Super Rugby: complete 2018 preseason form guide

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The run to the 2018 Super Rugby season begins in South Africa on Saturday with the Stormers facing provincial outfit SWD Eagles in the first of a swathe of warm-up fixtures.

The rest of the South African conference will commence their season a week later with most of the New Zealand and Australian franchises taking to the field a week after that.

Check out all the listed fixtures below and return to this page after each game for the match report.

January 20

SWD Eagles 0 Stormers 77, Outeniqua Park, George

A largely second-string Stormers team overpowered the SWD Eagles 77-0 in a Super Rugby warm-up match in wet conditions in George on Saturday afternoon

South African Under-20 No 8 Juarno Augustus and Herschel Jantjies scored two tries each, as the Stormers ran in 11 converted tries on the day. Springboks Raymond Rhule and Damian de Allende also got on the scoresheet for the Cape Town franchise.

The Stormers led 35-0 at halftime, before coach Robbie Fleck made wholesale changes after the break to give as many players as possible time on the park.

January 27

Lions 31-14 Bulls, Johannesburg

New signing Makazole Mapimpi scored a brace in his first match in Sharks colours, as the Durban outfit beat the Bulls 31-14 in a Super Rugby warm-up clash in Polokwane on Saturday afternoon

The Sharks featured two different teams during the match, with coach Robert du Preez replacing all 15 of his starting players at halftime. And it certainly seems like the KwaZulu-Natal team have got plenty lot of depth this year, as both sets of players gave a good account of themselves during the 80 minutes of rugby.

The Bulls, on the other hand, divided their squad in two teams, as they were also involved in a pre-season clash against the Lions in Johannesburg.

Bulls vs, Sharks, Polokwane

The Lions beat the Bulls 66-22 in the battle of the fringe players in a Super Rugby warm-up match at Ellis Park on Saturday.

Both teams were putting their resources to the test ahead of the gruelling campaign which starts in two weeks' time. The Bulls were especially stretched, as they also played a match against the Sharks in Polokwane on the same day.

In the end the Lions were too strong for their neighbours from Pretoria, running in 10 tries in a crushing victory.

February 2

Chiefs 19-45 Blues, Rugby Park, Te Kuiti

The Blues have enjoyed a fine start to 2018, thumping neighbours in the Chiefs by 26 points in a preseason trial in Te Kuiti.

Both sides were without many of their frontline stars, though Blues coach Tana Umaga gave each of his No.10 options a run in Bryn Gatland, Stephen Perofeta and Daniel Kirkpatrick.

The match was played across four quarters, the Blues pulling away from their local rivals across the final two stanzas. Umaga's side powered home with five tries after the main break when the scores had been locked at 14-all; Waimana Riedlinger-Kapa grabbing a double.

Crusaders 22-43 Hurricanes, Greymouth Rugby Park, Greymouth

The Super Rugby defending champion Crusaders have opened 2018 with a 43-22 trial loss to the Hurricanes in Greymouth.

Jonah Lowe bagged a hat-trick oas the visitors ran in seven tries to four, with both teams using a host of different players albeit none of the many All Blacks in both squads.

The defence of both teams looked shaky, particularly the Crusaders, who found themselves 36-5 down early in the second spell.

One of the Hurricanes' tries was scored by prolific Test winger Julian Savea, beginning his campaign to return this year to All Blacks colours.

Highlanders 55-29 Waratahs, Queenstown Recreation Ground, Queenstown

The NSW Waratahs have suffered a 55-29 loss to the Highlanders in Queenstown in their first pre-season Super Rugby trial.

The Tahs, without most of their Wallabies, led 10-7 at the end of the first third of the game, with former Western Force winger Alex Newsome bagging two tries.

The home team hit back to lead 33-10 by the end of the second third, scoring four tries in that period.

They led 50-10 at one stage in the final term, but NSW rallied and finished with five tries.

February 3

Brumbies 50-19 Rebels, Seiffert Oval, Queanbeyan

More than 4000 people piled into the Queanbeyan ground best known as the original home of the Canberra Raiders, and left very satisfied with the Brumbies' eight tries to three display, in a match played over three thirty-minute periods.

Neither side played their Spring Tour Wallabies tourists, while David Pocock and Christian Lealiifano also sat out the game for the Brumbies, having just returned from Japan and Ireland, respectively.

New Brumbies recruit Isi Naisarani was barnstorming at No.8 and showed regularly that he will be a handful for defences throughout Super Rugby in 2018. The former Western Force backrower crossed for a try himself off the back of a scrum and set up another for the Brumbies co-captain Sam Carter early in the match.

The Brumbies looked sharp in attack for the first two 'thirds' of the game, with Henry Speight and fullback Andy Muirhead crossing from runaway movements, while hookers Robbie Abel (twice) and Connal McInerney both scored from well-executed driving mauls to remind everyone of their set piece power. Young centre Len Ikitau also scored in the last stanza.

The Rebels scored one try in each period, with winger Kitione Ratu, former Australian Sevens flyer Henry Hutchison, and centre Sione Tuipulotu crossing for five-pointers.

Stormers 26-26 Bulls, Boland Stadium, Wellington

The sides produced a thrilling 26-26 draw in the fixture that had originally been set for Los Angeles, the draw featuring plenty of big hits, hard runs, ferocious breakdown work and excellent individual performances.

The Bulls' physicality was the standout feature of the game, in particular the way they smothered the Stormers' ball-carriers, but they were also sharp on attack.

The Bulls opened the scoring with a converted try from Roelof Smith but the Stormers levelled late in the first half with a converted score from centre EW Viljoen, who crashed over after a well-executed attack. The Bulls went to the sheds with a 14-7 lead after scrumhalf Andrew Warner scored a try converted by Marnitz Boshoff.

The Stormers tied the match again after a converted try by Cobus Wiese before the Bulls regained the lead thjoigh an unconverted try by Adriaan Strauss. The Stormers hit the lead for the first time with a converted try from Cheetahs-bound Craig Barry, and they extended their advantage to 26-19 thanks to a Johan du Toit try. The Bulls tied the game with three minutes when replacement scrumhalf Embrose Papier touched down for a converted try.

Sharks 31-14 Racing 92, Aberdeen Sports Ground, Hong Kong

The Sharks showed plenty of promise in scoring five tries to two against Racing 92.

The Sharks led 12-0 at halftime after tries from wing Makazola Mapimpi and Marius Louw, and the centre touched down again four minutes into the second half.

So'otala Fa'aso'o pulled a score back for racing before Cameron Wright extended the Sharks advantage to 24-7. Racing scored a second try from Xavier Chauveau before Sharks fullback Lwazi Mvovo set up a final score for Curwin Bosch.

Racing, in the middle of their French Top 14 season, were without All Blacks legend Dan Carter, who sat out with a calf strain, and former France captain Dimitri Szarzewski.

February 9-10

Brisbane Global Tens, Suncorp Stadium: Blues win in last-gasp fashion

The Blues have scored two tries in the last three minutes to win a heart-stopping Brisbane Global Rugby Tens final 10-7 over the Hurricanes.

Trailing 7-0 for almost the entire match after an early converted try to Hurricanes prop Alex Fidow, the Blues dug deep and got a rich reward.

February 14

Brumbies 26-38 Chiefs, Sunshine Coast Stadium, Sunshine Coast

The Chiefs have overpowered a fast-finishing Brumbies to take out their final trial match 38-26 on the Sunshine Coast.

Opening the scoring through Joe Powell in the opening five minutes, the Brumbies couldn't hold back the Chiefs as the tourists crossed four times, including a Brad Weber hat-trick, in the opening stanza to take a 26-7 lead into the break.

While the Chiefs were first to get on the board after the restart, the Brumbies hit back after making several changes, scoring three tries to close the gap heading into the final minutes. But the Chiefs weren't finished yet, scoring a sixth try just before the full-time whistle.

February 15

Waratahs 47-5 Rebels, Brookvale Oval, Sydney

Israel Folau marked his return from an unusually long off-season break with a trademark try and an assist in the NSW Waratahs' 47-5 win over the Melbourne Rebels.

Folau, who was rested from last year's Wallabies spring tour, made the most of limited opportunities at suburban Brookvale Oval in a game in which the Waratahs piled on seven tries and 47 unanswered points after the new-look Rebels scored first.

The classy fullback hadn't played since October but imposed himself on the game with a couple of telling plays in the third of four quarters.

Folau soared high to take a kick from five-eighth Bernard Foley in a perfectly executed example of a move that delivered tries last year for the Wallabies and Waratahs.

After former Western Force prop Shambeckler Vui smashed his way over a few minutes later, Folau set up Lalakai Foketi for the Tahs' fourth try.

A penalty try and five-pointers to Bryce Hegarty and Alex Newsome rounded off the scoring.

Captain and openside flanker Michael Hooper also had a busy game for the Tahs, dashing 60 metres for an intercept try in the second quarter after Rebels hooker Jordan Uelese gave the visitors the lead from a forward drive.

Wallabies lock and Waratahs recruit Rob Simmons came off the ground in the 36th minute, with what might have been a head knock, while NSW hooker Damien Fitzpatrick came off with an injury in the first few minutes.

The Rebels have some defensive issues to sort out before their opening Super Rugby game after giving up 87 points across their two trials.

Reds 17-15 Fiji, Ballymore, Brisbane

It was supposed to be a trial but instead Queensland Reds received a wake up call in their tight 17-15 win over the second tier Fiji Warriors at a steamy Ballymore on Thursday night.

The Reds avoided blushes when Hamish Stewart slotted a sideline conversion after winger Izaia Perese scored in the 75th minute.

Reds coach Brad Thorn had wanted to run the rule over the likes of Jono Lance at No.10 in Quade Cooper's absence and ex-ACT Brumbies flyer Aidan Toua at fullback with Karmichael Hunt still facing drug charges.

But he has plenty more food for thought ahead of their Super Rugby opener against Melbourne Rebels on February 23 after a rusty overall display against the Warriors.

All eyes were on Lance after the two-time Super Rugby title winner recovered from a broken hand to get the nod over hot favourite Stewart for the playmaker role in the Ballymore trial.

In his first game for Queensland since starting his career at the Reds from 2011-12, Lance showed flashes of brilliance in his 50 minute display.

His inspired run led to Queensland's opening try to prop Taniela Tupou in the fifth minute.

And Lance was impressive in defence before being replaced by Stewart in the second half.

Lance, 27, left the now defunct Western Force and initially signed with the Rebels for 2018.

But Lance was lured to the Reds on a one year deal with Thorn creating a new-look backline after telling star halves Cooper and Nick Frisby they were not in his 2018 plans.

The Reds nabbed a 10-0 lead with a penalty after as many minutes before the Warriors turned the tables to lock up the scores 10-10 by halftime.

The Warriors threatened an upset when Ratunaisa Navuma crossed in the 59th minute after dominating possession to give the visitors a 15-10 buffer.

However the Reds hung on as the Warriors rued fullback Enele Malele's missed penalty shot in the 51st minute.

Highlanders 42-26 Crusaders, Waimumu

Matt Faddes scored three tries as the Highlanders won the Farmland Cup fixture.

Faddes played in the centres only because of a neck injury to Richard Buckman, giving coach Aaron Mauger something to ponder, but Highlanders fans will mostly be relieved that Lima Sopoaga returned after hobbling off the pitch with a knee injury in the first half. Sopoaga missed much of last season with a hamstring injury.

Mauger played All Blacks fullback Ben Smith for 80 minutes, with Aaron Smith and Waisake Naholo also playing 65 minutes, while Crusaders coach Scott Robertson capped his New Zealand Test players' minutes at 40.

Second-row Jackson Hemopo also scored for the Highlanders, who secured victory with a penalty try, awarded for a collapsed maul, and a touchdown by Tei Walden try in the closing moments.

The Crusaders' pack, without injured All Blacks stalwarts Owen Franks, Joe Moody and Kieran Read, won a scrum penalty try. Halfback Bryn Hall and prop Wyatt Crockett also scored from midfield breaks, and Braydon Ennor grabbed a try in the second half.

Blues 13-26 Hurricanes, Mahurangi Rugby Club, Warkworth

The Hurricanes have ended their preseason with an emphatic 26-14 win over an injury hit Blues in Auckland.

Opening the scoring through halfback TJ Perenara, the Hurricanes dominated possession and territory from the opening whistle, but the Blues hit back quickly to take the lead with a Matt Duffie try.

It was tit for tat ahead of the break, with the Hurricanes crossing the chalk thorugh Matt Proctor before Blues wing Akira Ioane put on the pace to go 80m and score under the posts to go to the break leading 14-12.

The Hurricanes made sure to get on the front foot early in the second half, with replacement Jonah Lowe scoring a n intercept try, before lock Murray Douglas finished off the move of the match just minutes later to give the Hurricanes a 26-14 lead.

The Hurricanes escaped the match without injury, despite prop Chris Eaves being stretchered off during the match, with coach Chris Boyd reporting Eves had only received a 'stinger'.

Injuries to the Blues loose forwards Jerome Kaino, Jimmy Tupou and Dalton Papali'I suffered in the opening half, could give coach Tana Umaga more headaches as the season approaches.