· Career milestone for South African referee Craig Joubert
Gauteng rivals the Vodacom Bulls and the Emirates Lions go head to head on Saturday afternoon in a mouth-watering Vodacom Super Rugby encounter at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria. This Round 14 fixture will be the last local match before the break for the June internationals.
In the other fixture featuring local teams on Saturday, the DHL Stormers host the Toyota Cheetahs in the early 15h00 kick-off at DHL Newlands in Cape Town, while the injury-hit Southern Kings entertain the visiting Jaguares on Friday evening at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth.
Meanwhile, South Africa’s Craig Joubert will on Saturday become only the third referee in history to officiate his 100th Vodacom Super Rugby match when he takes charge of the clash in Pretoria.
The Loftus match will add another highlight to Joubert’s illustrious career, which includes officiating the 2011 Rugby World Cup final in New Zealand, as well as three Vodacom Super Rugby finals, in 2010, 2013 and 2014.Fans of the Pretoria-side will be hoping their team can maintain their impressive home form so far this season. The Vodacom Bulls are the only side left in the competition that is unbeaten in their home matches this season, a feat they managed to keep intact courtesy of a grinding 17-13 victory over the DHL Stormers last Saturday.
However, Warren Whiteley’s men have been the form South African side so far this season and they travel to their northern neighbours on the back of an impressive 52-24 win over the Jaguares.
The DHL Stormers lost their previous home match against the Waratahs and will be looking to return to winning ways in front of their Cape Town supporters. The Toyota Cheetahs, on the other hand, will be aiming for back-to-back wins after beating the Kings in their last match.
In Port Elizabeth, the Kings will be chasing only their second win of the season following their only win so far over the Sunwolves. However, the Jaguares pushed the DHL Stormers and Cell Sharks all the way recently and they will pose a difficult threat for the PE-based side. The Cell C Sharks have a rest weekend.
Elsewhere, the Hurricanes and the Highlanders clash in the first Friday morning fixture (SA time) in Wellington and that match is followed by the clash in Sydney between the Waratahs and the Chiefs. On Saturday morning the Blues are at home to the Crusaders in Auckland and the Brumbies welcome the Sunwolves to Canberra.
The weekend’s fixtures are rounded off with the Rebels versus Force meeting in Melbourne on Sunday morning. All the action will be televised live on SuperSport 1.
Southern Kings vs Jaguares
Date: Friday, 27 May 2016
SA Time: 19h00
Venue: Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth
Referee: Nick Briant
Assistant referees: Quinton Immelman, Ben Crouse
Television Match Official: Marius Jonker
· Southern Kings coach, Deon Davids, made four changes to his side for the Friday evening clash in Port Elizabeth against the Jaguares.
· He slotted Wandile Mjekevu in on right wing after the Cell C Sharks loan player joined them on Wednesday, as replacement for Luzuko Vulindlu who is out with a hamstring tear.
· Two of the changes are rotational, with Stefan Watermeyer returning from injury for JP du Plessis at outside centre and JC Astle coming in for Schalk Oelofse at lock.
· Hooker Edgar Marutlulle is back from illness and replaces the injured Martin Ferreira who has been ruled for the rest of the campaign with a rib injury.
· In one more change to the bench, utility back Dewald Human comes in for the injured flyhalf back-up, Elgar Watts.
· The last time these teams met the Jaguares scored 73 points against the South African side, the equal ninth most by a team in Vodacom Super Rugby history.
· All three of the Kings’ home wins in Vodacom Super Rugby have come against teams from outside of South Africa, the last of which came in Round 6 this season against the Sunwolves.
· The Jaguares have lost their last six away games since an opening round victory away to the Toyota Cheetahs, conceding an average of 34 points per game in those six games.
· The Jaguares have beaten an average of 25.2 defenders per game so far this season, only the Emirates Lions (27.5) have beaten more.
Southern Kings team: 15 Jurgen Visser, 14 Lukhanyo Am, 13 Stefan Watermeyer, 12 Shane Gates, 11 Wandile Mjekevu, 10 Louis Fouche, 9 Ntando Kebe, 8 Aidon Davis, 7 Thembelani Bholi, 6 Stefan Willemse, 5 JC Astle, 4 Steven Sykes (captain), 3 Jacobie Adriaanse, 2 Edgar Marutlulle, 1 Schalk Ferreira. Replacements: 16 Martin Bezuidenhout, 17 Justin Ackerman, 18 Tom Botha, 19 Schalk Oelofse, 20 Jacques Engelbrecht, 21 Kevin Luiters, 22 Dewald Human, 23 JP du Plessis.
Jaguares: 15 Joaquín Tuculet, 14 Matías Orlando, 13 Segundo Tuculet, 12 Juan Martín Hernández, 11 Emiliano Boffelli, 10 Nicolás Sánchez, 9 Martín Landajo (captain), 8 Facundo Isa, 7 Juan Manuel Leguizamón, 6 Tomás Lezana, 5 Tomás Lavanini, 4 Guido Petti, 3 Ramiro Herrera, 2 Agustin Creevy, 1 Santiago García Botta. Replacements: 16 Julián Montoya, 17 Facundo Gigena, 18 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro, 19 Matías Alemanno, 20 Javier Ortega Desio, 21 Felipe Ezcurra, 22 Santiago González Iglesias, 23 Ramiro Moyano.
DHL Stormers vs Toyota Cheetahs
Date: Saturday, 28 May 2016
SA Time: 15h00
Venue: DHL Newlands, Cape Town
Referee: Glen Jackson
Assistant referees: Ben O’Keeffe, Nick Briant
Television Match Official: Shaun Veldsman
· Daniel du Plessis will make his DHL Stormers debut against the Toyota Cheetahs at DHL Newlands on Saturday. The talented young midfielder comes into the team at outside centre because Juan de Jongh is still sidelined with a back strain.
· Johnny Kotze moves to the replacements bench in place of the injured Huw Jones.
· Sikhumbuzo Notshe will start at No.8 in place of Schalk Burger who has not recovered from a foot injury, with JD Schickerling providing lock cover from the bench.
DHL Stormers coach Robbie Fleck: “The last few weeks have been quite frustrating for us, so we are focused on delivering a convincing performance for our faithful supporters at DHL Newlands. We have worked very hard this week and the players are determined to show what we are capable of when we get it right.”
· The DHL Stormers have won 11 of their last 14 games against the Bloemfontein side, including each the last two in a row by a combined 40-point margin.
· After a loss in their last home fixture, the Capetonians will be aiming to avoid back-to-back home losses for the first time since their last two games of the 2011 season.
· The Toyota Cheetahs will be looking for back-to-back wins for the first time since their opening two fixtures of the 2015 season after beating the Kings in their last fixture.
· They have won an average of 14.1 lineouts per game so far this campaign, the most of any team, though they rank 10th for lineout success (87.6%).
· The DHL Stormers are the best team in the competition this season when it comes to winning opposition lineouts, stealing 2.6 per game on average this season;
· Eben Etzebeth (9) and Pieter-Steph du Toit (8) have stolen more than any other individuals this season.
DHL Stormers: 15 Cheslin Kolbe, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Daniel du Plessis, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Leolin Zas, 10 Jean-Luc du Plessis, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 7 Siya Kolisi, 6 Nizaam Carr, 5 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe (captain), 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Oli Kebble. Replacements: 16 Scarra Ntubeni, 17 Alistair Vermaak, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 JD Schickerling, 20 Rynhardt Elstadt, 21 Louis Schreuder, 22 Brandon Thomson, 23 Johnny Kotze.
Toyota Cheetahs: 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Francois Venter (captain), 12 Michael van der Spuy, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Fred Zeilinga, 9 Tian Meyer, 8 Uzair Cassiem, 7 Oupa Mohoje, 6 Paul Schoeman, 5 Francois Uys, 4 Lood de Jager, 3 Maks van Dyk, 2 Torsten van Jaarsveld, 1 Charles Marais. Substitutes:16 Jacques du Toit, 17 Ox Nche, 18 Luan de Bruin, 19 Henco Venter, 20 Neill Jordaan, 21 Shaun Venter, 22 Niel Marais, 23 Nico Lee.
Vodacom Bulls vs Emirates Lions
Date: Saturday, 28 May 2016
SA Time: 17h00
Venue: Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
Referee: Craig Joubert, Marius van der Westhuizen
Assistant referees: Cwengile Jadezweni, Marius van der Westhuizen
Television Match Official: Christie du Preez
· Vodacom Bulls head coach, Nollis Marais, made only one change to the starting side that beat the DHL Stormers last Saturday. He has brought in Bjorn Basson on the wing in place of Travis Ismaiel, who withdrew from the side for family reasons.
· Hooker Bandise Maku moves onto the reserves bench in the place of Jaco Visagie.
· Sylvian Mahuza gets his first start in Vodacom Super Rugby for the Emirates Lions against the Bulls at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday in one of seven changes to the side. Mahuza starts at fullback, replacing Jaco van der Walt who was injured against the Jaguares last weekend.
· Marnitz Boshoff also gets his first run of the campaign because of the injury to Elton Jantjies (hand).
· In other rotational changes Malcolm Marx, Andries Ferreira, Warwick Tecklenburg and Rohan Janse van Rensburg all get a start against the Pretoria side. Ashlon Davis has been included on the bench and if he gets a run will make his debut.
Nollis Marais, Vodacom Bulls head coach: “There were a lot of things we needed to work on with this team. There were certain guys who struggled with aspects of their game, to adapt to the pace and intensity of Vodacom Super Rugby. There is a big step up between Currie Cup and Super Rugby levels and we need to have a look every week where we can improve.
“At the beginning of the year the scrums were a problem. We were one of the teams that gave away the most scrum penalties. We worked hard on that, Gary (Botha) deserves a lot of credit for that.”
· The Vodacom Bulls have won 11 and drawn one of their 14 previous encounters with the Emirates Lions, though the Johannesburg team have won two of the last three Jukskei-derbies.
· The Emirates Lions have won four and drawn one of their last six games away from home and are undefeated in their last three away games in South Africa (W2, D1).
· The Pretoria outfit snapped a two-game losing streak in Round 13, though they still only scored a combined 31 points in their last three Vodacom Super Rugby games.
· The Vodacom Bulls have conceded only two tries in the opening quarter of games this season, the joint fewest in Vodacom Super Rugby (level with the DHL Stormers and Chiefs).
· The team from Johannesburg have scored 64 more points than they’ve conceded in the 20 minutes leading up to half-time, the most of any team in the competition.
Vodacom Bulls: 15 SP Marais, 14 Jamba Ulengo, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Francois Brummer, 9 Piet van Zyl, 8 Arno Botha, 7 Jannes Kirsten, 6 Lappies Labuschagne, 5 RG Snyman, 4 Jason Jenkins, 3 Marcel van der Merwe, 2 Adriaan Strauss (captain), 1 Lizo Gqoboka. Replacements: 16 Bandise Maku, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Pierre Schoeman, 19 Grant Hattingh, 20 Deon Stegmann, 21 Rudy Paige, 22 Tian Schoeman, 23 Dries Swanepoel.
Emirates Lions: 15 Sylvian Mahuza, 14 Ruan Combrinck, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Rohan Janse van Rensburg, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Marnitz Boshoff, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Warren Whiteley (captain), 7 Warwick Tecklenburg, 6 Jaco Kriel, 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Andries Ferreira, 3 Julian Redelinghuys, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Dylan Smith. Substitutes: 16 Akker van der Merwe, 17 Corne Fourie, 18 Jacques van Rooyen, 19 Ruan Ackermann, 20 Cyle Brink, 21 Ross Cronjé, 22 Howard Mnisi, 23 Ashlon Davids.
Other Round 14 fixtures:
Friday, 27 May
09h35 Hurricanes vs Highlanders, Westpac Stadium, Wellington
11h45 Waratahs vs Chiefs, Allianz Stadium, Sydney
Saturday, 28 May
09h35 Blues vs Crusaders, Eden Park, Auckland
11h45 Brumbies vs Sunwolves, GIO Stadium, Canberra
Sunday, 29 May
08h05 Rebels vs Force, AAMI Park, Melbourne
Byes: Reds and Cell C Sharks.