The two unbeaten teams in the PRO14 Rainbow Cup SA – the Bulls and the Sharks – go head-to-head on Saturday, with another double-header of fixtures taking place in the third round of the competition.
Saturday’s top-of-the-table clash starts at 18h15 at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria, while the Lions and the Stormers meet earlier in the day in Johannesburg at 13h30, as both sides seek their first win of the competition. All the action will be televised live on the SuperSport Rugby and Grandstand channels.
Last weekend the Sharks followed up their thrilling victory at the DHL Stormers in the first round by beating the Emirates Lions 34-26. Sean Everitt’s side played a part of the game with 13 men after yellow cards were shown to Thomas du Toit (prop) and Fez Mbatha (hooker).
Although disappointed with his team’s ill-discipline, Everitt felt his players “showed amazing character” in holding off the tenacious Emirates Lions outfit.
The Durbanites – with only one change to their starting team – now head 600km north-west to Pretoria to take on the Vodacom Bulls, who also made it two from two last weekend when Madosh Tambwe (right wing) scored twice in their 20-16 victory over the DHL Stormers, having beaten the Emirates Lions in the first round.
Something will have to give in the evening fixture in Pretoria, where both the Vodacom Bulls and the Cell C Sharks will be looking to maintain their 100% start to the campaign.
The Duane Vermeulen-led Vodacom Bulls, with two Boks back in their match-day squad this week, have a formidable record at Fortress Loftus, having won 12 in a row there since going down to the Jaguares in Vodacom Super Rugby in February 2020.
They are also on somewhat of a winning streak, with their last defeat in eight matches coming at the hands of the Cell C Sharks, albeit in Durban, in March.
“We’re looking forward to the match,” said Sharks flyhalf Curwin Bosch, who is also the top points’ scorer in the competition with 22 points (two penalty goals and eight conversions).
“I think it will be a good one between two unbeaten sides in the competition and the guys are excited for the challenge. I’m sure the Bulls players are too.”
Bulls Director of Rugby Jake White said: "We've had a few epic battles thus far and the Sharks will be keen to get one over us at Loftus as it is something they've yet to do. The forward tussle is going to set the tone, while both backlines are brimming with relentless talent so it should make for an exciting but hard encounter."
The Lions, with a new captain in Burger Odendaal this week, will be keen to turn their fortunes around after losing their last three matches. Their last victory was over the Sharks in their 2021 Kick-Off Pools clash in Johannesburg in March, but they endured a 44-12 defeat a week later in Cape Town.
Ivan van Rooyen’s team will be buoyed by their recent record at Emirates Airline Park though, having won four in a row in all tournaments since losing to the Bulls in Super Rugby Unlocked in November.
Van Rooyen said: “We look forward to playing our first home game of the competition. The players have all worked hard and we look forward to a great clash.”
The Stormers have won 14 of their 21 meetings with the Emirates Lions, but have prevailed on only two of their previous six visits to Johannesburg.
“We want to show that we are capable of delivering an 80-minute peformance and this is a great opportunity to do so," said DHL Stormers head coach John Dobson when naming a team with four changes from last week.
“The team has trained well this week and we are determined to put together a cohesive effort to get the result that we need."
LINE UPS: LIONS v STORMERS
Lions: EW Viljoen; Rabz Maxwane, Wandisile Simelane, Burger Odendaal (captain), Courtnall Skosan; Jordan Hendrikse, André Warner; Francke Horn, Vincent Tshituka, MJ Pelser, Reinhard Nothnagel, Ruben Schoeman, Carlu Sadie, Jaco Visagie, Sti Sithole.
Replacements: PJ Botha, Ruan Dreyer, Asenathi Ntlabakanye, Willem Alberts, Emmanuel Tshituka, Morné van den Berg, Fred Zeilinga, Dan Kriel
Stormers: Damian Willemse, Sergeal Petersen, Dan du Plessis, Rikus Pretorius, Edwill van der Merwe, Abner van Reenen Herschel Jantjies, Steven Kitshoff (CAPT),Bongi Mbonambi, Frans Malherbe, Ernst van Rhyn, David Meihuizen,Marcel Theunissen,Willie Engelbrecht, Evan Roos..
Replacements: Scarra Ntubeni, Ali Vermaak, Neethling Fouche, Ben-Jason Dixon, Johan du Toit, Juarno Augustus, Paul de Wet, Tim Swiel.
Match information – Lions vs Stormers
Date: Saturday, 15 May 2021
Venue: Emirates Airline Park, Johannesburg
Referee: AJ Jacobs
Assistant Referees: Cwengile Jadezweni, Morne Ferreira
Television Match Official: Cwengile Jadezweni
TV: Super Sport, eir Sport 2, Premier Sports 2, ESPN+ (USA), pro14.tv.
LINE UPS: BULLS V SHARKS
Bulls: David Kriel, Madosh Tambwe, Marco Janse van Vuren, Cornal Hendricks, Stravino Jacobs, Morné Steyn, Embrose Papier, Gerhard Steenekamp, Johan Grobbelaar, Mornay Smith, Walt Steenkamp, Ruan Nortje, Marco van Staden, Arno Botha, Duane Vermeulen (CAPT).
Replacements: Schalk Erasmus, Lizo Gqoboka, Trevor Nyakane, Janko Swanepoel, Elrigh Louw, Zak Burger, Chris Smith, James Verity-Amm.
Sharks: Aphelele Fassi, Sbu Nkosi, Lukhanyo Am (CAPT), Jeremy Ward, Yaw Penxe, Curwin Bosch, Jaden Hendrikse, OX Nche, Fez Mbatha, Thomas du Toit, Ruben van Heerden, Reniel Hugo, Siya Kolisi, Henco Venter, Sikhumbuzo Notshe.
Replacements: Kerron van Vuuren, Ntutho Mchunu, Wiehahn Herbst, Le Roux Roets, Phepsi Buthelezi, Sanele Nohamba, Manie Libbok, Werner Kok.
Match information – Bulls vs Sharks
Date: Saturday, 15 May 2021
Venue: Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
Referee: Jaco Peyper
Assistant Referees: Griffin Colby, Paul Mente
Television Match Official: Marius van der Westhuizen
TV: Super Sport, eir Sport 2, ESPN+ (USA), pro14.tv.
All times are local.
Issued by SA Rugby Communications