Can Vodacom Bulls Beat DHL Stormers In Eagerly Awaited North-South Derby


On Saturday at 17:05 (SA Time) the Vodacom Bulls will be looking for their first Vodacom URC victory over the DHL Stormers in an eagerly awaited North-South Derby at Loftus Versveld, Pretoria.

The teams have met four times in the Vodacom URC, including in last season’s inaugural final, with the Capetonians winning on all four occasions, the last of which was a 37-27 win in Cape Town just before Christmas.

The hosts will be buoyed by the return of their head coach Jake White following surgery and recovery, and if he is named in the match-day squad, it will be Morné Steyn’s 150th appearance for the Vodacom Bulls (in international competitions).

However, that alone will not be enough to topple the high-riding DHL Stormers, whose only defeat on South African soil in the Vodacom URC was way back in round five last season, on 4 December 2021 against the Emirates Lions in Cape Town.

The Vodacom Bulls, who haven’t lost at home since February 2022 (12 matches), came close last season at Loftus, where the DHL Stormers won by 30-26 courtesy of a converted try at the death by Paul de Wet.

With already more than 35 000 tickets sold, the hosts expect a full house which will bolster their confidence as they look to continue building momentum towards the playoffs of the championships.

Prediction: Vodacom Bulls by 6

The Vodacom Bulls have announced a strong line-up with minimal changes made up front while a number of forced changes to the back due to injury.

The Vodacom Bulls are still without the services of Springbok duo, Canan Moodie and Kurt-Lee Arendse, who are still on a rest break whilst creative midfielder, Johan Goosen recovers from a successful shoulder surgery that will see him sidelined for up to six weeks.

Lock, Jacques Du Plessis, is the only change in the forward pack from the matchday squad that lined up against the Welsh side, Scarletts. At the back, Director of Rugby, Jake White has made a number of changes, with Zak Burger and Chris Smith combining at half-back. In the midfield, Harold Vorster and Wandisile Simelane pair up as inside and outside centre respectively.

Speedstar, Sbu Nkosi returns into the fold to start at left wing whilst Cornal Hendricks gets a run on the right with David Kriel shifting to full-back.

Jan-Hendrick Wessels, Simphiwe Matanzima, Francois Klopper, Ruan Vermaak, Nizaam Carr, Embrose Papier, Morne Steyn and Lionel Mapoe will all get the opportunity their run from the bench.

Steyn will run out for his 150th club game in the Vodacom Super Rugby and United Rugby Championship era, a feat only achieved by a select few players. The Springbok and Vodacom Bulls legend has spent the last 14 years applying his trade in Pretoria, earning his unrivalled icon status across South Africa’s rugby-loving communities.

There are two changes to the DHL Stormers forward pack for the Vodacom United Rugby Championship encounter with the Vodacom Bulls in Pretoria on Saturday.

Hooker Scarra Ntubeni and flank Willie Engelbrecht come into the starting line-up for the North-South clash, which kicks off at 17h05 on Saturday at Loftus Versfeld.

The starting backline that did duty in the 46-19 win against the Cell C Sharks in Durban a fortnight ago is unchanged, while utility forward Ernst van Rhyn makes his return from injury on the replacements bench.

DHL Stormers Head Coach John Dobson is delighted to be able to keep such continuity in selection.

“It is quite rare at this stage of the season to have such continuity and we are also very happy to have some experienced players like Scarra and Ernst added to the mix this week as well.

“It has been a good week of training after the players got some deserved rest last week and we are ready for what will be another tough derby game,” he said.


Vodacom Bulls: 15 David Kriel, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 Wandisile Simelane, 12 Harold Voster, 11 Sibusiso Nkosi, 10 Chris Smith, 9 Zak Burger, 8 Elrigh Louw, 7 Cyle Brink, 6 Marco van Staden, 5 Ruan Nortje (captain), 4 Jacques Du Plessis, 3 Mornay Smith, 2 Johan Grobbelaar, 1 Gerhard Steenekamp. Replacements: 16 Jan-Hendrick Wessels, 17 Simphiwe Matanzima, 18 Francois Klopper, 19 Ruan Vermaak, 20 Nizaam Carr, 21 Embrose Papier, 22 Morne Steyn, 23 Lionel Mapoe.

DHL Stormers: 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Suleiman Hartzenberg, 13 Ruhan Nel, 12 Dan du Plessis, 11 Seabelo Senatla, 10 Manie Libbok, 9 Herschel Jantjies, 8 Marcel Theunissen, 7 Willie Engelbrecht, 6 Deon Fourie (captain), 5 Gary Porter, 4 Ruben van Heerden, 3 Neethling Fouche, 2 Scarra Ntubeni, 1 Brok Harris. Replacements: 16 Joseph Dweba, 17 Ali Vermaak, 18 Sazi Sandi, 19 Ernst van Rhyn, 20 Ben-Jason Dixon, 21 Junior Pokomela, 22 Paul de Wet, 23 Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu.