‘Expect a bruising battle’

SARugbymag.co.za's panel of experts on where Saturday's match between the Vodacom Bulls and Stormers will be won and lost, who the key players will be, and who will be victorious.

CORNÉ KRIGE (former Stormers and Bok flank)

'It will be difficult for the Stormers to come away with a victory at Loftus. But anything can happen, especially with the Stormers playing a more expansive brand of rugby. The Bulls pack excelled against Saracens and if the Stormers are able to contend with their dominant pack, the game will be tightly contested. The winner will be the side that dominates at lineout and scrum time.'

ROBBIE KEMPSON (former Stormers, Sharks and Bok prop)

'Based on the Bulls' performance against Saracens, they might edge a victory over the Cape franchise. No doubt Duane Vermeulen will be an influential player. His team will triumph if they can endure the scrums and the powerful driving mauls of the Bulls, while using their exciting outside backs and strong ball-runners to good effect. The objective of the Pretoria side will undoubtedly be to gain momentum with their forwards throughout the match, and a player such as Jacques du Plessis can have a massive impact in the game with his strong ball-carrying.'

JIMMY STONEHOUSE (former Pumas coach)

'With a good pack of forwards and home-ground advantage, the Bulls will claim the bragging rights. They perform well when they're in cohesion and with Jan Serfontein, who can produce something special, the Bulls are a formidable force. But for Saturday's game they may have a weakness in the scrum. With [loosehead prop] Dean Greyling being ruled out of the game and problems at tighthead [Marcel van der Merwe is also injured] they might suffer in the scrums. I expect the Stormers to be good in the scrums and Bulls to excel at lineout time.'

WAYNE FYVIE (former Sharks and Bok flank)

'This is always a bruising encounter. The battle between the tight fives at the scrum will go a long way in deciding the result. Individually, Handré Pollard plays a critical role in the Bulls set-up, while the Stormers, as a unit, will have to build on their Currie Cup success to start the campaign on a high. On paper there is little to choose from between the sides and that brings home-ground advantage into the equation. With the rowdy Loftus crowd on their side, the scale is just about tipped in the Bulls' favour.'

OLLIE LE ROUX (former Sharks and Bok prop)

'The Bulls impressed in their pre-season matches [against the Cheetahs and Saracens]. Good old tight-five dominance will be important on Saturday and the contest between Duane Vermeulen and Pierre Spies will be of particular interest. However, the ball travels far at Loftus and one kick can determine the result. The Stormers defence will be tested all afternoon and they'll have to keep their cool at the breakdown. Discipline will be of utmost importance, more so than any individual contribution. Playing at home, the Bulls will win a tight game by five.'

Photo: Lee Warren/Gallo Images

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