After a last weekend’s weekend of drama as the Six Nations and the Super Rugby Competition joined the Northern Hemisphere’s top competitions which are some way down their fixtures lists, another exciting weekend waits.
And now the fun continues in the Super Rugby competition. The Sharks kick off their four-match campaign in Australasia against the Highlanders on Friday morning (08:05) under the roof of the Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin on a weekend where all four of South Africa’s sides are in action.
The feature Super Rugby match of the weekend sees the Stormers and Bulls in action in what promises to be a special occasion. This game between the two traditional rivals is the last North-South derby to be played at Newlands. Kick-off is 17:15.
In the early afternoon game at Ellis Park, the Lions will be out to redeem themselves against the Reds following last weekend’s faltering start in Buenos Aires. This match starts at 15:05. The Jaguares host the Hurricanes from 23:40 in the last fixture.
♦ Sharks kick off their four Australasian games in Dunedin
Lukhanyo Am, the Cell C Sharks' Springbok centre and skipper, and Craig Burden (replacement hooker) are both set to earn their 50th caps for the team in Friday’s match against the Highlanders in Dunedin, while Springbok winger Sbu Nkosi will miss the encounter due to injury.
Nkosi is replaced by new-recruit Madosh Tambwe, who will make his debut for the team. The match kicks off at 08h05 (SA time) and will be broadcast live on SS1. Highlanders head coach Aaron Mauger, meanwhile, has selected six debutants in his match-day squad.
Am’s 49 caps include 39 appearances for the Cell C Sharks and 10 for the Isuzu Southern Kings. Springbok winger Sbu Nkosi will miss the encounter due to injury.
Nkosi will be replaced by new-recruit Madosh Tambwe, who will make his debut for the coastal side in the run-on team. The match kicks off at 08h05 (SA time) and will be broadcast live on SS1.
Highlanders head coach Aaron Mauger, meanwhile, has selected six debutants in his match-day squad, with Mitch Hunt (flyhalf), and wingers Jona Nareki and Tima Fainga’anuku making their first appearances for the team in starting line-up, while three more players are in line to make their debuts off the replacements bench.
Strong-running centre Rob Thompson will play his 50th match for the Highlanders against the visitors who started their season with a 23-15 win over the Vodacom Bulls in Durban. The Highlanders in turn have yet to get off the mark in their campaign after a bye last weekend.
♦ The last six games between the sides have seen each team pick up three wins, however, the Cell C Sharks won the six previous encounters in succession. In their last outing, the Durbanites won 15-14 in Dunedin.
Interestingly, the Highlanders have remained undefeated in their last five games on home turf (W3, D2), however, they have been unable to register a win in their last three games against South African opposition (drew 1, lost 2).
15 Josh McKay, 14 Tima Fainga’anuku, 13 Rob Thompson, 12 Josh Ioane, 11 Jona Nareki, 10 Mitch Hunt, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Marino Mikaele Tu’u, 7 James Lentjes (captain), 6 Dillon Hunt, 5 Josh Dickson, 4 Pari Pari Parkinson, 3 Siate Tokolahi, 2 Liam Coltman, 1 Ayden Johnstone. Replacements: 16 Ash Dixon, 17 Daniel Lienert-Brown, 18 Josh Iosefa-Scott, 19 Jesse Parete, 20 Shannon Frizell, 21 Kayne Hammington, 22 Michael Collins, 23 Teariki Ben-Nicholas.
15 Aphelele Fassi, 14 Madosh Tambwe, 13 Lukhanyo Am (captain), 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Curwin Bosch, 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 7 Tyler Paul, 6 James Venter, 5 Hyron Andrews, 4 Ruben van Heerden, 3 Thomas du Toit, 2 Kerron van Vuuren, 1 Ox Nche. Replacements: 16 Craig Burden, 17 Juan Schoeman, 18 John-Hubert Meyer, 19 Le Roux Roets, 20 Henco Venter, 21 Sanele Nohamba, 22 Boeta Chamberlain, 23 Jeremy Ward.
Referee: Angus Gardner
Assistant Referees: Paul Williams, James Doleman
TMO: Chris Hart
♦ Lions have their Bok fullback back against Reds
Springbok fullback Andries Coetzee makes a welcome return to the Lions team for their first Super Rugby home game against the Reds on Saturday, as a replacement for Tiaan Swanepoel. The match at Ellis Park starts at 1:h05.
In the only other change to the starting line-up Morné van den Berg replaces the injured André Warner (ankle) at scrumhalf. Meanwhile, the Reds have made four changes to their starting team. Wallaby utility back James O’Connor switches from inside-centre to flyhalf for only his second start in the Reds’ No 10 jersey, and Hamish Stewart comes off the bench and slots into the vacant midfield spot.
Meanwhile, the Reds have made four changes to their starting team. Wallaby utility back James O’Connor switches from inside-centre to flyhalf for only his second start in the Reds’ No 10 jersey, and Hamish Stewart comes off the bench and slots into the vacant midfield spot.
Upfront, Izack Rodda (lock) will also earn his first start of the season. Alex Mafi will start at hooker following an ankle injury to Brandon Paenga-Amosa during last week’s clash in Canberra.
The Reds defeated the Lions 27-22 in their most recent meeting, on 28 April 2018 after keeping them scoreless in the first half (24-0) to end a three-match losing run against the men from Johannesburg.
However, the Lions will be boosted by their excellent home record against teams from Down Under. They have won 10 of their last 11 home games against Aussie opposition in South Africa – including their last seven in a row – with the only defeat during that time a reverse against the Brumbies in 2015.
Teams – Lions
15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Tyrone Green, 13 Duncan Matthews, 12 Dan Kriel, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Elton Jantjies (captain), 9 Morne van den Berg, 8 Len Massyn, 7 Vincent Tshituka, 6 Marnus Schoeman, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Ruben Schoeman, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Pieter Jansen, 1 Dylan Smith. Replacements: 16 Jan-Henning Campher, 17 Sti Sithole, 18 Carlu Sadie, 19 Wilhelm van der Sluys, 20 Ruan Vermaak, 21 Dillon Smit, 22 Manuel Rass, 23 Shaun Reynolds.
15 Bryce Hegarty, 14 Jock Campbell, 13 Jordan Petaia, 12 Hamish Stewart, 11 Henry Speight, 10 James O’Connor, 9 Tate McDermott, 8 Harry Wilson, 7 Liam Wright (captain), 6 Angus Scott-Young, 5 Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, 4 Izack Rodda, 3 Taniela Tupou, 2 Alex Mafi, 1 Jean-Pierre Smith. Replacements: 16 Sean Farrell, 17 Dane Zander, 18 Josh Nasser, 19 Angus Blyth, 20 Seru Uru, 21 Moses Sorovi, 22 Isaac Lucas, 23 Hunter Paisami.
Referee: Jaco Peyper
Assistant referees: Cwengile Jadezweni, Griffin Colby
TMO: Marius Jonker
♦ Malherbe earns 100th cap in massive North-South Derby
Springbok tighthead prop Frans Malherbe will play his 100th Vodacom Super Rugby match for the DHL Stormers in the South African derby against the Vodacom Bulls at DHL Newlands in Cape Town on Saturday.
The kick-off for the North-South Derby is at 17:15 on Saturday, as the DHL Stormers look to make it two straight wins at the start of the season, following their 27-0 victory against the Hurricanes last weekend.
There are just two injury-enforced changes to the Capetonians’ starting team which did duty last week and both are in the forward pack, with Springboks Bongi Mbonambi and Siya Kolisi both ruled out due to injury.
Scarra Ntubeni is set to play in the front row in between Malherbe and Steven Kitshoff, who will take over the captaincy from Kolisi, while Johan du Toit starts in the back row at No 8 alongside his brother Pieter-Steph.
The Stormers, who were impressive up front against the Hurricanes but didn’t shop any ambition to run the ball wide. One of the main battles will be in the front row where World Cup props Steven Kitshoff, captain in the absence of Siya Kolisi, and Malherbe are up against Trevor Nyakane and Lizo Gqoboka in a struggle between probably the four best Springboks playing in South Africa at the moment.
The home team will start favourites, but there is belief in Pretoria that they van turn matters around after last year’s one-point, last-gasp, loss at Newlands.
Not a match to wager too much money on!
15 Dillyn Leyds, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Ruhan Nel, 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 Seabelo Senatla, 10 Damian Willemse, 9 Herschel Jantjies, 8 Johan du Toit, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Jaco Coetzee, 5 Chris van Zyl, 4 Salmaan Moerat, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Scarra Ntubeni, 1 Steven Kitshoff (captain). Replacements: 16 Chad Solomon, 17 Ali Vermaak, 18 Wilco Louw, 19 Cobus Wiese, 20 Ernst van Rhyn, 21 Juarno Augustus, 22 Godlen Masimla, 23 Jean-Luc du Plessis.
15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 Johnny Kotze, 12 Burger Odendaal (captain), 11 Rosko Specman, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Ivan van Zyl, 8 Josh Strauss, 7 Abongile Nonkontwana, 6 Jeandré Rudolph, 5 Juandré Kruger, 4 Andries Ferreira, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Jaco Visagie, 1 Lizo Gqoboka. Replacements: 16 Johan Grobbelaar, 17 Gerhard Steenekamp, 18 Wiehahn Herbst, 19 Ruan Nortje, 20 Wian Vosloo, 21 Embrose Papier, 22 Manie Libbok, 23 Divan Rossouw.
Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen
Assistant referees: Egon Seconds, Divan Uys
TMO: Joey Klaaste-Salmans