Vodacom Super Rugby picks up the pace – Round 2 Preview
February 20, 2014
Vodacom Super Rugby will step up a gear this weekend when the DHL Stormers and nine teams from Australia and New Zealand join in the fun in the second round.

The Capetonians had a bye last weekend, but will get their 2014 campaign underway on Saturday evening at Ellis Park in Johannesburg against the resurgent Lions.

It won’t be easy for the home team though – since the Cats franchise dissolved before the 2006 season, they’ve not beaten the DHL Stormers in nine outings.

Another team that is looking for their first-ever derby win over a fellow South African side, is the Toyota Cheetahs. They host the Vodacom Bulls at the Free State Stadium in Bloemfontein on Friday evening and will be looking to turn around an 11 game Vodacom Super Rugby losing streak against the Pretorians.

The third match of the weekend is on Saturday afternoon between the Cell C Sharks and the Hurricanes. Where the history between the teams in the two SA derbies is very one-sided, things between the KwaZulu-Natalians and the team from the New Zealand capital is very even.

The Cell C Sharks, unchanged from last week, will be looking to cement their place at the top of the standings as all the other teams kick into gear this weekend, with four derbies scheduled Down Under.

A bunch of South Africans will be in action in the two Aussie derbies – Wilhelm Steenkamp, Brynard Stander, Sias Ebersohn and Marcel Brache are in the Force’s team to face the Waratahs, who has Jacques Potgieter on the bench, while Ruan Smith, Conrad Hoffman and Lionel Cronje are on the Brumbies’ bench.

Toyota Cheetahs v Vodacom Bulls

No other team in the history of Vodacom Super Rugby have managed to make life as tough for the Toyota Cheetahs as the Vodacom Bulls.

In their previous 11 encounters, the closest the team from Bloemfontein came to upstaging the Vodacom Bulls was on 25 February 2011, when the visitors snuck through with two points (25-23) in the Free State capital.

Adriaan Strauss and his team will be looking to overturn this horror run of results against the Vodacom Bulls, but probably also won’t mind putting last weekend’s upset defeat at the hands of the Lions firmly behind them.

Looking at their results against other teams, only one side has managed to keep the Toyota Cheetahs winless – the current defending champions, the Chiefs. But at least the Central South Africans have managed two draws against the side from Waikato in their seven previous clashes.

“The loss against the Lions last weekend was a good wake-up call for the season and I prefer that it happened this early in the season,” said Strauss.

“But we’ve put that behind us and learned a lot of lessons. On Friday, the Bulls will present going to be a total different challenge for us and we will have to be up for that.

“Against the Lions we created a lot of scoring opportunities which we didn’t finish – it is something we will need to capitalise on this weekend.”

As if their big defeat last weekend in Durban wasn’t bad enough, the Vodacom Bulls will have to travel to Bloemfontein with a brand-new captain after their regular skipper since 2012, Pierre Spies, was ruled out with an elbow injury.

As a result, Jacques Engelbrecht will start at No 8, former SA Under-20 captain Wiaan Liebenberg will be on the bench and Springbok lock Flip van der Merwe will run in front against the team he made his Vodacom Super Rugby debut for way back in 2007.

Vodacom Bulls coach Frans Ludeke made it very clear that the performance against the Cell C Sharks was not acceptable and that they need to rectify that with a convincing performance in Bloemfontein.

“It was clear during our review that we totally underperformed and all accepted the fact that this was not even close to the standards we have set ourselves,” said Ludeke.

“We have put that behind us now, as we look towards the Cheetahs match with a positive and determined frame of mind. They also had a disappointing result and would like to bounce back.

“We know it will work, but then you have to apply it properly and execute your plays. This is something we will work on this week.”

The teams are:

Toyota Cheetahs: Willie le Roux, Cornal Hendricks, Johann Sadie, Francois Venter, Raymond Rhule, Johan Goosen, Shaun Venter, Philip van der Walt, Lappies Labuschagne, Boom Prinsloo, Francois Uys, Lood de Jager, Coenie Oosthuizen, Adriaan Strauss (captain), Caylib Oosthuizen. Replacements: Ryno Barnes, Trevor Nyakane, Rynard Landman, Jean Cook, Sarel Pretorius, Elgar Watts, Hennie Daniller, Maks van Dyk.

Vodacom Bulls: Jurgen Visser, Akona Ndungane, JJ Engelbrecht, Jan Serfontein, Bjorn Basson, Louis Fouché, Francois Hougaard, Jacques Engelbrecht, Jacques du Plessis, Jono Ross, Grant Hattingh, Flip van der Merwe (captain), Werner Kruger, Callie Visagie, Dean Greyling. Replacements: Bongi Mbonambi, Frik Kirsten, Marcel van der Merwe, Victor Matfield, Wiaan Liebenberg*, Piet van Zyl, Handré Pollard, Ulrich Beyers.

Toyota Cheetahs v Vodacom Bulls
Date: Friday, 21 February
SA Time: 19h10
Venue: Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein
Referee: Stuart Berry (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Lourens van der Merwe (South Africa), Francois de Bruin (South Africa)
Television match official: Shaun Veldsman (South Africa)

Cell C Sharks v Hurricanes

Despite expecting a completely different challenge to last week, the Cell C Sharks have kept faith in their team which comprehensively beat the Vodacom Bulls for their second home game of the season, against the Hurricanes at Growthpoint Kings Park on Saturday.

These two sides did not play last year, meaning the ‘Canes will visit Durban for the first time in almost three years, when current Sharks CEO John Smit captained the KwaZulu-Natalians from hooker and scored a try against the Kiwi side.

The Hurricanes have a useful record in South Africa – they’ve won 18 from 39 over here, or 46.2% of their matches – a similar stat to their overall record against the Cell C Sharks. These two sides are dead-even in the head-to-head stakes after 15 encounters.

Jake White, coach of the Cell C Sharks, realises it won’t be a walk in the park against the ‘Canes, despite them hitting the road very early in the competition.

In fact, they Hurricanes have a good record when they tour to South Africa early in the season – they have a 70% win record over here when their matches took place in the first three rounds.

“Touring early for anyone is either very good or very bad,” said White. “You can either get some points away from home then take those points back home, and some sides have proved that it works for them, or you miss out.

“The Hurricanes have asked SANZAR for this because for the last couple of years they have been playing in South Africa first up. They want to tour early. So as much as read into the fact that they’ve had to tour early, it’s probably one of their requests, because you’re allowed certain requests to SANZAR. I’m sure they want to get their tour done and dusted early on.

“Obviously mentally they like to tour early and as much as we think it’s a bonus (them coming here early), maybe it’s what they want.”

The teams are:

Cell C Sharks: SP Marais, Odwa Ndungane, Paul Jordaan, Frans Steyn, Lwazi Mvovo, Patrick Lambie, Cobus Reinach, Ryan Kankowski, Willem Alberts, Marcell Coetzee, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Anton Bresler, Jannie du Plessis, Bismarck du Plessis (captain), Tendai Mtawarira. Replacements: Kyle Cooper, Dale Chadwick, Lourens Adriaanse, Stephan Lewies, Jean Deysel, Charl McLeod, Heimar Williams, S’bura Sithole.

Hurricanes: Marty Banks, Cory Jane, Conrad Smith (captain), Hadleigh Parkes, Julian Savea, TJ Perenara, Blade Thomson, Jack Lam, Faifili Levave, Mark Abbott, Jeremy Thrush, Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, Dane Coles, Ben Franks. Replacements: Motu Matu'u, Chris Eves, John Schwalger, Mark Reddish, Adam Hill, Chris Smylie, Alapati Leiua, James Marshall.

Cell C Sharks v Hurricanes
Date: Saturday, 22 February
SA Time: 17h05
Venue: Growthpoint Kings Park, Durban
Referee: Andrew Lees (Australia)
Assistant referees: Marius Jonker (South Africa), Stefan Breytenbach (South Africa)
Television match official: Deon van Blommestein (South Africa)

Lions v DHL Stormers

The Lions host their first Vodacom Super Rugby match of the season when they take on the DHL Stormers at Ellis Park on Saturday evening in a match where they will be hoping to continue where they left off last weekend.

The Lions surprised friend and foe when they beat the Toyota Cheetahs and their coach, Johan Ackermann, has kept the faith in the team that returned victorious from Bloemfontein. Apart from injury-enforced changes in the backline – Lionel Mapoe is out with Alwyn Hollenbach starting at inside centre and Stefan Watermeyer moving to the No 13 jersey – the rest of the team is unchanged.

The DHL Stormers will travel to Johannesburg with a new-look backline after they lost a number of experienced players to European clubs and injury in the last few months. Kobus van Wyk and Michael van der Spuy will earn their first Vodacom Super Rugby caps, while Damian de Allende has shifted to wing.

The Capetonians look strong upfront though, with only Argentinean lock Manuel Carizza new to rugby at this level. Their pack is settled and experienced, which is probably where the DHL Stormers will be looking to gain the ascendancy in a derby they have not yet lost going back eight years.

But Allister Coetzee, coach of the DHL Stormers, said his team will not underestimate the Lions at Ellis Park.

“The Lions showed over the weekend that in Vodacom Super Rugby any team can beat any (other) team,” said Coetzee.

“They were great at the breakdowns and their coach has an attacking mindset, which worked wonders for the team in last season’s Absa Currie Cup competition.

“We also won’t lose sight of the fact that the match will be on the Highveld and the Lions have a reputation for pulling out all the stops in the final 20 minutes.”

The teams are:

Lions: Chrysander Botha, Deon van Rensburg, Stefan Watermeyer, Alwyn Hollenbach, Ruan Combrinck, Marnitz Boshoff, Faf de Klerk, Warren Whiteley (captain), Derick Minnie, Jaco Kriel, Franco van der Merwe, Franco Mostert, Julian Redelinghuys, Robbie Coetzee, Schalk van der Merwe. Replacements: Willie Wepener, Jacques van Rooyen, Ruan Dreyer, MB Lusaseni*, Warwick Tecklenburg, Ross Cronje, JW Jonker, Coenie van Wyk.

DHL Stormers: Gio Aplon, Kobus van Wyk*, Michael van der Spuy*, Jean de Villiers (captain), Damian de Allende, Demetri Catrakilis#, Louis Schreuder, Duane Vermeulen, Schalk Burger (vice-captain), Siya Kolisi, Manuel Carizza*, Rynhardt Elstadt, Frans Malherbe, Scarra Ntubeni, Steven Kitshoff. Replacements: Deon Fourie, Oliver Kebble*, Pat Cilliers, Michael Rhodes, Nizaam Carr, Nic Groom, Kurt Coleman, Ryno Eksteen*.

* Uncapped at Vodacom Super Rugby level
# Franchise debut

Lions v DHL Stormers
Date: Saturday, 22 February
SA Time: 19h10
Venue: Ellis Park, Johannesburg
Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Marius van der Westhuizen (South Africa), Cobus Wessels (South Africa)
Television match official: Johan Greeff (South Africa)

Other fixtures (South African kick-off times):

Friday, 21 February:
08h35: Crusaders v Chiefs – Christchurch

Saturday, 22 February:
08h35: Highlanders v Blues – Dunedin
10h40: Brumbies v Reds – Canberra

Sunday, 23 February:
07h05: Waratahs v Force – Sydney

Bye: Rebels

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
IRB Junior World 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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