All eyes on Cape Town – Vodacom Super Rugby Round 20 Preview
July 11, 2013
All eyes will be on DHL Newlands this weekend as the Vodacom Bulls aim to become the second South African team to top the Vodacom Super Rugby log since the competition expanded to 15 teams in 2011.

However, in order to do that, the team from Pretoria will probably have to beat last year’s top team, the DHL Stormers, in Cape Town in the final league match on Saturday evening before the Finals Series starts.

From a local point of view, this traditional North/South derby will probably be the pick of the action this weekend when the league phase of the competition comes to an end.

In the other local derby, The Sharks host the Southern Kings in Durban. The home team and last year’s runners-up will try and salvage some pride after a season that has not gone according to plan.

The Kings, who have rested a number of players struggling with little niggles, will start getting ready for their forthcoming promotion/relegation matches against the MTN Lions.

The Toyota Cheetahs have a bye this weekend. They are currently sixth on the log and depending on other results, they will either stay put or move up to fifth position.

The Sharks v Southern Kings

Pride and tries are what The Sharks and the Southern Kings will be chasing when they clash at Growthpoint Kings Park in Durban on Saturday afternoon.

For The Sharks, it’s the final match of an unsatisfactory season where they went from runners-up in 2012 to being all but eliminated from the playoffs before the June Test break.

After this weekend, the Kings still have two very crucial matches left, as they prepare to face the MTN Lions in two promotion/relegation matches.

The Kings will be travelling to Durban with a lot of fringe players in the starting line-up as the decision was taken to rest all their first-choice players carrying injury niggles this week. And that could be the catalyst the visitors need as the selected players will be out to impress.

The last time these two teams met, The Sharks left Port Elizabeth on the back of a 21-12 victory in a match that ended try-less. In the history of Vodacom Super Rugby, that is something that has only happened four times in South African derbies – and The Sharks were involved in three of these encounters.

For Hugh Reece-Edwards, co-coach of The Sharks, Saturday’s match provides the ideal opportunity to finish the season on a high.

“If you look at the Kings, they've played pretty well this season and they gave the Stormers a bit of a fright last Saturday,” said Reece-Edwards.

“When we played them last, we thought it might have been a bit easier and we were perhaps a bit too conservative and made too many mistakes. They've proven that they are a tough side to beat, they don't give up and have the best tackle percentage in the competition.

“With that in mind, we can really expect a hard game. In two weeks' time they also have a promotion-relegation match, but we can't worry about whether or not that might be in the back of their minds. We've got to think about one thing and that's this game, and then from there it's a new campaign.”

The teams are:

The Sharks: Odwa Ndungane, JP Pietersen, Louis Ludik, Meyer Bosman, Lwazi Mvovo, Riaan Viljoen, Charl McLeod, Keegan Daniel (captain), Jean Deysel, Marcell Coetzee, Franco van der Merwe, Edwin Hewitt, Jannie du Plessis, Bismarck du Plessis, Tendai Mtawarira. Replacements: Kyle Cooper, Wiehahn Herbst, Jandré Marais, Willem Alberts, Jacques Botes, Cobus Reinach, Fred Zeilinga.

Southern Kings: Siviwe Soyizwapi, Hadleigh Parkes, Waylon Murray, Shane Gates, Marcello Sampson, George Whitehead, Nicolas Vergallo, Jacques Engelbrecht, Mpho Mbiyozo, Devin Oosthuizen, David Bulbring, Steven Sykes (captain) Kevin Buys, Hannes Franklin, Charl du Plessis. Replacements: Grant Kemp, Bandise Maku, Darron Nell, Thabo Mamojele, Aidon Davis, Shaun Venter, Michael Killian.

The Sharks v Southern Kings
Date: Saturday, 13 July
SA Time: 17h05
Venue: Growthpoint Kings Park, Durban
Referee: Stuart Berry (SA)
Assistant referees: Marius Jonker (SA), Reuben Rossouw (SA)
TMO: Shaun Veldsman (SA)

DHL Stormers v Vodacom Bulls

The DHL Stormers against the Vodacom Bulls at DHL Newlands – this is the big one of the final round and for the team from Pretoria, probably their most important match of the 2013 Vodacom Super Rugby season.

The Vodacom Bulls, currently top of the standings, can still drop to third, but a win at DHL Newlands will guarantee them first place and home ground advantage in the semi-finals.

For the DHL Stormers, it’s all about pride and that has been the main talking point in Cape Town this week. For the first 10 years of Vodacom Super Rugby, the Vodacom Bulls could not win at DHL Newlands – but that changed in 2006. Since then they have also won at the foot of Table Mountain in 2008 and 2011.

Last year, the Vodacom Bulls lost in Cape Town, despite outscoring their hosts by two tries to one. But tries won’t matter this weekend, only victory.

It will be tough. In the last three seasons, the DHL Stormers have only lost six home games out of 25, which included two semi-finals. One of the four teams to win in Cape Town in this time was the Bulls, who did it in 2011. This year, the Capetonians have lost only one home game.

“A North/South derby is always a big game, it doesn't matter that there's no pressure or that you're playing for academic reasons,” said DHL Stormers coach Allister Coetzee.

"There’s a lot of pride at stake and we want to finish on a high. It’s massively important for us to win this weekend.

“We’ve only lost to the Crusaders at home this year and we lost to the Bulls at Newlands in 2011, so we’d like to finish on a high and carry that momentum into the next competition.”

The Vodacom Bulls will be travelling to Cape Town with one goal in mind – and they won’t worry too much about what’s happening in Auckland and Perth before their match.

“We have one more box to tick to reach our goal of finishing top of the log after regular play,” Vodacom Bulls coach Frans Ludeke said.

According to Vodacom Bulls captain, Dewald Potgieter, his team will have to make a step-up in their approach and execution if they want to beat the Stormers and finish the season top of the log.

“We did not react well in certain situations when placed under pressure last weekend and will have to improve on that,” said Potgieter in reference to their one-point win last weekend over The Sharks.

“The Stormers have momentum and the home crowd on their side and this being the big North/South derby we will have to front up. It is fair to say that this will be our biggest test this season.”

The teams are:

DHL Stormers: Gio Aplon, Gerhard van den Heever, Juan de Jongh, Jean de Villiers (captain), Bryan Habana, Gary van Aswegen, Louis Schreuder, Nizaam Carr, Rynhardt Elstadt, Deon Fourie, De Kock Steenkamp, Eben Etzebeth, Brok Harris, Scarra Ntubeni, Steven Kitshoff. Replacements: Martin Bezuidenhout, Pat Cilliers, Gerbrandt Grobler, Don Armand, Nic Groom, Elton Jantjies, Damian de Allende.

Vodacom Bulls: Zane Kirchner, Akona Ndungane, JJ Engelbrecht, Francois Venter, Bjorn Basson, Morné Steyn, Jano Vermaak, Dewald Potgieter (captain), Jacques Potgieter, Deon Stegmann, Grant Hattingh, Flip van der Merwe, Werner Kruger, Chiliboy Ralepelle, Dean Greyling. Replacements: Callie Visagie, Frik Kirsten, Jacques du Plessis, Jono Ross, Rudy Paige, Jürgen Visser, Morné Mellett.

DHL Stormers v Vodacom Bulls
Date: Saturday, 13 July
SA Time: 19h15
Venue: DHL Newlands, Cape Town
Referee: Craig Joubert (SA)
Assistant referees: Marius van der Westhuizen (SA), Linston Manuels (SA)
TMO: Deon van Blommestein (SA).

Other fixtures (SA times):

Friday, 12 July:
09h35: Crusaders v Hurricanes (Christchurch)
11h40: Melbourne Rebels v Highlanders (Melbourne)

Saturday, 13 July:
09h35: Blues v Chiefs (Auckland)
11h40: Waratahs v Reds (Sydney)
13h45: Force v Brumbies (Perth)

Bye: Toyota Cheetahs

Vodacom Super Rugby
Friday, May 29 2015
09:35 - Crusaders vs Hurricanes
Trafalgar Park, Nelson
11:40 - Brumbies vs Vodacom Bulls
GIO Stadium, Canberra
19:10 - Cell C Sharks vs Rebels
Growthpoint KINGS PARK, Durban
Saturday, May 30 2015
09:35 - Highlanders vs Chiefs
Rugby Park, Invercargill
11:40 - Force vs Reds
nib Stadium, Perth
Vodacom Cup
14:10 - Western Province vs Pumas
DHL Newlands Rugby Stadium, CT
Vodacom Super Rugby
17:05 - DHL Stormers vs Toyota Cheetahs
DHL Newlands, Cape Town
19:10 - Emirates Lions vs Waratahs
Emirates Airline Park, Johannesburg
World Rugby U20 Championship
Tuesday, June 02 2015
16:30 - Ireland vs Argentina
Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi, Parma
16:30 - France vs Wales
Stadio San Michele, Calvisano

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