Gauteng and Coastal derbies usher in June Test break – Vodacom Super Rugby Round 16 Preview
May 29, 2014
Historically speaking, the Coastal and Gauteng Vodacom Super Rugby derbies could not have been more different.

It’s the final weekend of Vodacom Super Rugby action before the competition breaks for the June Tests. For the South African teams, the action will start again on the first weekend of July when the race to the playoff heats up in all earnest.

On the one hand, the Vodacom Bulls will be looking at their 11th straight victory over the Lions when they travel 60km south to Ellis Park in Johannesburg on Saturday afternoon.

And two hours later, at Growthpoint Kings Park in Durban, one of the Cell C Sharks or the DHL Stormers will break the deadlock in the history between these two coastal franchises.

The Toyota Cheetahs have a bye.

Lions v Vodacom Bulls

The Vodacom Bulls will have their 11th straight victory over the Lions in their sights when they travel to Ellis Park in Johannesburg for the penultimate match of Vodacom Super Rugby before the June break.

The closest the Lions ever came to beating the Vodacom Bulls at Ellis Park, was in 2011, when they ended up losing 24-20 with current Lions captain, Warren Whiteley, one of the try-scorers for the home team that day.

The Lions were in the same boat against the DHL Stormers, but they changed that with a superb 34-10 win in round two this year.

Similarly, the Toyota Cheetahs recorded their first-ever victory over the Vodacom Bulls earlier this season in Bloemfontein, also in round two.

The Vodacom Bulls still have their eye on making the top six on the log and will therefore be mindful of the threat posed by the Lions. Johan Ackermann’s team returned from their Australasian tour on Sunday and despite not winning any of their matches abroad, have proven a difficult opponent at Ellis Park this season.

“We have to win every remaining match, so are keen to keep on the winning track,” said Vodacom Bulls coach Frans Ludeke.

“It will also be important for us to go into the break with some momentum. We have made some minor changes and I believe we will be competitive against a team that will be very dangerous at home. We cannot afford to let them dominate the pace of the match or the style of play.”

Looking at the two starting line-ups selected for Saturday, no fewer than seven players have crossed the Jukskei River to further their careers. At the Lions, Courtnall Skosan, Marnitz Boshoff, Warwick Tecklenburg, Franco Mostert and Robbie Coetzee have been part of the Blue Bulls’ set-up, while the Vodacom Bulls have selected former-Lions Grant Hattingh and Callie Visagie to start this weekend.

The teams are:

Lions: Coenie van Wyk, Courtnall Skosan, Stokkies Hanekom, Alwyn Hollenbach, Chrysander Botha, Marnitz Boshoff, Ross Cronje, Warren Whiteley (captain), Warwick Tecklenburg, Jaco Kriel, Franco Mostert, Rudi Mathee, Julian Redelinghuys, Robbie Coetzee, Schalk van der Merwe. Replacements: Armand van der Merwe, Corné Fourie, Ruan Dreyer, Willie Britz, Derick Minnie, Faf de Klerk, Elton Jantjies, Deon van Rensburg.

Vodacom Bulls: Jurgen Visser, Akona Ndungane, JJ Engelbrecht, Jan Serfontein, Bjorn Basson, Jacques-Louis Potgieter, Francois Hougaard, Jacques Engelbrecht, Jacques du Plessis, Jono Ross, Grant Hattingh, Flip van der Merwe (captain), Marcel van der Merwe, Callie Visagie, Dean Greyling. Replacements: Bongi Mbonambi, Morné Mellett, Werner Kruger, Paul Willemse, Wimpie van der Walt, Piet van Zyl, Louis Fouché, William Small-Smith.

Lions v Vodacom Bulls
Date: Saturday, 31 May
SA Time: 17h05
Venue: Ellis Park, Johannesburg
Referee: Craig Joubert (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Lourens van der Merwe (South Africa), Sieg van Staden (South Africa)
Television match official: Marius Jonker (South Africa)

Cell C Sharks v DHL Stormers

The Cell C Sharks are back in Durban and host the confident DHL Stormers in the final Vodacom Super Rugby match on Saturday evening before the June break commences.

It’s the 21st match between these two sides, with each winning 10 times before.

The DHL Stormers have lost only once in the last month, against the Vodacom Bulls in Pretoria, but the same goes for the Cell C Sharks, who returned last weekend from their Australasian tour having won three from four.

The KwaZulu-Natalians still boast the best defence in the competition, having conceded only 18 tries thus far, but they will have noticed the Capetonians’ improved attack in the last month.

The DHL Stormers have scored 13 tries in their last four matches, including four-try hauls against the Highlanders and Toyota Cheetahs.

Both teams have scored five more tries than they’ve conceded thus far this season and as derbies between these two sides are always hard and uncompromising, there should be fireworks in Durban on Saturday.

Jake White, Director of Rugby at the Cell C Sharks, realises their opponents this weekend will be tough.

“If you had asked at the start of the season which teams were going to be dangerous, everyone would have backed the Stormers,” said White.

“They were good last year – they got to the Absa Currie Cup final, they are one team hard to break down, and that is a common thread that remains in their game.

“They didn’t have a good run early on but they are definitely improving, they’re playing better rugby now and their confidence will be much higher now that it was three or four weeks ago. I’m sure it will be another big derby game where we are going to have to play well.”

Allister Coetzee, who was one of White’s assistant coaches with the Springboks from 2004 to 2007, knows his team faces a massive challenge in Durban.

“The Sharks are not the current Vodacom Super Rugby log-leaders for nothing,” said Coetzee.

“They’ve grown in confidence as the tournament has progressed and their win over the Crusaders in Christchurch says a lot about their character and state of mind.

“They’re a physical side who are strong at the breakdown and who boast a good kicking game. This is, without doubt, our biggest challenge of the year.”

The teams are:

Cell C Sharks: SP Marais, JP Pietersen, S’bura Sithole, Paul Jordaan, Lwazi Mvovo, Frans Steyn, Cobus Reinach, Willem Alberts, Tera Mtembu, Marcell Coetzee, Stephan Lewies, Etienne Oosthuizen, Jannie du Plessis, Bismarck du Plessis (captain), Tendai Mtawarira. Replacements: Kyle Cooper, Dale Chadwick, Lourens Adriaanse, Ryan Kankowski, Keegan Daniel, Charl McLeod, Tim Swiel, Heimar Williams.

DHL Stormers: Jaco Taute, Cheslin Kolbe, Juan de Jongh, Damian de Allende, Sailosi Tagicakibau, Kurt Coleman, Nic Groom, Duane Vermeulen (captain), Siya Kolisi, Nizaam Carr, Ruan Botha, Michael Rhodes, Pat Cilliers, Deon Fourie, Alistair Vermaak. Replacements: Stephan Coetzee, Sti Sithole, Martin Dreyer, Jean Kleyn, Manuel Carizza, Dylon Frylinck, Demetri Catrakilis, Peter Grant.

Cell C Sharks v DHL Stormers
Date: Saturday, 31 May
SA Time: 19h10
Venue: Growthpoint Kings Park
Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Stuart Berry (South Africa), Stefan Breytenbach (South Africa)
Television match official: Johan Greeff (South Africa)

Other fixtures (South African kick-off times):

Friday, 30 May:
09h35: Crusaders v Force – Christchurch
11h40: Reds v Highlanders – Brisbane

Saturday, 24 May:
06h35: Chiefs v Waratahs – New Plymouth
09h35: Blues v Hurricanes – Auckland
11h40: Brumbies v Rebels – Canberra

Bye: Toyota Cheetahs

2015 Free State Town Challenge Cup
Tuesday, May 05 2015
18:00 - UFS U/23 vs Old Greys
2015 Western Province Super League
Wednesday, May 06 2015
21:00 - FNB UCT vs FNB Victorians
21:00 - FNB Maties vs Belhar
2015 Eastern Province Grand Challenge
21:30 - FNB NMMU vs PE Crusaders
Vodacom Super Rugby
Friday, May 08 2015
09:35 - Crusaders vs Reds
AMI Stadium, Addington, Christchurch
11:40 - Rebels vs Blues
AAMI Park, Melbourne
Vodacom Cup
15:00 - Griffons vs Golden Lions
HT Pelatona Projects Stadium, Welkom
19:00 - EP Kings vs Sharks XV
Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, PE

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