Hore returns to halt Bulls' stampede
March 19, 2009
Fourie du Preez will lead the Bulls against the Hurricanes on Friday © Getty Images
The weekend kicks off with our featured Super 14 game of the week as the unbeaten Bulls play their first game overseas in Wellington against the Hurricanes on Friday. Both teams come off byes after victories and the Bulls sit atop the league after unbeaten run while the Hurricanes are currently in fifth, four points behind them.
The rest of the weekend's games take place on Saturday and first up is the bottom of the table clash between the Cheetahs, looking to end their winless five-week tour of Australasia, who take on the Highlanders in Dunedin.
The Cheetahs have yet to play a home game in this year's competition and will be looking to finish their overseas tour on a high with their first win. Inspirational captain Juan Smith is still missing for them while Springbok wing Jongi Nokwe is replaced by Springbok Sevens star Fabian Juries and Francois Uys starts at loose forward. The team will be captained by no 8 Hendro Scholtz in Smith's absence.
The Highlanders went down last week to a last-minute Lelia Masaga try and will be looking to get back on track and climb the table from their current spot in 12th. There have been whispers from the Cheetahs camp that they will be targeting the Highlanders so there will be a bit of added spice to this particular fixture. The Highlanders do welcome back though All Black prop Jamie Mackintosh to the bench after he injured his knee in the first round of the competition. [Teams]
Pat Lam's Blues travel to Hamilton where the Chiefs await and after an emphatic 46-12 win over the Cheetahs last week he'll be looking for a win against a team that they have a good winning record against. Lam has named an unchanged team for the clash at the Waikato Stadium but they do have an injury concern over prop Tony Woodcock who is battling to overcome an ear infection.
Mils Muliaina leads the Chiefs while Sione Lauaki retains his spot at the back of the scrum and Sitiveni Sivivatu returns on the wing after he sat out last week with a shoulder injury. Man of the moment, winger Lelia Masaga who has scored three tries season so far come up against his 'idol' in Blues winger Joe Rockocoko and on current form could well come out on top in that personal battle. [Teams]
Sydney sees the clash of last years finalist's, as the the Waratahs and the Crusaders meet. Todd Blackadder's first season in charge of the Crusaders has been tough and their fans are unaccustomed to see them languishing in 11th where they now find themselves. They're still missing their hugely influential captain Richie McCaw but welcome back Andy Ellis at scrumhalf in the only change from their side that drew with the Force last week.
Al Baxter makes his 100th appearance for the second-placed Waratah's who will be looking to pile on the misery against the Crusaders. Baxter's returns sees Dan Palmer drops down to the bench while in the only other change Tom Carter takes over at inside centre and replaces Timana Tahu. [Teams]
John Plumtree's Sharks will be looking to bounce back after their unexpected loss to the Reds last week. The pre-tournament favourites will be looking to get back to winning ways in Perth against the Force on Saturday.
Frans Steyn takes over at fly-half from Ruan Pienaar who has returned to South Africa after sustaining an injury last week. There are also changes in the front-row where Springbok captain John Smith shifts to hooker, Jannie du Plessis plays tighthead and Deon Carstens is at loosehead. Riaan Swanepoel starts at inside centre for the team from Durban. That leaves Springboks Bismarck du Plessis and Tendai Mtawarira on the bench for Plumtree to utilise later as impact players.
John Mitchell has named six changes to his Force side to face the Sharks. Drew Mitchell and Scott Staniforth start on the wings, James O'Connor moves to fullback and Junior Palesasa to inside centre while Tom Hockings and Matt Hodgson return to the pack. In another twist Mitchell's side will wear pink jerseys on the field on Saturday night to raise awareness and funds for the Breast Cancer Foundation of WA. [Teams]
The final game of the round sees the under-siege Lions host the Brumbies in Johannesburg. The Lions have suspended their forwards coach, Leon Boshoff, after he allegedly racially slurred members of the Lions squad. Loffie Eloff's team were hammered by the Stomers last week and it will require an impressive effort from the Lions to pick themselves up after what has been a tumultuous week.
The Brumbies have made three changes to their side from the one that beat the Waratahs in their last game out. Julian Salvi replaces injured captain Stephen Hoiles at no 8 while Guy Sheperdson and Ben Alexander come in to fill the prop berths. [Teams]
The Stormers and the Reds both have a bye this weekend.
Concussion, relegation and the mother of all surprises - it's the Monday Maul.
Huw Richards assesses where Wales are after a mixed Six Nations, with front row seats still very much available for the World Cup
John Mitchell lapped up the action on 'Sensational Saturday' - but warns not to expect a repeat come Rugby World Cup time later this year
Craig Dowd warns England, Ireland and Wales they should play to their strengths rather than those of the All Blacks and the Wallabies