Crusaders smash Emirates Lions’ Vodacom Super Rugby 2017 dream

The Crusaders defeated 14-man Emirates Lions 25-17 in a gripping Vodacom Super Rugby Final played at Emirates Airlines Park in Johannesburg on Saturday afternoon to lift their eighth title and deny the home side a dream finish to an emotional campaign.

The match was marked by the first half red card shown to Kwagga Smith for making contact with David Havili in the air two minutes before the break.

In fairness though, the Kiwi side dominated the opening stanza to set them up for success, despite the courageous fight back from the home side in the latter stages of this absorbing clash.

The match was played before a record capacity crowd of 62 000 and was also the farewell occasion of Emirates Lions coach, Johan Ackermann, who will join English Premiership club Gloucester next week.

Ackermann said afterwards the Crusaders deserved to win the title and also praised his team for their fighting display, especially in the second half.

“The result did not go our way, but I asked the guys at half-time not to give up, to keep fighting and they did that,” explained Ackermann.

“It took a lot out of 14 men for them to come back and I’m very proud of them – they showed a lot of character. It was phenomenal, coming from 3-25 down to run them close is what will stay with me.

“They did their homework and contested well in the lineouts where they stopped our drives close to their line. They played good rugby all year, have been consistently superb and are worthy champions.”

The Highveld team made a slow start and it was the visitors who was setting the pace in the collisions, while they also took their chances to keep the scoreboard busy. With one man down and battling a 12-point deficit at halftime (15-3), the home side had a mountain to climb in the second half against the competition’s most successful team.

After the restart, No 8 Kieran Reid crashed over for a converted try and while adding a penalty, the Crusaders stretched their lead to 25-3.

To their credit, the home team dug deep and fought back bravely, with scrumhalf Faf de Klerk and the rest of the bench making a huge impact. Lively hooker Malcolm Marx scored their first try, while Corne Fourie added a second later on.

However, in the end it was the Crusaders’ spirited defence against a late, determined home onslaught that ultimately clinched the 2017 title.

Scorers

Emirates Lions – Tries: Malcolm Marx, Corne Fourie. Conversions: Elton Jantjies (2). Penalty: Elton Jantjies.

Crusaders – Tries: Seta Tamanivalu, Jack Goodhue, Kieran Reid. Conversions: Richie Mounga (2). Penalties: Mounga.

Record Crowd Set for 2017 Super Rugby Final

On Saturday the 2017 Super Rugby Final kicks-off at Emirates Airlines Park in Johannesburg between the Lions (South Africa) and the Crusaders (New Zealand). The match is set to break the all-time attendance match record of 61,823 crowd set at ANZ Stadium, Sydney, at the 2014 Super Rugby Final.

The Lions, runners-up in 2016 to the Hurricanes, are appearing in their second successive Super Rugby final and will be keen to add their name to the Champions list for the first time. The Crusaders are the most successful team in Super Rugby history having won the Super Rugby title seven times.

SANZAAR CEO, Andy Marinos said, “The final is highly anticipated by rugby fans and will see the best two teams of the season go head to head for the title this year. Lions fans, disappointed not to have seen their team win the title last year in Wellington, have ensured a bumper crowd will be present in Johannesburg with the Lions confirming it is a sell out.”

Lions CEO, and former Springbok, Rudolph Straueli, said, “Lions fans are passionate about their rugby and are desperate to see their team win the title. When the tickets went on sale they sold out within a matter of two hours. The last time we had a sell out was the Springboks versus All Blacks a few years ago and I believe we will set a new Super Rugby record on Saturday when the Lions take on the Crusaders.”

The two teams had their captain’s run training sessions at Emirates Airlines Park today and both declared themselves fit and raring to go in the final. Lions captain Jaco Kriel and Crusaders captain Sam Whitelock appeared with the Super Rugby trophy at the stadium to promote the global broadcast by SuperSport.

2017 Super Rugby Final

Saturday 5 August: Lions versus Crusaders at Emirates Airlines Park, Johannesburg.

Kick-off Times

Saturday 5 August: 1100 Argentina, South Africa 1600, Singapore/West Australia 2200, Japan 2300, Australia (Mid-night 0000)

Sunday 6 August: 0200 New Zealand

Super Rugby Past Winners

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Unchanged Emirates Lions and Crusaders set for titanic deciding battle in 2017 Vodacom Super Rugby Final

Capacity crowd to watch 2017 Vodacom Super Rugby Final in Johannesburg

The Emirates Lions and the Crusaders have announced unchanged teams for their 2017 Vodacom Super Rugby Final on Saturday in Johannesburg.

Kick off at Emirates Airline Park is at 16h00 and the decider will be televised live on SuperSport 1.

Emirates Lions coach Johan Ackermann has announced the same match 23 for a third consecutive encounter following their sensational 44-29 comeback triumph over the Hurricanes at the same venue last weekend. Springbok flanker Jaco Kriel will again lead the Johannesburg side in the injury absence of regular skipper Warren Whiteley, who is battling with a groin problem.

They will run out against an unchanged Crusaders team which defeated the Chiefs 27-13 last weekend in Christchurch, thus keeping alive their quest for an unprecedented eighth title triumph.

The Highveld team is only the second South African side to play in two consecutive Finals and they follow in the footsteps of the Vodacom Bulls who first achieved the feat in 2009 and 2010. They fell to the Hurricanes in the 2016 Final in Wellington.

Last Saturday’s thrilling victory over the ‘Canes was also the 15thconsecutive home win for the men in red, which extended their record for a sequel of consecutive wins.

The Emirates Lions will play the seven times champions in front of a record, capacity crowd of 62 000 home supporters and a Test-match like atmosphere is expected at their Johannesburg fortress.

The statistics and record-breaking feats aside, the match will also be an emotional affair for the team, their loyal supporters and especially Ackermann. The Final is his farewell game after in charge of the Emirates Lions before he heads to Gloucester in England, with assistant coach Swys de Bruin set to take over the head coaching duties.

The dream final also sees the competition’s two top-ranked team going into battle against each other.

The Emirates Lions finished in first place on the overall standings on 65 points, two more than the Crusaders in second. Both sides lost only one of their 15 regular fixtures, with the Joburg outfit crucially bagging two more bonus points and home ground advantage throughout the playoffs.

According to Kriel, his team has received an enormous amount of support and encouragement from all over South Africa since their sensational semi-final win.

“The amazing amount of messages we have received from all over the country since last Saturday is just incredible,” explained Kriel.

“We are very humbled and grateful for this support and were are also very determined to give our best performance against the most successful team in the history of the competition. It will be a very tough but exciting contest on Saturday.”

If the scores are tied after full-time, then the teams will play two extra halves of 10 minutes each with a break of five minutes in-between. The Final will be refereed by Jaco Peyper, who will be assisted by South African compatriot Marius van der Westhuizen and New Zealander Glen Jackson. Marius Jonker (SA) will perform the television match official duties.

Teams and match information:

Emirates Lions: 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Ruan Combrinck, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Harold Vorster, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Ross Cronje, 8 Ruan Ackermann, 7 Kwagga Smith, 6 Jaco Kriel (captain), 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Andries Ferreira, 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Jacques van Rooyen. Replacements: 16 Akker van der Merwe, 17 Corne Fourie, 18 Johannes Jonker, 19 Lourens Erasmus, 20 Cyle Brink, 21 Faf de Klerk, 22 Rohan Janse van Rensburg, 23 Sylvian Mahuza.

Crusaders: 15 David Havili, 14 Israel Dagg, 13 Jack Goodhue, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 Seta Tamanivalu, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Bryn Hall, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Matt Todd, 6 Jordan Taufua, 5 Sam Whitelock (captain), 4 Scott Barrett, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Joe Moody. Replacements: 16 Ben Funnell, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Michael Alaalatoa, 19 Luke Romano, 20 Pete Samu, 21 Mitchell Drummond, 22 Mitchell Hunt, 23 George Bridge.

PIC Jordan Taufua of the Crusaders

Match information:
Date: Saturday, 5 August 2017
SA Time: 16h00
Venue: Emirates Airlines Park, Johannesburg
Referee: Jaco Peyper
Assistant referees: Glen Jackson, Marius van der Westhuizen
Television match official: Marius Jonker

Issued by SA Rugby Communications

In New Zealand rugby, their idea of a crisis is a losing sequence of one-game in a row

In New Zealand rugby, their idea of a crisis is a losing sequence of one-game in a row. Heck even a draw against Australia a fortnight ago got them into a tizz, prompting coach Steve Hansen to call for a week of serious introspection “from myself down to the waterboy.”

The country was seriously miffed and the fact that the 12-12 draw with the Wallabies in Sydney denied this All Blacks team the chance to break the world record of 17 consecutive wins had a lot to do with it.

The result was 50 points put past the Aussies in the return game in Auckland at the weekend in a performance that was quite possibly the best of the professional era. It really was that good. The Wallabies should have known better – don’t make the All Blacks angry!

Later on that day, we watched the Springboks labour to a narrow win over the Pumas in Argentina, in the process suffering the ignominy of being repeatedly shoved off their ball in the set scrums. Some big Springbok reputations took a knock and it will be interesting to see how the tight forwards respond against the Wallabies in Perth next week.

But back to the All Blacks and their ruthlessly efficient performance. They played the game at a tempo rarely seen and with an intensity that no other team in world rugby can match. The Wallabies did not play that badly, but they simply could not live with the raw power and aggression of the super-charged Kiwis.

The Boks’ underwhelming performances against Argentina – in the wet of Pretoria and the stifling heat of Salsa – left South Africans depressed about our chances of beating the All Blacks this year, in Wellington and then at Ellis Park in the final match of the Championship.

The funny thing is that it is not impossible to beat the All Blacks if you play the right game. It IS impossible to beat the All Blacks if you try and match their game. They are too strong and too fit. We saw that last year when the Boks took on the All Blacks at their own game in that memorable match at Ellis Park. The Boks were trying to score four tries to earn a bonus-point win and secure the Championship, and they looked the part for three-quarters of the game before running out of steam and the Kiwis ran in three tries without reply in the final quarter.

Heyneke Meyer was the first one to acknowledge that the Boks were not fit enough that day. At the end of last year’s tour to the northern hemisphere he said the same thing again – South African rugby lags behind New Zealand rugby when it comes to conditioning. Meyer called for a national conditioning programme to be run by his fitness team. He knew it would never happen because our Super Rugby franchises own the players and follow their own programmes as well as play leading players into the ground out of self interest. The Bok coach plays second fiddle.

The New Zealand Rugby Union owns their players, not the franchises and Hansen and his management team call the shots, ensuring players are fit through a national programme and that senior players are rested.

In 2009, the Springboks beat the All Blacks three times, including a win in Hamilton, the last time the All Blacks lost a Test on home soil. The Boks did it with a highly effective kick-and-chase game. They sucked the All Blacks into trench warfare and avoided high-paced, attacking rugby.

The Boks have to cut their suit according to their cloth. It might not be as entertaining as the way the All Blacks play, but it is the only way the Boks can beat them.

By Mike Greenaway

Rugby Championship 2013 -My take on things

Well it all starts on Saturday in Sydney -All Blacks vs Australia . and then latter that day Boks vs Argentina

The simple point to make is the Boks will always have a Steyn or Van Der Merwe to be competitive ,but to win the 2013 competition they have no chance.

Forget the waffle one hears on Supersport ,this Bok team is average at best .What are you saying by bringing back Fourie Du Preez and Pienaar at 9 for the Boks is a one trick pony.

The Boks will loose both the tour matches one in Brisbane and the other at Eden Park against the All Blacks , but to be fair not many teams do win at fortress Eden Park.

So where does it leave the Boks? -3rd at best and mind you they could trip up at Newlands -A Steyn penalty in the dying minutes saved them last time out against Australia and by the time the Boks play the All Blacks on 6 Oct at Ellis Park it could be all over by then .

All Blacks champs again for 2013 ?

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