Super Rugby Unlocked, Round Two - Teams and predictions
STORMING INTO ACTION: The introduction of Springbok captain Siyamthanda Kolisi and his Stormers team adds a new dimension to South Africa’s domestic game.
The Stormers had a bye in Round One and there will be a number of their World Cup-winning forwards on centre stage – players like Kolisi, Frans Malherbe, Mbongeni Mbonambi and Steven Kitshoff.
The BIG name missing is World Rugby Player of the Year Pieter-Steph du Toit – still recovering from a leg injury that required surgery.
Round Two is certainly shaping up to a battle of the forward bruisers.
It starts in Bloemfontein on Friday – when the Cheetahs host the Bulls.
Cheetahs assistant coach Corniel van Zyl said they are gearing up for a “bruising” encounter with the Bulls, suggesting the pack of forwards that ‘dominate’ will lay a winning platform.
“It will be an intense forward battle,” Van Zyl said, adding: “If our forwards can provide quality ball to the backs we should be able to pull it off.”
Bulls coach Jake White also spoke about the need to be “more direct” than the underwhelming performance his team put on display against Griquas last week.
He has at his disposal World Cup-winning Boks like Duane Vermeulen (back after being rested as a precaution last week) and Trevor Nyakane – with a few other bruisers like Arno Botha and Jason Jenkins.
“The Cheetahs have a great backline and scored some great tries on the counter,” White said, adding: “Traditionally games between the Bulls and Cheetahs are brutal affairs and I think it will be the same this week.”
Pumas coach Jimmy Stonehouse also pointed to the forwards as key for his team’s trip to Kimberley on Saturday and an encounter with Griquas.
“The set pieces will be key,” he said, adding: “This past weekend [in the loss to the Cheetahs] we were very good in the scrums.
“We just let ourselves down on defence, an aspect of our game we paid attention to this week.”
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Stormers coach John Dobson – with seven Springboks in the Stormers starting line-up – said they are “looking forward” to their first competitive match since March.
Given their set-piece dominance over the Lions in a pre-season outing, that is obviously an area they will target again.
“We have been able to select a very strong team with some quality players missing out,” Dobson said, adding: “The challenge will be to gel as a unit and start our campaign on the front foot.”
Kolisi said the Lions are a better side than what they were in the SuperFan pre-season match in Pretoria last month.
“They played really well last week [against the Sharks] and it was a very close game, and it could have been a draw at the end.
“We prepared as much as we could, but as forwards we know that everything starts up front. The mauling, the scrums are all going to be important battles.”
The other aspect is the neutralise the Lions’ biggest threat – Springbok flyhalf Elton Jantjies.
“Elton is obviously their game-driver and that is not a secret,” Dobson said.
“If you give a guy like that a large amount of time, he is a quality player.
“We have looked at ways of taking away his time and putting him under pressure.
“It’s definitely part of our plan, it would be irresponsible for it not to be. I got a lot of respect for him. He is a big factor.”
Teams and predictions for Round Two!
Friday, October 16:
Cheetahs v Bulls
(Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein – Kick-off: 19.00; 17.00 GMT)
This will be the first meeting between the Cheetahs and Bulls in Super Rugby Unlocked.
The Cheetahs’ 22-point win (53-31) over the Pumas in Round One of Super Rugby Unlocked was the biggest winning margin of any side in the opening round.
The Cheetahs (703 metres) and the Bulls (503 metres) gained the most and second most metres respectively of any side in Round One.
The Bulls’ squad beat a combined 34 defenders in the opening round, 11 more than the next best side on the opening weekend (Pumas – 23).
The Cheetahs (Clayton Blommetjies – three and Jasper Wiese – two) and the Bulls (Morné Steyn – two and Ivan van Zyl – two) were the only teams to have multiple players make more than one offload in Round One.
Head to head
@rugby365com: Cheetahs by five points
Cheetahs: 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Malcolm Jaer, 13 Benhard Janse van Rensburg, 12 Frans Steyn, 11 Rosko Specman, 10 Tian Schoeman, 9 Ruan Pienaar (captain), 8 Jasper Wiese, 7 Junior Pokomela, 6 Andisa Ntsila, 5 Walt Steenkamp, 4 Carl Wegner, 3 Luan de Bruin, 2 Reinach Venter, 1 Charles Marais.
Replacements: 16 Jacques du Toit, 17 Boan Venter, 18 Erich de Jager, 19 JP du Preez, 20 Aidon Davis, 21 Chris Massyn, 22 Tian Meyer, 23 William Small-Smith.
Bulls: 15 Gio Aplon, 14 David Kriel, 13 Cornal Hendricks, 12 Clinton Swart, 11 Jade Stighling, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Embrose Papier, 8 Duane Vermeulen (Captain), 7 Arno Botha, 6 Marco van Staden, 5 Ruan Nortje, 4 Jason Jenkins, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Johan Grobbelaar, 1 Jacques van Rooyen.
Replacements: 16 Joe van Zyl, 17 Gerhard Steenekamp, 18 Mornay Smith, 19 Sintu Manjezi, 20 Nizaam Carr, 21 Ivan van Zyl, 22 Chris Smith, 23 Stedman Gans.
Referee: Jadezweni Cwengile
Assistant referees: Colby Griffin, Crouse Ben
TMO: Jacobs AJ
Saturday, October 17:
Griquas v Pumas
(Griqua Park, Kimberley – Kick-off: 16.30; 14.30 GMT)
This will be the first meeting between the Griquas and Pumas in Super Rugby Unlocked.
Both the Griquas (23-30 against the Bulls) and Pumas (31-53 against the Cheetahs) suffered opening weekend defeats.
The Griquas won 12 turnovers in Round One; only the Bulls (10) also reached double figures in this category.
The Pumas (118) and Griquas (113) made the most and second most tackles respectively of any team in Round One.
Willie Engelbrecht (Pumas – two) was one of only two players to make multiple line-out steals in Round One (also Carl Wegner – two).
Head to head
@rugby365com: Griquas by eight points
Griquas: 15 Anthony Volmink, 14 Daniel Kasende, 13 Harlon Klaasen, 12 André Swarts, 11 James Verity-Amm, 10 George Whitehead (captain), 9 Zak Burger, 8 Niell Jordaan, 7 Stefan Willemse, 6 Carl Els, 5 Victor Sekekete, 4 Ian Groenewald, 3 John-Roy Jenkinson, 2 HJ Luus, 1 Mox Mxoli.
Replacements – from: Alandre van Rooyen, Andrew Beerwinkel, Madot Mabokela, Adre Smith, Zandre Jordaan, Gideon van der Merwe, Ashon Davids, Berton Klaasen, Mzwanele Zito, Ewan Coetzee, Bjorn Basson.
Pumas: 15 Devon Williams, 14 Etienne Taljaard, 13 Erich Cronje, 12 Wayne van der Bank, 11 Neil Maritz, 10 Eduard Fouche, 9 Ginter Smuts, 8 Jeandre Rudolph, 7 Willem Engelbrecht, 6 Francois Kleinhans, 5 Pieter Jansen van Vuren (captain), 4 Darrien Landsburg, 3 Ruan Cornelius Kramer, 2 Simon Westraadt, 1 Morgan Naude.
Replacements: 16 Hendrik van Schoor, 17 Liam Hendriks, 18 Heath Backhouse, 19 Phumzile Maqondwana, 20 Dian Badenhorst, 21 Daniel Marais, 22 Aliqhayiya Mgijima, 23 Dewald Maritz.
Referee: AJ Jacobs
Assistant Referees: Griffin Colby, Ben Crouse
TMO: Cwengile Jadezweni
Stormers v Lions
(Newlands, Cape Town – Kick-off: 19.00; 17.00 GMT)
This will be the first meeting between the Stormers and Lions in Super Rugby Unlocked.
The Lions’ three-point loss to the Sharks (16-19) in Round One was the closest margin in a game on the opening weekend.
The Lions did not score a single point in the opening quarter of their Round One game. They were one of two sides not to trouble the scoreboard in this period (also Bulls).
Morné van den Berg (Lions) won two turnovers in Round One. He was one of two backs to win more than one in the round (Carl Els -two).
EW Viljoen (Lions) made a joint-round high 13 carries on the opening weekend. In fact, the Lions had the most players make 10+ carries of any side in Round 1 (three – Viljoen, Willem Alberts and Vincent Tshituka – all 10).
Head to head
@rugby365com: Stormers by 12 points
Stormers: 15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Dan du Plessis, 12 Rikus Pretorius, 11 Leolin Zas, 10 Damian Willemse, 9 Herschel Jantjies, 8 Juarno Augustus, 7 Ernst van Rhyn, 6 Siya Kolisi (captain), 5 John Schickerling, 4 Salmaan Moerat, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Mbongeni Mbonambi, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Replacements: 16 Siyabonga Ntubeni, 17 Leon Lyons, 18 Neethling Fouche, 19 Chris van Zyl, 20 Nama Xaba, 21 Paul de Wet, 22 Michal Haznar, 23 Tim Swiel.
Lions: 15 EW Viljoen, 14 Jamba Ulengo, 13 Burger Odendaal, 12 Dan Kriel, 11 Rabz Maxwane, 10 Elton Jantjies (captain), 9 Morné van den Berg, 8 Len Massyn, 7 Vincent Tshituka, 6 Jaco Kriel, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Ruben Schoeman, 3 Carlu Sadie, 2 Jaco Visagie, 1 Sti Sithole.
Replacements – from: Jan-Henning Campher, Dylan Smith, Wiehahn Herbst, Wilhelm van der Sluys, MJ Pelser, Hacjivah Dayimani, Ross Cronjé, Gianni Lombard, Wandisile Simelane, Ruan Dreyer.
Referee: Rasta Rasivhenge
Assistant referees: Aimee Barrett-Theron, Egon Seconds
TMO: Joey Klaaste-Salmans
* Statistics provided by Opta Sport