United Rugby Championship: SA Teams have it all to do in tough conditions.
Unchanged Lions ready to weather Scarlets storm
THE conditions the Emirates Lions face tonight at Parc y Scarlets might have just as much say in the outcome of their United Rugby Championship match, as the opposition that they face.
Inclement weather – “grey, wet and cold,” as described by head coach Ivan van Rooyen – is expected in LLanelli on the South-west coast of Wales and will be closer in conditions to a rain-swept Newlands, than the magnificently dry and humid surroundings the Lions found themselves when they beat Zebre last week.
Expansive rugby might, therefore, not be on the cards and the tight exchanges could be where the match is won or lost. Playing in the right areas of the field, and hunting for territory, might just be the name of the game.
Moreover, as captain Burger Odendaal stated yesterday at the team announcement, in a game that will be more 50/50 due to the weather, it will be the forwards that will need to step up the most. Scarlets, however, will be no pushovers in that department as they sport Test experience in the front eight.
“The game management is going to be very important, so you don’t want to be stuck in your own half trying to play and then get a couple of unforced errors which puts them on the front-foot. It is going to challenge our kicking game a bit and hopefully our decision makers get us on the front-foot,” Van Rooyen said.
Emirates Lions starting XV: EW Viljoen; Jamba Ulengo, Wandisile Simelane, Burger Odendaal (capt), Rabz Maxwane; Jordan Hendrikse, Andre Warner; Francke Horn, Vincent Tshituka, Jaco Kriel; Pieter Jansen Van Vuren, Ruben Schoeman; Carlu Sadie, Jaco Visagie, Ruan Dreyer; Replacements: PJ Botha, Sti Sithole, Asenathi Ntlabakanye, Reinhard Nothnagel, Sibusiso Sangweni, Morne van den Berg, Eddie Fouche, Divan Rossouw
Bulls must ‘start well’ against Connacht
JAKE White has thrown down the gauntlet to his Bulls forwards to “front up” in today’s United Rugby Championship clash against Connacht in Galway.
Conditions at The Sportsground will be typically wet and windy, which will require the Bulls pack to secure their line-outs and scrums, and keep the ball at close quarters.
The Pretoria side were unable to secure their line-outs in confident fashion in last Saturday’s 31-3 defeat to Leinster in Dublin, where new hooker Bismarck du Plessis wasn’t quite in tune with his jumpers. That has resulted in Joe van Zyl returning to the starting line-up against Connacht, while there are also two other fresh faces in the front row, Lizo Gqoboka and Jacques van Rooyen.
Connacht will be fired up to get their United Rugby Championship campaign off the ground after losing 33-21 to Cardiff in Wales last weekend.
“In certain games, when you need to front up with your forwards – and it might be one of those games this weekend – then we must be able to do that,” White said.
“We’ve got to start well. That was one of the learnings from last week – we can’t afford to play catch-up (rugby). They are well-drilled and a good side, as are all these Irish sides.”
White is expecting the worse when it comes to the playing conditions today, and he likened The Sportsground to the University of Cape Town’s “Green Mile” rugby pitch, which is exposed to the elements and where the strong wind often results in teams holding on to the ball when playing into it, and booting it downfield with the wind behind them.
“I was here and I know Connacht – I’ve played here and coached against Connacht as well. It is one of those fields where it’s very open. It’s a little bit like UCT … You can struggle into the wind, and when you are with the wind, you’ve got to take advantage of it,” White said.
Bulls starting XV: 15 Ruan Combrinck 14 Cornal Hendricks 13 Lionel Mapoe 12 Harold Vorster 11 Stravino Jacobs 10 Johan Goosen 9 Zak Burger 8 Elrigh Louw 7 Arno Botha 6 Marcell Coetzee (captain) 5 Ruan Nortjé 4 Walt Steenkamp 3 Jacques van Rooyen 2 Joe van Zyl 1 Lizo Gqoboka. Replacements: 16 Bismarck du Plessis 17 Simphiwe Matanzima 18 Mornay Smith 19 Janko Swanepoel 20 Jacques du Plessis 21 Embrose Papier 22 Chris Smith 23 Stedman Gans
Sharks beef up for Glasgow tussle
THE Sharks have beefed up their forward pack nicely for tomorrow’s visit to the Glasgow Warriors by moving Gerbrandt Grobler from the second row to blindside flank and recalling experienced lock Ruben van Heerden.
Grobler joined the Sharks from Stade Francais not that long ago and is proving to be a combative customer while Van Heerden, who has only recently resumed playing after a long period on the sidelines with appendicitis, is the Sharks’ best lock and certainly their most physical.
The Sharks are expecting a fast-paced game against the side in the United Rugby Championship that plays the most like a southern hemisphere team. And there is a reason for that …
“Glasgow were coached by New Zealander Dave Rennie (the Wallabies coach who also used to coach the Chiefs) and they play like a Super Rugby team,” Sharks coach Sean Everitt explained. “So it will be a different challenge to that of Munster last week, who like to suffocate and strangle you.
“Glasgow had the most carries in the competition last weekend in their game against Ulster, so we are going to have to defend really well and be much better disciplined,” Everitt added.
Everitt has also brought in Fez Mbatha for Kerron van Vuuren at hooker and Murray Koster takes over from Marius Louw at centre.
Sharks starting XV: Curwin Bosch, Yaw Penxe, Werner Kok, Murray Koster, Thaakir Abrahams, Boeta Chamberlain, Ruan Pienaar; Phepsi Buthelezi (capt), Gerbrandt Grobler, Dylan Richardson, Ruben van Heerden, Le Roux Roets, Thomas du Toit, Fez Mbatha, Khwezi Mona. Replacements: Kerron van Vuuren, Ntuthuko Mchunu, Lourens Adriaanse, Thembelani Bholi, Hyron Andrews, James Venter, Tian Meyer, Jeremy Ward.