Rugby takes back seat after quake

The Highlanders will be looking for a second win for the season against the Chiefs tonight. Photo / Getty Images
The Highlanders will be looking for a second win for the season against the Chiefs tonight. Photo / Getty Images

Rugby has not escaped the vice of devastation wrought by Tuesday's deadly earthquake and teams playing in this weekend's second round of Super 15 matches will do so in the knowledge that future fixtures against the Crusaders may be affected.

The Crusaders have withdrawn from their match against the Hurricanes in Wellington this Saturday following the quake and damage to AMI Stadium may prevent it hosting home matches in the near future.

The 6.3-magnitude earthquake killed at least 75 people, including Crusaders board member Phil McDonald, and left much of the city and its infrastructure in ruins.

The match has been declared a draw and the competition points will be shared evenly between the two franchises - two points each.

The decision to abort the match came after discussions amongst the Crusaders' organisation after a day of talks with the New Zealand Rugby Union and tournament governing body Sanzar.

The match was to be the glamour tie - for New Zealand teams at least - of the round despite both teams losing in the first round, but that status will now be inherited by the Highlanders match with the Chiefs at Carisbrook tonight.

The Highlanders, who lead the New Zealand conference after upsetting the Hurricanes 14-9 in Wellington, and the Chiefs both feature players with strong ties to the Crusaders.

The Chiefs quintet of Isaac Ross, Dan Perrin, Ben May, Tanerau Latimer and Craig Clarke have played for the Crusaders at varying times while prop Chris King, No 8 Nasi Manu and injured first five-eighth Colin Slade, have also featured for the red and blacks in the past.

But thoughts of those friends affected by the devastation will be set aside for 80 minutes at least as the Highlanders seek to prove their defeat of the more fancied Hurricanes was no flash in the pan.

Flanker Alando Soakai, a standout performer in recent disappointing campaigns by the Highlanders, is anxious to get another win for the team before they head to South Africa for tough tasks against the Bulls and Stormers.

"We've already created a bit of talk within the town and we want to continue that. One win doesn't make a season.

"It's a matter of fronting up again and we're pretty excited about this game against the Chiefs," he said.

Chiefs coach Ian Foster has been ruthless on the team that lost 28-20 to the Brumbies last week, making eight changes to his starting 15.

All Blacks Stephen Donald and Brendon Leonard are among the most notable casualties - both demoted to the bench, while the 37-year-old former All Blacks captain Tana Umaga has been left out altogether. Injuries have also played their part in the changes with No 8 Fritz Lee and lock Clarke suffering head knee and head injuries last week.

The Blues are the first New Zealand side to visit South Africa this season and do so on the back of a stirring 24-22 comeback win against the Crusaders last Saturday. They yesterday named an unchanged starting 15, though inside back Luke McAlister and lock Kurtis Haiu have been added to the bench.

McAlister has recovered from the concussion he suffered in the pre-season match against the Chiefs to take over from Lachie Munro as the back-up first five-eighth to Stephen Brett, while Haiu replaces Filo Paulo.

They face a Sharks side on Sunday morning (NZT) fresh from a comfortable win against the Cheetahs, but coach John Plumtree is wary of the visitors' running game and a side full of confidence after downing the Crusaders.

In other matches this weekend the Rebels, crushed 43-0 last week, will look to bounce back against the Brumbies, the Cheetahs host the Bulls, while table-toppers the Waratahs, who inflicted that defeat on the Rebels, face arch-rivals the Reds in Sydney tomorrow night.

Teams for round 2:

FRIDAY

Highlanders v Chiefs, Dunedin, 7.35pm

Highlanders: Ben Smith, James Paterson, Kendrick Lynn, Shaun Treeby, Kade Poki, Lima Sopoaga, Jimmy Cowan, Nasi Manu, Alando Soakai, Adam Thomson, Josh Bekhuis, Jarrad Hoeata, David Te Moana, Jason Rutledge, Jamie Mackintosh (captain). Reserves: Mahroni Schwalger, Bronson Murray, Joe Tuineau, John Hardie, Aaron Smith, Robbie Robinson, Siale Piutau.

Chiefs: Mils Muliaina (captain), Lelia Masaga, Jackson Willison, Dwayne Sweeney, Sitiveni Sivivatu, Mike Delany, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Liam Messam, Tanerau Latimer, Scott Waldrom, Isaac Ross, Hayden Triggs, Nathan White, Aled de Malmanche, Toby Smith. Reserves: Ben May, Daniel Perrin, Culum Retallick, Steven Setephano, Brendon Leonard, Stephen Donald, Tim Nanai-Williams.

Rebels v Brumbies, Melbourne, 9.40pm

Rebels: Mark Gerrard, Lachlan Mitchell, Stirling Mortlock (captain), Julian Huxley, Cooper Vuna, Danny Cipriani, Nick Phipps, Gareth Delve, Michael Lipman, Jarrod Saffy, Kevin O'Neill, Adam Byrnes, Greg Somerville, Ged Robinson, Nic Henderson. Reserves: Heath Tessman, Laurie Weeks, Alister Campbell, Tom Chamberlin, Richard Kingi, Afusipa Taumoepeau, Luke Rooney.

Brumbies: Pat McCabe, Henry Speight, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Robbie Coleman, Francis Fainifo, Matt Giteau (captain), Josh Valentine, Ita Vaea, Julian Salvi, Mitch Chapman, Mark Chisholm, Ben Hand, Dan Palmer, Steve Moore, Ben Alexander. Reserves: Huia Edmonds, Salesi Ma'afu, Stephen Hoiles/Peter Kimlin, Colby Faingaa, Patrick Phibbs, Matt Toomua, Andrew Smith.

SATURDAY

Cheetahs v Bulls, Bloemfontein, 6.10am

Cheetahs: Hennie Daniller, Philip Burger, Robert Ebersohn, Andries Strauss, Rayno Benjamin, Naas Olivier, Sarel Pretorius, Kabamba Floors, Juan Smith (captain)/Philip van der Walt, Frans Viljoen, Waltie Vermeulen, Wilhelm Steenkamp, WP Nel, Ryno Barnes, Coenie Oosthuizen. Reserves: Skipper Badenhorst, Kobus Calldo, Francois Uys, Ashley Johnson, Tewis de Bruyn, Sias Ebersohn, Riaan Viljoen.

Bulls: Zane Kirchner, Gerhard van den Heever, Jaco Pretorius, Wynand Olivier, Bjorn Basson, Morne Steyn, Fourie du Preez, Pierre Spies, Dewald Potgieter, Deon Stegmann, Victor Matfield (captain), Bakkies Botha, Werner Kruger, Chiloboy Ralepelle, Gurthro Steenkamp. Reserves: Derick Kuun, Rossouw de Klerk, Flip van der Merwe, Danie Rossouw, Ruan Snyman, Francois Brummer, Stephan Dippenaar.

Waratahs v Reds, Sydney, 9.40pm.

Waratahs: Kurtley Beale, Lachie Turner, Rob Horne , Tom Carter, Drew Mitchell, Berrick Barnes, Luke Burgess, Ben Mowen, Phil Waugh (captain), Dave Dennis, Kane Douglas, Dean Mumm, Al Baxter, Tatafu Polota-Nau, Sekope Kepu. Reserves: Damien Fitzpatrick, Benn Robinson, Sitaleki Timani, Chris Alcock, Brendan McKibbin, Daniel Halangahu, Ryan Cross.

Reds: Peter Hynes, Rod Davies, Will Chambers, Anthony Faingaa, Digby Ioane, Quade Cooper, Will Genia, Scott Higginbotham, Ed Quirk, James Horwill (captain), Van Humphries, Rob Simmons, James Slipper, Saia Faingaa, Ben Daley. Reserves: James Hanson, Greg Holmes, Leroy Houston, Beau Robinson, Ben Lucas, Mike Harris, Aidan Toua.

SUNDAY

Sharks v Blues, Durban, 4.05am

Sharks: Louis Ludik,Odwa Ndungane, Stefan Terblanche (captain), Meyer Bosman, Lwazi Mvovo, Patrick Lambie, Charl McLeod, Ryan Kankowski, Willem Alberts, Keegan Daniel, Alistair Hargreaves, Steven Sykes, Jannie du Plessis, Bismarck du Plessis, Tendai Mtawarira. Reserves: John Smit, Eugene van Staden, Anton Bresler, Jacques Botes/Lambert Groenewald, Conrad Hoffmann, Jacques-Louis Potgieter, JP Pietersen.

Blues: Isaia Toeava, Joe Rokocoko, Jared Payne, Benson Stanley, Rene Ranger, Stephen Brett, Alby Mathewson, Chris Lowrey, Daniel Braid, Jerome Kaino, Ali Williams, Anthony Boric, John Afoa, Keven Mealamu (captain), Tony Woodcock. Reserves: Tom McCartney, Charlie Faumuina, Kurtis Haiu, Luke Braid, Toby Morland, Luke McAlister, Sherwin Stowers.

Stormers v Lions, Cape Town, 6.10am

Stormers: Conrad Jantjes, Danie Poolman, Jaque Fourie, Jean De Villiers, Bryan Habana, Gary Van Aswegen, Ricky Januarie, Duane Vermuelen, Francois Louw, Schalk Burger (captain), Andries Bekker, Rynhardt Elstadt, Brok Harris, Deon Fourie, CJ van Der Linde. Reserves: Siyabonga Ntubeni, Frans Malherbe, De Kock Steenkamp, Pieter Louw, Dewaldt Duvenage, Peter Grant, Juan De Jongh

Lions: Jaco Taute, Lionel Mapoe, Waylon Murray, Doppies la Grange, Michael Killian, Elton Jantjies, Jano Vermaak, Warren Whiteley, Josh Strauss, Derick Minnie, Franco van der Merwe (captain), George Earle, Kevin Buys, Bandise Maku, JC Janse van Rensburg. Reserves: Martin Bezuidenhout, Patric Cilliers, Wikus van Heerden, Cobus Grobbelaar, Rory Kockott, Burton Francis, James Kamana.

- NZPA

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