URC – Preview – Vodacom Bulls Looking To Secure Top Four Spot Against Glasgow Warriors


The Vodacom Bulls will want to keep alive their hopes of finishing in the top four for a home quarter-final when they host the log leaders, Glasgow Warriors at 14:00 (SA Time) on Saturday.

The Vodacom Bulls have an inside lane for a top-four finish as they are currently in fourth place on the standings with 51 points, six ahead of the fifth-placed DHL Stormers, and they will certainly want to make the most of their home ground advantage against log-leaders, Glasgow, who hold a seven-point lead over them on the table.

The Vodacom Bulls will be bracing themselves for a gruelling match against the Glasgow Warriors, but they will draw inspiration from the fact they have only suffered one defeat at home this season, while a victory would also bolster their chances of hosting a quarter-final.

The Pretoria side has been superior on attack this season, but they will go up against the best defensive team in the Vodacom URC, which sets the scene for a thrilling encounter.

Vodacom Bulls' Director of Rugby, Jake White has made five changes to his side. Two of the changes are positional whilst three are personnel changes.

Akker van der Merwe and Johan Grobbelaar have swapped places with the former slotting into the front row at hooker flanked by Gerhard Steenekamp (loose-head) and Wilco Louw at tight-head. Nortje comes into the second row to pair up with name-sake, Ruan Vermaak at lock which sees Reinhardt Ludwig move to the bench, alongside Nizaam Carr who makes way for van Staden at blind-side flank. Elrigh Louw starts at openside once more as does Cameron Hanekom at eight.

Behind the forwards will be the halfback duo Embrose Papier and Chris Smith, with Papier at scrumhalf and Smith at flyhalf. The two will link the forwards with a retained backline from round 15. Kurt-Lee Arendse will run at left wing with Canan Moodie on the right side of the park whilst Harold Vorster and David Kriel are at centre and Willie Le Roux at fullback.

White has gone with a five-three which sees Grobbelaar and Francois Klopper as the other two personnel changes in the matchday 23. Simphiwe Matanzima, Reinhardt Ludwig, Nizaam Carr, Zak Burger, Jaco van der Valt and Devon Williams complete the 23 men reporting for duty.

Murphy Walker will make his first appearance for Glasgow Warriors since December 2022. The 24-year-old tight-head, who extended his contract with the Scotstoun outfit earlier this week, is part of a starting XV showing 11 changes from the 40-9 victory over Zebre Parma last time out, as Franco Smith’s squad go in search of a first win on South African soil since 2018.

Walker is part of an all-new starting pack, with fellow Scotland prop Jamie Bhatti returning from an injury sustained back in February to pack down in the front row alongside Grant Stewart, who makes his 50th appearance in Glasgow colours.

Scott Cummings starts in the second row after being introduced early on in the win over Zebre Parma, whilst Gregor Brown comes in to pack down alongside the Scotland standout in the engine room.

Rory Darge is another to return from a short injury layoff as the openside takes his place in the back-row, Matt Fagerson and Jack Dempsey making it an all-international loose-forward trio.

Behind the scrum, George Horne and Tom Jordan combine in the half-backs, the former’s try in Parma last time out having moved him into third place on the club’s all-time try-scoring charts.

The midfield combination is unchanged, as Sione Tuipulotu – another to run out for his 50th appearance in Glasgow colours – and Stafford McDowall dove-tail once more in the centres.

Club captain Kyle Steyn and Josh McKay continue on the wings, whilst Sebastian Cancelliere comes into the back-three in place of Kyle Rowe to round out the starting XV.

Johnny Matthews returns from an injury sustained against the Hollywoodbets Sharks three weeks ago to line up amongst the replacements, the league’s top try-scorer joining Nathan McBeth and Zander Fagerson as the front-row reserves tomorrow afternoon.

Former Scotland U20 colleagues Max Williamson and Euan Ferrie are selected as part of a six-two split of forwards and backs, with Henco Venter covering the back-row from the replacements bench.

The back-line is covered by Jamie Dobie and Duncan Weir, the former having made his debut in South Africa in the first match of the 2019/20 season away to the Toyota Cheetahs.

Speaking following selection, Head Coach Smith told glasgowwarriors.org: “Training this week has been highly competitive, with everyone focused on producing our best performance tomorrow afternoon.

“The Bulls provide one of the sternest tests in the URC; they have one of the strongest home records in the competition at Loftus Versfeld, as well as a blend of physical forwards and dynamic backs.

“We know that we will need to be at our best to compete tomorrow, and everyone is looking forward to the challenge.”


Vodacom Bulls: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Canan Moodie, 13 David Kriel, 12 Harold Vorster, 11 Kurt-Lee Arendse, 10 Chris Smith, 9 Embrose Papier, 8 Cameron Hanekom, 7 Elrigh Louw, 6 Marco van Staden, 5 Ruan Nortje (c), 4 Ruan Vermaak, 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Akker van der Merwe, 1 Gerhard Steenekamp. Replacements: 16 Johan Grobbelaar, 17 Simphiwe Matanzima, 18 Francois Klopper, 19 Reinhardt Ludwig, 20 Nizaam Carr, 21 Izak Burger, 22 Jaco van der Walt, 23 Devon Williams.

Glasgow Warriors: 15 Josh McKay, 14 Kyle Steyn (captain), 13 Stafford McDowall, 12 Sione Tuipulotu, 11 Sebastian Cancelliere, 10 Tom Jordan, 9 George Horne, 8 Jack Dempsey, 7 Rory Darge, 6 Matt Fagerson, 5 Scott Cummings, 4 Gregor Brown, 3 Murphy Walker, 2 Grant Stewart, 1 Jamie Bhatti. Replacements: 16 Johnny Matthews, 17 Nathan McBeth, 18 Zander Fagerson, 19 Max Williamson, 20 Euan Ferrie, 21 Henco Venter, 22 Jamie Dobie, 23 Duncan Weir.