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Vodacom Super Rugby action resumes this weekend following the international break and all four local sides, the Vodacom Bulls, Emirates Lions, DHL Stormers and Cell C Sharks, will be out to gather important league points as the competition inches closer to the playoffs.

A spicy local derby between the Cell C Sharks and Emirates Lions in Durban is the main fare on the menu this weekend, while the Vodacom Bulls and DHL Stormers have away games in Singapore and Buenos Aires respectively.

The men from Pretoria kick off the action from a local point of view when they face the resurgent Sunwolves from 13h55 on Saturday afternoon (SA time) at the Singapore National Stadium. They will be looking to avenge their defeat last year to the Japanese side in Tokyo, when the Vodacom Bulls became the first South African team to lose against the Sunwolves.

That match in the Far East is followed by the only local derby of the weekend, in Durban. The Cell C Sharks have a good home record this year while the Emirates Lions will be out to consolidate their position at the top of the South African Conference table. The match in at Jonsson Kings Park starts at 17h15.

In Buenos Aires, the DHL Stormers face a very confident Jaguares team who will be buoyed by their impressive unbeaten run before the international break. This match gets underway at 19h40 (SA time).

Team news:

Springbok flyhalf Handré Pollard captains the Vodacom Bulls against the Sunwolves in Singapore in the injury absence of regular skipper Burger Odendaal. Apart from their returning Springboks, the Pretoria side also welcome back Jamba Ulengo, who gets a first start this year at wing, Hanro Liebenberg at No 8 and Jannes Kirsten, wjo is due for his first appearance this year at flank.

The new midfield combination consists of Johnny Kotze and Jesse Kriel, while Pollard and Embrose Papier are the halfbacks. Replacements Edgar Marutlulle, Simpiwe Matanzima and Morne Smith are all set to make first appearances for the season as well, with the latter two in line to make their tournament debuts.

The Sunwolves, who will be captained by Willie Britz, have included three former Vodacom Bulls players in their match day squad – Gerhard van den Heever (fullback), Grant Hattingh (reserve lock) and Hencus van Wyk (prop).

As expected, Cell C Sharks coach, Robert du Preez, included all his returning Springboks for their home encounter with the Emirates Lions. The clash is important for the Durbanites as a win will keep alive their slim playoff hopes.

Tendai Mtawarira (prop), Akker van der Merwe (hooker), Thomas du Toit (prop), Jean-Luc du Preez (flank), Andre Esterhuizen and Lukhanyo Am (centres) and Sbu Nkosi (wing) are all included in the starting team following their Springbok duties against England.

Curwin Bosch (fullback), Makazole Mapimpi (wing), Dan du Preez (loose forward) and Robert du Preez (flyhalf) all played in the one-off Test against Wales and are also in the starting line-up. Chiliboy Ralepelle (hooker), who started the third Castle Lager Incoming Series match in Cape Town last weekend, is on the bench.

Emirates Lions captain Warren Whiteley, star hooker Malcolm Marx and strong running wing Ruan Combrinck, as well as all of the Highvelders’ Springboks that did international duty in June, are all included in an experienced starting line-up.

Whiteley returns from a lengthy lay-off with a troublesome knee while Marx – who will run out for his 50th match at this level – has recovered from his hamstring strain. Wing Courtnall Skosan is also back on the bench after recovering from a serious knee injury.

Bongi Mbonambi will make his first start of the season for the DHL Stormers against the Jaguares in Buenos Aires on Saturday. The Bok hooker made his return off the bench against the Emirates Lions before the international break, having been sidelined through injury for the first 13 matches of the season. He is joined in the front row by props Steven Kitshoff and Wilco Louw.

In the second row, Cobus Wiese forms a lock partnership with Jan de Klerk while the loose trio features captain, Siya Kolisi, Pieter-Steph du Toit and Sikhumbuzo Notshe. In the backline, the experienced scrumhalf Dewaldt Duvenage is paired with playmaker Jean-Luc du Plessis, with Damian de Allende and JJ Engelbrecht picked as midfielders. Dillyn Leyds is at fullback while Craig Barry and Raymond Rhule are out wide on the wings.

What they said:

Vodacom Bulls head coach John Mitchell: “We had a good break, but also had some time together to sort out elements in our play that lacked consistency. The Sunwolves are always dangerous, especially on home turf and we will have to be very principled in our approach and execution if we want to stay in the contest.”

Sbu Nkosi, Cell C Sharks wing: “The Sharks/Lions derby has always been a big one in South African rugby and I don’t think it will simmer down any time soon.”

Warren Whiteley, Emirates Lions captain, on his return to action: “The first game is always tough, but I will give it my best. This a huge match for both sides.”

DHL Stormers head Coach Robbie Fleck: “We know that it will be a big challenge here in Argentina, but both the players and management are looking forward to it. We want to show what we are capable of under pressure away from home and will be going all-out to come away with a win.’”

SUNWOLVES vs VODACOM BULLS

#SUNvBUL

Head to head:

Played: 4

Sunwolves won: 1

Vodacom Bulls won: 3

Sunwolves points: 72

Vodacom Bulls points: 134

Average score: 18-34

Teams:

Sunwolves: 15 Gerhard van den Heever, 14 Semisi Masirewa, 13 Jason Emery, 12 Michael Little, 11 Akihito Yamada, 10 Hayden Parker, 9 Keisuke Uchida, 8 Yoshitaka Tokunaga, 7 Shunsuke Nunomaki, 6 Willie Britz (captain), 5 Uwe Helu, 4 James Moore, 3 Takuma Asahara, 2 Jaba Bregvadze, 1 Craig Milla. Replacements: 16 Yusuke Niwai, 17 Shintaro Ishihara, 18 Hencus van Wyk, 19 Grant Hattingh, 20 Rahboni Warren-Vosayaco, 21 Fumiaki Tanaka, 22 Rikiya Matsuda, 23 Ryoto Nakamura.

Vodacom Bulls: 15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Jamba Ulengo, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Johnny Kotze, 11 Divan Rossouw, 10 Handré Pollard (captain), 9 Embrose Papier, 8 Hanro Liebenberg, 7 Jannes Kirsten, 6 Marco van Staden, 5 RG Snyman, 4 Jason Jenkins, 3 Conraad van Vuuren, 2 Jaco Visagie, 1 Pierre Schoeman. Replacements: 16 Edgar Marutlulle, 17 Simphiwe Matanzima, 18 Morné Smith, 19 Thembelani Bholi, 20 Nic de Jager, 21 André Warner, 22 Manie Libbok, 23 Dries Swanepoel.

Match information:

Date: Saturday, 30 June

SA time: 13h55

Venue: Singapore National Stadium

Referee: Ben O’Keeffe (NZ)

Assistant referees: Shuhei Kubo and Tasuku Kawara (Jap)

Television match official: Minoru Fuji (Jap)

TV: SuperSport 1

CELL C SHARKS vs EMIRATES LIONS

#SHAvsLIO

Head to head:

Played: 28

Cell C Sharks won: 16

Emirates Lions won: 10

Drawn: 2

Cell C Sharks points: 746

Emirates Lions points: 575

Average score: 27-21

Teams:

Cell C Sharks: 15 Curwin Bosch, 14 Sbu Nkosi, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Robert du Preez, 9 Cameron Wright, 8 Daniel du Preez, 7 Jean-Luc du Preez, 6 Phillip 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 Hyron Andrews, 20 Jacques Vermeulen, 21 Louis Schreuder, 22 Marius Louw, 23 Lwazi Mvovo.

Emirates Lions: 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Ruan Combrinck, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Harold Vorster, 11 Aphiwe Dyantyi, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Ross Cronje, 8 Warren Whiteley (captain), 7 Cyle Brink, 6 Kwagga Smith, 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Marvin Orie, 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Dylan Smith. Replacements: 16 Corne Fourie, 17 Jacques van Rooyen, 18 Johannes Jonker, 19, Lourens Erasmus, 20 Hacjivah Dayimani, 21 Marnus Schoeman, 22 Nic Groom, 23 Courtnall Skosan.

Match information:

Date: Saturday, 30 June

SA time: 17h15

Venue: Jonsson Kings Park, Durban

Referee: Jaco Peyper (SA)

Assistant referees: AJ Jacobs and Stuart Berry (SA)

Television match official: Marius Jonker (SA)

TV: SuperSport 1

JAGUARES VS DHL STORMERS

#JAGvSTO

Head to head:

Played: 3

Jaguares won: 0

DHL Stormers won: 3

Jaguares points: 53

DHL Stormers: 73

Average score: 18-24

Teams:

Jaguares: TBA

DHL Stormers: 15 Dillyn Leyds, 14 Craig Barry, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Jean-Luc du Plessis, 9 Dewaldt Duvenage, 8 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Siya Kolisi (captain), 5 Jan de Klerk, 4 Cobus Wiese, 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Steven Kitshoff. Replacements: 16 Ramone Samuels, 17 JC Janse van Rensburg, 18 Frans Malherbe, 19 Salmaan Moerat, 20 Nizaam Carr, 21 Kobus van Dyk, 22 Justin Phillips, 23 EW Viljoen.

Match information:

Date: Saturday, 30 June

SA time: 19h40

Venue: Estadio Jose Amalfitani, Buenos Aires

Referee: Angus Gardner (AUS)

Assistant referees: Pablo Deluca and Jose Covassi (ARG)

Television match official: Santiago Borsani (ARG)

TV: SuperSport 1

Other Round 17 fixtures (SA kick-off times):

Friday, 29 June:

09h35: Blues vs Reds, Eden Park, Auckland

11h45: Rebels vs Waratahs, AAMI Park, Melbourne

Saturday, 30 June:

09h35: Highlanders vs Chiefs, ANZ Stadium, Suva, Fiji

11h45: Brumbies vs Hurricanes, GIO Stadium, Canberra

Bye: Crusaders

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