Bulls v Cheetahs

Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria, Sunday 3.10am (AEST)Last meeting: Round 16 2012 – Bulls 40 bt Cheetahs 24 at Loftus VersfeldHead-to-head: Played 10 Bulls 9 Cheetahs 1In Pretoria: Played 5 Bulls 4 Cheetahs 1Referee: Jason Jaftha (RSA)TV: Live, FoxSports 2TAB Sportsbet: Bulls $1.40 Cheetahs $2.80
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Steve Samuelson writes: The Bulls have lost their past three games while the Cheetahs are riding a franchise record of five consecutive wins. The Bulls welcome back Akona Ndungane and Flip van der Merwe but have lost Springboks fullback Zane Kirchner. Flip a coin.

AAP writes: The Cheetahs continue to defy and surprise and, once again, they will go in as underdogs despite a five-match winning run. Their red-time escape act against the Stormers shows they boast great staying power and will like their chances of a rare win over the Bulls.

The home side have Springbok duo Akona Ndungane and Flip van der Merwe returning after four weeks out while they’re also refreshed following a bye. Youngster Jan Serfontein has added some welcome creativity to the Bulls backline. That’s something the Cheetahs have in spades and Burton Francis has covered the loss of Johan Goosen by stepping up at No.10.

BULLS: Jürgen Visser, Akona Ndungane, JJ Engelbrecht, Jan Serfontein, Lionel Mapoe, Morné Steyn, Jano Vermaak, Pierre Spies (capt), Dewald Potgieter, Deon Stegmann, Juandré Kruger, Flip van der Merwe, Frik Kirsten, Chiliboy Ralepelle, Morné Mellet. Reserves: Callie Visagie, Werner Kruger, Paul Willemse, Arno Botha, Rudy Paige, Louis Fouchè, Ulrich Beyers

CHEETAHS: Hennie Daniller, Willie le Roux, Johan Sadie, Robert Ebersohn, Raymond Rhule, Burton Francis, Piet van Zyl, Philip van der Walt, Pieter Labuschagne, Heinrich Brüssow, Francois Uys, Lodewyk De Jager, Lourens Adriaanse, Adriaan Strauss (capt), Trevor Nyakane. Reserves: Ryno Barnes, Coenie Oosthuizen, Rynhard Landman, Frans Viljoen, Tewis de Bruyn, Francois Brummer, Ryno Benjamin

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Highlanders v Brumbies

Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin, Friday 5.35pm (AEST)Last meeting: Round 5 2012 – Brumbies 33 bt Highlanders 26 at Canberra StadiumHead-to-head: Played 17 Highlanders 7 Brumbies 1In Dunedin: Played 6 Highlanders 4 Brumbies 2Referee: Chris Pollock (NZL)TV: Live, FoxSports 2TAB Sportsbet: Highlanders $2.05 Brumbies $1.70
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Steve Samuelson writes: The return of Jesse Mogg is a good omen for the Brumbies with the Australian conference leaders winning only one game out of three in the star fullback’s absence. The winless Highlanders have dumped All Blacks halves duo Aaron Smith and Colin Slade to the bench.

AAP writes: The Highlanders look much better than their winless record suggests, while the Brumbies have started to sag. Both teams have made six run-on changes – split between backs and forwards. Matt Toomua and Jesse Mogg have returned to the Brumbies backline but Pat McCabe has been benched.

Surprisingly, All Blacks halves Aaron Smith and Colin Slade have also been dropped to the bench for the Highlanders in a massive call. But damaging winger Kade Poki returns to wreak havoc alongside Hosea Gear, Ma’a Nonu and Ben Smith.

HIGHLANDERS: Ben Smith, Kade Poki, Phil Burleigh, Ma’a Nonu, Hosea Gear, Hayden Parker, Fumiaki Tanaka, Mose Tuialii, John Hardie, TJ Ioane, Jarrad Hoeata, Brad Thorn, Maafu Fia, Andrew Hore (capt), Jamie Mackintosh. Reserves: Liam Coltman, Chris King, Josh Bekhuis, Elliot Dixon, Aaron Smith, Colin Slade, Jason Emery.

BRUMBIES: Jesse Mogg, Henry Speight, Andrew Smith, Christian Lealiifano, Joseph Tomane, Matt Toomua, Nic White, Ben Mowen (capt), George Smith, Jordan Smiler, Sam Carter, Peter Kimlin, Dan Palmer, Stephen Moore, Ben Alexander. Reserves: Siliva Siliva, Scott Sio, Fotu Auelua, Colby Faingaa, Ian Prior, Pat McCabe, Tevita Kuridrani.

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Blues v Hurricanes

Eden Park, Auckland, Saturday 4.35pm (AEST)Last meeting: Round 2 2013 – Blues 34 bt Hurricanes 20 at Westpac StadiumHead-to-head: Played 20 Blues 12 Hurricanes 7 drawn 1In Auckland: Played 9 Blues 6 Hurricanes 3Referee: Jaco Peyper (RSA)TV: Live, FoxSports 2TAB Sportsbet: Blues $1.67 Hurricanes $2.10
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Steve Samuelson writes: Despite his team scoring 41 points against the Waratahs, Hurricanes coach Mark Hammett has made changes to the backline. Samoan international Tusi Pisi is the starting five-eighth with Beauden Barrett dropping back to fullback. Andre Taylor has been dumped to the bench.

AAP writes: The Hurricanes have soared into fifth spot following four straight wins, while the Blues are only one point further adrift, making this a huge match. The news that All Blacks prop Charlie Faumuina will miss the rest of the season with a calf injury is a huge blow to the Blues, while they’ll also be without suspended winger George Moala.

The Aucklanders beat the Hurricanes 34-20 last month, but the Canes will fancy their chances after showing their attacking spark against NSW. They have rejigged their backline, with Tusi Pisi taking over at five-eighth with the in-form Beauden Barrett moving to fullback.

BLUES: Charles Piutau, Frank Halai, Francis Saili, Jackson Willison, Rene Ranger, Chris Noakes, Piri Weepu, Peter Saili, Luke Braid, Steven Luatua, Ali Williams (capt), Culum Retallick, Angus Ta’avao, James Parsons, Tom McCartney. Reserves: Keven Mealamu, Ofa Tu’ungafasi, Anthony Boric, Brendon O’Connor, Jamison Gibson-Park, Baden Kerr, Albert Nikoro.

HURRICANES: Beauden Barrett, Alapati Leiua, Conrad Smith (capt), Tim Bateman, Julian Savea, Tusi Pisi, TJ Perenara, Faifili Levave, Ardie Savea, Brad Shields, Jason Eaton, Mark Reddish, Ben May, Motu Matu’u, Ben Franks/Reggie Goodes. Reserves: Dane Coles/Ash Dixon, Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, James Broadhurst, Jack Lam, Chris Smylie, Reynold Lee-Lo, Andre Taylor.

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Chiefs v Reds

Waikato Stadium, Hamilton, Saturday 2.35pm (AEST)Last meeting: Round 12 2012 – Reds 42 bt Chiefs 27 at Suncorp StadiumHead-to-head: Played 17 Chiefs 8 Reds 9In Hamilton: Played 8 Chiefs 4 Reds 4Referee: Steve Walsh (AUS)TV: Live, FoxSports 2TAB Sportsbet: Chiefs $1.30 Reds $3.30
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Steve Samuelson writes: The clash between the past two Super Rugby champions will be an acid test for the Reds. The visitors’s form has lifted since Will Genia’s return from injury and their record against New Zealand teams under coach Ewen McKenzie is phenomenal – 13 wins, four losses.

AAP writes: The Chiefs deserve their pole position on the ladder and favouritism for what shapes as a highly entertaining, daytime clash. But the Reds make a habit of surprising Kiwi outfits at home and across the ditch. Queensland have won 10 of their past 11 against NZ sides and seem to produce some of their best stuff against the Chiefs.Both teams come off a timely bye.

Winger Rod Davies is the Reds’ only change from the 34-33 win over the Highlanders while the Chiefs have made several alterations to the pack which beat the Blues. The playmaking battle between Quade Cooper and Aaron Cruden is one to watch, as well as the stoush between No.7s Liam Gill and Sam Cane.

CHIEFS: Gareth Anscombe, Tim Nanai-Williams, Richard Kahui, Bundee Aki, Asaeli Tikoirotuma, Aaron Cruden, Augustine Pulu, Liam Messam (capt), Sam Cane, Tanerau Latimer, Brodie Retallick, Michael Fitzgerald, Ben Tameifuna, Hika Elliot, Toby Smith Reserves: Rhys Marshall, Michael Kainga, Nick Crosswell, Fritz Lee, Brendon Leonard, Andrew Horrell, Patrick Osborne.

REDS: Jono Lance, Rod Davies, Anthony Faingaa, Ben Tapuai, Dom Shipperley, Quade Cooper, Will Genia; Jake Schatz, Liam Gill, Ed Quirk, James Horwill (capt), Rob Simmons, James Slipper, James Hanson, Greg Holmes. Reserves: Albert Anae, Ben Daley, Ed O’Donaghue, Jarrad Butler, Ben Lucas, Chris Feauai-Sautia, Aidan Toua.

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Berry gets back to his roots after ride of life

To the top: Tom Berry after winning the Slipper on Overreach. Photo: Jenny Evans Tommy Berry hopped in the car to Nowra with his dad Kevin on Monday shortly after it was confirmed he would head to Hong Kong.
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He probably couldn’t have gone to a place any further from the racing mecca but in some way it says a lot about Berry.

“I love getting in the car with dad and talking things over with him,” Berry said. “It just gave him time to give me some advice, which is always good.

“We talked over what had happened in the Slipper, and we were able to talk about other things as well, including how things might go in Hong Kong.

“Nowra is one of those places that I would ride when I was starting out, and not winning too often. It puts it in perspective, what I had done.”

Berry has won four group 1s this season, and became the first jockey to win the Golden Rose-Golden Slipper double in the same racing year when Overreach gave him his biggest thrill last weekend.

He took his Golden Slipper trophy for the trip but it didn’t make it out of the family home, where it will stay when he takes up his three-month contract in Hong Kong.

“I hadn’t seen dad on Saturday and Sunday, so to take the Slipper there and show him it was something special,” Berry said. “Mum has already said they will look after it while I’m in Hong Kong.

“Taking [the trophy] to show, it was something I really wanted to do, but it was even better to help out with a horse.

“I helped him saddle up but we didn’t have much luck.”

Kevin’s Survivors finished 11th but the afternoon was time well spent for hoop on top of the world. “Family has always been

very important and it will be something I will miss when I go to Hong Kong,” Berry said.

The 22-year-old, who leads the Sydney premiership, has a Randwick carnival to get through first. He will be on Overreach as she tries to back up her Golden Slipper win in the Sires’ Produce Stakes. “I have no doubt she will run the 1400 metres and with the track improving, I think she can be more dynamic,” he said. “Gai said that the Slipper is like running 1400m, especially on a wet track, and as you saw in the Slipper she can just travel and sprint off any speed.”

Then there is another favourite of Berry’s for him to ride late in the day, Karuta Queen in the Sapphire Stakes. “It is great to be riding her and Overreach on the same day,” he said.

“They have both been very special horses to me. Karuta Queen started it all off for me winning the Magic Millions, without her I wouldn’t have got to Gai’s and I wouldn’t have had the opportunities that helped get me to Hong Kong. She is always going to be a horse I will remember.”

Waterhouse has played a big role in Berry’s rise from talented rider to group 1 jockey. “She has taught me so much, and when I got the offer from Hong Kong, she told me just go because these opportunities don’t come along that often,” he said.

His standing has grown in the jockeys’ ranks, and trainers other than Waterhouse have locked in him into rides in the Doncaster Mile and Queen Elizabeth Stakes. He has been booked by Chris Waller to ride Rosehill Guineas runner-up Sacred Falls in the Doncaster and will ride Silent Achiever in the Queen Elizabeth.

It will keep him busy until he leaves on April 28. “I’m riding and working until the day I leave,” Berry said. “It is exciting to have the opportunity but it is in the future. … Once I get to Hong Kong I can think about it, but dad told me to just keep working hard.”

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