Super Rugby
Super Rugby preview, team news, line-ups: Round 14
ESPN Staff
May 14, 2015
Greg Growden and Sam Bruce preview Round 14 of Super Rugby

Friday, May 15

Blues v Bulls, Eden Park, Auckland

Head-to-head: Played 16, Blues 9, Bulls 7

In Auckland: Played 8, Blues 7, Bulls 1

Last clash: Round 4, 2014 - Bulls 38-22 Blues, Pretoria

Key Stats

  • The Bulls have not won outside of their own country since defeating the Blues in their last visit to Auckland in March 2013. Since then, they have lost all seven of their matches in Australia and New Zealand.
  • Ihaia West has kicked 30/35 this season (86%) Jacques-Louis Potgieter (10/12), Handre Pollard (48/60) and Tiaan Schoeman (4/5), meaning they have all kicked at 80+% this season.
  • The Blues' last two matches produced 65 and 64 points respectively. Their 13 matches prior to that all produced under 55 in total and an average of 40.


  • Blues: Lolagi Visinia, Ben Lam, Francis Saili, George Moala, Melani Nani, Ihaia West, Jamison Gibson-Park, Steven Luatua (c), Brendon O'Connor, Akira Ioane, Josh Bekhuis, Culum Retallick, Charlie Faumuina, James Parsons, Tony Woodcock Replacements: Keven Mealamu, Ofa Tu'ungafasi, Sam Prattley, Will Loyd, Blake Gibson, Jimmy Cowan/Jamie Booth, Simon Hickey, Matt Vaega
  • Bulls: TBA


  • Blues: Dan Bowden (Groin, Round 15), Luke Braid (Concussion, TBC), Bryn Hall (Foot, Round 17), Jerome Kaino (Finger, Season), Charles Piutau (Knee, Season)
  • Bulls: Carlo Englebrecht (Ankle, Round 17), Bandise Maku (Torn pectoral, Season), Duncan Matthews (Knee, Season), Ryan Nell (Knee, Season), Pierre Schoeman (Knee, Season), Ruan Steenkamp (Knee, Season), Piet van Zyl (Knee, Season)

Team News

  • Blues coach Sir John Kirwan has been forced into a couple of changes as he seeks to ease the pressure in Auckland with just a third win for 2015. Jamison Gibson-Park has been given a start at halfback while James Parsons comes in at hooker in place of veteran Keven Mealamu. Junior All Blacks duty sees Tevita Li drop out with Ben Lam slotting onto the right wing.
  • Bulls captain Pierre Spies has returned to the starting side after making his return via the bench in the win over the Lions a fortnight ago. The veteran back-rower takes his place at No.8 with Arno Botha shifting to blind-side and Jacques du Plessis dropping back to the bench. Meanwhile, Rudy Paige will start at scrum-half in place of the injured Piet van Zyl.

Greg Growden's Verdict: The calls from the Auckland media for Blues coach John Kirwan to be punted get louder, and it is bound to become even more raucous after this home game.

Tips - Greg Growden: Bulls by 8 Sam Bruce: Bulls Brett McKay: Blues Brittany Mitchell: Blues Andy Withers: Bulls

Pierre Spies returns at No.8 to captain the Bulls © Getty Images

Reds v Rebels, Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane

Head-to-head: Played 9, Reds 7, Rebels 2

In Brisbane: Played 4, Reds 3, Rebels 1

Last clash: Round 8, 2015 - Rebels 23-15 Reds, Melbourne

Key Stats

  • The Reds' largest Super Rugby victory, both in terms of winning margin and points scored, came against the Rebels in March 2011 (53-3).
  • The Rebels have won four of their last five; a run which is their best ever in this competition. Their 42-22 win over the Blues last week equalled their highest points haul in a match and was their second largest victory in terms of margin.
  • The Reds rank second for lineout success rate (90%) this term while the Rebels place last in this regard (78%).


  • Reds: James O'Connor; Chris Feauai-Sautia, Karmichael Hunt, Samu Kerevi, Lachie Turner; Jake McIntyre, Will Genia; Jake Shatz, Liam Gill, Adam Thomson; James Horwill, Rob Simmons; Greg Holmes, James Hanson, James Slipper (captain), Replacements: Andrew Ready, Pettowa Paraka, Sam Talakai, Ed O'Donoghue, Lolo Fakosilea, Nick Frisby/Scott Gale, Sam Greene, Ben Tapuai
  • Rebels: Mike Harris; Dom Shipperley, Tamati Ellison, Mitch Inman, Sefanaia Naivalu; Jack Debreczeni, Nic Stirzaker; Scott Higginbotham (captain), Jordy Reid, Sean McMahon; Lopeti Timani, Luke Jones; Paul Alo-Emile, Pat Leafa, Toby Smith Replacements: Tom Sexton, Cruze Ah-Nau, Laurie Weeks, Cadeyrn Neville, Colby Fainga'a, Luke Burgess, Bryce Hegarty, Tom English
Ruck'n Maul: Reds risk losing fans


  • Reds: Curtis Browning (Knee, TBC), Quade Cooper (Shoulder, Round 17), Ben Daley (Shoulder, Season), Anthony Fainga'a (Concussion, TBA) Saia Fainga'a (Upper body, TBC), Duncan Paia'aua (Concussion, TBC), Ed Quirk (Knee, TBC), Beau Robinson (Calf, TBC), Jake Shatz (Elbow, Indefinite)
  • Rebels: Jonah Placid (Groin, Round 15-16).

Team News

  • It will be a baptism of fire for youngster Jake McIntyre as he makes his debut in the Reds No.10 jersey. One of the stars of Brisbane City's NRC triumph, McIntyre replaces Nick Frisby at No.10 while Karmichael Hunt returns from a bout of gastro in the new position of outside-centre. James O'Connor has been moved from the wing to fullback.
  • The Rebels have named three international players to make their return to the side with back-rower Sean McMahon and centre Tamati Ellison starting, and tight-head prop Laurie Weeks on the bench.

Greg Growden's Verdict: As the Reds old guard continue to look after each other, the team remains a rabble, and numerous players are looking for a quick way out. The Rebels are instead focused, and primed for another upset.

Tips - Greg Growden: Rebels by 4 Sam Bruce: Reds Brett McKay: Rebels Brittany Mitchell: Rebels Andy Withers: Rebels

Saturday, May 16

Hurricanes v Chiefs, Westpac Stadium, Wellington

Head-to-head: Played 24, Hurricnaes 12, Chiefs 11, Drawn 1

In Wellington:Played 12, Hurricanes 8, Chiefs 4

Last clash: Round 18, 2014 - Chiefs 24-26 Hurricanes, Hamilton

Key Stats

  • The Hurricanes have won just two of their last seven games against the Chiefs. However, the 'Canes have won eight of their last nine at home against the men from Waikato.
  • Six of the Hurricanes' 10 wins this season have been by eight points or under. The Chiefs' three defeats have a combined margin of five points (3, 1, 1).
  • The Hurricanes have averaged the most defenders beaten (23.2) this year but the Chiefs have forced the lowest tackling success rate from heir opponents (83%).


  • Hurricanes: Nehe Milner-Skudder; Cory Jane, Conrad Smith (captain), Ma'a Nonu, Julian Savea; James Marshall, TJ Perenara; Ardie Savea, Victor Vito, Brad Shields; James Broadhurst, Jeremy Thrush; Ben Franks, Motu Matu'u, Reggie Goodes, Replacements: Dane Coles, Chris Eves, Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, Mark Abbott/Callum Gibbins, Blade Thomson, Chris Smylie, Otere Black, Rey Lee-Lo
  • Chiefs: Tom Marshall; Hosea Gear, Charlie Ngatai, Anton Lienert-Brown, Bryce Heem; Damian McKenzie, Brad Weber; Michael Leitch, Sam Cane, Liam Messam (captain); Michael Fitzgerald, Michael Allardice; Ben Tameifuna, Hika Elliot, Pauliasi Manu Replacements: Quentin MacDonald, Siate Tokolahi, Mitchell Graham, Liam Squire, Maama Vaipulu, Augustine Pulu, Andrew Horrell, Marty McKenzie


  • Hurricanes: Beauden Barrett (Knee, Round 17), Dane Coles (Calf, Round 14), Jason Woodward (Ankle, season)
  • Chiefs: Aaron Cruden (Knee, Season), Nathan Harris (Ankle, TBC), Tawera Kerr-Barlow (Knee, Season), Tevita Koloamatangi (Ankle, TBC), James Lowe (Shoulder, Round 15), Sonny Bill Williams (Back, Round 15).

Team News

  • The Chiefs lost Sonny Bill Williams and James Lowe on Friday, with respective back and shoulder injuries. New Zealand Under-20 star Anton Lienert-Brown replaces Williams while Bryce Heem moves to the left wing. Marty McKenzie replaces Heem on the wing. Damian McKenzie has been given the nod to start in the No.10 jersey, while lock Michael Allardice will be making his first start for the side
  • All Blacks TJ Perenara and Julian Savea will make their return to the Hurricanes with Chris Smylie moving to the bench and James Proctor slipping out of the match day squad due to an ankle injury.

Greg Growden's Verdict: The injury toll gets longer for the Hurricanes, and their glowing season could suddenly turn wonky. The Chiefs are back from a bye, and that will help them.

Tips - Greg Growden: Chiefs by 3 Sam Bruce: Hurricanes Brett McKay: Hurricanes Brittany Mitchell: Hurricanes Andy Withers: Hurricanes

TJ Perenara makes his return © Getty Images

Waratahs v Sharks, Allianz Stadium, Sydney

Head-to-head: Played 17, Waratahs 11, Sharks 5, Drawn 1

In Sydney: Played 9, Waratahs 8, Sharks 1

Last clash: Round 7, 2014 - Sharks 32-10 Waratahs, Durban

Key Stats

  • The Waratahs' last four matches have yielded losing bonuses, while their last three have seen just 86 points scored in total. The Sharks have lost five in a row but have only suffered six straight defeats in a single campaign once before (2000).
  • The Sharks have averaged the most kicks from hand (25.3) and received the most (26.5) but the Waratahs have produced the least, an average of 14.7.
  • Just two sides have scored more opening quarter tries than the Waratahs (8), while the Sharks have scored the second fewest in the opening 20 (2).


  • Waratahs: Israel Folau, Taqele Naiyaravoro, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Kurtley Beale, Rob Horner, Bernard Foley, Nick Phipps; Wycliff Palu, Michael Hooper, Stephen Hoiles; Dave Dennis, Will Skelton; Sekope Kepu, Tolu Latu, Benn Robinson. Replacements: Hugh Roach, Jeremy Tilse, Paddy Ryan, Mitchell Chapman, Jed Holloway, Jack Dempsey, Tala Gray, Pat McCutcheon, Brendan McKibbin, Matt Carraro, Peter Betham. (three to be omitted)
  • Sharks: Lwazi Mvovo; Odwa Ndungane, JP Pietersen, Frans Steyn, S'bura Sithole; Lionel Cronje, Stefan Ungerer; Renaldo Bothma, Etienne Oosthuizen, Marcell Coetzee; Marco Wentzel (captain), Stephan Lewies; Jannie du Plessis, Bismarck du Plessis,Tendai Mtawarira Replacements: Franco Marais, Dale Chadwick, Lourens Adriaanse, Mouritz Botha, Kyle Cooper, Conrad Hoffmann, Andre Esterhuizen, Waylon Murray


  • Waratahs: Tatafu Polota Nau (Concussion, TBC), Jacques Potgieter.
  • Sharks: Jean Deysel (Suspension, Round 16), Ryan Kankowski (Undisclosed, Round 16), Paul Jordaan (Undiscolsed, Round 16), Pat Lambie (Neck, Round 16), SP Marais (Undisclosed, Round 16), Tera Mtembu (Undisclosed, Round 16), Pieter-Steph du Toit (Knee, Season), Cobus Reinach (Fractured hand, Indefinite), Pieter-Steph du Toit (knee, Indefinite)

Team News

  • Waratahs coach Michael Cheika has made just one injury-forced change to his starting side with Stephen Hoiles coming for Jacques Potgieter on the side of the scrum. Cheika has name an extended bench which he will reduce close to kick-off.
  • The Sharks will field take an unchanged 23 into the match against the Waratahs after Bismarck du Plessis managed to shake off a knee injury from last weekend's clash with the Hurricanes.

Greg Growden's Verdict: What performance was worse last week: Reds or Waratahs? Close call. The Waratahs are masters of bouncing back after dismal losses; even though the Sharks will threaten, repeated tongue lashings from Michael Cheika during the week should have the home team back on track.

New South Wales' Stephen Hoiles is congratulated after scoring, New South Wales Waratahs v Blues, Super Rugby trial match, Allianz Stadium, Sydney, February 7, 2014
Stephen Hoiles will start at No.6 for the Waratahs © Getty Images

Tips - Greg Growden: Waratahs by 8 Sam Bruce: Waratahs Brett McKay: Waratahs Brittany Mitchell: Waratahs Andy Withers: Waratahs

Lions v Brumbies, Ellis Park, Johannesburg

Head-to-head: Played 16, Lions 4, Brumbies 12

In Johannesburg: Played 7, Lions 3, Brumbies 4

Last clash: Round 10, 2012 - Lions 20-34 Brumbies, Johannesburg

Key Stats

  • The Lions have trailed at half-time on eight of their last nine matches but have won seven of those nine matches (including one when they led at HT). Every single one of those wins came by a margin of five or fewer points. The Brumbies have led at half-time in their last two games but went on to lose both.
  • The Brumbies boast the best lineout (91%) in the competition, while the Lions' in the second worst (79%).
  • The last two meetings between these sides, which took place in 2011 and 2012, were won by the away side on the day (one win each). Indeed, the last four meetings between the sides have yielded two wins apiece but no losing bonus points.


  • Lions: Andries Coetzee, Lionel Mapoe, Harold Vorster, Alwyn Hollenbach, Ruan Combrinck, Elton Jantjies, Faf de Klerk; Warren Whiteley, Robert Kruger, Jaco Kriel; Franco Mostert, Martin Muller; Julin Redelinghuys, Robbie Coetzee, Schalk van der Merwe. Replacements: Armand van der Merwe, Jacques van Rooyen, Ruan Dreyer, MB Lusaseni, Warwick Tecklenburg, Ross Cronje, Jaco vam der Walt, Howard Mnisi.
  • Brumbies: Jesse Mogg; Henry Speight, Tevita Kuridrani, Matt Toomua, Joe Tomane; Christian LeaIi'ifano, Nic White; Ita Vaea, David Pocock, Scott Fardy; Rory Arnold, Sam Carter; Ben Alexander, Stephen Moore, Allan Alaalatoa, Replacements: Josh Mann-Rea, JP Smith, Ruan Smith, Jordan Smiler, Jarrad Butler, Blake Enever, Michael Dowsett, Robbie Coleman, James Dargaville, Nigel Ah Wong


  • Lions: Stephan de Wit (Shoulder, TBC), Rohan Janse van Rensburg (Ankle, TBC), Malcolm Marx (Ankle, TBC), Derrick Minnie (Knee, Season), Martin Muller (Calf, TBC)
  • Brumbies: Scott Sio (Knee, Round 18)

Team News

  • The Lions have again switched up their halves combination with Faf de Klerk and Elton Jantjies coming into the starting side after fine second-half displays against the Highlanders last week. Lionel Mapoe is back from injury and will start on the right wing while up front, Robert Kruger has got the nod ahead of Warwick Tecklenburg at openside flanker.
  • Matt Toomua returns at inside centre as Christian Leali'ifano retains the fly-half duties and Robbie Coleman shifts to the bench. Toomua and prop Allan Alaalatoa are the only inclusions to the starting XV, the latter called in to hold up the wobbling scrum after it was smashed in a one-point defeat last weekend.

Greg Growden's Verdict: The Brumbies suffered a cruel loss in Cape Town, and even though the Lions game should be easier, it would not surprise if the visitors' dismal road tour continues. It all depends on the Brumbies actually getting a penalty or two in their favour.

Tips - Greg Growden: Lions by 3 Sam Bruce: Lions Brett McKay: Brumbies Brittany Mitchell: Lions Andy Withers: Lions

Matt Toomua will make his return from injury with a start at 12 © Getty Images

Cheetahs v Highlanders, Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein

Head-to-head: Played 8, Cheetahs 1, Highlanders 7

In Bloemfontein: Played 4, Cheetahs 0, Highlanders 4

Last clash: Round 4, 2013 - Highlanders 19-36 Cheetahs, Invercargill

Key Stats

  • The Highlanders have lost their last three in South Africa, but all these defeats have been by margins less than seven.
  • The Cheetahs have won 77% of their scrums so far, a tournament low. Their opponents have won 94% of their feeds, every other side have forced lower success rates without the feed.
  • Combined, these sides have scored just seven opening quarter tries this term. They have scored 21 in the second quarter.


  • Cheetahs: Clayton Blommetjies; Ryno Benjamin, Francois Venter, Michael van der Spuy, Sergeal Petersen; Francois Brummer, Tian Meyer; Willie Britz, Boom Prinsloo, Tienie Burger; Francois Uys, Carl Wegner; Maks van Dyk, Torsten van Jaarsveld, Danie Mienie. Replacements: Stephan Coetzee, BG Uys, Ewald van der Westhuizen, Steven Sykes, Carel Greeff, Coenie van Wyk, Raymond Rhule.
  • Highlanders: Ben Smith; Ryan Tongia, Malakai Fekitoa, Richard Buckman, Patrick Osborne; Lima Sopoaga, Aaron Smith; Nasi Manu, John Hardie, Gareth Evans; Mark Reddish, Alex Ainley; Josh Hohneck, Liam Coltman, Brendon Edmonds. Replacements: Ash Dixon, Daniel Lienert-Brown, Ross Geldenhuys, Tom Franklin, Elliot Dixon, Dan Pryor, Fumiakai Tanaka, Marty Banks.


  • Cheetahs: Heinrich Brussow (Broken arm, Season), Lood de Jager (Elbow, Round 15), Armandt Koster (lower back, TBC), Willie le Roux (Rested, Round 16), Hilton Lobbets (Knee, Round 15), Oupa Mohoje (Torn groin, Round 18), Willem Serfontein (Knee, Indefinite), Elgar Watts (knee, Indefinite)
  • Highlanders: Shane Christie (Hamstring, TBC), Daniel Lienert-Brown (Knee, TBC), Hayden Parker (Shoulder, TBC), Shaun Treeby (Anlke, TBC), Joe Wheeler (Knee, Season)

Team News

  • The Cheetahs will field a new halves combination due to injuries to Sarel Pretorius and Joe Pietersen. Coach Naka Drotske has called Tian Meyer and Francois Brummer into the starting side at scrum-half and fly-half, respectively while Danie Mienie has come into the run-on side at prop.
  • The Highlanders will be without in-form winger Waisake Naholo this weekend with the little-known Ryan Tongia slotting on to the end of the backline. There are also a couple of changes to the pack with John Hardie replacing Dan Pryor at openside breakaway while Alex Ainley comes in for Tom Franklin at lock.

Greg Growden's Verdict: The Highlanders faltered in Johannesburg, but the threat of their finals spot suddenly being under question should produce the required form spurt.

Tips - Greg Growden: Highlanders by 4 Sam Bruce: Highlanders Brett McKay: Highlanders Brittany Mitchell: Cheetahs Andy Withers: Highlanders

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