Planet Rugby

Preview: Bulls v Stormers

12th July 2013 08:17

Share:

bryan habana

Emotional exit: Bryan Habana

The Bulls visit Cape Town this weekend aiming to become the second South African team to top the Super Rugby overall table since the competition was expanded to 15 teams in 2011.

The current leaders will arrive at Newlands to face last year's table toppers knowing exactly what they need to secure a home semi-final and a potential final at Loftus.

Loses for either the Brumbies on Chiefs earlier in the day would effectively hand the Bulls a semi-final in Pretoria. Even if the Brumbies beat the Force with the bonus point, the Bulls will only need a single point to finish in the top two and thus avoid a play-off next week.

But, as any side with title aspirations will tell you, a home final is key if you want to go all the way. And with the Chiefs expected to get the job done against the Blues in Auckland, the Bulls are likely to need victory in the Mother City to secure top spot, synonymous with a home final (assuming they get that far).

Yet, Frans Ludeke will not have mentioned anything along these lines to his team during this week's preparations. Looking too far ahead is a sure way to take your eye of the ball, so to speak, and the Saturday's visitors cannot afford to be below their best.

Indeed, although the Stormers will be playing for nothing more than pride, the hosts will fancy their chances of upsetting the apple cart as they head into the final round of the regular season on the back of a four-game winning streak. This year, the Capetonians have lost only one home game (to the Crusaders). In the last three seasons, the Stormers have only lost six home games out of 25, two of which were semi-finals.

The Bulls however are on that list of teams that have won at Newlands (notably 19-16 in 2011) and they outscored the Stormers two tries to one in last year's narrow loss. Perhaps more importantly, the men from Pretoria arrive carrying plenty of momentum as they are unbeaten in their nine games since returning to the Republic from their overseas tour.

The focus of attention this week has been on record-breaking wing Bryan Habana, who will be playing his 57th and final match for the Stormers, whom he joined after winning two Super Rugby titles and playing 61 games for the Bulls. Emotions are sure to run high.

But Stormers skipper Jean de Villiers is likely to play a more influential role from inside centre in his battle with his relatively inexperienced opposite number Francois Venter.

"A North/South derby is always a big game, it doesn't matter that there's no pressure or that you're playing for academic reasons," said Stormers coach Allister Coetzee.

"There's a lot of pride at stake and we want to finish on a high. It's massively important for us to win this weekend. We'd like to finish on a high and carry that momentum into the next competition."

Bulls captain Dewald Potgieter knows his team will have to make a step-up in their approach and execution after last week's underwhelming one-point win against the Sharks.

"We did not react well in certain situations when placed under pressure last weekend and will have to improve on that," said Potgieter.

"The Stormers have momentum and the home crowd on their side and this being the big North/South derby we will have to front up. It is fair to say that this will be our biggest test this season."

Previous results:
2013: Bulls won 17-25 in Pretoria
2012: Stormers won 19-14 in Pretoria
2012: Stormers won 20-17 in Cape Town
2011: Bulls won 19-16 in Cape Town
2011: Stormers won 23-13 in Pretoria

Prediction: It's a tough one to call as these clashes are always tight. The Bulls have everything to play for but flattered to deceive in last week's win over the Sharks. The Stormers will be keen to prove that they are still a top side and we reckon the respective changes at 12 could prove critical. Stormers to edge it by less than five points.

The teams:

Stormers: 15 Gio Aplon, 14 Gerhard van den Heever, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Jean de Villiers (captain), 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Gary van Aswegen, 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Nizaam Carr, 7 Rynhardt Elstadt, 6 Deon Fourie, 5 De Kock Steenkamp, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Brok Harris, 2 Scarra Ntubeni, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Replacements: 16 Martin Bezuidenhout, 17 Pat Cilliers, 18 Gerbrandt Grobler, 19 Don Armand, 20 Nic Groom, 21 Elton Jantjies, 22 Damian de Allende.

Bulls: 15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Francois Venter, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Dewald Potgieter (capt), 7 Jacques Potgieter, 6 Deon Stegmann, 5 Grant Hattingh, 4 Flip van der Merwe, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 1 Dean Greyling.
Replacements: 16 Callie Visagie, 17 Frik Kirsten, 18 Morné Mellet, 19 Jacques du Plessis, 20 Jono Ross, 21 Rudy Paige, 22 Jürgen Visser.

Date: Saturday, July 13
Venue: Newlands
Kick-off: 19:10 local (18:10 BST, 17:10 GMT)
Referee: Craig Joubert (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Marius van der Westhuizen (South Africa), Linston Manuels (South Africa)

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Friday , November 28
Bath vs HarlequinsBath vs Harlequins Preview
Saturday , November 29
Leicester Tigers vs Wasps15:00
Exeter vs Saracens16:30
Sunday , November 30
London Irish vs Gloucester13:00
London Welsh vs Northampton14:30
Newcastle Falcons vs Sale Sharks15:15
More Aviva Premiership fixtures
International Match
Saturday , November 29
Wales vs South Africa14:30
England vs Australia14:30
More International Match fixtures
Guinness PRO12
Friday , November 28
Munster vs UlsterMunster vs Ulster Preview
Cardiff Blues vs TrevisoCardiff Blues vs Treviso Preview
Saturday , November 29
Zebre vs Edinburgh15:00
Leinster vs Ospreys17:15
Connacht vs Scarlets19:30
Sunday , November 30
Glasgow Warriors vs Dragons16:00
More Guinness PRO12 fixtures
Top 14
Saturday , November 29
Toulon vs Clermont Auvergne14:45
Oyonnax vs Bordeaux-Begles18:30
Lyon vs Montpellier18:30
La Rochelle vs Bayonne18:30
Castres vs Racing Metro Paris18:30
Toulouse vs Grenoble20:45
Sunday , November 30
Stade Francais vs Brive18:00
More Top 14 fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Sunday , November 23
Saracens 24 - 31 NorthamptonSaracens vs Northampton Report
London Welsh 5 - 26 Leicester TigersLondon Welsh vs Leicester Tigers Report
More Aviva Premiership results
International Match
Georgia 35 - 24 JapanGeorgia vs Japan Report
More International Match results
Guinness PRO12
Treviso 24 - 24 LeinsterTreviso vs Leinster Report
Edinburgh 28 - 13 Cardiff BluesEdinburgh vs Cardiff Blues Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
Aviva Premiership
Saturday , November 22
London Irish 23 - 33 BathLondon Irish vs Bath Report
Exeter 31 - 15 WaspsExeter vs Wasps Report
More Aviva Premiership results
International Match
Italy 6 - 22 South AfricaItaly vs South Africa Report
England 28 - 9 SamoaEngland vs Samoa Report
France 13 - 18 ArgentinaFrance vs Argentina Report
Wales 16 - 34 New ZealandWales vs New Zealand Report
Scotland 37 - 12 TongaScotland vs Tonga Report
Ireland 26 - 23 AustraliaIreland vs Australia Report
Romania 18 - 9 CanadaRomania vs Canada Report
More International Match results
Aviva Premiership
Friday , November 21
Harlequins 12 - 16 Sale SharksHarlequins vs Sale Sharks Report
Newcastle Falcons 20 - 10 GloucesterNewcastle Falcons vs Gloucester Report
More Aviva Premiership results
International Match
Fiji 20 - 14 USAFiji vs USA Report
More International Match results
Guinness PRO12
Dragons 12 - 38 MunsterDragons vs Munster Report
Ulster 25 - 16 OspreysUlster vs Ospreys Report
Connacht 43 - 3 ZebreConnacht vs Zebre Report
Scarlets 19 - 9 Glasgow WarriorsScarlets vs Glasgow Warriors Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
Aviva Premiership
Sunday , November 16
Leicester Tigers 21 - 21 SaracensLeicester Tigers vs Saracens Report
Wasps 71 - 7 London WelshWasps vs London Welsh Report
More Aviva Premiership results
International Match
Ireland 49 - 7 GeorgiaIreland vs Georgia Report
More International Match results
Aviva Premiership
Saturday , November 15
Sale Sharks 36 - 8 London IrishSale Sharks vs London Irish Report
More Aviva Premiership results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Northampton830
2Exeter828
3Bath828
4Saracens825
5Leicester Tigers821