A Win Will Seal It For The Bulls At Loftus Tonight

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The Vodacom Bulls remain in pole position to advance to the Guinness PRO14 Rainbow Cup Final as the South African competition reaches an exciting conclusion with just two more rounds remaining. The action resumes in Gauteng this weekend after a bye week, with the DHL Stormers having turned the PRO14 Rainbow Cup SA upside down as they beat the Cell C Sharks in the previous round. The clash at Loftus Versfeld is scheduled to start at 19h00.

John Dobson’s DHL Stormers made it back-to-back away victories as they saw off the Cell C Sharks to go second while the Emirates Lions served up a first defeat of the campaign for the Vodacom Bulls. However, the Vodacom Bulls have a four-point advantage over their Cape rivals.

Springbok loose forward Marcell Coetzee will earn his first cap for the Vodacom Bulls on Friday when the log leaders clash with the second-placed DHL Stormers. Coetzee joined the Vodacom Bulls from Ulster recently and he is one of three Test players that will make a first appearance in the competition. Ivan van Zyl returns from injury and will start at scrumhalf, while Gio Aplon will play off the bench against his former province.

Scrumhalf Ivan van Zyl will partner with flyhalf Morné Steyn, while wing Stravino Jacobs reclaims the no.11 jersey in place of James Verity-Amm. Besides the inclusion of Coetzee at the openside flank, Mornay Smith and Gerhard Steenekamp will prop up the scrum alongside hooker Johan Grobbelaar. 

Springbok utility back Gio Aplon has recovered from his ACL injury and will add experience off the bench, with fellow Springboks in prop Trevor Nyakane and flank Marco van Staden set to do the same.

Jake White, the Vodacom Bulls head coach, cautioned his side on what to expect from the DHL Stormers: “The loss against the Lions put things into perspective as we cannot afford even one slip up in terms of the log. We need to make amends for it and there are not many things tougher than a classic North-South derby.”

Meanwhile, former Blitzbok star Rosko Specman will start on the wing on one of four changes to the DHL Stormers’ starting line-up for Friday’s evening clash. There are two changes to the backline and two to the forward pack for this edition of the North-South Derby.

The other change to the backline sees Tim Swiel make his first start of the campaign at flyhalf. In the forward pack, David Meihuizen comes in at lock for JD Schickerling, who picked up an ankle injury in training this week, while Neethling Fouche starts at tighthead prop.

DHL Stormers Head Coach John Dobson said that his team will need to execute their skills as accurately as possible to get the result they need.

DHL Stormers head coach John Dobson said that his team will need to execute their skills as accurately as possible to get the result they need.

“We know that it will take a clinical performance to get the win on Friday and we are up for the challenge," said Dobson. “We want to push ourselves to deliver our best rugby for the full 80 minutes as we know that we are an even better team than we have shown in this competition."

The Vodacom Bulls saw their 100% start to the competition come to an end with a thrilling 34-33 defeat to the Emirates Lions in Johannesburg. However, they have a formidable record at Loftus Versfeld, having won 13 on the trot since losing to the Jaguares in February 2020.

After starting with back-to-back defeats, including a 20-16 loss to the Vodacom Bulls in Cape Town, the DHL Stormers are now attempting to register three successive wins for the first time since February 2020.

But their last triumph in Pretoria came in July 2017 and they have lost their last three encounters against the Vodacom Bulls since prevailing in Cape Town more than a year ago.

Vodacom Bulls: 15. David Kriel, 14. Madosh Tambwe, 13. Marco Jansen van Vuren, 12. Cornal Hendricks, 11. Stravino Jacobs, 10. Morné Steyn, 9. Ivan van Zyl, 8. Duane Vermeulen (C), 7. Elrigh Louw, 6. Marcell Coetzee, 5. Ruan Nortje, 4. Walt Steenkamp, 3. Mornay Smith, 2. Johan Grobbelaar, 1. Gerhard Steenekamp. Replacements: 16. Schalk Erasmus, 17. Jacques van Rooyen, 18. Trevor Nyakane, 19. Janko Swanepoel, 20. Marco van Staden, 21. Zak Burger, 22. Chris Smith, 23. Gio Aplon, 24. Jan-Hendrik Wessels, 25. Muller Uys, 26. Jan Uys, 27. James Verity-Amm, 28. Keagan Johannes.

DHL Stormers: 15 Damian Willemse, 14 Rosko Specman, 13 Ruhan Nel, 12 Rikus Pretorius, 11 Edwill van der Merwe, 10 Tim Swiel, 9 Herschel Jantjies, 8 Evan Roos, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Willie Engelbrecht, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 David Meihuizen, 3 Neethling Fouche, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Steven Kitshoff (C). Replacements (from): 16 Andre-Hugo Venter, 17 Ali Vermaak, 18 Frans Malherbe, 19 Ernst van Rhyn, 20 Marcel Theunissen, 21 Godlen Masimla, 22 Dan du Plessis, 23 Sergeal Petersen, 24 Lee-Marvin Mazibuko, 25 Juarno Augustus.