· Can the Vodacom Bulls go “back to 2007” in Canberra?
· DHL Stormers have to be wary of fast-starting Highlanders
· “Every match counts” as Cell C Sharks welcome Emirates Lions to Durban
The Emirates Lions will be out for revenge on the Cell C Sharks when they clash in a South African Vodacom Super Rugby derby on Saturday evening, which is the last match of Round 15 this weekend.
On Friday morning, the Vodacom Bulls conclude the Australian leg of their tour with a tough encounter against the Brumbies in Canberra, and on Saturday afternoon Pieter-Steph du Toit, the SA Rugby Player of the Year, will earn his 50th cap for the DHL Stormers when they host the Highlanders in Cape Town.
The Vodacom Bulls will be aiming to turn the clock back to 2007 – the first time they won Vodacom Super Rugby – when they face the top Australian side and two-time champions, the Brumbies, in Canberra on Friday.
It’s the second match of their Australasian tour and apart from maintaining momentum after last weekend’s win over the Rebels in Melbourne, the men from Pretoria will also be looking for an “Aussie Slam”, by beating all four Australian teams in one season – a feat they last accomplished in 2012.
But the Vodacom Bulls will be up against the odds in the Australian capital – the Brumbies have won five of their last six matches against the men from Pretoria, which includes the last three on the bounce.
And they are even more dangerous at GIO Stadium, where the team from the Australian Capital Territories have won nine of their 10 matches against the Vodacom Bulls, with their only defeat coming in the men from Pretoria’s first title-winning season of 2007.
Regular captain, Handré Pollard will miss this clash due to a calf strain picked up in training earlier this week, and will be returning to South Africa, which means Manie Libbok will start in the No 10 jersey, with JT Jackson on the bench. Duane Vermeulen takes over the captaincy.
With Springbok forwards RG Snyman, Jason Jenkins and Vermeulen leading the charge, the Vodacom Bulls will be hoping to build on their lineout success rate of 93%, the best in the competition this year and a full four percentage points higher than the Brumbies (89%).
What they said:
Vodacom Bulls head coach Pote Human said Libbok, who started for the Vodacom Bulls against the Jaquares earlier in the season, have big shoes to fill, but he has the ability to help the team achieve a second win on tour: “He would not be around if he was not good enough, that is for sure. Handré is probably the leading 10 in the world at the moment, so to take over from him is not easy, but Manie has done well for us when he took to the field this year and I have the utmost confidence in him this weekend.”
Vodacom Bulls captain Duane Vermeulen would like to see a repeat of their defensive effort from last week against the Rebels: “We defended very well when under severe pressure and the Brumbies are going to test us the same way. They are so skilled and determined, we cannot let our guard down or we will pay the price.”
Brumbies: 15 Tom Banks, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Irae Simone, 11 Toni Pulu, 10 Christian Lealiifano, 9 Joe Powell, 8 Pete Samu 7 Jahrome Brown, 6 Tom Cusack, 5 Sam Carter, 4 Rory Arnold, 3 Allan Alaalatoa, 2 Folau Fainga’a, 1 Scott Sio. Replacements: 16 Connal McInerney, 17 James Slipper, 18 Leslie Leulua’iali’i-Makin, 19 Darcy Swain, 20 Murray Douglas, 21 Rob Valetini, 22 Ryan Lonergan, 23 Tom Wright.
Vodacom Bulls: 15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 Johnny Kotze, 12 Burger Odendaal, 11 Rosko Specman, 10 Manie Libbok, 9 Andre Warner, 8 Duane Vermeulen (captain), 7 Hanro Liebenberg, 6 Paul Schoeman, 5 RG Snyman, 4 Jason Jenkins, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Schalk Brits, 1 Lizo Gqoboka. Replacements: 16 Jaco Visagie, 17 Simphiwe Matanzima, 18 Wiehahn Herbst, 19 Jannes Kirsten, 20 Marco van Staden, 21 Embrose Papier, 22 JT Jackson, 23 Divan Rossouw.
Head to head:
Brumbies won: 14
Vodacom Bulls won: 8
Brumbies points: 650
Vodacom Bulls points: 558
Average score: 30-25
Date: Friday, 24 May 2019
SA time: 11h45
Venue: GIO Stadium, Canberra
Referee: Jaco Peyper
Assistant referees: Egon Seconds, Paul Williams
Television Match Official: James Leckie
The DHL Stormers will have to be at their defensive best in the first 20 minutes of Saturday’s Vodacom Super Rugby match against the Highlanders at DHL Newlands, where two-time SA Rugby Player of the Year, Pieter-Steph du Toit, will earn in his 50th competition cap for the Capetonians.
Kick-off at DHL Newlands is at 15h05 and the visitors from Dunedin will be looking to continue their trend of starting matches with their tails up this season.
The Highlanders have scored 14 tries in the opening quarter of their Vodacom Super Rugby matches this year, more than any other team in the competition and nearly three times as many as the DHL Stormers (5).
But will it be that easy at DHL Newlands?
Saturday will be the Highlanders’ first visit to Cape Town in more than five years, and although they have arrived in the Mother City on the back of three wins from their last three matches against the DHL Stormers, all of those were played in Dunedin.
The picture at DHL Newlands is vastly different though – the DHL Stormers have won their last four home games against the men from Otago, whose last victory in the shadow of Table Mountain was way back in 2006.
To add a little bit of insult to injury for the Highlanders, they have apparently struggled on the road this year and have won only two of their seven away matches thus far in 2019, against the Chiefs in Hamilton and the Sunwolves in Tokyo.
DHL Stormers coach Robbie Fleck has made only one change to his starting team for this clash. Scarra Ntubeni will start at hooker in place of the injured Bongi Mbonambi, with Chad Solomon set to make his DHL Stormers debut from the replacements bench.
The only other change is among the replacements as a fit-again Wilco Louw comes back into the match-day squad.
What they said:
DHL Stormers head coach Robbie Fleck said they are looking forward to playing at DHL Newlands again: “The atmosphere last week was incredible and the players can’t wait to get out there again and play in front of our fans. We want to keep building and improving as we approach the end of the season and this match will be another important step forward for us.”
DHL Stormers: 15 Damian Willemse, 14 Seabelo Senatla, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Dillyn Leyds, 10 Josh Stander, 9 Herschel Jantjies, 8 Jaco Coetzee, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Siya Kolisi (captain), 5 Cobus Wiese, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Scarra Ntubeni, 1 Steven Kitshoff.Replacements: 16 Chad Solomon, 17 Corne Fourie, 18 Wilco Louw, 19 Kobus van Dyk, 20 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 21 Justin Phillips, 22 Jean-Luc du Plessis, 23 Dan Kriel.
Head to head:
DHL Stormers won: 8
Highlanders won: 12
DHL Stormers points: 455
Highlanders points: 568
Average score: 22-27
Date: Saturday, 25 May 2019
SA time: 15h05
Venue: DHL Newlands, Cape Town
Referee: Nic Berry
Assistant referees: AJ Jacobs, Divan Uys
Television Match Official: Willie Vos
The Cell C Sharks will be trying to reverse their recent disappointing form in Durban when they host the Emirates Lions in a Vodacom Super Rugby derby on Saturday evening, with kick-off at Jonsson Kings Park scheduled for 17h15.
And the KwaZulu-Natalians will be buoyed by their last match against their foes from Johannesburg, which they the won by 43-5 at Emirates Airline Park – the Emirates Lions’ biggest home defeat in the last nine years of Vodacom Super Rugby.
Robert du Preez’s team have also won their last two encounters against the Emirates Lions, which should also give them a bit of hope of winning only their third home match this season, but before that, the Gautengers had won seven straight games against their rivals from KwaZulu-Natal.
The Cell C Sharks seem to have struggled against local teams in Durban in recent seasons – they have lost five of their last seven South African derbies at Jonsson Kings Park, including their last two on the bounce, against the Vodacom Bulls and DHL Stormers earlier this year.
Contrary to this, the Emirates Lions had won 10 of their last 13 Vodacom Super Rugby matches visiting the other South African teams. There was one draw (against the DHL Stormers in 2015), while the two defeats were in their last two away games, earlier this year in Cape Town and last season in Durban.
Du Preez has made five changes to his starting line-up for this encounter. Most of the changes are in the pack, with Mzamo Majola coming in for Thomas du Toit at loosehead prop, while Ruben van Heerden is back at lock, with Hyron Andrews moving to the bench.
Daniel du Preez is back at No 8, with Philip van der Walt moving back to flank and Jacques Vermeulen named amongst the replacements, where he will be joined by the uncapped Dylan Richardson (hooker), as Akker van der Merwe and Craig Burden are not available due to injuries.
The final change to the team is at inside centre, where Andre Esterhuizen is slotting back into a settled backline in place of Marius Louw.
Kwagga Smith will lead the Emirates Lions at Jonsson Kings Park, with Malcolm Marx sitting out this week and Jan-Henning Campher starting at hooker – his first for the Gautengers.
Ross Cronje will undergo a small operation which will keep him out of action for a week, so Nic Groom will start at scrumhalf.
What they said:
Cell C Sharks midfielder Andre Esterhuizen said Saturday’s encounter is very important considering how congested the standings are: “Every game is vital from now on, there are just a few points that separate the teams in the South African Conference, so we know the importance of every single game. But we aren’t putting pressure on ourselves; we’re going out there to enjoy it and play for each other. That’s what we thrived on during the tour and it worked for us.”
Cell C Sharks: 15 Aphelele Fassi, 14 Sbu Nkosi, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Curwin Bosch, 9 Louis Schreuder (captain), 8 Dan du Preez, 7 Jean-Luc du Preez, 6 Philip van der Walt, 5 Ruan Botha, 4 Ruben van Heerden, 3 Coenie Oosthuizen, 2 Kerron van Vuuren, 1 Mzamo Majola. Replacements: 16 Dylan Richardson, 17 Juan Schoeman, 18 John-Hubert Meyer, 19 Hyron Andrews, 20 Jacques Vermeulen, 21 Cameron Wright, 22 Robert du Preez, 23 Kobus van Wyk.
Emirates Lions: 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Courtnall Skosan, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Harold Vorster, 11 Aphiwe Dyantyi; 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Nic Groom; 8 Kwagga Smith (captain), 7 Cyle Brink, 6 Marnus Schoeman, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Stephan Lewies, 3 Johannes Jonker, 2 Jan-Henning Campher, 1 Dylan Smith. Replacements: 16 Pieter Jansen, 17 Sti Sithole, 18 Carlu Sadie, 19 Reinard Nothnagel, 20 Vincent Tshituka, 21 Hacjivah Dayimani, 22 Shaun Reynolds, 23 Tyrone Green.
Head to head:
Cell C Sharks won: 12
Emirates Lions: 9
Cell C Sharks points: 563
Emirates Lions points: 465
Average score: 26-21
Date: Saturday, 25 May 2019
SA time: 17h15
Venue: Jonsson Kings Park, Durban
Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen
Assistant referees: Cwengile Jadezweni, Stephan Geldenhuys
Television Match Official: Christie du Preez
Other matches in Round 15:
Friday, 24 May
09h35: Chiefs v Reds – FMG Stadium, Hamilton
Saturday, 25 May
07h15: Sunwolves v Rebels – Prince Chichibu Stadium, Tokyo
09h35: Crusaders v Blues – Christchurch Stadium, Christchurch
11h45: Waratahs v Jaguares – Bankwest Stadium, Paramatta