JOHN GOLIATH takes a look at some of the battles that will go a long way to winning the Vodacom Super Rugby wars in Cape Town and Pretoria on Saturday.
The 2019 regular season will conclude with two massive South African derbies that will decide which teams will contest next weekend’s playoff matches. Here we identify some of the key match-ups to savour.
STORMERS VS SHARKS
Dillyn Leyds vs Aphelele Fassi
Both players have had fantastic campaigns, but may yet struggle to make the Springbok squad because of the plethora of quality outside backs available to Rassie Erasmus. Nevertheless, this could be their final opportunity to impress the Boks boss.
The 3pm start is definitely going to favour running rugby at Newlands. Both players are expert counter-attackers, and these two ballplayers will punish any wayward kicks on the day. They are also highly intelligent rugby players, and anticipate them to pop up where you least expect it during the match.
Jaco Coetzee vs Dan du Preez
At the start of the season Coetzee probably didn’t think he was going to get a lot of game time, but injuries have allowed him to play a star role in the Stormers’ campaign. He has shown his versatility in the No 8 position; playing towards the ball while also showing his stopping power and carrying ability.
Du Preez is a powerhouse player and the Sharks rely on him to provide the necessary momentum on attack. Du Preez has also developed a top touch game, regularly looking to offload in the tackle and running some excellent lines on attack.
BULLS VS LIONS
Burger Odendaal vs Harold Vorster
The battle between flyhalves Handre Pollard and Elton Jantjies will be the main attractions at Loftus, but Odendaal and Vorster are the ‘centres’ of attention.
Both No 12s are underrated in the South African context because they aren’t the flashiest players around. However, what they lack in panache they certainly make up for it in work rate and powerful bursts down the middle.
The gainline battle could be key, especially for the Lions, who are missing some big players in the loose trio. These players can provide that momentum.
Lizo Gqoboka vs Carlü Sadie
The Springboks are suddenly blessed with a variety of top props. The competition for World Cup spots is getting hot, and someone will have to stay at home.
Gqoboka and Sadie have arguably been the in-form loosehead and tighthead respectively in South Africa, crushing their opponents at scrum time, but also playing a massive part in open play.
Their scrum battle on Saturday could provide the key to the Jukskei derby.