In the only local Vodacom Super Rugby derby of the weekend, the Vodacom Bulls host the Cell C Sharks on Saturday from 17h05 at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria.
The Emirates Lions will be out to return to winning ways when they face the Jaguares at home in Johannesburg in the earlier fixture of the day starting at 15h05. The DHL Stormers have a bye this weekend.
Both these #SuperPowered matches, plus all the other round four-action will be televised live on SuperSport1.
Pollard threat looms large as Durbanites shuffle line-up for Loftus
Vodacom Bulls coach Pote Human has made a number of changes to the team that beat the Emirates Lions in Johannesburg for Saturday’s home match against the Cell C Sharks at Loftus Versfeld.
In a rotational switch, scrumhalf Ivan van Zyl replaces fellow Springbok No 9 Embrose Papier.
Up front, former Blitzbok Tim Agaba comes into the loose trio and takes over the No 7 duties from Hanro Liebenberg, who moves to lock in place of Eli Snyman, next to Jason Jenkins. Jannes Kirsten is the second change in the loose trio and exchange places with Ruan Steenkamp.
The Vodacom Bulls have been hit by injuries to star lock and captain, Lood de Jager, as well as the promising second rower Snyman, and Steenkamp.
After naming the same starting line-up in three successive matches, Cell C Sharks head coach Robert du Preez has made four changes to his traveling starting XV.
Upfront, Gideon Koegelenberg will replace Ruan Botha at lock, with the uncapped Ruben van Heerden, a former Junior Springbok who still played provincial rugby in Pretoria last year, named on the bench and Wian Vosloo replacing Tyler Paul at flank. Jacques Vermeulen moves to the other side of the scrum to accommodate Vosloo.
In the backs, Jeremy Ward and Andre Esterhuizen switch jerseys in midfield and Rhyno Smith replaces the injured Aphelele Fassi at fullback. Curwin Bosch has recovered sufficiently from his niggle to be named amongst the replacements.
The Pretoria outfit have good form against their Durban opposition on their side – they are undefeated in their last seven fixtures against the men in black (W6, D1), including wins in all of their last three matches.
Handre Pollard’s team are a tough nut to crack when playing in local derbies anyway – they have won five of their last seven local games, including two already this year; against the DHL Stormers and Emirates Lions.
Pollard, who will be playing in his 50th Vodacom Super Rugby match on Saturday, has been in splendid form so far this campaign and is the leading point scorer after three rounds with 52 points. The Springbok flyhalf looms large as a big threat for the visitors as he has also scored a total of 50 points against them in their last four meetings.
What they said:
Vodacom Bulls flyhalf and captain, Handre Pollard, echoed his coach’s plea for consistency: “The fact that most games so far have been closely contested shows you the need for consistency. You can’t afford to be up and down because everybody is striving for a solid run.”
Cell C Sharks lock Hyron Andrews admitted there are areas they would need to fix for this weekend: “Our accuracy at set-piece time let us down last week and we’ve worked hard to rectify it – the boys are up for this one. We expect the Vodacom Bulls to put pressure on us at lineout and scrum times, so it’s going to be a real set-piece battle on Saturday.”
Vodacom Bulls: 15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Dylan Sage, 11 Rosko Specman, 10 Handré Pollard (captain), 9 Ivan van Zyl 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Tim Agaba, 6 Jannes Kirsten, 5 Jason Jenkins, 4 Hanro Liebenberg, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Schalk Brits, 1 Lizo Gqoboka. Replacements: 16 Corniel Els, 17 Simphiwe Matanzima, 18 Dayan van der Westhuizen, 19 Thembelani Bholi, 20 Paul Schoeman, 21 Embrose Papier, 22 Manie Libbok, 23 Divan Rossouw.
Cell C Sharks: 15 Rhyno Smith, 14 Sbu Nkosi, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Jeremy Ward, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Robert du Preez, 9 Louis Schreuder (captain), 8 Daniel du Preez, 7 Jacques Vermeulen, 6 Wian Vosloo, 5 Hyron Andrews, 4 Gideon Koegelenberg, 3 Coenie Oosthuizen, 2 Akker van der Merwe, 1 Tendai Mtawarira. Replacements: 16 Fezokhule ‘Fez’ Mbatha, 17 Juan Schoeman, 18 Thomas du Toit, 19 Ruben van Heerden, 20 Phepsi Buthelezi, 21 Grant Williams, 22 Andre Esterhuizen, 23 Curwin Bosch.
Head to head:
Vodacom Bulls won: 18
Cell C Sharks won: 9
Vodacom Bulls points: 646
Cell C Sharks points: 632
Average score: 22-21
Date: Saturday 9 March
SA time: 17h15
Venue: Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen
Assistant referees: Egon Seconds, Divan Uys
Television Match Official: Christie du Preez