Pumas On Mission Impossible At Loftus

Photo Credit: Speedshots.co.za

The Vodacom Bulls are currently leading the standings by two points (19 points) over the DHL Stormers and the Cell C Sharks, but due to the cancellation of the Cell C Sharks’ match with the DHL Stormers in Durban on Saturday, the men from Pretoria have effectively already secured the title.

Chris Smith will earn his first start at flyhalf when the Vodacom Bulls host the Phakisa Pumas in their final Vodacom Super Rugby Unlocked match at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday afternoon.

The inclusion of Smith means the incumbent Morné Steyn gets a well-deserved break with Clinton Swart providing cover off the bench. The rest of the backline remains unchanged.

Amongst the forwards, Springbok flank Arno Botha will wear the No 7 jersey, with Elrigh Louw dropping out of the matchday squad. Corniel Els starts at hooker with Joe van Zyl on the bench in a direct swap as incumbent Johan Grobbelaar is still nursing an injury.

“Due to the pandemic affecting proceedings and the match between the DHL Stormers and Cell C Sharks being cancelled, we find ourselves in a more fortunate position than expected,” said Jake White, the Vodacom Bulls’ Director of Rugby.

“Even though this is not an ideal situation for the tournament and the teams, we all understand that the safety and well-being of all involved comes first.”

Phakisa Pumas coach Jimmy Stonehouse made wholesale changes to his team for their final Vodacom Super Rugby Unlocked fixture against the Vodacom Bulls in Pretoria on Saturday, with the side showing seven changes to the team that faced the Cell C Sharks in their last match late in October.

The Lowvelders will start the match with a new front row in HP van Schoor (hooker), Morgan Naude and Ruan Kramer (props), while Phumzile Maqondwana (flanker) and Willie Engelbrecht (No 8) will start in the loose trio.

The two changes in the backline are at scrumhalf, where Chriswill September replaces Ginter Smuts, who has been included among the replacements bench and at wing where Luther Obi comes in for the injured Neil Maritz.

The teams:

Vodacom Bulls: 15 David Kriel, 14 Travis Ismaiel, 13 Stedman Gans, 12 Cornal Hendricks, 11 Kurt-Lee Arendse, 10 Chris Smith, 9 Ivan van Zyl, 8 Duane Vermeulen (captain), 7 Arno Botha, 6 Marco van Staden, 5 Ruan Nortje, 4 Walt Steenkamp, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Corniel Els, 1 Jacques van Rooyen. Replacements: 16 Joe van Zyl, 17 Gerhard Steenekamp, 18 Marcel van der Merwe, 19 Sintu Manjezi, 20 Nizaam Carr, 21 Embrose Papier, 22 Clinton Swart, 23 Marco Jansen van Vuren.

Phakisa Pumas: 15 Devon Williams, 14 Luther Obi, 13 Erich Cronje, 12 Wayne van der Bank, 11 Etienne Taljaard, 10 Theo Boshoff, 9 Chriswill September, 8 Willem Engelbrecht, 7 Phumzile Maqondwana, 6 Francois Kleinhans, 5 Pieter Jansen van Vuren (captain), 4 Darrien Landsburg, 3 Ruan Kramer, 2 HP van Schoor, 1 Morgan Naude. Replacements: 16 Marko Janse van Rensburg, 17 Ig Prinsloo, 18 Brandon Valentyn, 19 Daniel Maartens, 20 Ginter Smuts, 21 Ali Mgijima, 22 Tapiwa Mafura, 22 Liam Hendricks.