The DHL Stormers face another huge test of character on Saturday when they host the Emirates Lions in a tough Vodacom Super Rugby derby match at DHL Newlands, which starts at 17h15 on Saturday evening.
Sikhumbuzo Notshe will play his 50th game for the DHL Stormers, while they will have to do without the services of Springbok lock Pieter-Steph du Toit, who was withdrawn because of illness.
The Capetonians suffered a surprise defeat to the Sunwolves last Saturday in the scorching heat of Hong Kong and they will be a determined to restore some pride and regain their form in front of the passionate Cape rugby faithful. The fact that this match is played just a few hours before the Springbok squad announcement, adds an extra bite to this local derby.
The Vodacom Bulls are home to the visiting Brumbies in the early Saturday afternoon fixture (15h05) at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria and John Mitchell’s side will also be looking to bounce back following their loss to the Jaguares last weekend.
Traveling to Buenos Aires is not easy and the Cell C Sharks will experience that when they face the impressive Jaguares on Friday evening (21h40, SA time) in the Argentine capital. The Durbanites beat the Chiefs last weekend at home and they will be hoping to replicate that performance.
Cell C Sharks coach Robert du Preez named an unchanged side for the away match in Argentina against a team they have never lost against. However, every clash between these sides was a close affair. But this year the KwaZulu-Natalians are up against a Jaguares side coming off a win streak of five matches.
Vodacom Bulls centre and skipper Burger Odendaal is back after missing last week’s trip to Argentina through injury, which sees Springbok Handré Pollard resuming his flyhalf duties. Amongst the forwards, Nic de Jager is selected at flank and Jaco Visagie swops jerseys with hooker Adriaan Strauss.
After a slow start in matches between the sides, where the Emirates Lions won just one of the first 13 encounters against the DHL Stormers (with one draw), the men from Johannesburg have now won their last three games on the trot against their Capetonian counterparts. Their defeat to the Chiefs in Round 13 snapped a five-game home winning streak for the DHL Stormers, who will now be keen to avoid consecutive home defeats for the first time since 2011.
Notshe’s inclusion at No 8 for the DHL Stormers comes as part of a new loose forward combination, with captain Siya Kolisi back in the starting team and Kobus van Dyk shifting to blindside flank. Meanwhile, Jan de Klerk comes at lock for Du Toit. They also welcome back Springbok hooker Bongi Mbonambi and prop Steven Kitshoff, both on the bench. Raymond Rhule is picked on the left wing in place of Seabelo Senatla, who has returned to the Springbok Sevens squad.
The Emirates Lions have also made several changes for their match squad. Prop Jacques van Rooyen and flank Marnus Schoeman return to the starting team, with Kwagga Smith moving from flank to No 8. Aphiwe Dyantyi shifts from centre back to wing and Harold Vorster resumes his midfield partnership with Rohan Janse van Rensburg, while Ruan Combrinck is back at right wing.
What they said:
Cell C Sharks head coach Robert du Preez said they are expecting a huge challenge in Buenos Aires: “The Jaguares are a full blown international team, so this is a test team we will be facing. They are full of confidence and have been playing some great rugby lately.”
Vodacom Bulls head coach John Mitchell said they have not given up hope of reaching the playoffs: “We have to keep working and fighting. We are growing but have also let ourselves down. The Brumbies have perhaps been unlucky this year, they have good individuals who will test you across the field.”
Emirates Lions head coach Swys de Bruin said his side must be more accurate in their execution in Cape Town: “The derby will bring out the best in the DHL Stormers, who will be looking for a good performance in front of their big support.”
DHL Stormers head coach Robbie Fleck said his players are intent on delivering a complete performance at DHL Newlands: “It is great to be back at DHL Newlands this weekend for what should be another big game. Our focus is to be as accurate as possible and execute our plans so that we are able to impose ourselves.”
JAGUARES vs CELL C SHARKS
Head to head:
Jaguares won: 0
Cell C Sharks won: 4
Jaguares points: 79
Cell C Sharks points: 95
Average score: 19-24
Jaguares: 15 Emiliano Boffelli, 14 Bautista Delguy, 13 Matias Orlando, 12 Jeronimo de le Fuente, 11 Ramiro Moyano, 10 Nicolas Sanchez, 9 Gonzalo Bertranou, 8 Javier Ortega Desio, 7 Marcos Kremer, 6 Tomas Lezana (captain), 5 Tomas Lavanini, 4 Guido Petti, 3 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro, 2 Agustin Creevy, 1 Santiago Garcia Botta. Replacements: 16 Julian Montoya, 17 Javier Diaz, 18 Santiago Medrano, 19 Matias Alemanno, 20 Leonardo Senatore, 21 Martin Landajo, 22 Bautista Ezcurra, 23 Juan Cruz Mallia.
Cell C Sharks: 15 Curwin Bosch, 14 Sbu Nkosi, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Robert du Preez, 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Daniel du Preez, 7 Jean-Luc du Preez, 6 Philip van der Walt, 5 Ruan Botha (captain), 4 Tyler Paul, 3 Thomas du Toit, 2 Akker van der Merwe, 1 Tendai Mtawarira. Replacements: 16 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 17 Juan Schoeman, 18 Ross Geldenhuys, 19 Stephan Lewies, 20 Jacques Vermeulen, 21 Cameron Wright, 22 Marius Louw, 23 Makazole Mapimpi.
Date: Friday, 25 May
SA time: 21h40
Venue: Estadio Jose Amalfitani, Buenos Aires
Referee: Paul Williams (NZ)
Assistant referees: Damian Schneider and José Covassi (Argentina)
Television match official: Santiago Borsani (Argentina)
TV: SuperSport 1
VODACOM BULLS vs BRUMBIES
Head to head:
Vodacom Bulls won: 8
Brumbies won: 13
Vodacom Bulls points: 530
Brumbies points: 612
Average score: 25-29
Vodacom Bulls: 15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Travis Ismaiel, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Burger Odendaal (captain), 11 Johnny Kotze, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Ivan van Zyl, 8 Marco van Staden, 7 Nic de Jager, 6 Roelof Smit, 5 RG Snyman, 4 Jason Jenkins, 3 Conraad van Vuuren, 2 Jaco Visagie, 1 Trevor Nyakane. Replacements: 16 Adriaan Strauss, 17 Mox Mxoli, 18 Matthys Basson, 19 Ruben van Heerden, 20 Thembelani Bholi, 21 Andre Warner, 22 Manie Libbok, 23 Divan Rossouw.
Date: Saturday, 26 May
SA time: 15h05
Venue: Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen (SA)
Assistant referees: AJ Jacobs and Jaco Pretorius (SA)
Television match official: Willie Vos (SA)
TV: SuperSport 1
DHL STORMERS v EMIRATES LIONS
Head to head:
DHL Stormers won: 11
Emirates Lions won: 4
DHL Stormers points: 398
Emirates Lions points: 320
Average score: 25-20
DHL Stormers: 15 SP Marais, 14 Dillyn Leyds, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Jean-Luc du Plessis, 9 Dewaldt Duvenage, 8 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 7 Kobus van Dyk, 6 Siya Kolisi (captain), 5 Chris van Zyl, 4 Jan de Klerk, 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Ramone Samuels, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg. Replacements: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Frans Malherbe, 19 Cobus Wiese, 20 Nizaam Carr, 21 Paul de Wet, 22 EW Viljoen, 23 Craig Barry.
Emirates Lions: 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Ruan Combrinck, 13 Rohan Janse van Rensburg, 12 Harold Vorster, 11 Aphiwe Dyantyi, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Kwagga Smith, 7 Franco Mostert (captain), 6 Marnus Schoeman, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Lourens Erasmus, 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Robbie Coetzee, 1 Jacques van Rooyen. Replacements: 16 Corne Fourie, 17 Dylan Smith, 18 Jacobie Adriaanse, 19 Rhyno Herbst, 20 Hacjivah Dayimani, 21 Ross Cronje, 22 Madosh Tambwe, 23 Sylvian Mahuza.
Date: Saturday, 26 May
SA time: 17h15
Venue: DHL Newlands, Cape Town
Referee: Nick Briant (NZ)
Assistant referees: Quinton Immelman (SA), Stephan Geldenhuys (SA)
Television match official: Christie du Preez (SA)
TV: SuperSport 1
Other Round 15 action (SA kick-off times):
Friday, 25 May
09h35: Crusaders v Hurricanes, AMI Stadium, Christchurch
11h45: Rebels v Sunwolves, AAMI Park, Melbourne
Saturday, 26 May
09h35: Chiefs v Waratahs, FMG Stadium, Hamilton
11h45: Reds v Highlanders, Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane