The Vodacom Bulls are back from a difficult Australian trip and will be determined to lift their game at Loftus Versfeld and avoid a record fifth straight loss against their fierce southern rivals, the DHL Stormers, when the sides meet in the late Saturday Vodacom Super Rugby fixture. Kick-off is at 19h20.
The men from Pretoria returned home from their Australian trip with only one win from three matches. The Capetonians, on the other hand, travel to the North on the back of a fortuitous draw against the Sunwolves in Singapore last weekend, where a last-gasp converted try salvaged a 17-17 result in the Far East. Another bruising local derby is expected in Pretoria.
Earlier, the Emirates Lions will be looking to consolidate their position at the top of the South African group standings. However, in order to do that they will have to overcome a stiff challenge from Argentine Jaguares. It will be the first local fixture on Saturday, which kicks off at 15h00 at Emirates Airline Park in Johannesburg.After that match, attention shifts to Durban where the Cell C Sharks are taking on their coastal neighbours, the Southern Kings. With Springbok flyhalf Patrick Lambie now back to full fitness and in command at flyhalf, the KwaZulu-Natalians will be looking to continue their recent resurgence, which have seen them move up the SA group standings into the qualifying positions.
Lambie kicked 20 points, including a crucial late penalty goal, last Saturday to steer his side to a hard-fought 25-22 win over the Jaguares in Buenos Aires. Although the Argentineans will be without two suspended players, regular captain Agustin Creevy and loose forward Leonardo Senatora, they will still be a formidable proposition against the Emirates Lions in their Highveld clash.
The Toyota Cheetahs, conquerors of the Kings last Saturday in Port Elizabeth, have a bye this weekend, together with the Brumbies, the Highlanders and the Hurricanes.
Emirates Lions vs Jaguares
Date: Saturday 21 May 2016
SA Time: 15h00
Venue: Emirates Airline Park, Johannesburg
Referee: Stuart Berry
Assistant referees: Cwengile Jadezweni, Lourens van der Merwe
Television Match Official: Willie Vos
· Promising Emirates Lions lock Lourens Erasmus will get his first start after making his debut against the Toyota Cheetahs off the bench earlier in the season.
· Corné Fourie and Armand van der Merwe start in the front row while Cyle Brink comes in at flank.
· Amongst the backs, scrumhalf Faf de Klerk and inside centre Howard Mnisi return to starting line-up.
· This Jaguares’ only away win thus far came in Round 1 when they defeated the Toyota Cheetahs in Bloemfontein.
· Each of the Emirates Lions’ last 14 matches have seen the full-time result mirror the half-time results (Won 8, Draw 1, Lost 5).
· They have won only one of their last four games against teams from outside of South Africa, though that win came in their most recent such fixture in Round 12, against the Blues.
· The Highvelders have won nine turnovers per game this season, the most of any team and 2.3 more per game than the Jaguares who average the third fewest.
· Elton Jantjies has kicked 44 goals for the season, the most of any player, and is one of only five players (all of whom are SA- based) to have kicked a goal from beyond the halfway line.
Emirates Lions: 15 Jaco van der Walt 14 Ruan Combrinck, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Howard Mnisi, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Warren Whiteley (captain), 7 Cyle Brink, 6 Jaco Kriel, 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Lourens Erasmus, 3 Julian Redelinghuys, 2 Armand van der Merwe, 1 Corne Fourie. Replacements: 16 Malcolm Marx, 17 Dylan Smith, 18 Jacques van Rooyen, 19 Ruan Ackermann, 20 Warwick Tecklenburg, 21 Ross Cronje, 22 Rohan Janse van Rensburg, 23 Sylvian Mahuza.
Jaguares: 15 Joaquín Tuculet, 14 Emiliano Boffelli, 13 Matías Orlando, 12 Juan Martín Hernández, 11 Lucas González Amorosino, 10 Nicolás Sánchez, 9 Martín Landajo (captain), 8 Facundo Isa, 7 Tomás Lezana, 6 Pablo Matera, 5 Tomás Lavanini, 4 Matías Alemanno, 3 Ramiro Herrera, 2 Julián Montoya, 1 Santiago García Botta. Replacements: 16 Facundo Bosch, 17 Facundo Gigena, 18 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro, 19 Guido Petti, 20 Javier Ortega Desio, 21 Gonzalo Bertranou, 22 Santiago González Iglesias, 23 Ramiro Moyano.
Cell C Sharks vs Southern Kings
Date: Saturday 21 May 2016
SA Time: 17h10
Venue: Growthpoint Kings Park, Durban
Referee: Quinton Immelman
Assistant referees: Rodney Boneparte, Archie Sehlako
Television Match Official: Marius Jonker
· Chiliboy Ralepelle will make his first start in the No 2 jersey, while captain Beast Mtawarira has been rested as part of the rotation policy. In fact the entire front row – including replacements – have been given a full rotation.
· Lourens Adriaanse and Dale Chadwick will start alongside Ralepelle, while Kyle Cooper, Juan Schoeman and Thomas du Toit are on the bench. Mtawarira, Franco Marais and Coenie Oosthuizen are all rested.
· More forward changes will see Jean-Luc du Plessis joining his brother Daniel in the loose trio in place of the injured Jean Deysel, who suffered a neck injury last week in Argentina. At lock Etienne Oosthuizen switches with Lubabalo Mtyanda to start in the No 4 jersey.
· A new halfback pairing sees captain, Patrick Lambie, joined by Michael Claassens at No 9, with Stefan Ungerer providing cover.
· Springbok wing JP Pietersen switches wings as Odwa Ndungane drops to the bench, allowing for the return of fellow Springbok Lwazi Mvovo to the starting line-up.
· Southern Kings coach, Deon Davids, had made a number of changes for this clash, with regular captain Steven Sykes returning as lock and skipper.
· Louis Fouche takes over the flyhalf duties from Elgar Watts who started last week against the Cheetahs.
· Ntando Kebe gets a starting berth and he replaces James Hall who is on Junior Springbok duty and Kevin Luiters is now providing cover on the bench.
· This will be only the fourth clash between these teams; the Cell Sharks have won all three previous meetings by a combined 122-33 score line.
· The Durban side have won three and drawn one of their last five games against South African opponents, though they’ve not scored more than 18 points in any of their last three such fixtures.
· The Cell C Sharks have been forced to make 127 tackles per game so far this season, the second most of any team in the competition, yet they still boast the third best tackle success of any side (86%).
· The Cell Sharks have averaged the fewest carries of any team this season (85.2 per game), however the Kings have gained the fewest metres on average (324).
Cell C Sharks Director of Rugby, Gary Gold: “We had work to do after our performance against the Jaguares, but we are happy with the character shown to dig deep and find a way to win in tough conditions, at what was an unfamiliar venue for the majority of our players.
“Every week you need to be at your best in this competition and our match against the Kings is no exception. They have been working hard and improving each week and they will be ready for the fight this weekend.”
Cell C Sharks: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Paul Jordaan, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Patrick Lambie (captain), 9 Michael Claassens, 8 Daniel du Preez, 7 Jean-Luc du Preez, 6 Keegan Daniel, 5 Stephan Lewies, 4 Etienne Oosthuizen, 3 Lourens Adriaanse, 2 Mahlatse Ralepelle, 1 Dale Chadwick. Replacements: 16 Kyle Cooper, 17 Juan Schoeman, 18 Thomas du Toit, 19 Lubabalo Mtyanda, 20 Lubabalo Mthembu, 21 Stefan Ungerer, 22 Garth April, 23 Odwa Ndungane.
Southern Kings: 15 Jurgen Visser, 14 Lukhanyo Am, 13 JP du Plessis, 12 Shane Gates, 11 Luzuko Vulindlu, 10 Louis Fouche 9 Ntando Kebe, 8 Aidon Davis, 7 Thembelani Bholi, 6 Stefan Willemse, 5 Schalk Oelofse, 4 Steven Sykes (captain), 3 Jacobie Adriaanse, 2 Martin Ferreira, 1 Schalk Ferreira. Replacements: 16 Martin Bezuidenhout, 17 Justin Ackerman, 18 Tom Botha, 19 JC Astle, 20 Jacques Engelbrecht, 21 Kevin Luiters, 22 Elgar Watts, 23 Leighton Eksteen.
Vodacom Bulls vs DHL Stormers
Date: Saturday 21 May 2016
SA Time: 19h20
Venue: Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
Referee: Ben O’Keeffe
Assistant referees: Glen Jackson, AJ Jacobs
Television Match Official: Johan Greeff
· Vodacom Bulls coach, Nollis Marais, named wing Travis Ismaiel, flyhalf Francois Brummer, scrumhalf Piet van Zyl and No 8 Arno Botha in the team, with Grant Hattingh returning from injury on the bench.
· Ismaiel and Botha did not play against the Waratahs last weekend in Sydney and they replace Bjorn Basson and Hanro Liebenberg respectively.
· Brummer and Van Zyl started on the bench in Sydney and switch places with Tian Schoeman and Rudy Paige.
· Springbok centre Damian de Allende will earn his 50th Vodacom Super Rugby cap for the DHL Stormers. The 24-year-old made his debut in 2013, and has since established himself as a key player, winning the 2015 SA Vodacom Super Rugby Player of the Year award.
· De Allende will link up with Johnny Kotze in midfield with co-captain Juan de Jongh sidelined due to a hamstring strain, while Leolin Zas returns from suspension to take Kotze’s place on the wing. Scrumhalf Nic Groom swops places with Louis Schreuder.
· In the loose trio Schalk Burger will start at No 8, with Nizaam Carr shifting to flank and Rynhardt Elstadt moving to the replacements bench.
· Springbok Eben Etzebeth makes his return from injury to partner Pieter-Steph du Toit at lock. In the front row Oli Kebble starts at loosehead prop in place of the injured JC Janse van Rensburg, Bongi Mbonambi starts at hooker and Scarra Ntubeni will play off the bench.
· The DHL Stormers have won their last four games against the Vodacom Bulls; a fifth straight win would be their longest in the history of this fixture.
· The Vodacom Bulls are the only team in the competition who are still undefeated at home (Won 3, Draw 1).
· The Bulls have scored only 14 points in their last two games, never before in the history of the competition have they been restricted to single figures in three consecutive games.
· They have conceded just 6.8 clean breaks and 6.5 offloads per game, the fewest of any team in the competition in both categories, while they have also missed the fewest tackles per game this season (13.7).
· No player has stolen more lineouts than DHL Stormers’ pair Eben Etzebeth (9) and Pieter-Steph du Toit (7) so far this season.
Nollis Marais, Vodacom Bulls head coach: “They’re travelling up north up with a point to prove after they salvaged a draw last week in Singapore. When we met in Cape Town earlier in the competition, they used their bench to good effect, so we have to be prepared for that. A match between the two sides is always very tough and tense and I expect the same on Saturday.”
Robbie Fleck, DHL Stormers head coach: “The players know that we have to make a big step up in terms of our performance, and we have worked incredibly hard this week to ensure that we are at our best against a competitive Vodacom Bulls side.”
Vodacom Bulls: 15 SP Marais, 14 Jamba Ulengo, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Travis Ismaiel, 10 Francois Brummer, 9 Piet van Zyl, 8 Arno Botha, 7 Jannes Kirsten, 6 Pieter Labuschagne, 5 Rudolph Snyman, 4 Jason Jenkins, 3 Marcel van der Merwe, 2 Adriaan Strauss (captain), 1 Lizo Gqoboka. Replacements: 16 Jaco Visagie, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Pierre Schoeman, 19 Grant Hattingh, 20 Deon Stegmann, 21 Rudy Paige, 22 Tian Schoeman, 23 Dries Swanepoel.
DHL Stormers: 15 Cheslin Kolbe, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Johnny Kotze, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Leolin Zas, 10 Jean-Luc du Plessis, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Schalk Burger, 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 Rynhardt Elstadt, 20 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 21 Louis Schreuder, 22 Brandon Thomson, 23 Huw Jones.
Other Round 13 fixtures:
Friday, 20 May 2016
09h35: Crusaders vs Waratahs Reds, AMI Stadium, Christchurch
Saturday, 21 May 2016
07h05: Reds vs Sunwolves, Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
09h35: Chiefs vs Rebels, FMG Stadium, Hamilton
11h45: Force vs Blues, NIB Stadium, Perth
Byes: Toyota Cheetahs, Brumbies, Highlanders, Hurricanes.