Super Rugby Rd 8 - Fight for African Conference bragging rights

Super Rugby Rd 8 - Fight for African Conference bragging rights

The two top teams in the African conferences, the Emirates Lions and DHL Stormers, will battle it out on Saturday night at Emirates Airline Park in Johannesburg in a thrilling finale to a gripping weekend of Vodacom Super Rugby action.


Stormers Rugby
Photo: Lions Rugby

 This local derby – the only one of Round 8 – kicks off at 19h15 and is sure to deliver another hard-fought display between the two in-form sides from the north and the south.


A 46-19 win over the Sunwolves last Friday in Cape Town saw the DHL Stormers consolidate their position as the top-ranked team in the local conferences.


The Highveld side in turn, scored a morale-boosting 24-9 victory over the Cell C Sharks in Durban, meaning the Emirates Lions will be full of confidence when they host the Capetonians in Johannesburg.


The Toyota Cheetahs will become the first team to play the Sunwolves twice this season when they face the Japanese outfit on Friday evening at the Toyota Stadium in Bloemfontein. Kick-off is at 19h00.


The Free Staters have struggled to hit form again after scoring their only victory of the season so far over the Sunwolves in the third round.


Toyota Cheetahs coach Franco Smith has made some tweaks in the forwards and the backs in an effort to secure a possible win at home. His side should also be revitalised after their break last weekend and they will be hoping that the rest, plus the home ground advantage, will play in their favour against the visitors from the Far East.


In the first match involving a local side on Saturday, the Cell C Sharks begin their three-match tour of New Zealand with a testing encounter against the Blues at Eden Park in Auckland at 09h35.


The Durban side will be determined to bounce back from their defeat last week, but they will have to do so without the services of in-form Springbok flanker Marcell Coetzee, who suffered a season-ending knee injury last weekend.


At Loftus Versfeld, meanwhile, the Vodacom Bulls will be looking to register their fourth back-to-back victory, and their fifth of the season when they host the Reds at their fortress in Pretoria.


The Reds, however, will be determined to build on their victory against defending champions, the Highlanders, after a series of close encounters in the preceding weeks, and will look challenge the Vodacom Bulls.


But history favours the hosts as they have only lost twice against the Reds at home and that was back in 1999 and 2001 respectively. The match in 1999 was played in Brakpan.


When Dan Kriel replaced his brother Jesse late in last weekend’s match for the Vodacom Bulls, they became the sixth set of twins to play at this level, following in the footsteps of Jean-Luc and Daniel du Preez, Akona and Odwa Ndungane, Sias and Robert Ebersohn, Saia and Anthony Fainga’a and JP and Ruan Smith.


Elsewhere, the Crusaders entertain the Jaguares in Christchurch and the Rebels meet the Hurricanes in Melbourne on Friday. And on Saturday the Waratahs and the Brumbies cross paths in an Australian derby in Sydney. The Southern Kings have a bye this weekend.


Toyota Cheetahs vs Sunwolves

Date: Friday, 15 April

Time: 19h00

Venue: Toyota Stadium, Bloemfontein

Referee: Nic Berry

Assistant referees: Angus Gardner, Lourens van der Merwe

TMO: Marius Jonker


Team News:

·         Toyota Cheetahs coach Franco Smith made three changes to his pack of forwards for Friday’s match against the Sunwolves in Bloemfontein.

·         Hilton Lobberts will start at flank in place of the injured Boom Prinsloo, while Charles Marais replaces Ox Nche in prop rotation and Maks van Dyk comes in for Johan Coetzee.

·         Among the backs, midfielders Francois Venter and Nico Lee swap places in the starting line-up.

·         Springbok looseforward Oupa Mohoje is included on the bench.



·         This clash will mark the second time the Toyota Cheetahs face the Sunwolves in the competition. In their first encounter the Bloemfontein side secured a narrow 32-31 victory in Singapore.

·         The Toyota Cheetahs will be hunting back-to-back victories against the Japanese team, and their second victory of the season, as their first and only win so far this season was against the Sunwolves in the third round.

·         The Toyota Cheetahs will be looking to end a six-match losing-run at home. Their last home win was on 2 May 2015 when they defeated the DHL Stormers 25-17.

·         The Sunwolves will go in search of their maiden Vodacom Super Rugby victory after going down in all six of their matches so far this season. Three of their defeats, however, have been by five points or less.



Toyota Cheetahs coach Franco Smith: “Despite the setback we’ve have had with Boom Prinsloo’s injury we’re looking forward to have fresh and eager players like Hilton Lobberts and Oupa Mohoje, who have worked hard to get back onto the field in the team this weekend.”




Toyota Cheetahs: 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Nico Lee, 12 Francois Venter (captain), 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Neil Marais, 9 Shaun Venter, 8 Paul Schoeman, 7 Uzair Cassiem, 6 Hilton Lobberts, 5 Francois Uys, 4 Lood de Jager, 3 Maks van Dyk, 2 Torsten van Jaarsveld, 1 Charles Marais. Replacements: 16 Jacques du Toit, 17 Danie Mienie, 18 Johan Coetzee, 19 Carl Wegner, 20 Henco Venter, 21 Oupa Mohoje, 22 Tian Meyer, 23 Fred Zeilinga.


Sunwolves: 15 Riaan Viljoen, 14 Viliami Lolohea, 13 Harumichi Tatekawa 12 Derek Carpenter, 11 Mifiposeti Paea, 10 Tusi Pisi, 9 Yuki Yatomi, 8 Ed Quirk, 7 Andrew Durutalo, 6 Tomás Leonardi, 5 Liaki Moli, 4 Hitoshi Ono, 3 Takuma Asahara, 2 Shota Horie (captain), 1 Masataka Mikami. Replacements: 16 Takeshi Kizu, 17 Ziun Gu, 18 Shinnosuke Kakinaga, 19 Faatiga Lemalu, 20 Yoshiya Hosoda, 21 Kaito Shigeno, 22 Yu Tamura, 23 Yasutaka Sasakura.


Blues vs Cell C Sharks

Date: Saturday, 16 April

SA Time: 09h35

Venue: Eden Park, Auckland

Referee: Jaco Peyper

Assistant referees: Craig Joubert, Paul Williams

Television match official: Ben Skeen


Team News:

·         The Cell C Sharks team shows three changes from last week, all of them in the pack.

·         Marcell Coetzee’s season is over because of an ACL injury, which means Dan du Preez moves to No 6 and Philip van der Walt returns from injury in the No 8-jersey.

·         Lourens Adriaanse will start at tighthead prop and Coenie Oosthuizen moves to the bench.

·         Stephan Lewies, a late withdrawal last week, is back at lock, with Hyron Andrews back on the bench.



·         The Cell C Sharks have won their last 10 matches against the Blues, with four of these victories being in Auckland. Six of the 10 wins, however, have been by six points or fewer.

·         The Blues have only beaten the Cell C Sharks four times in the 18 matches they have played since 1998, with the Durban side leading the points average 25-21.

·         The last time the Blues toppled the Cell C Sharks in Auckland was in 2005, where the Blues won 36-13.

·         The Sharks are undefeated in their last four matches away from home. They won three matches against the Reds (2015), Southern Kings and DHL Stormers respectively, and played to a 16-16 draw against the Vodacom Bulls.




Cell C Sharks Director of Rugby Gary Gold: “It’s vital for us it to try get some parity at scrum time. It’s really important from that point of view to give ourselves enough opportunity to be able to launch attacks against them. We need to be a lot neater and accurate at set-piece time, we need to get a lot more set-piece ball.


“And we’ve spoken long and hard about our discipline, we can’t give penalties away.


“The Blues have some massive ball carriers up front, a good set-piece and some electric backs who are renowned steppers who use the width of the field very well. They will pose a massive challenge for us and we’ll have to have our wits about us to be able to deal with their attacking game.”




Blues: 15 Lolagi Visinia, 14 Rieko Ioane, 13 Rene Ranger, 12 Piers Francis, 11 Tevita Li, 10 Ihaia West, 9 Bryn Hall, 8 Steven Luatua, 7 Tanerau Latimer/Kara Pryor, 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Josh Bekhuis, 4 Hoani Matenga, 3 Charlie Faumuina, 2 James Parsons (captain), 1 Sam Prattley. Replacements: 16 Quentin MacDonald, 17 Namatahi Waa, 18 Ofa Tu’ungafasi, 19 Kara Pryor/Joe Edwards, 20 Akira Ioane, 21 Billy Guyton, 22 Matt McGahan, 23 George Moala.


Cell C Sharks: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Paul Jordaan, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Joe Pietersen, 9 Cobus Reinach, 8 Phillip van der Walt, 7 Jean-Luc du Preez, 6 Dan du Preez, Stephan Lewies, 4 Etienne Oosthuizen, 3 Louwrens Adriaanse, 2 Franco Marais, 1 Tendai Mtawarira (captain). Replacements: 16 Kyle Cooper, 17 Thomas du Toit, 18 Coenie Oosthuizen, 19 Hyron Andrews, 20 Keegan Daniel, 21 Michael Claassens, 22 Garth April, 23 Odwa Ndungane.


Vodacom Bulls vs Reds

Date: Saturday, 16 April

SA Time: 17h05

Venue: Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria

Referee: Angus Gardner

Assistant referees: Jaco van Heerden, AJ Jacobs

Television match official: Johan Greeff


Team News:

·         There are three changes to the Vodacom Bulls backline – Bjorn Basson replaces Jamba Ulengo on the wing, Francois Brummer swops jerseys with Tian Schoeman at flyhalf, with the latter moving to the bench, and Rudy Paige returns from injury at scrumhalf.

·         Paige replaces Piet van Zyl, who moves to the bench, with Ivan van Zyl dropping out from the team that won against the Southern Kings in Port Elizabeth last weekend.

·         The pack remains unchanged, but the bench has been tweaked. Lizo Gqoboka replaces Pierre Schoeman as back-up loosehead, Jaco Visagie comes in for Bandise Maku at hooker and Deon Stegmann takes over from Roelof Smit as loose forward replacement.

·         It will be Stegmann’s first appearance in the competition this year after he recovered from injury.



·         The Vodacom Bulls have only won seven of the 17 matches against the Reds, but the average score is 28-23 to the South Africans. However, the Vodacom Bulls have won their last six home matches against the Reds.

·         The Vodacom Bulls’ only home defeats against the Queenslanders were 1999 (Brakpan) and 2001 (Pretoria).

·         The Vodacom Bulls won seven and drew one of their last nine home matches in the competition, while the Reds have won only two of their last 11 matches away from home.



Vodacom Bulls coach Nollis Maris: “The Reds play with good width and have great players in crucial positions. They knocked over the defending champions last week, so will have faith in their game plan and structures. We need to be ready.”


Vodacom Bulls captain Adriaan Strauss: “We had to overcome a number of challenges last weekend, like playing with 13 men. We made two or three try-saving tackles and most pleasing, scored a couple of crackers ourselves. Those things do wonders for the confidence and belief and we are ready to give it another go. The Reds are former champions and is a team that has lots of variety and options. So we need to defend with great pride against them if we want to dominate.”




Vodacom Bulls: 15 SP Marais, 14 Travis Ismaiel, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Francois Brummer, 9 Rudy Paige, 8 Arno Botha, 7 Jannes Kirsten, 6 Lappies Labuschagne, 5 RG Snyman, 4 Jason Jenkins, 3 Marcel van der Merwe, 2 Adriaan Strauss (captain), 1 Trevor Nyakane. Replacements: 16 Jaco Visagie, 17 Lizo Gqoboko, 18 Werner Kruger, 19 Marvin Orie, 20 Deon Stegmann, 21 Piet van Zyl, 22 Tian Schoeman, 23 Dan Kriel.


Reds: 15 Karmichael Hunt, 14 Chris Feauai-Sautia, 13 Samu Kerevi, 12 Anthony Fainga'a, 11 Eto Nabuli, 10 Jake McIntyre, 9 Nick Frisby, 8 Jake Schatz, 7 Liam Gill, 6 Hendrik Tui, 5 Ben Matwijow, 4 Cadeyrn Neville, 3 Greg Holmes, 2 Andrew Ready, 1 James Slipper (captain). Replacements: 16 Saia Fainga'a, 17 Sef Fa'agase, 18 Sam Talakai, 19 Lukhan Tui, 20 Curtis Browning, 21 James Tuttle, 22 Sam Greene, 23 Ayumu Goromaru.


Emirates Lions vs DHL Stormers

Date: Saturday, 16 April

SA Time: 19h15

Venue: Emirates Airline Park, Johannesburg

Referee: Stuart Berry

Assistant referees: Lourens van der Merwe, Cwengile Jadezweni

Television match official: Willie Vos


Team News:

·         The Emirates Lions have named an unchanged match-23 from last week’s win over the Cell C Sharks in Durban to play on Saturday.

·         DHL Stormers coach Robbie Fleck has made four changes to his side for their trip to Johannesburg, two of these rotational switches.

·         Loosehead prop JC Janse van Rensburg is trading places with Oli Kebble, while Nizaam Carr replaces Siya Kolisi at openside flank. Kolisi and Kebble are on the bench.

·         Scrumhalf Nic Groom returns from a minor knee injury which kept him out of action against the Sunwolves, and hooker Bongi Mbonambi gets another chance to start as Scarra Ntubeni has been ruled out with a hamstring niggle.



·         The Emirates Lions and DHL Stormers have faced one another 13 times in Vodacom Super Rugby (since 2006), with the Cape side winning 11 matches and the Johannesburg side once, while the other match ended in a 19-19 draw. The average score between the sides is 19-24.

·         The Emirates Lions’ victory, however, was secured in Johannesburg in 2014 when they won 34-10.

·         The Emirates Lions have won six of their last eight matches at home, while they haven’t lost a home match against South African opposition since they last hosted the DHL Stormers in Round 3 in 2015.

·         The DHL Stormers have won their last two matches away from home, although they have lost two of their last three matches away to South African teams.




Emirates Lions head coach Johan Ackermann: “We are very happy that we can pick the same side as last week. We opted for continuity as it brings stability amongst other things. Thus we decided not the use our rotational system this week.”


DHL Stormers head coach Robbie Fleck: “We know that every game is an opportunity to improve on what we have done before, and that is our aim up in Johannesburg. We have prepared well for this match and the players are focused on giving their best for 80 minutes this weekend.”




Emirates Lions: 15 Jaco van der Walt, 14 Ruan Combrinck, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Rohan Janse van Rensburg, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Ross Cronje, 8 Warren Whiteley (captain), 7 Warwick Tecklenburg, 6 Jaco Kriel, 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Andries Ferreira, 3 Julian Redelinghuys, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Dylan Smith. Replacements: 16 Armand van der Merwe, 17 Corne Fourie, 18 Ruan Dreyer, 19 Ruan Ackermann, 20 Cyle Brink, 21 Faf de Klerk, 22 Howard Mnisi, 23 Andries Coetzee.


DHL Stormers: 15 Cheslin Kolbe, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Johnny Kotze, 12 Juan de Jongh (co-captain), 11 Leolin Zas, 10 Jean-Luc du Plessis, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Schalk Burger, 7 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 6 Nizaam Carr, 5 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 4 JD Schickerling, 3 Vincent Koch, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg. Replacements: 16 Mike Willemse, 17 Oli Kebble, 18 Frans Malherbe (co-captain), 19 Rynhardt Elstadt, 20 Siya Kolisi, 21 Louis Schreuder, 22 Damian de Allende, 23 Huw Jones.


Other fixtures (SA kick-off times):


Friday, 15 April

09h35: Crusaders vs Jaguares – AMI Stadium, Christchurch

11h45: Rebels vs Hurricanes – AAMI Park, Melbourne


Saturday, 16 April

11h45: Waratahs vs Brumbies – Allianz Stadium, Sydney

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