Revenge And Desperation Key Ingredients In Battle At Mbombela Stadium


The battle for Currie Cup Premier Division semi-final spots reaches a key stage this weekend, and by the end of the 12th round, the playoff picture will be a lot clearer. In the final match of the weekend, Airlink Pumas will host the unchanged Vodacom Bulls at the Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit at 15h35.

The Airlink Pumas have suffered a slump in form over the past two weeks, with defeats to the Cell Sharks and DHL WP. Currently, in third place, they could slip further down the log if they don’t see off the Vodacom Bulls in Nelspruit this Saturday.

The men from Pretoria have transformed since welcoming back a host of star players from Vodacom United Rugby Championship duty. After claiming the scalps of Windhoek Draught Griquas and the Fidelity ADT Lions, Jake White’s charges will be targeting a third successive victory this Saturday.

Wins for DHL WP and the Vodacom Bulls this weekend could spell trouble for the Airlink Pumas. They may slip down to fourth in the standings, and may well be overtaken by the Vodacom Bulls in the final two rounds of the league phase.

Airlink Pumas head coach Jimmy Stonehouse made four changes to his starting line-up. Two changes were made up front where Deon Slabbert replaces Malembe Mpofu at lock while Franna Kleinhans replaces Anele Lungisa on the side of the scrum. At the back, Giovan Snyman replaces Chriswill September at scrumhalf and Etienne Taljaard replaces Lundi Msenge on the wing.

The Vodacom Bulls made no changes to their matchday 23.


Airlink Pumas: 15 Devon Williams, 14 Andrew Kota, 13 Diego Appollis, 12 Wian van Niekerk, 11 Etienne Taljaard, 10 Tinus de Beer, 9 Giovan Snyman, 8 Kwanda Dimaza, 7 Franna Kleinhans, 6 Andre Fouche, 5 Shane Kirkwood (c), 4 Deon Slabbert, 3 Njabulo Gumede, 2 Corne Fourie, 1 Cameron Dawson. Replacements: 16 PJ Jacobs, 17 Ettienne Janeke, 18 Simon Raw, 19 Deon Slabbert, 20 Franna Kleinhans, 21 Giovan Snyman, 22 Brandon Thomson, 23 Etienne Taljaard.

Vodacom Bulls: 15 David Kriel, 14 Sibongile Novuka, 13 Stedman Gans, 12 Harold Vorster, 11 Marco Jansen van Vuren, 10 Johan Goosen, 9 Embrose Papier, 8 Elrigh Louw, 7 Nizaam Carr, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Ruan Nortje (c), 4 Ruan Vermaak, 3 Mornay Smith, 2 Johan Grobbelaar, 1 Gerhard Steenekamp. Replacements: 16 Jan-Hendrik Wessels, 17 Simphiwe Matanzima, 18 Francois Klopper, 19 Charlie Ewels, 20 WJ Steenkamp, 21 Keagan Johannes, 22 Chris Smith, 23 Cornal Hendricks.