It Is Going To Be Brutal And Close In Cape Town


The biggest rivalry in South African rugby resumes at DHL Stadium on Friday at 19h15 (SA Time) when the DHL Stormers face the Vodacom Bulls.

The two teams will square off for the first time since they met in the inaugural Vodacom United Rugby Championship Final in June, which saw the DHL Stormers claim the title at home.

Having claimed a win in their first-ever home Heineken Champions Cup match against London Irish last week, the DHL Stormers will be looking to continue that winning momentum as they take on their old rivals.

The Vodacom Bulls followed a different strategy and split their squad into two, one playing the Heineken Champions Cup, while their strongest squad was rested for this Nort/South battle.

Being at home the DHL Stormers must be the favourites, however, the bounce of the ball could change the outcome of the match in an instant.

Prediction: DHL Stormers by 3.

Dan du Plessis, Suleiman Hartzenberg and Ben-Jason Dixon all come into the DHL Stormers starting line-up. Du Plessis and Hartzenberg will link up in midfield, while Dixon comes into the second row for the North-South clash.

Dixon comes in at lock, to replace Salmaan Moerat, while props Ali Vermaak and Neethling Fouche have both been included among the replacements.

Damian Willemse shifts to fullback, while Godlen Masimla comes onto the bench in place of the injured Herschel Jantjies.

DHL Stormers Head Coach John Dobson said that his team are looking forward to what should be a great occasion.

They would not have rested 21 players for two Champions Cup games if this match did not matter to the Bulls,”

“It, obviously, matters to us. We are playing at home and have gone 370-odd days without losing at home.

“It is a cracking game for South African rugby and it means a lot to us. That will be reflected in how we fight."

“These ‘festive derbies’ are going to become part of our rugby tradition going forward so this is an exciting new chapter in the rivalry between the two teams.

“We have had some injury disruptions this week, but have managed to build some good depth this season and you can be sure that every player in our matchday squad will be ready to give it everything.

“This is a big match for both sets of fans and we are looking forward to what should be a fantastic atmosphere at DHL Stadium on Friday,” he said.

Vodacom Bulls captain, Ruan Nortje returns to lead the herd as BBCo Director of Rugby, Jake White rings changes to his matchday 23.

Scrum-half, Embrose Papier starts with Zak Burger primed to get a run from the bench. Lionel Mapoe slots in at outside centre with David Kriel still sidelined through injury. On the bench, Bismarck du Plessis comes in for Jan-Hendrik Wessels with Sebastian Lombard replacing Francois Klopper and Stravino Jacobs completing the impact squad at 23.

Nortje’s men head to the Cape for the first time since their valiant defeat in last season’s final. However, Nortje says that is all in the past and the team looks forward to a mouth-watering clash as they carve out new memories.

“It was a special game to be a part of, where there had to be a loser and a winner and unfortunately for us that day we came just short. It was obviously tough to lose in the final but we have put the past behind us and have had an exciting week as we build up to the match because the North versus South derby is always massive, for all of us.”

The Vodacom Bulls skipper also gave credit to the director of rugby, Jake White, for how he has managed player welfare in Pretoria.

“Jake is brilliant, we all understand the big idea behind player management and creating depth across the various facets of our game, so the break was welcomed – especially for me – now we return feeling fresh having gotten some rest after what has been a hectic couple of months on the field” concludes Nortje.


DHL Stormers: 15. Damian Willemse, 14. Angelo Davids, 13. Suleiman Hartzenberg, 12. Dan du Plessis, 11. Leolin Zas, 10. Manie Libbok, 9. Paul de Wet, 8. Hacjivah Dayimani, 7. Willie Engelbrecht, 6. Deon Fourie, 5. Marvin Orie, 4. Ben-Jason Dixon, 3. Frans Malherbe, 2. Joseph Dweba, 1. Steven Kitshoff (c). Replacements: 16. Jean-Jacques Kotze, 17. Alister Vermaak, 18. Neethling Fouche, 19. Connor Evans, 20. Junior Pokomela, 21. Marcel Theunissen, 22. Godlen Masimla, 23. Clayton Blommetjies.

Vodacom Bulls: 15. Kurt-Lee Arendse, 14. Cornal Hendricks, 13. Lionel Mapoe, 12. Harold Vorster, 11. Canan Moodie, 10. Johan Goosen, 9. Embrose Papier, 8. Elrigh Louw, 7. Cyle Brink, 6. Marco Van Staden, 5. Ruan Nortje (c), 4. Ruan Vermaak, 3. Mornay Smith, 2. Johan Grobbelaar, 1. Gerhard Steenekamp. Replacements: 16. Bismarck Du Plessis, 17. Simphiwe Matanzima, 18. Sebastian Lombard, 19. Janko Swanepoel, 20. Nizaam Carr, 21. Izak Burger, 22. Chris Smit, 23. Stravino Jacobs.