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.
Head to head (since 1998): DHL Stormers won 10, Vodacom Bulls won 8
Average score: Vodacom Bills 24-22
Referee: Craig Joubert (SA)
Assistant referees: Marius van der Westhuizen (SA), Linston Manuels (SA)
TMO: Deon van Blommestein (SA).