The Stormers will be on the hunt for a ninth straight win when they host the old enemy at Newlands for possibly the last time, writes JON CARDINELLI.
We’re nearing the end of an era. Over the course of this season, the Stormers, Western Province and the Springboks will say goodbye to the storied ground of Newlands. All further matches will be played at the Cape Town Stadium from 2021 onwards.
The Stormers players and coaches have spoken at length about drawing on that unique energy for one final season. They delivered on their promise last week – in front of an admittedly modest crowd of 18,867 – when they hammered the Hurricanes 27-0.
How badly do the Stormers want the next victory? On Saturday, they will have the chance to end an important chapter in the north-south rivalry on a high. The Vodacom Bulls, of course, will be going all out to have the final say at what’s been an unhappy hunting ground for them in recent times.
The Bulls have lost their last eight matches at Newlands. Better sides than the current team stacked with youngsters and returning veterans has tried and failed to break the Stormers at their fortress.
The Bulls have lost a number of senior players to overseas clubs in recent months. They began their 2020 campaign with a 23-15 loss to the Sharks in Durban. Earlier this week, it was confirmed that Bulls director of rugby Alan Zondagh has parted ways with the franchise.
Perhaps they may view the upcoming game at Newlands as an opportunity to turn things around. Indeed, if they can go to Cape Town and end the franchise’s eight-match losing streak, they will have earned the right to be spoken about as contenders for the South African conference title.
The Stormers will be without inspirational skipper Siya Kolisi and frontline hooker Bongi Mbonambi. They should have enough quality in reserve, though, to push for another win against their old foes.
One would hope that the atmosphere matches the occasion. Crowd numbers have dropped across the tournament in recent seasons and even matches as big as the north-south derby have been poorly attended.
It would be a shame if there wasn’t a decent turnout for what should be the final instalment of this rivalry at Newlands. Unless the Bulls qualify for a playoff in Cape Town later in the season, the coming game will mark their last Super Rugby visit to the ground.
NORTH-SOUTH DERBY SINCE 2011
Bulls beat Stormers 19-16 at Newlands
Stormers beat Bulls 20-17 at Newlands
Stormers beat Bulls 19-14 at Loftus Versfeld
Bulls beat Stormers 25-17 at Loftus Versfeld
Stormers beat Bulls 30-13 at Newlands
Bulls beat Stormers 28-12 at Loftus Versfeld
Stormers beat Bulls 16-0 at Newlands
Stormers win 29-17 at Loftus Versfeld
Stormers win 15-13 at Newlands
Stormers beat Bulls 33-9 at Newlands
Bulls beat Stormers 17-13 at Loftus Versfeld
Stormers beat Bulls 37-24 at Newlands
Stormers beat Bulls 41-33 at Loftus Versfeld
Bulls beat Stormers 33-23 at Loftus Versfeld
Stormers beat Bulls 29-17 at Newlands
Bulls beat Stormers 40-3 at Loftus Versfeld
Stormers beat Bulls 24-23 at Newlands
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