Different edge to Gauteng-derby – Vodacom Super Rugby Round 3 Preview
February 27, 2014
Can the Lions make it three out of three and move to the top of the Vodacom Super Rugby standings when they take on the Vodacom Bulls in Pretoria on Saturday, or will the home team slump to their worst start to the season in almost a decade?

These will be some of the questions on the minds of the two Gauteng-based sides when they clash in the first Jukskei-derby of 2014 – and this time the Lions will be arriving at Loftus Versfeld with their confidence high after a superb start to the season.

The Vodacom Bulls, on the other hand, are still winless. The last time they lost their opening three rounds of the competition was in 2005, but all three those matches were on the road. This weekend, the team from Pretoria are at their beloved Loftus Versfeld, where they boast a 63% win record in local derbies.

The DHL Stormers also return home for the first time this season and they will be hard-pressed to erase last weekend’s defeat to the Lions with a good win over the Hurricanes on Friday evening. The Capetonians have a win record at home of almost 69% – the best of all the South African sides.

The Toyota Cheetahs kick off the third round from a South African perspective against the Rebels in Australia, where they will be looking to keep their 100% record against the Victorians intact as they start their tour Down Under in Melbourne.

After convincing victories in their first two matches, the Cell C Sharks have a bye this week.

Melbourne Rebels v Toyota Cheetahs

The Toyota Cheetahs start their Australasian sojourn on Friday against a team they’ve never lost against, but looking at their history in opening matches of tours Down Under, the odds will be slightly stacked against the side from Central South Africa.

In their three encounters to date, the Rebels have not managed to beat the Toyota Cheetahs, who scored a dramatic last-minute victory on their previous visit to Melbourne.

However, the Toyota Cheetahs have generally not started their tours to Australia and New Zealand well. Only once out of their eight Vodacom Super Rugby tours to date have the side based in Bloemfontein been on the winning side in their opening match – that was in 2011, when they gave the Waratahs a proper 23-3 hammering.

A year later the Toyota Cheetahs beat the Rebels in Melbourne thanks to a last-gasp try by Piet van Zyl. Looking at the team sheets, only two players who are in the team this week, featured in both these victories – hard-working loose forward Philip van der Walt and prop Coenie Oosthuizen.

Three more current players did duty in Sydney in 2011 – Francois Uys, Ryno Barnes and Sarel Pretorius – while a further five were part of the win in Melbourne in 2012 – Willie le Roux, Johan Goosen, Adriaan Strauss, Trevor Nyakane and Hennie Daniller.

The teams are:

Melbourne Rebels: Jason Woodward, Lachlan Mitchell, Tamati Ellison, Mitch Inman, Tom English, Bryce Hegarty, Luke Burgess, Scott Higginbotham (captain), Scott Fuglistaller, Sean McMahon, Luke Jones, Hugh Pyle, Laurie Weeks, Pat Leafa, Toby Smith. Replacements: Steve Fualau, Max Lahiff, Paul Alo-Emile, Cadeyrn Neville, Colby Faingaa, Ben Meehan, Angus Roberts, Tom Kingston.

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, Maks van Dyk, Rynard Landman, Jean Cook, Sarel Pretorius, Elgar Watts, Hennie Daniller.

Melbourne Rebels v Toyota Cheetahs
Date: Friday, 28 February
SA Time: 10h40
Venue: AAMI Stadium, Melbourne
Referee: Angus Gardner (Australia)
Assistant referees: Matt O'Brien (Australia), Michael Hogan (Australia)
Television match official: Steve Leszczynski (Australia)

DHL Stormers v Hurricanes

The Hurricanes will try and turn back the clock almost eight years when they face the DHL Stormers in Cape Town on Friday evening.

The last time the ‘Canes beat the Capetonians at DHL Newlands, was on 11 March 2006 – since then they’ve lost three on the trot in the Mother City.

In that time, the DHL Stormers have also built up a solid record against visiting teams from New Zealand, winning 12 of their 18 home encounters against Kiwi sides. At 67%, that is considerably better than their overall average at DHL Newlands against teams from the Land of the Long White Cloud, which stands at just under 54% (22 wins from 41).

Last weekend’s defeat at Ellis Park against the Lions has not been forgotten by the DHL Stormers, although they have said that they are concentrating on turning things around on Friday.

“I’ve learnt from this competition that you take nothing for granted – it is never easy and you have to take your opportunities,” said DHL Stormers coach Allister Coetzee this week.

“The Hurricanes have four All Blacks in the backline – that is where their strength is. We have to make sure we come up with a good performance. The Hurricanes, over the years, have never been scared to run the ball. That is their strength – as well as creating opportunities with their ability to off-load – and will make it challenging for our defence.”

The teams are:

DHL Stormers: Jaco Taute, Kobus van Wyk, Jean de Villiers (captain), Damian de Allende, Gio Aplon, 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.

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

DHL Stormers v Hurricanes
Date: Friday, 28 February
SA Time: 19h10
Venue: DHL Newlands, Cape Town
Referee: Steve Walsh (Australia)
Assistant referees: Andrew Lees (Australia), Marc van Zyl (South Africa)
Television match official: Deon van Blommestein (South Africa)

Vodacom Bulls v Lions

Their aims will be on completely different targets when the Vodacom Bulls host the Lions in their third round Vodacom Super Rugby match at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria on Saturday evening.

One will be trying to avert their worst-ever start to the season in nearly a decade, while the other is gunning for a third successive win and their best-ever start to the toughest provincial competition in the world.

When history is taken into account, it will be easy to think the Lions are the strugglers and the Vodacom Bulls the cruisers, but this time it’s the other way around.

And if the Lions can break their duck at Loftus Versfeld, like they did over the DHL Stormers last weekend, they will finish the round at the top of the standings.

In 2007, the Lions won four of their first five matches, but the defeat came in round one against the Waratahs. Their next best came in 2006, 2008, 2009 and 2012 when they won one out of their first three matches. But in 2010 and 2011 the team from Johannesburg were still winless after three rounds.

The Vodacom Bulls, on the other hand, have not lost three straight in the opening rounds since 2005. Two of those were Down Under, but in the opening round they came unstuck against the Cats at Ellis Park.

The Pretorians pulled themselves together and later that season they still made the semi-finals, but having been amongst the top teams for a long time, they know full-well home defeats are not ideal if you want to make it to the top six.

After making a number of changes to his team for this important match, Vodacom Bulls coach Frans Ludeke said: “It is still early in the competition, but we have to be honest with ourselves – we cannot afford a repeat of the first two weekends, where we were lethargic and inaccurate in our set plays.

“The Lions are high on confidence, so we need not only to start well, but play with belief and commitment.”

Flip van der Merwe, who took over the captaincy from Pierre Spies last week, will again lead the team into battle.

“We are way down on the standards we set for ourselves this season,” said Van der Merwe.

“This will be our first home game of the season and we are pleased about it after two difficult weekends in Durban and Bloemfontein. We are facing a rampant Lions team though who are playing with passion, skill and precision. We need to match them in those areas if we want to record our first win of the tournament.”

The teams are:

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

Lions: Chrysander Botha, Deon van Rensburg, JW Jonker, Stefan Watermeyer, Ruan Combrinck, Marnitz Boshoff, Faf de Klerk, Warren Whiteley (captain), Warwick Tecklenburg, 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, Willie Britz, Ross Cronje, Courtnall Skosan, Coenie van Wyk.

Vodacom Bulls v Lions
Date: Saturday, 1 March
SA Time: 17h05
Venue: Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
Referee: Chris Pollock (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Marius van der Westhuizen (South Africa), Sieg van Staden (South Africa)
Television match official: Johan Greeff (South Africa)

Other fixtures (South African kick-off times):

Friday, 28 February:
08h35: Blues v Crusaders – Auckland

Saturday, 1 March:
08h35: Chiefs v Highlanders – Hamilton
10h40: Waratahs v Reds – Sydney
13h00: Force v Brumbies – Perth

Bye: Cell C Sharks

FNB Varsity Young Guns presented by Steinhoff International
Monday, March 02 2015
14:00 - FNB NWU-PUKKE U20 vs FNB NMMU U20
Fanie du Toit Sport Grounds, Potch
14:00 - FNB NWU-PUKKE U20 vs FNB NMMU U20
Fanie du Toit Sport Grounds, Potch
14:00 - FNB UFS U20 vs FNB MATIES U20
Xerox Shimla Park, Bloemfontein
14:00 - FNB UFS U20 vs FNB MATIES U20
Xerox Shimla Park, Bloemfontein
14:00 - FNB UFS U20 vs FNB MATIES U20
Xerox Shimla Park, Bloemfontein
14:15 - FNB UCT U20 vs FNB CUT U20
UCT Rugby Fields, Cape Town
14:15 - FNB UCT U20 vs FNB CUT U20
UCT Rugby Fields, Cape Town
FNB Varsity Cup presented by Steinhoff International
16:45 - FNB UCT vs FNB CUT
UCT Rugby Fields, Cape Town
Fanie du Toit Sport Grounds, Potch
Xerox Shimla Park, Bloemfontein

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