Preview: Vodacom Bulls vs Cell C Sharks

The Cell C Sharks travel to Pretoria to take on the Vodacom Bulls in this weekend’s round four Vodacom Super Rugby action looking to bounce back against a team that has secured two derby wins over South African opposition.

Matches against the Vodacom Bulls are never easy and this one will be no different. The Vodacom Bulls have transformed their game, an evolution that saw them out-attack two traditionally attacking sides in the DHL Stormers and Emirates Lions and the Cell C Sharks accept that defence and discipline are going to be crucial.

Cell C Sharks Head coach Robert du Preez admits that this is a crucial game, one the team are motivated to play well and come out on top of.

“The Vodacom Bulls are going to be tough to beat. They have a good team that dismantled the Lions and this is another South African derby, we know it’s going to be a big physical battle at Loftus. We have to be up for it physically; the game is going to be won and lost upfront. It starts and finishes with the forwards.”

What They Said:

“This is a game we want to win. We’re going up there to win and I’m sure they don’t want to lose at home.”

  • Cell C Sharks Head coach Robert du Preez

“It’s going to be a huge tussle up at Loftus, we’re looking forward to it. It’s going to be physical, but we pride ourselves on our physicality and we’ll definitely be up for it.”

  • Cell C Sharks assistant coach Braam van Straaten

“If you can’t be motivated to play the Vodacom Bulls, especially at Loftus, then you’re in the wrong profession. We’re highly motivated, especially after the loss to the DHL Stormers.”

  • Cell C Sharks captain Louis Schreuder

“South African derbies are always hugely physical battles, we know if we stick to our plan then we have a very good shot of not just going to Loftus to take part, but to win.”

  • Cell C Sharks lock Hyron Andrews

The Teams:

Head coach Robert du Preez

The Vodacom Bulls have missed RG Snyman at lock and now find themselves without Lood de Jager who will miss the remainder of the competition through injury.  They have made a few changes to their side, as have the Cell C Sharks with Gideon Koegelenberg, Wian Vosloo, Jeremy Ward and Rhyno Smith all earning their first starting berths, while Cell C Sharks Under 19 hooker from 2018, Fezokuhle Mbatha, is poised to make his debut off the bench.

“I’ve said that this is the year we’ll be exposing the greater squad to Vodacom Super Rugby and I think this is the right time to do it,” explains du Preez. “The changes are either through niggles or rotation but we have a nice mix and I’m really excited about the team we’ve selected.”

Some History

The Vodacom Bulls are undefeated in their last seven Vodacom Super Rugby games against the Cell C Sharks (W6, D1), including wins in their last three meetings.

The Vodacom Bulls have won five of their last seven South African derbies in Vodacom Super Rugby, including their last two on the bounce.

The Cell C Sharks have conceded just one second-half try this Vodacom Super Rugby campaign, fewer than any other team in the competition

A Few Stats:

Kicking Success Rate:

Cell C Sharks: 86% Vodacom Bulls: 86%

Clean Breaks:

Cell C Sharks: 11.3 Vodacom Bulls: 6.7

Offloads:

Cell C Sharks: 8 Vodacom Bulls: 5.3

Tackle Percentage:

Cell C Sharks: 85% Vodacom Bulls: 88%

Lineout Success:

Cell C Sharks: 84% Vodacom Bulls: 100%

Scrum Success:

Cell C Sharks: 96% Vodacom Bulls: 95%

Head to Head:

Overall, the teams have met on 30 occasions in the history of the competition, with the Vodacom Bulls enjoying the majority share of wins, 18 to the Cell C Sharks’ 9, with three matches drawn.  The average score in those games is incredibly close, just half a point difference, the Vodacom Bulls ever so marginally ahead 21.5 – 21.

2015: Cell C Sharks 10-17 Vodacom Bulls

2016: Vodacom Bulls 16 – 16 Cell C Sharks

2017: Cell C Sharks 17-30 Vodacom Bulls

2018: Cell C Sharks 10-40 Vodacom Bulls

2018: Vodacom Bulls 39 – 33 Cell C Sharks

Match Info:

Referee:  Marius van der Westhuizen

Kick-off: Saturday 9 March

Time: 5:15pm

Venue: Loftus Versfeld