Cell C Sharks vs Vodacom Bulls Match Preview

The Cell C Sharks and Vodacom Bulls have engaged in numerous battles both in recent and distant past, but the intensity and rivalry remains constant, exactly what we can expect when the two sides clash at Jonsson Kings Park in tonight’s Vodacom United Rugby Championship match.

This match also heralds the return of the Springboks to franchise rugby which adds a further element of excitement to the fireworks expected between arguably two of South Africa’s premier sides.

Cell C Sharks head coach Sean Everitt admitted that there was no thought of resting the Boks after a big year for the national side given that their match burden was not as severe as the Cell C Sharks players who had filled in during their absence.

“With last week’s game postponed, they would have had extra rest, the number of games they’ve played hasn’t been as many as the guys who have carried the can for us in their absence, and we’re very happy to include them this week against the Bulls,” he said in the lead-up to the match.

In more player selection news, Everitt has selected captain Lukhanyo Am outside of his familiar role at outside centre, this week he wears the number 12 jersey.

“We felt that Jeremey Ward has played his best rugby at 13, I have coached Lukhanyo where he did a great job for us at inside centre in the 2017 Currie Cup and I’d just like to have a look at that combination,” the Cell C Sharks coach explained of his decision.

“Lukhanyo does bring play-making ability in that position and he leads the team’s defence; it’s great that he can lead from inside centre.

“We’ve picked a formidable team this weekend, although we don’t have all our players available, but it’s great to be able to select Siya Kolisi who is probably the form loosie in the world right now. And someone like Bongi Mbonambi brings a tremendous amount of experience, we know as an all-round hooker he’s one of the best on the world and he brings a real competitive edge to the team. We feel that we have selected a really good team.”

The hostility resumes against a team that relishes playing the Cell C Sharks and the two can always be expected to go hammer and tongs at each other. While the game was only confirmed recently after the overseas sides left South African shores before a whistle could be blown, the preparation for this game was not overly problematic, despite how the challenge of having to change focus to preparing for a local side rather than one from Europe.

“The local franchises have played each other dozens of times over the last 18 months, so we know what’s coming and what to expect,” Everitt said.

“The coaches have worked tirelessly to prepare the team and the players have responded well.”

Although it’s been a tough time with touring and enforced disruptions, the Cell C Sharks go into this home game at Jonsson Kings Park with confidence.

“We have a good record against the Bulls at home and they have a good record against us up at Loftus. At home we won 35-28 in the Currie Cup and won in the Preparation Cup as well, so the match results are evenly-poised at the moment and the team that executes the best will come out on top.”