Massive clash in Bloemfontein – Vodacom Super Rugby Round 16 Preview
May 30, 2013
It’s still early days to talk about conferences titles and the like, but Saturday evening’s Vodacom Super Rugby derby between the Toyota Cheetahs and the Vodacom Bulls will have a big influence on how the top two local teams finish on the log in 2013.

Only two matches are schedule for the five South African teams this weekend – two derbies in Cape Town and Bloemfontein, while The Sharks enjoy a bye.

First up, the Southern Kings will be in action at DHL Newlands in Cape Town, where the last time the DHL Stormers lost a regular season local derby was in June 2011 against the Vodacom Bulls. This obviously excludes last season’s semi-final, where the Capetonians lost to The Sharks.

The final match of the weekend takes place the Free State Stadium in Bloem, when the two best performing South African sides this season, the Vodacom Bulls and the Toyota Cheetahs, clash in a highly anticipated derby.

The Vodacom Bulls lead the SA Conference and are second on the overall log, while the Toyota Cheetahs are fourth on the log in their best Vodacom Super Rugby season to date.

DHL Stormers v Southern Kings

The DHL Stormers will not underestimate the Southern Kings when they host the newest South African Vodacom Super Rugby franchise at DHL Newlands in Cape Town on Saturday afternoon.

Although the DHL Stormers, SA Conference champions in 2011 and 2012, have not been at their very best this season, they realise the Kings can cause serious damage to an already disrupted campaign this weekend.

The Kings are currently in 13th position on the log. They did not have the best outing against the Toyota Cheetahs last weekend and are still aiming for their first-ever win in a local derby.

To make matters worse for the Kings, they will be without their regular captain and most experienced player, Luke Watson, on Saturday. A bout of flu has ruled him out of the match against the DHL Stormers, a team he represented 62 times in total.

For Demetri Catrakilis it will be a return to DHL Newlands for the first time since he left Cape Town at the end of 2012. Last season turned out to be a massive one for the Kings flyhalf, as he helped DHL Western Province to win the Vodacom and Absa Currie Cups.

DHL Stormers coach Allister Coetzee warned his team not to underestimate the visitors to Cape Town this weekend.

“I think the big thing is the way the Kings play with attitude and also a big desire,” said Coetzee, who hails from the Eastern Cape and coached and captained Eastern Province in his playing days.

“No matter who is out and who is in, they remain a dangerous side. They have had a few hiccups, but they have still continuously played well and performed well.

“We are under no illusions that this is going to be a helluva tough game, and we have got to pitch up this weekend. It is going to be physical, and we need to play a smart kicking game and make sure we win that battle, but it starts with the set-piece.”

The teams are:

DHL Stormers: Joe Pietersen, Gio Aplon, Jean de Villiers (captain), Damian De Allende, Bryan Habana, Elton Jantjies, Louis Schreuder, Nizaam Carr, Deon Fourie, Siya Kolisi, De Kock Steenkamp, Eben Etzebeth, Brok Harris, Tiaan Liebenberg, Steven Kitshoff. Replacements: Martin Bezuidenhout, Chris Heiberg, Gebrandt Grobler, Don Armand, Dewaldt Duvenage, Gary van Aswegen, Gerhard van den Heever.

Southern Kings: SP Marais, Siviwe Soyizwapi, Ronnie Cooke, Andries Strauss (captain), Marcello Sampson, Demetri Catrakilis, Nicolas Vergallo, Jacques Engelbrecht, Wimpie van der Walt, Cornell du Preez, David Bulbring, Darron Nell, Kevin Buys, Bandise Maku, Schalk Ferreira. Replacements: Hannes Franklin, Grant Kemp, Rynier Bernardo, Devin Oosthuizen, Shaun Venter, Shane Gates, George Whitehead.

DHL Stormers v Southern Kings
Date: Saturday, 1 June
SA Time: 17h05
Venue: DHL Newlands, Cape Town
Referee: Craig Joubert (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Jonathan Kaplan (South Africa), Linston Manuels (South Africa)
Television match official: Deon van Blommestein (South Africa)

Toyota Cheetahs v Vodacom Bulls

A straight shoot-out for the title of South African Conference winners, is how Saturday evening’s much-anticipated Vodacom Super Rugby derby between the Toyota Cheetahs and the Vodacom Bulls has been described.

The Toyota Cheetahs always back themselves at home in the Free State Stadium, but looking back at the history between these two sides, it would seem the Vodacom Bulls actually enjoy playing in Bloemfontein.

The overall average score between these two teams is 37-22 in favour of the team from Pretoria, but in games played in Bloemfontein, it changes to 43-23. The overall average score for the Toyota Cheetahs, against all opponents, in Bloemfontein, is 26-26.

It’s unlikely that the team from Bloemfontein will overtake their Pretoria counterparts on the log after this game – for that to happen, they have to win and score at least four tries, and keep the Vodacom Bulls from getting a bonus point.

But the Toyota Cheetahs won’t necessarily be chasing that. Their aim will be firmly on that elusive first-ever win over the Vodacom Bulls in the 11th match between these two sides. And Naka Drotské, coach of the Central South African franchise, says he knows how the three-time champions can be beaten.

“The Bulls’ kicking tactics work very well for them – if you kick out, it’s their line-out and they can maul, but if you don’t kick out, they return the kick and contest in the air,” said Drotské.

“So we will have to face one or the other on Saturday, but we have some plans in place for their kicking game. The bottom line though is that we will have to stay disciplined and patient.

“In our recent match against them at Loftus, we conceded two tries from soft moments. I thought we played tactically very well in Pretoria and managed to stop their drives, but those two tries cost us.

“We will always back ourselves in Bloemfontein and have beaten many top teams here. To beat the Bulls, for the first time ever in Vodacom Super Rugby, will be special.”

Frans Ludeke, coach of the Vodacom Bulls, who currently occupy second position on the log behind the Chiefs, said: “We can do ourselves a lot of favours by beating the Cheetahs this weekend, especially ahead of the three weeks break.

“We will have a number of players involved in the Test series and you never know in what shape they will come back. We need to put ourselves in the best possible position before the break and a win in Bloemfontein will do that.”

Vodacom Bulls captain, Pierre Spies, said previous performances against the Toyota Cheetahs mean nothing.

“The fact that we have beaten them earlier in the season counts for nothing,” said Spies.

“They play on their home turf and although we have done well there in the past, that is not worth any points on the scoreboard. We need to go out there, impose ourselves and play the right type of rugby we know we are capable of. It is a massive challenge, but this team thrive on those.”

The teams are:

Toyota Cheetahs: Hennie Daniller, Raymond Rhule, Johann Sadie, Robert Ebersohn, Willie le Roux, Elgar Watts, Piet van Zyl, Philip van der Walt, Lappies Labuschagné, Heinrich Brüssow, Francois Uys, Lood de Jager, Lourens Adriaanse, Adriaan Strauss (captain), Coenie Oosthuizen. Replacements: Ryno Barnes, Trevor Nyakane, Ligtoring Landman, Boom Prinsloo, Sarel Pretorius, Riaan Smit, Rayno Benjamin.

Vodacom Bulls: Jürgen Visser, Lionel Mapoe, JJ Engelbrecht, Jan Serfontein, Bjorn Basson, Morné Steyn, Francois Hougaard, Pierre Spies (captain), Arno Botha, Deon Stegmann, Juandré Kruger, Flip van der Merwe, Werner Kruger, Chiliboy Ralepelle, Dean Greyling. Replacements: Callie Visagie, Frik Kirsten, Grant Hattingh, Dewald Potgieter, Jano Vermaak, Louis Fouché, Zane Kirchner.

Toyota Cheetahs v Vodacom Bulls
Date: Saturday, 1 June
SA Time: 19h10
Venue: Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein
Referee: Jason Jaftha (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Marius Jonker (South Africa), Francois de Bruin (South Africa)
Television match official: Gerrie Coetzee (South Africa)

Other fixtures (SA times):

Friday, 31 May:
09h35: Crusaders v Waratahs (Christchurch)
11h40: Brumbies v Hurricanes (Canberra)

Saturday, 1 June:
09h35: Highlanders v Blues (Dunedin)
11h40: Reds v Rebels (Brisbane)

Byes: The Sharks, Chiefs, Force