Vodacom Bulls will look at positive Durban track record

Vodacom Bulls will look at positive Durban track record

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The Vodacom Bulls will be hoping that their good record in Durban when playing the Cell C Sharks in the Vodacom Super Rugby competition will count for something on Saturday.

The Vodacom Bulls can’t be underestimated, despite losing heaps of players in the last two seasons and being hit by injuries to key personnel. After all, they beat the Cell C Sharks twice in 2013 and have a winning record of 60% at Growthpoint Kings Park.

Many pundits consider the South African derby between the Cell C Sharks and the Vodacom Bulls as one of the biggest in Vodacom Super Rugby, and will always look back at the 2007 final between these teams as arguably the most-exciting in the history of the competition.

Last year, the Vodacom Bulls won the South African Conference, but lost in the semi-final against the Brumbies. The architect of that famous victory by the team from the Australian Capital Territory, Jake White, has since taken over as Director of Rugby in Durban and will be plotting his second successive win over the team from Pretoria in this competition.

White has taken over a team that finished last season on a high when they won the Absa Currie Cup final in Cape Town. This victory, and a team sheet brimming with experienced Springboks, would’ve given the Cell C Sharks a good shot of confidence ahead of Saturday’s match.

“You know what the Bulls are going to do in terms of their style of play – they have been doing it for years,” said White.

“They are going to kick from the base of the scrum and they are going to kick from the base of lineout. They will maul from lineouts. They are going to try and physically dominate you in first 25 minutes to see if they can get some ascendancy. I can’t believe they will move away from what has worked for them in the past.

“Let’s take nothing away from the Bulls, they’ve won the competition three times and that’s more than any other South African side. The challenge that we sit with is if we’re not good enough to beat the Bulls at home in this round, the chances are we will struggle against the likes of the Blues and Crusaders in Auckland and Christchurch. That’s what it takes to win this competition, you have to beat teams like that and the Bulls at home.”

Frans Ludeke, coach of the Vodacom Bulls, was confident that he picked the right combinations for the opening match.

“We have identified certain areas where we will have to dominate and I think we have the right combinations in place to achieve that,” said Ludeke. “This is going to be a typical South African derby with a lot of focus on the breakdown and to dominate the advantage line.

“We respect the Sharks, but if we are accurate and play our rugby in the right areas of the field, we should get some reward for that. Our focus will be to execute and to make sure that we protect our ball, as the Sharks will be keen to counter whenever we turn over possession.”

On Matfield’s inclusion, Ludeke said: “We all know what Victor is capable of. He showed in training and our friendly match that he is still right up there amongst the best and I am confident that he will make a telling contribution when called upon.”

Vodacom Bulls captain Pierre Spies said his side does not mind going to Durban as underdogs: “The Sharks should be one of the pre-tournament favourites. They have a lot of Springboks in their team, have loads of experience in the decision-making positions and will be playing in front of a very passionate crowd.

“This is exactly the type of challenges we like as a team and will go to Durban with a lot of determination and motivation. We have some goals to achieve and worked hard to make sure we are ready to compete against any team at any venue. The younger guys in our team bring a lot of energy to our effort and I am pretty pleased to have them in my side, rather than playing against them,” Spies said.

Both teams have two debutants each on the bench – Stephan Lewies and Heimar Williams for the Durbanites, and Handré Pollard and Ulrich Beyers for the team from Pretoria.

At the other end of the spectrum Victor Matfield, who is on the Vodacom Bulls’ bench after a two-year hiatus from the game, will equal the South African Vodacom Super Rugby record of 125 appearances at this level, which is currently shared by John Smit, now CEO of the Cell C Sharks, and AJ Venter, who played for the Cats, Sharks and Stormers.

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.

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

* Uncapped at Vodacom Super Rugby level
# Franchise debut

Head to head (since 1998)
Cell C Sharks 8 Won 11 Vodacom Bulls, 1 draw

Cell C Sharks 426 Points for 365 Vodacom Bulls

Cell C Sharks 29 Tries conceded 45 Vodacom Bulls

Cell C Sharks 21 Average score 19 Vodacom Bulls

Kick-off (SA Time): 19h10
Venue: Growthpoint Kings Park, Durban
Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Stuart Berry (South Africa), Marius Jonker (South Africa)
Television match official: Deon van Blommestein (South Africa)

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Feb 14, 2014
Victor Matfield

(5) Vodacom Bulls will look at positive Durban track record

  1. Eintlik seg Jake White dat as die haaie nie die BULLE kan wen (lees die Bulls IS VROT en die haaie is moer goed)nie is hulle nie aanspraakmakers nie
    Wel as dit nie as motivering kan dien en moet dien vir die spelers nie weet ek nie so lekker nie...
  2. gravatar Cornelius says:
    Dankie die gewag is verby, nou kan ons net wag vir tien oor sewe, Dan is dit senuwees en naels kou, Ek dink nie ons het nodig om terug te staan vir die haaie, As ons gemotifeerd is ka ons hulle klop
  3. gravatar Barrybul says:
    3rd time a bulls player is played in a lineout, ref shake your head 'cause your eyeballs are stuck!
  4. gravatar Barrybul says:
    Pierre, are you an under cover agent?, I don't think I'll watch the second half, Hougie wat is fout?
  5. Barrybul says:
    Some positives we can take from this game, maybe with a few decisions it may have bee different but I didn't expect much from this match, I hope the whole season isn't like this or we will be in for a looooooong S15!

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