URC – Pressure On In Penultimate Vodacom URC Derby Round In SA


All four South African teams will be feeling the pressure when they take the field on Saturday in the second Vodacom United Rugby Championship Origin Round as the competition for places in the quarter-final heats up with eight pool rounds remaining – while the SA Shield can be decided in Pretoria.

The players will again run onto the park in their school or club socks in the second Origin Round in celebration of their rugby roots.

The Emirates Lions will host the Hollywoodbets Sharks in Johannesburg, where scholars in their school uniforms will be granted free entry, while a packed Loftus Versfeld will await the DHL Stormers when they take on the Vodacom Bulls on Saturday in what is expected to be another thrilling round of local action.

The Emirates Lions will be hunting their first victory in three outings when they line up against the Hollywoodbets Sharks at Emirates Airline Park, well aware of the significance of a victory to stay within range of the top eight teams after dropping to five points behind the eighth-placed Ulster following their defeat against the Vodacom Bulls two weekends ago.

The Hollywoodbets Sharks, meanwhile, will give everything to change their fortunes after slumping to their ninth defeat in 10 matches in the last round despite a brave display against the DHL Stormers. This result saw the KwaZulu-Natalians remain at the foot of the log.

The Emirates Lions have been more effective on attack this season scoring 74 more points than the Durbanites, but only one point separates them on defence, while the Hollywoodbets Sharks will draw some encouragement from the fact that they have earned six bonus points in the tournament so far.

They will also draw some comfort from the fact that the Emirates Lions have a 50% win record at home this season, setting the scene for a stirring encounter.

In stark contrast, the Vodacom Bulls will attempt to earn their third victory in a row and the DHL Stormers their fifth when the teams meet at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria where neither team will give an inch.

Spicing up the clash, only five points separate the teams on the table, with the Vodacom Bulls in second place and the DHL Stormers in sixth place, meaning a victory will give the winner a handy boost.

The same applies in the SA Shield title race, where victory for the DHL Stormers, on 17 points two ahead of the Vodacom Bulls, in Pretoria will all but seal the deal as they attempt to take the silverware back to Cape Town for the third season in a row.

Apart from keeping their SA Shield hopes alive, the Vodacom Bulls, who are on 35 points on the overall log, will also have their sights on possibly leaping to the top of the table if Leinster (39 pts) and the Glasgow Warriors (36 pts) slip up, which will motivate them immensely.

Adding to this, they will want to keep their perfect home record at Fortress Loftus this season intact. They will also be hellbent on changing their fortunes against the Capetonians, who have won the last seven encounters between the sides.

The Vodacom Bulls will enter the match with the bragging rights of being the best attacking team in the competition so far this season with an impressive 349 points in 10 matches, but the DHL Stormers will take pride in the fact that they have been one of the best defensive outfits, meaning it could prove to be a tight encounter.

Match information:

Emirates Lions v Hollywoodbets Sharks
Date: Saturday, 2 March
Venue: Emirates Airline Park, Johannesburg
Referee: Aimee Barrett-Theron
SA Time: 15:00

Vodacom Bulls v DHL Stormers
Date: Saturday, 2 March
Venue: Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen
SA Time: 17:05