For the Vodacom Bulls, arriving at Emirates Airline Park without Handre Pollard, Lood de Jager and captain, Burger Odendaal was always going to put them on the back foot.
In the end, the Vodacom Bulls were outplayed by the Emirates Lions, but while the result was disappointing, a few positives did come out of the game.
Naming RG Snyman as captain on the day, can only be a good thing for the youngster. The towering lock has had a breakout season in 2018 and looks to become a regular player in the Springbok setup. The experience he would have gained in a difficult fixture where discipline was an issue for the Bulls, is invaluable. It also would not have hurt observing and playing in a game opposite Lions captain Warren Whiteley, who is regarded as one of the best leaders in the world of rugby.
There were a few more positives that came out of the game as well. The x-factor moments of brilliance from Manie Libbok at flyhalf, who was always looking to spark something from number 10, got the Bulls off to a rollicking start. Due to team injuries, Warrick Gelant was shifted into the number 12 jersey position and put in a solid defensive performance.
The Vodacom Bulls, under coach John Mitchell, have laid a solid foundation for the 2019 Vodacom Super Rugby season and dealing with a number of injury-enforced changes throughout the season has given him the chance to blood other players and move players around positionally.
At the end of the day, every coach dreams of a squad that has depth and is able to adapt when adversity strikes… just ask the Crusaders who have dealt with the absence of Kieran Read and Israel Dagg this season, or the Hurricanes who can switch personnel anywhere in their backline and not lose effectiveness.
Vodacom Red Rewards
The Vodacom #RedTigerFishing experience took place in Zambia a few days ago. A great time was had by all! Vodacom Red clients, Vodacom Bulls players (Burger Odendaal and Jaco Visagie), Emirates Lions players (Jaco Kriel and Julian Redelinghuys) and media personalities Mack Rapapali from Jacaranda and Radio Raps’ Jonathan, all jetted up to Zambia to take on the fearsome tiger fish on the mighty Zambezi.
Click on the link below to watch the video featuring Burger Odendaal and Mack.
The Play-offs once again demonstrate the strength and depth of the New Zealand franchises with the only team missing out on a spot being the Blues. The Crusaders finished top of the log by some distance and will be difficult for any team to stop, especially in Christchurch where they will play their remaining games.
The Waratahs are the only Australian team to secure a play-off spot and questions will once again be asked as to the depth in Australian rugby. Besides the Lions and Sharks, the other team to secure a place are the Jaguares.
The Play-off round begins with the Hurricanes welcoming the Chiefs to Wellington in what will be a humdinger of a New Zealand derby. The Barrett vs Mckenzie flyhalf battle will be epic.
Next up will be the Crusaders taking on the Sharks. On their day, the Sharks look like a well-oiled machine but against the Crusaders at home, a victory for them looks unlikely.
The Waratahs then entertain the Highlanders in a repeat of the fixture earlier in the season where the Waratahs, quite unbelievably, thumped the Highlanders by 29 points. Don’t expect the same sort of result this time though, as the Highlanders played with 14 men for a large part of that game and the Waratahs look fragile without their talisman, captain Michael Hooper.
Lastly, in Joburg the Emirates Lions will want make it three losses on the trot for the Jaguares against SA teams after losing to both the Vodacom Bulls and the Cell C Sharks in the last two rounds. The Lions have a number of experienced regulars back and fit in the form of Whiteley, Marx, Skosan and Combrinck. As the Bulls found out last weekend, the Lions can be devastating when the stars align.