Rainbow Cup SA preview – Round 3

The two unbeaten teams in the PRO14 Rainbow Cup SA – the Bulls and the Sharks – go head-to-head on Saturday in the third round of the competition.

Saturday’s top-of-the-table clash starts at 18h15 at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria, while the Emirates Lions and the DHL Stormers meet earlier in the day in Johannesburg at 13h30, as both sides seek their first win of the competition.

Last weekend the Sharks followed up their thrilling victory at the Stormers in the first round by beating the Lions 34-26. Sean Everitt’s side played a part of the game with 13 men after yellow cards were shown to Thomas du Toit (prop) and Fez Mbatha (hooker).

Although disappointed with his team’s ill-discipline, Everitt felt his players ‘showed amazing character’ in holding off the tenacious Emirates Lions outfit.

The Durbanites – with only one change to their starting team – now head 600km north-west to Pretoria to take on the Bulls, who also made it two from two last weekend when Madosh Tambwe (right wing) scored twice in their 20-16 victory over the DHL Stormers, having beaten the Emirates Lions in the first round.

Something will have to give in the evening fixture in Pretoria, where both the Bulls and the Sharks will be looking to maintain their 100% start to the campaign.

The Duane Vermeulen-led Bulls, with two Boks back in their match-day squad this week, have a formidable record at Fortress Loftus, having won 12 in a row there since going down to the Jaguares in Super Rugby in February 2020.

They are also on somewhat of a winning streak, with their last defeat in eight matches coming at the hands of the Sharks, albeit in Durban, in March.

‘We’re looking forward to the match,’ said Sharks flyhalf Curwin Bosch, who is also the top points’ scorer in the competition with 22 points (two penalty goals and eight conversions).

‘I think it will be a good one between two unbeaten sides in the competition and the guys are excited for the challenge. I’m sure the Bulls players are too.’

Bulls Director of Rugby Jake White said: ‘We’ve had a few epic battles thus far and the Sharks will be keen to get one over us at Loftus as it is something they’ve yet to do. The forward tussle is going to set the tone, while both backlines are brimming with relentless talent so it should make for an exciting but hard encounter.’

The Lions, with a new captain in Burger Odendaal this week, will be keen to turn their fortunes around after losing their last three matches. Their last victory was over the Sharks in their 2021 Kick-Off Pools clash in Johannesburg in March, but they endured a 44-12 defeat a week later in Cape Town.

Ivan van Rooyen’s team will be buoyed by their recent record at Emirates Airline Park though, having won four in a row in all tournaments since losing to the Bulls in Super Rugby Unlocked in November.

Van Rooyen said: ‘We look forward to playing our first home game of the competition. The players have all worked hard and we look forward to a great clash.’

The Stormers have won 14 of their 21 meetings with the Lions, but have prevailed on only two of their previous six visits to Johannesburg.

‘We want to show that we are capable of delivering an 80-minute peformance and this is a great opportunity to do so,’ said Stormers head coach John Dobson when naming a team with four changes from last week.

‘The team has trained well this week and we are determined to put together a cohesive effort to get the result that we need.’

Match information – Emirates Lions vs DHL Stormers

Date: Saturday, 15 May 2021

Time: 13h30

Venue: Emirates Airline Park, Johannesburg

Referee: AJ Jacobs

Assistant Referees: Cwengile Jadezweni, Morne Ferreira

Television Match Official: Stuart Berry

TV: SuperSport Grandstand and Rugby channels

Match information – Vodacom Bulls vs Cell C Sharks

Date: Saturday, 15 May 2021

Time: 18h15

Venue: Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria

Referee: Jaco Peyper

Assistant Referees: Griffin Colby, Paul Mente

Television Match Official: Marius van der Westhuizen

TV: SuperSport Grandstand and Rugby channels

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Craig Lewis