Louw leads a strong herd travelling south hunting for a Christmas win

Louw leads a strong herd travelling south hunting for a Christmas win

Elrigh Louw leads a determined Vodacom Bulls side who travel to the Cape for the first instalment of the North-South derby in the current 2023/24 season. This round 8 festive clash of the Vodacom United Rugby Championship is set for Saturday evening, beneath the iconic and wonderous Table Mountain at the DHL Stadium.

Kick-off is set for 19h00.

The herd will assemble a formidable forward pack featuring Gerhard Steenekamp, Akker van der Merwe and Wilco Louw at front row. The trio will be supported by the lock duo of Janko Swanepoel and Reinhardt Ludwig combining once more at second row. The pair will be flanked by Marco van Staden and Louw who continues to lead the side in the absence of club co-captains. Cameron Hanekom will lace up his boots at eight.

Behind Hanekom will be half back duo, Embrose Papier who starts at scrum half and Johan Goosen who will be at fly half. The pair will link the forwards to the backline made up of Canan Moodie at left wing and Kurt-Lee Arendse on the right of the park. David Kriel and Stedman Gans will run out together once more, creating magic at centre with Willie le Roux providing creative cover at full back.

Director of Rugby Jake White will have Simphiwe Matanzima, Jan-Hendrik Wessels, Mornay Smith, Deon Slabbert, Mpilo Gumede, Keagan Johannes, Chris Smith and Sebastian de Klerk to call upon from the 5-3 split impact squad.

“The guys who remained behind - when the team travelled to Lyon - are really positive and they played really well against the Sharks (in round 7) and did well against Saracens (round 1 of the Champions Cup), so they are all really in a good space as a whole squad,” White commented when asked about how his team was doing after the narrow defeat in France.

He went on to add: “The Stormers are a really good team who have gone on to win the competition and played in two finals. They have probably been the most consistent team in the Vodacom United Rugby Championship. Losing to them is not acceptable but it has been expected considering that they have been the one team who has dominated the competition for two years,”

“It is what it is but we are now in a new year and it is irrelevant what has happened last year or the year before. We have a great opportunity now with a really good squad and some new faces in our side who have played really well. I am looking forward to the game.”

Asked about the history of the clash and how his chargers could look to better their finishing, White remarked: “The one thing we spoke about in the last two weeks is that we have played really well against them and then had moments where we lapsed in concentration where they would then score a try. In the final, we played really well, started well and scored points quickly and then we had one or two silly mistakes and in 3-4 minutes almost lose the game,”

“But I really believe that this group has found a way to grow in the game. And I am talking about in the game itself, they understand how to problem solve and they understand now how to talk to each other under pressure situations and that only comes with experience,”

“It will be important that we get the result but also I know that our performance will be better because of the lessons we have learned and I am fully confident after having chatted with them and having reviewed things that have happened this season, which we got wrong last year but have gotten right this year, so I am comfortable that those lessons will help us in the future.”

VODACOM BULLS vs DHL STORMERS STARTING XV: 1. Gerhard Steenekamp, 2. Akker van der Merwe, 3. Wilco Louw, 4. Janko Swanepoel, 5. Reinhardt Ludwig, 6. Marco van Staden, 7. Elrigh Louw (c), 8. Cameron Hanekom, 9. Embrose Papier, 10. Johan Goosen, 11. Canan Moodie, 12. David Kriel, 13. Stedman Gans, 14. Kurt-Lee Arendse, 15. Willie le Roux

VODACOM BULLS IMPACT SQUAD: 16. Simphiwe Matanzima, 17. Jan-Hendrik Wessels, 18. Mornay Smith, 19. Deon Slabbert, 20. Mpilo Gumede, 21. Keagan Johannes, 22. Chris Smith, 23. Sebastian de Klerk

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