Super Rugby Unlocked, Round Four - Teams and predictions
BIG NORTH-SOUTH DERBY: “This match is one of the highlights on the South African rugby calendar.”
No, this not an extract from your average PR script.
It is Stormers coach John Dobson explaining the significance of his team’s trip to Pretoria and an encounter with the Bulls at Loftus Versfeld.
It has been a while since there has been as much anticipation and hype around a North-South derby.
You may have to go back to the 2010 Super 14 Final in Soweto to find so much excitement ahead of this encounter.
Dobson is not the only person to talk up the magnitude of the Loftus face-off.
“The Stormers tend to be our measuring stick and beating them is non-negotiable amongst the players,” Bulls Director of Rugby and coach Jake White said.
Adding more flavour to an already spicy encounter is the number of head-to-head battles – including a couple of World Cup-winning Springbok teammates opposing each other.
Top of that list is Trevor Nyakane against Steven Kitshoff in the front row.
Bok veteran Duane Vermeulen against talented young Juarno Augustus at No.8 is another intriguing duel.
There’s more – Morné Steyn against Damian Willemse, Ivan van Zyl versus Herschel Jantjies … and the list goes on.
White described himself as a realist and said the Stormers will be a tough hurdle to overcome.
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“You look at the history of these two teams playing against each other – Western Province and Northern Transvaal – it is always an intense encounter,” the Bulls coach said.
He added that he hopes his team can build on last week’s 41-14 demolition of the Sharks.
“I appreciate the fact that this is a different challenge for us, completely,” White said.
* The weekend starts with a seemingly low-key encounter between the Lions and Griquas at Ellis Park.
However, given the events of the past week at the Johannesburg-based franchise – the big COVID-19 scare and the postponement of their encounter with the Cheetahs last Saturday – the match is of great significance.
Given their two bonus-point losses – with questionable refereeing calls in both matches – the Lions are keen to finally set out their stall and get into the race.
Captain Elton Jantjies said they are keen to put the events of the past week behind them and get on with the job at hand – beating Griquas.
He said it is “very easy” to stay positive.
“If you are in [COVID-19-enforced] lockdown for seven months, to then be in lockdown [isolation] for two or three days is not a big deal,” Jantjies said.
* The middle game will see two teams desperate to make amends for last week – with the Pumas host the Sharks in Nelspruit.
The Pumas are still smarting from their last-minute loss to the Stormers in another game of questionable refereeing decisions.
The Sharks, in contrast, come off that huge hiding at the hands of the Bulls.
“It’s very much a case of getting back in the saddle,” Sharks coach Sean Everitt said.
“We lost our way in our line-outs and we weren’t able to really take the game by the scruff of the neck, because we were just losing possession.
“We weren’t happy with our set-piece, but fortunately it is something we can fix and we’ve worked hard to rectify that.
“We’re looking forward to redeeming ourselves this weekend.”
Pumas coach Jimmy Stonehouse said it is another opportunity for his young team to put down a marker in a home game.
“Second week in succession we are facing a team with a host of big-name stars,” Stonehouse told @rugby365com.
“It is a great opportunity for the young players to show what they can produce.”
Teams and predictions for Round Four below!
Friday, October 30:
Lions v Griquas
(Ellis Park, Johannesburg – Kick-off: 19.00; 17.00 GMT)
The Lions and Griquas are set to face off in Super Rugby Unlocked for the first time.
Both teams come into this fixture after not having played last weekend.
The Lions are hunting for their maiden win in Super Rugby Unlocked. In fact, they have lost their last six consecutive games in Super Rugby competitions.
The Griquas will be searching for their first-ever win in Super Rugby Unlocked. They have managed to snag a losing bonus point in each of their two games in the competition so far.
Only the Bulls (eight) have won more turnovers per game in Super Rugby Unlocked than the Griquas (seven).
Elton Jantjies(Lions) has scored 23 points and been directly involved in three tries in his two Super Rugby Unlocked games thus far (one try, two try assists).
@rugby365com: Lions by nine points
Lions: 15 Gianni Lombard; 14 Stean Pienaar, 13 Wandisile Simelane, 12 Dan Kriel, 11 Courtnall Skosan; 10 Elton Jantjies (captain), 9 Morné van den Berg; 8 Len Massyn, 7 Vincent Tshituka, 6 MJ Pelser, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Ruben Schoeman, 3 Carlu Sadie, 2 Jaco Visagie, 1 Sti Sithole.
Replacments: 16 PJ Botha, 17 Ruan Dreyer, 18 Jannie du Plessis, 19 Reinhard Nothnagel, 20 Marnus Schoeman, 21 Ross Cronjé, 22 Burger Odendaal, 23 Tiaan Swanepoel.
Griquas: 15 James Verity-Amm, 14 Ederies Arendse, 13 Harlon Klaasen, 12 André Swarts, 11 Eduan Keyter, 10 George Whitehead (captain), 9 Zak Burger, 8 Carl Els, 7 Stefan Willemse, 6 Gideon van der Merwe, 5 Adré Smith, 4 Mzwanele Zito, 3 Ewald van der Westhuizen, 2 Hendrik Luus, 1 Andrew Beerwinkel.
Replacements – from: 16 Monde Hadebe, 17 Bandisa Ndlovu, 18 John-Roy Jenkinson, 19 Johan Momsen, 20 Ewan Coetzee, 21 Theo Maree, 22 Tinus de Beer, 23 Masixole Banda.
Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen
Assistant referees: Aimee Barrett-Theron, Stuart Berry
TMO: Jaco Peyper
Saturday, October 31:
Pumas v Sharks
(Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit – Kick-off: 16.30; 14.30 GMT)
The Pumas and Sharks are set to go head-to-head for the first time in Super Rugby Unlocked.
The Pumas have led at half-time in each of their last two Super Rugby Unlocked games, going on to win and pick up one losing bonus point from those fixtures.
The Sharks have earned a win and a loss in their two Super Rugby Unlocked games thus far.
However, they remain one of just two teams (Lions) yet to score 20+ points in a game this season.
The Pumas have stolen 10 line-outs from their opponents’ throw in Super Rugby Unlocked, twice as many as any other team in the competition.
The Sharks are one of two teams (Griquas) yet to steal even one lineout this campaign.
James Venter (Sharks) has made 21 tackles in Super Rugby Unlocked, the joint-second most of any player and the most of any player who is yet to miss a single tackle.
@rugby365com: Sharks by five points
Pumas: 15 Devon Williams, 14 Neil Maritz, 13 Erich Cronje, 12 Wayne van der Bank, 11 Etienne Taljaard, 10 Theo Boshoff, 9 Ginter Smuts, 8 Jeandre Rudolph, 7 Willie Engelbrecht, 6 Francois Kleinhans, 5 Pieter Jansen van Vuren (captain), 4 Darrien Landsberg, 3 Ruan Kramer, 2 AJ Le Roux, 1 Liam Hendriks.
Replacements – from: 16 Marko Janse van Rensburg, 17 Stephan de Jager, 18 Brandon Valentyn, 19 Phumzile Maqondwana, 20 Chriswill September, 21 Niel Marais, 22 Ali Mgijima, 23 Dewald Maritz, 24 Daniel Maartens, 25 HP van Schoor, 26 Kwanda Dimaza.
Sharks: 15 Manie Libbok, 14 Sibusiso Nkosi, 13 Lukhanyo Am (captain), 12 Marius Louw, 11 Madosh Tambwe, 10 Curwin Bosch, 9 Sanele Nohamba, 8 Phepsi Buthelezi, 7 Henco Venter, 6 Dylan Richardson, 5 Hyron Andrews, 4 JJ van der Mescht, 3 John-Hubert Meyer, 2 Dan Jooste, 1 Retshegofaditswe Nché.
Replacements: 16 Kerron van Vuuren, 17 Mzamo Majola, 18 Michael Kumbirai, 19 Ruben van Heerden, 20 Thembelani Bholi, 21 Grant Williams, 22 Jeremy Ward, 23 Yaw Penxe.
Referee: Rasta Rasivhenge
Assistant referees: Cwengile Jadezweni, Egon Seconds
TMO: Marius Jonker
Bulls v Stormers
(Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria – Kick-off: 19.00; 17.00 GMT)
The Stormers have won nine of their last 12 Super Rugby games against the Bulls, including a 13-0 win in their last encounter.
It was just the second time that either team had kept the other scoreless in the history of this fixture.
The Bulls have won two of their three Super Rugby Unlocked fixtures, including a 27-point win over the Sharks in Round Three – the biggest win of any team in the competition thus far.
The Stormers have won each of their two Super Rugby Unlocked games thus far; though, both of their wins have come by margins of fewer than seven points on the day.
The Bulls (23) and Stormers (20) have beaten more defenders per game than any other team in Super Rugby Unlocked.
The Bulls’ RuanNortje has made 20 carries and 21 tackles throughout Super Rugby Unlocked, making him one of only two players (Wayne van der Bank) to have made 20+ in both categories
@rugby365com: Bulls by seven points
Bulls: 15 David Kriel, 14 Travis Ismaiel, 13 Stedman Gans, 12 Cornal Hendricks, 11 Kurt-Lee Arendse, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Ivan van Zyl, 8 Duane Vermeulen (captain), 7 Elrigh Louw, 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 Marcel van der Merwe, 19 Sintu Manjezi, 20 Nizaam Carr, 21 Embrose Papier, 22 Chris Smith, 23 Marco Jansen van Vuren.
Stormers: 15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Edwill van der Merwe, 13 Dan du Plessis, 12 Rikus Pretorius, 11 Leolin Zas, 10 Damian Willemse, 9 Herschel Jantjies, 8 Juarno Augustus, 7 Ernst van Rhyn, 6 Jaco Coetzee, 5 John Schickerling, 4 Salmaan Moerat, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Bongi Mbonambi , 1 Steven Kitshoff (captain).
Replacements – from: 16 Siyabonga Ntubeni, 17 Leon Lyons, 18 Neethling Fouche, 19 Chris van Zyl, 20 David Meihuizen, 21 Marcel Theunissen, 22 Ben-Jason Dixon, 23 Godlen Masimla, 24 Tim Swiel, 25 Angelo Davids, 26 Tristan Leyds.
Referee: AJ Jacobs
Assistant referees: Aimee Barrett-Theron, Stuart Berry
TMO: Jaco Peyper
* Statistics provided by Opta Sport