Vodacom Bulls hugh hill to climb - media perspective

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Two more contrasting teams you can’t find - both in terms of form and style, writes rugby365.co.za in their preview of Saturday’s Vodacom Super Rugby clash between the Vodacom Bulls and Emirates Lions at Emirates Airline Park in Johannesburg.

The Emirates Lions are fresh off an unbeaten tour to Australian where they managed 14 out of a possible 15 points and are on unprecedented eight-match victory run.

The Vodacom Bulls have lost five of their last seven games and coach Nollis Marais is under fire.

Marais said the Lions are South Africa’s “form team”.

“We have had epic battles with them and this is a big derby match, so the guys will be up for it.” Marais said.

Bulls captain Hanro Liebenberg said they are excited about the match.

“We have a chance to compare ourselves against the leading South African team in the competition,” Liebenberg said.

“That is a nice challenge. We owe our fans a good show and where better to do that than in Johannesburg against the Lions.”

Recent results:

2016: Lions won 56-20, Pretoria
2015: Bulls won 35-33, Pretoria
2015: Lions won 22-18, Johannesburg
2014: Lions won 32-21, Johannesburg
2014: Bulls win 25-17, Pretoria

Prediction: The Lions have won three of their last four games against the Bulls after going winless in all of their previous 11 games against them.
The Lions are undefeated in their last 13 South African derbies, including wins in their last 11, though the Bulls were the last team to defeat them in such a fixture (Round 12, 2015).
The Bulls have lost their last two away games against South African opposition, the last time they lost more such games on the trot was a five-game drought which began in 2013 and included the entirety of the 2014 campaign.
The Lions have won an average of 14.6 line-outs per game so far this season, more than any other team, while the Bulls have lost an average of just one line-out per game this season, the joint fewest of any side. Most pundits feel the Lions will run away with this one. However, in reality it could be a real arm, wrestle.

Teams:

Emirates Lions: 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Sylvian Mahuza, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Harold Vorster, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Ross Cronje, 8 Warren Whiteley (captain), 7 Ruan Ackermann, 6 Albertus Smith, 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Andries Ferreira, 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Jacques van Rooyen.
Replacements: 16 Armand van der Merwe, 17 Corné Fourie, 18 Johannes Jonker, 19 Lourens Erasmus, 20 Cyle Brink, 21 Francois de Klerk, 22 Jacques Nel, 23 Anthony Volmink.

Vodacom Bulls: 15 Jesse Kriel, 14 Jade Stighling, 13 Jan Serfontein, 12 Burger Odendaal, 11 Sibahle Maxwane, 10 Francois Brummer, 9 Rudy Paige, 8 Hanro Liebenberg (captain), 7 Jannes Kirsten, 6 Ruan Steenkamp, 5 Lodewyk de Jager, 4 Jason Jenkins, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Jaco Visagie, 1 Lizo Gqoboka.
Replacements: 16 Edgar Marutlulle, 17 Pierre Schoeman, 18 Conraad van Vuuren, 19 Abongile Nonkontwana, 20 Nic de Jager, 21 Ivan van Zyl, 22 Tony Jantjies, 23 Warrick Gelant.

Referee: Quinton Immelman (South Africa)
Assistant referees: AJ Jacobs (South Africa), Lesego Legoete (South Africa)
TMO: Marius Jonker (South Africa)
Kick-off: 17h15

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