Champions Cup – Vodacom Bulls Will Be Desperate For Win Over Union Bordeaux-Bègles

 

The Vodacom Bulls will host Bordeaux Begles in the final round of the Champions Cup, in Pretoria on Saturday @ 15:00 (SA Time). With both teams already qualified for the Round 16 play-offs the hosts will be desperate for a 5-pointer against their visitors.

The Vodacom Bulls will face tough competition against Bordeaux, who are unbeaten in the competition and currently top their pool, having already booked their place in the playoffs along with Lyon, but with the hosts coming off a morale-boosting away win against the Bristol Bears in England, they will enter the match with confidence.

They will also draw inspiration from their passionate home crowd and the vastly different weather conditions in South Africa, while they will take comfort from the fact that they may only need one point from the match to make it through to the playoff stages.

Both teams have been in fair form this season with the Vodacom Bulls on five victories in eight matches in the Vodacom United Rugby Championship, while Bordeaux boast eight wins in 12 matches in the Top 14, setting the scene for a humdinger of a match.

The Pool topping French outfit visits Loftus with a 5-point gap at the top whilst the hosts are hot on their heels with just Lyon in 2nd place, 2 points ahead. Results on Friday evening have secured a place in the Round of 16 for the Vodacom Bulls. Connacht lies in 4th place with 6 points.

Vodacom Bulls Director of Rugby, Jake White has made some changes to his matchday squad, with Mornay Smith coming into the front row at tight-head in place of injured Wilco Louw. Smith will front up alongside Gerhard Steenekamp (loose-head) and Jan-Hendrik Wessels at hooker. Behind the trio will be Reinhardt Ludwig and Ruan Nortje at lock.

Marcell Coetzee will marshal the troops from the blind-side flank with Mpilo Gumede on the open side. Cameron Hanekom returns to matchday duties and slots in at eight.

The services of half-back duo, Embrose Papier (scrum-half) and Johan Goosen (fly-half) have been retained. Behind them, there is a shuffle of positioning with Devon Williams moving from fullback to left wing, pairing up with Sebastian de Klerk on the right side of the park. David Kriel returns to the inside centre as Stedman Gans partner up with him this week on his right. Willie le Roux also returns to the matchday squad and will start at fullback.

Teams

Vodacom Bulls: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Sebastian de Klerk, 13 Stedman Gans, 12 David Kriel, 11 Devon Williams, 10 Johan Goosen, 9 Embrose Papier, 8 Cameron Hanekom, 7 Mpilo Gumede, 6 Marcell Coetzee (c), 5 Ruan Nortje, 4 Reinhardt Ludwig, 3 Mornay Smith, 2 Jan-Hendrik Wessels, 1 Gerhard Steenekamp. Replacements: 16 Akker van der Merwe, 17 Simphiwe Matanzima, 18 Khutha Mchunu, 19 JF van Heerden, 20 Elrigh Louw, 21 Keagan Johannes, 22 Jaco van der Walt, 23 Cornal Hendricks.

Bordeaux-Begles: 15 Romain Buros, 14 Madosh Tambwe, 13 Nicolas Depoortere, 12 Pablo Uberti, 11 Louis Bielle-Biarrey, 10 Zack Holmes, 9 Paul Abadie, 8 Pete Samu, 7 Marko Gazzotti, 6 Pierre Bochaton, 5 Adam Coleman, 4 Kane Douglas, 3 Carlü Sadie, 2 Clément Maynadier, 1 Jefferson Poirot (c). Replacements: 16 Maxime Lamothe, 17 Ugo Boniface, 18 Ben Tameifuna, 19 Alexandre Ricard, 20 Antoine Miquel, 21 Tevita Tatafu, 22 Théo Nanette, 23 Matéo Garcia.