It’s all about the Aussies and a local derby – Vodacom Super Rugby Round 16 Preview

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The DHL Stormers will be hoping to retain their top spot in the South African Vodacom Super Rugby Conference when they host the Toyota Cheetahs on Saturday, while the three other local teams are in action against Australian opposition.


Round 16 kicks off from a South African perspective when the Brumbies host the Vodacom Bulls in Canberra, a venue where the men from Pretoria have not won since 2007.


The Cell C Sharks are back at home and will be looking to extend the Rebels’ woes in South Africa when they host the team from Melbourne in Durban on Friday evening.


On Saturday evening, the Emirates Lions take on the one Australian team they’ve never beaten, the defending champion Waratahs, in Johannesburg.


In the fourth and penultimate match of the weekend, the DHL Stormers will celebrate 125 years of existence of their home ground, DHL Newlands, against the Toyota Cheetahs, the only local side they’ve lost against this year.


DHL Newlands is regarded as one of the most iconic rugby venues in the world, having hosted some memorable matches over the years and the DHL Stormers will be looking to increase their lead at the top of the South African Conference in this match on Saturday afternoon.

Brumbies v Vodacom Bulls

Date: Friday, May 29

SA Time: 11h40

Venue: GIO Stadium, Canberra

Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen (South Africa)

Assistant referees: Rohan Hoffmann (Australia), Ed Martin (Australia)

Television match official: Ian Smith (Australia)


Team news: 


  • The Vodacom Bulls have made six changes for this clash, four of them in the pack where Arno Botha, Grant Hattingh, Adriaan Strauss and Dean Greyling will start.


  • Jacques du Plessis, Callie Visagie and Trevor Nyakane move to the bench and Jaco Visagie drops out of the match-23 altogether.


  • In the backline, Jurgen Visser takes over at fullback from Jesse Kriel, who is also on the bench, while the injured Jan Serfontein is replaced at inside centre by Burger Odendaal.


  • In a late change, Morné Mellett was included on the bench for Werner Kruger.




  • The Vodacom Bulls have lost their last four matches in Australia and haven’t beaten the Brumbies in Canberra since 2007.


  • Looking at the overall stats Down Under, it would seem that the Vodacom Bulls enjoy touring in Australia a bit more than New Zealand, where they’ve won on 16% of their matches. Against the Aussie sides it’s 26%.


  • The Brumbies can boast that they are the only visiting team ever to have beaten the Vodacom Bulls in a playoff match in South Africa – that happened in the semi-final at Loftus Versfeld in 2013. Before that, the men from Pretoria have won three home semis and two home finals consecutively.




Vodacom Bulls head coach Frans Ludeke: “We are well aware of the threat the Brumbies pose in many positions, so realise that we will have to play to our full potential if we want to succeed in Canberra.


“We know that we need log points if we want this season to still mean something to us and the team will be going out there determined to achieve what we set out at the beginning of the season.”


The teams are:


Brumbies: Jesse Mogg, Henry Speight, Tevita Kuridrani, Robbie Coleman, Joe Tomane, Christian Lealiifano, Nic White, Ita Vaea, David Pocock, Scott Fardy, Sam Carter, Rory Arnold, Ben Alexander, Stephen Moore (captain), Scott Sio. Replacements: Josh Mann-Rea, Allan Alaalatoa, Ruan Smith, Jordan Smiler, Jarrad Butler, Michael Dowsett, Nigel Ah Wong, James Dargaville.


Vodacom Bulls: Jurgen Visser, Francois Hougaard, JJ Engelbrecht, Burger Odendaal, Bjorn Basson, Handre Pollard, Rudy Paige, Pierre Spies (captain), Arno Botha, Deon Stegmann, Grant Hattingh, Flip van der Merwe, Marcel van der Merwe, Adriaan Strauss, Dean Greyling. Replacements: Callie Visagie, Trevor Nyakane, Morné Mellett, Jacques du Plessis, Lappies Labuschagne, Jacques-Louis Potgieter, Travis Ismaiel, Jesse Kriel.


Brumbies v Vodacom Bulls (since 1998):

Played 17; Vodacom Bulls won 7; lost 10

Vodacom Bulls points scored: 466

Brumbies points scored: 519

Vodacom Bulls tries scored: 48

Brumbies tries scored: 65

Average score: 31-27 to the Brumbies


Cell C Sharks v Rebels

Date: Friday, May 29

SA Time: 19h10

Venue: Growthpoint Kings Park, Durban

Referee: Jaco van Heerden (South Africa)

Assistant referees: Rodney Boneparte (South Africa), Ben Crouse (South Africa)

Television match official: Marius Jonker (South Africa)


Team news: 


  • Ryan Kankowski is back at No 8 for the Cell C Sharks, with Renaldo Bothma moving to flank for Marcell Coetzee.


  • Willem Alberts is bracketed on the other flank with Etienne Oosthuizen. Khaya Majola will have an opportunity to make his Vodacom Super Rugby debut should Alberts be ruled out following a fitness test later in the week.


  • An injury to Stephan Lewies paves the way for Mouritz Botha to be promoted from the bench.


  • In the backline, Frans Steyn has been ruled out through injury, which means Andre Esterhuizen will move to inside centre from wing, where he was a late replacement last weekend for Odwa Ndungane, who is back in the No 14 jersey.


  • There are also a number of new faces on the bench – Matt Stevens (for Dale Chadwick), Lubabalo Mtyanda (for Botha) and Heimar Williams (for Waylon Murray).




  • The Cell C Sharks’ recent tour may not have been too successful, but back in Durban they are a different beast, having won 10 of their last 11 home encounters against Australian opposition. Their only home defeat against an Aussie side was against the Brumbies in 2013.


  • Their overall home winning percentage against Aussie opponents is 71%, or 22 from 31, with eight defeats and one draw.


  • The Rebels’ wait for a win in South Africa continues – they have lost all nine games in the Republic this far and have conceded at least 30 points in eight of those games.




Cell C Sharks assistant coach Sean Everitt: “We are getting better every week as a group and it’s not easy with the number of changes we’ve had to make week to week with injuries. We have to march forward and be positive.


“We feel we’ve let our fans down this season and we’re disappointed with some of our performances so we want to finish on a good note. We’ve got two home games left and we certainly want to give our spectators something to cheer about.”


The teams are:


Cell C Sharks: Lwazi Mvovo, Odwa Ndungane, JP Pietersen, Andre Esterhuizen, S’bura Sithole, Lionel Cronje, Stefan Ungerer, Ryan Kankowski, Willem Alberts / Etienne Oosthuizen, Renaldo Bothma, Marco Wentzel (captain), Mouritz Botha, Jannie du Plessis, Bismarck du Plessis, Tendai Mtawarira. Replacements: Franco Marais, Matt Stevens, Lourens Adriaanse, Lubabalo Mtyanda, Etienne Oosthuizen / Khaya Majola, Conrad Hoffmann, Fred Zeilinga, Heimar Williams.


Rebels: Mike Harris, Dom Shipperley, Safanaia Naivalu, Mitch Inman, Tom English, Jack Debreczeni, Luke Burgess, Scott Higginbotham, Coly Fainga’a, Sean McMahon, Lopeti Timani, Luke Jones, Laurie Weeks, Pat Leafa, Toby Smith. Replacements: Tom Sexton, Cruze Ah-Nau, Paul Alo-Emile,Cadeyrn Neville, Scott Fuglistaller, Nic Stirzaker, Jordy Reid, Bryce Hegarty.


Cell C Sharks v Rebels (since 2011):

Played 3; Cell C Sharks won 3

Cell C Sharks points scored: 120

Rebels points scored: 55

Cell C Sharks tries scored: 15

Rebels tries scored: 6

Average score: 40-18 to the Cell C Sharks


DHL Stormers v Toyota Cheetahs

Date: Saturday, May 30

SA Time: 17h05

Venue: DHL Newlands, Cape Town

Referee: Craig Joubert (South Africa)

Assistant referees: Jason Jaftha (South Africa), Francois Pretorius (South Africa)

Television match official: Deon van Blommestein (South Africa)


Team news: 


  • Nic Groom returns at scrumhalf for the DHL Stormers in the only change to their backline for this clash. He replaces Louis Schreuder.


  • Upfront, Vincent Koch and Nizaam Carr will start, for Frans Malherbe and Schalk Burger respectively.


  • Burger gets a rest while Malherbe and Schreuder are on the bench, along with Sikhumbuzo Notshe and Oli Kebble.


  • The Toyota Cheetahs have made two changes to their backline, where Sergeal Petersen and Joe Pietersen take over from Cornal Hendricks and Francois Brummer respectively.


  • Upfront, Tienie Burger is back from injury and takes over from Carel Greeff at flank in the only change to their pack.


  • Sarel Pretorius is fit again and returns on the bench. Shaun Venter, Greeff, Hendricks and Brummer all drop out of the match-23.




  • Although the Toyota Cheetahs became the first and only South African side thus far this season to beat the DHL Stormers (by 25-17 in Bloemfontein in Round 12), they’ve struggled in Cape Town in recent years, scoring only three points combined in their last two visits to DHL Newlands.


  • The DHL Stormers have won their last six home matches against the Toyota Cheetahs (the visitors last won there in 2006). This includes victories of 33-0 last year and 28-3 in 2013.


  • Judging by the stats, Saturday’s derby could become a battle of the boot as the DHL Stormers (81%) and the Toyota Cheetahs (80%) rank first and second overall when it comes to kick success rate this season.




DHL Stormers head coach Allister Coetzee: “We need to perform and get the points this weekend to ensure we remain in contention for the Vodacom Super Rugby play-offs.


“We want to consolidate (on) our systems and ensure we keep winning, but, in order to do that, we will continue to focus on our own game and ensure we limit our mistakes against a Cheetahs team that will punish us if we are not accurate – as they did against us in Bloemfontein.”


The teams are:


DHL Stormers: Cheslin Kolbe, Seabelo Senatla, Juan de Jongh, Damian de Allende, Dillyn Leyds, Demetri Catrakilis, Nic Groom, Duane Vermeulen (captain), Siya Kolisi, Nizaam Carr, Manuel Carizza, Eben Etzebeth, Vincent Koch, Scarra Ntubeni, Steven Kitshoff. Replacements: Bongi Mbonambi, Oli Kebble, Frans Malherbe, Jean Kleyn, Sikhumbuzo Notshe, Louis Schreuder, Kurt Coleman, Huw Jones.


Toyota Cheetahs: Clayton Blommetjies, Sergeal Petersen, Francois Venter, Michael van der Spuy, Raymond Rhule, Joe Pietersen, Tian Meyer, Willie Britz, Boom Prinsloo, Tienie Burger, Francois Uys (captain), Carl Wegner, Maks van Dyk, Torsten van Jaarsveld, Danie Mienie. Replacements: Stephan Coetzee, BG Uys, Ewald van der Westhuizen, Steven Sykes, Henco Venter, Sarel Pretorius, Coenie van Wyk, Rayno Benjamin.


DHL Stormers v Toyota Cheetahs (since 2006):

Played 14; DHL Stormers won 9; Toyota Cheetahs won 5

DHL Stormers points scored: 335

Toyota Cheetahs points scored: 268

DHL Stormers tries scored: 33

Toyota Cheetahs tries scored: 27

Average score: 24-19 to the DHL Stormers


Emirates Lions v Waratahs

Date: Saturday, May 30

SA Time: 19h10

Venue: Emirates Airline Park, Johannesburg

Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa)

Assistant referees: Jaco van Heerden (South Africa), Lesego Legoete (South Africa)

Television match official: Johan Greeff


Team news: 


  • The Emirates Lions’ front row rotation continues this week – Julian Redelinghuys and Schalk van der Merwe are the props, while Armand van der Merwe takes over at hooker from the suspended Robbie Coetzee.


  • In the only backline change, Harold Vorster takes over at inside centre from Howard Mnisi.


  • Malcolm Marx, who last played in Round 2, is back on the bench and will be joined by Corne Fourie, Ruan Dreyer, Marnitz Boshoff and Stokkies Hanekom. Blitzbok star Kwagga Smith has also retained his spot amongst the reserves.




  • The Emirates Lions have never beaten the Waratahs, although they have only played twice in Johannesburg (2007 and 2009) and five times in Sydney.


  • Most of the Waratahs’ victories over Jozi’s Pride have been pretty comprehensive, except when they played at Emirates Airline Park, where the scores were 38-33 (in 2009) and 25-16 (in 2007).


  • However, since 2012 the Brumbies are the only Australian side to beat the Emirates Lions in South Africa. The team from Canberra have done it twice, but their compatriots have lost three times in Johannesburg.


  • These two sides boast three of the top six tacklers in Vodacom Super Rugby – the Emirates Lions’ Warren Whiteley (204 successful tackles out of 211 attempts), Warwick Tecklenburg (153/159) and the Waratahs’ Michael Hooper (144/165).


The teams are:


Emirates Lions: Andries Coetzee, Ruan Combrinck, Lionel Mapoe, Harold Vorster, Courtnall Skosan, Elton Jantjies, Faf de Klerk, Warren Whiteley (captain), Warwick Tecklenburg, Jaco Kriel, Franco Mostert, Martin Muller, Julian Redelinghuys, Armand van der Merwe, Schalk van der Merwe. Replacements: Malcolm Marx, Corne Fourie, Ruan Dreyer, Robert Kruger, Kwagga Smith, Ross Cronje, Marnitz Boshoff, Stokkies Hanekom.


Waratahs: TBC


Emirates Lions v Waratahs (since 2011):

Played 7; Emirates Lions won 0; lost 7

Emirates Lions points scored: 92

Waratahs points scored: 282

Emirates Lions tries scored: 9

Waratahs tries scored: 40

Average score: 40-13 to the Waratahs


Other fixtures (SA kick-off times):


Friday, May 29:

09h35: Crusaders v Hurricanes – Nelson


Saturday, May 30:

09h35: Highlanders v Chiefs – Invercargill

11h40: Force v Reds – Perth


Bye: Blues

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