Planet Rugby

Preview: Stormers v Bulls

04th July 2014 07:13

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Handr Pollard Bulls v Cheetahs SR 2014

Cape Town return: Handré Pollard

The Stormers and Bulls might not be amongst the top teams this year, but both will be highly-motivated when they meet in Cape Town on Saturday.

The men from the Cape and their visitors are traditional rivals, so bragging rights will be at stake once again, especially amongst their loyal supporters.

And although the Stormers are out of the running for the play-offs, the Bulls still have an outside chance but they must secure maximum points in this clash, and hope that results from other fixture go their way.

Bulls boss Frans Ludeke and his team are determined to get their part of the equation done but expect a tough battle.

"We all know the maths - we need to go to Cape Town and get the full haul," said Ludeke.

"It is a massive challenge but we feel that we can do it. Making the play-offs was one of our clear targets and we need a very positive performance at Newlands to make it happen."

Even if they took the full 10 points from the two remaining games, the Bulls fate was still out of their hands as results in the other matches could leave them out in the cold.

Their captain Victor Matfield, however, said the team needed little motivation when they travelled down to Cape Town to face a resurgent Stormers side.

"If you put on the Bulls jersey there should be purpose," he said.

"We have a lot of pride and there is a lot of history in the jersey.

"There is still a small chance and we can only focus on what we can control, and we've got an opportunity to maybe still be in the race.

"If we don't win the game there is nothing for us, so it is a very important game for us."

All eyes will be on the new darling of South African rugby, Bulls fly-half Handré Pollard, who made his Springbok debut against Scotland in Port Elizabeth last weekend.

The past two weeks has been a phenomenal experience for the 20-year-old. He captained the Baby Boks team to a runners-up spot at the IRB Junior World Championship in New Zealand - where he was also crowned as World Junior Player of the Year - before earning his senior Springbok call-up in which he contributed 13 points in the 55-6 victory over Scotland.

Adding spice to the fixture is the fact that Pollard returns to Cape Town, the city of his birth and the place where he played most of his age-grade rugby for Western Province.

It won't be a surprise if he gets special attention from the Stormers in particular the back row of captain Schalk Burger, fellow flanker Nizaam Carr and number eight Duane Vermeulen who will do their utmost to unsettle the young pivot.

The Stormers are still without the services of regular captain Jean de Villiers and fellow back Damian de Allende but their absence have been alleviated by the the return of experienced backs Gio Aplon and Juan de Jongh.

Aplon and fellow Springbok Peter Grant, who is on the bench, are leaving the Stormers to further their careers at French clubs Grenoble and La Rochelle respectively and stand-in skipper Burger wants his to side to give them a good send-off with victories over the Bulls and the Sharks, in their final match next weekend.

"We're losing a few guys at the end of the season so we want it to be a special send-off and finish off on a high note," he said.

"It's going to be a massive game and in local derbies you can expect lots of feeling and physicality. The wet conditions will make it a tough game so the basics must be solid."

When the Stormers last played the Bulls in May, the Capetonians were quick out of the blocks and ran up an early 12-0 lead but the Bulls staged a brilliant fightback to secure a 28-12 win.

"In our previous game against the Bulls we started off well and put them under pressure but then our exits out of our half became poor," added Burger.

"As a result, they managed to pin us in our half for much of the game. But this team has improved bit by bit and it is going to be a tactical challenge. The two sides have very different styles."

Form: Before the break for the June Test window, the Stormers' last defeat was a 28-12 loss sustained against the Bulls in Pretoria in Round 13. After that, the men from the Cape claimed back-to-back wins in Cape Town, against the Western Force (24-8) and the Cheetahs (33-0), before securing a shock 21-19 victory over the table-topping Sharks in Durban in Round 16. The Bulls followed that win over the Stormers with a 44-23 triumph over the Brumbies in Pretoria, but suffered a setback when they lost 32-21 to the Lions in their last match before the break for the internationals.

Previous results:
2014: Bulls won 28-12 in Pretoria
2013: Stormers won 30-13 in Cape Town
2013: Bulls won 25-17 in Pretoria
2012: Stormers won 19-14 in Pretoria
2012: Stormers won 20-17 in Cape Town

Prediction: With plenty of rain expected in Cape Town, don't be surprised if this becomes a tactical affair with plenty of kicking. The visitors need to score tries, however, so don't expect them to rest on their laurels. Bulls to win by seven points!

The teams:

Stormers: 15 Jaco Taute, 14 Gio Aplon, 13 Sailosi Tagicakibau, 12 Juan de Jongh, 11 Cheslin Kolbe, 10 Kurt Coleman, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Schalk Burger (c), 6 Nizaam Carr, 5 Ruan Botha, 4 Michael Rhodes, 3 Pat Cilliers, 2 Deon Fourie, 1 Alistair Vermaak.
Replacements: 16 Tiaan Liebenberg, 17 Sti Sithole, 18 Martin Dreyer, 19 Manuel Carizza, 20 Siya Kolisi, 21 Louis Schreuder, 22 Peter Grant, 23 Seabelo Senatla.

Bulls: 15 Jurgen Visser, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Grant Hattingh, 7 Jacques Engelbrecht, 6 Jono Ross, 5 Victor Matfield (capt), 4 Paul Willemse, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Callie Visagie, 1 Dean Greyling.
Replacements: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Marcel van der Merwe, 18 Morné Mellett, 19 Marvin Orie, 20 Roelof Smit, 21 Piet van Zyl, 22 Jacques-Louis Potgieter, 23 William Small-Smith.

Date: Saturday, July 5
Venue: Newlands, Cape Town
Kick-off: 17:05 local time (16:05 BST, 15:05 GMT)
Referee: Craig Joubert (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Marius Jonker (South Africa), Quinton Immelman (South Africa)
Television match official: Shaun Veldsman (South Africa)

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