All eyes on Ellis Park – Vodacom Super Rugby Round 9 Preview

Apr 10 • General News, Super Rugby • 1516 Views • Comments Off on All eyes on Ellis Park – Vodacom Super Rugby Round 9 Preview

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The bulk of the attention will be on Ellis Park in Johannesburg this weekend, where the Lions are hosting the Vodacom Super Rugby table-topping Cell C Sharks in what could be a humdinger.


It’s the only South African derby of round nine, where the Vodacom Bulls will continue their Australasian tour with a tricky encounter against the Highlanders in Dunedin, and the Toyota Cheetahs host the seven-time champion Crusaders in Bloemfontein.


The weekend kicks off on Friday morning with the Vodacom Bulls taking on the Highlanders in Dunedin – a venue where they have not won since 2007.


At the Free State Stadium, the Crusaders will be aiming to repeat their win over the Lions from last weekend, which incidentally was the first by any team this season crossing the Indian Ocean.


At Ellis Park though, the Lions will be aiming to repeat their shock win from June 2012, when they upset the Cell C Sharks by 38-28 in Joburg, which put a serious dent in the Durbanites’ hopes of hosting a semi-final that season.


The KwaZulu-Natalians did fight back later that season and reached the final against all odds, but on 2 June, the Lions recorded one of their most famous victories, scoring their fourth try shortly before half-time which basically sealed the win.


The DHL Stormers have a bye this weekend as Vodacom Bulls prop Werner Kruger will become the 26th South African Vodacom Super Rugby centurion in Dunedin.


Kruger, who made his debut in the opening round in 2008 against the DHL Stormers in Cape Town, has gone on to anchor the Vodacom Bulls’ scrum in two championship winning campaigns and play four Tests for the Springboks.


He played in 99 of the Vodacom Bulls’ last 100 matches – 40 and then 59 consecutively – only missing out in 2010 when the Pretorians went to Cape Town with a so-called “B-team”.


Kruger is a very good scrummager and someone who is never shy to do the donkey work on the field. He will become only the fifth SA front ranker to reach 100 appearances at this level, following in the footsteps of John Smit, Jannie and Bismarck du Plessis and Ollie le Roux.


It will be a special weekend for Cell C Sharks winger Odwa Ndungane as well, who will play his 100th match for the Durbanites. He also has 10 Vodacom Bulls caps to his name.


The full list of South African Vodacom Super Rugby centurions (players still in action in bold):


130: Victor Matfield (Cats 8, Bulls 122)

125: AJ Venter (Cats 19, Sharks 96, Stormers 10) and John Smit (Sharks)

123: Morné Steyn (Bulls)

122: Stefan Terblanche (Sharks)

120: Jannie du Plessis (Cheetahs 26, Sharks 92)

118: Bryan Habana (Bulls 61, Stormers 57)

116: Danie Rossouw (Bulls)

114: Jacques Botes (Sharks)

113: Pedrie Wannenburg (Bulls), Adi Jacobs (Bulls 21, Cats 4, Sharks 88)

112: Fourie du Preez (Bulls)

110: Wynand Olivier (Bulls)

109: Odwa Ndungane (Bulls 10, Sharks 99), Bismarck du Plessis (Sharks)

108: Ollie le Roux (Natal 24, Sharks 60, Cats 3, Cheetahs 21), Meyer Bosman (Cheetahs 61, Sharks 47)

104: Andries Bekker (Stormers), Jano Vermaak (Cats 11, Lions 62, Bulls 31)

103: Pierre Spies (Bulls)

102: Albert van den Berg (Cats 7, Sharks 95)

102: Akona Ndungane (Bulls), Jean de Villiers (Stormers)

101: JP Pietersen (Sharks)

100: Bakkies Botha (Bulls)


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