, 3 Allan Alaalatoa, 2 Folau Fainga’a, 1 Scott Sio. Replacements: 16 Connal McInerney, 17 James Slipper, 18 Leslie Leuluaialii-Makin, 19 Darcy Swain, 20 Lachlan McCaffrey, 21 Jahrome Brown, 22 Matt Lucas, 23 Tom Wright.
Sharks – 15 Curwin Bosch, 14 Sbu Nkosi, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Rob du Preez, 9 Louis Schreuder (captain),  8 Dan du Preez, 7 Tyler Paul, 6 Jacques Vermeulen, 5 Hyron Andrews, 4 Ruben van Heerden, 3 Coenie Oosthuizen, 2 Kerron van Vuuren, 1 Mzamo Majola. Replacements: 16 Cullen Collopy, 17 Juan Schoeman, 18 Thomas du Toit, 19 Gideon Koegelenberg, 20 Luke Stringer, 21 Cameron Wright, 22 Jeremy Ward, 23 Rhyno Smith.

Crusaders vs Highlanders, FridayKick-off 09:25

Crusaders, the defending champions and the number one side on the 2019 combined standings, kick off the first round of play-offs against the Highlanders in Christchurch on Friday morning.

It will be a game of different approaches, with the home side’s coach Scott Robertson predicting that the Highlanders will play with freedom because they have nothing to lose.

There is no arrogance on the part of Robertson, although his side hadn’t lost to anyone at home for the past three years and 29 matches.

Also, the Highlanders finished tied eighth and only made it to the play-offs because the Lions faltered towards the end against the Bulls and couldn’t secure a bonus point. They have lost six of their last seven Super Rugby matches on the road, conceding an average of 33 points per game in those defeats.

There are 13 All Blacks in the defending champions’ run-on side.

“We play them a lot, so we know their strengths and they know ours,” says Robertson about the visitors. “It will be a helluva contest.”

Probably. But although slip-ups happen, it’s unlikely that it will be on Friday and the homes side should canter home by 16 points or so.

Teams –

15 David Havili, 14 Sevu Reece, 13 Jack Goodhue, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 George Bridge, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Bryn Hall, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Matt Todd, 6 Whetukamokamo Douglas, 5 Samuel Whitelock (captain), 4 Scott Barrett, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Joe Moody. Replacements: 16 Andrew Makalio, 17 Tim Perry, 18 Michael Alaalatoa, 19 Luke Romano, 20 Jordan Taufua, 21 Mitchell Drummond, 22 Mitchell Hunt, 23 Braydon Ennor.
15 Ben Smith (co-captain), 14 Waisake Naholo, 13 Rob Thompson, 12 Teihorangi Walden, 11 Patelesio Tomkinson, 10 Josh Ioane, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Luke Whitelock (co-captain), 7 James Lentjes, 6 Liam Squire, 5 Tom Franklin, 4 Jackson Hemopo, 3 Tyrel Lomax, 2 Liam Coltman, 1 Daniel Lienert-Brown. Replacements: 16 Ash Dixon, 17 Ayden Johnstone, 18 Siate Tokolahi, 19 Josh Dickson, 20 Shannon Frizell, 21 Kayne Hammington, 22 Marty Banks, 23 Elliot Dixon