The South African conference is opened in the third match of the Super Rugby campaign where the Bulls host the Sharks in Pretoria, a match between probably the two most successful South African franchises.
The Bulls, after their mass loss of Springboks still field a very impressive looking side, with a pack that will match the Sharks evenly in a contest that many anticipate will be a forward battle, with Pierre Spies captaining the side from the back of the pack. It will be interesting to see the combination of Hougaard and Steyn working together.
Sharks coach John Plumtree has named a side that nobody would have expected from him, with a mixture of youth and experimentation taking the place of the tried and tested approach. Fred Michalak and Pat Lambie in the halfbacks will be catalyst to the backline getting going, with a strong forward pack securing decent front foot ball being priority.
This game should be yet another classic close encounter between these two teams, and it is always difficult to call a winner, but I will follow both my heart and my gut in saying the Sharks will come out victors.
This match kicks off at 19h10.
Bulls: 15. Zane Kirchner, 14. Akona Ndungane, 13. Johann Sadie, 12. Francois Venter, 11. Bjorn Basson, 10. Morné Steyn, 9. Francois Hougaard, 8. Pierre Spies (Captain), 7. Jacques Potgieter, 6. Deon Stegmann, 5. Juandre Kruger, 4. Flip van der Merwe, 3. Werner Kruger, 2. Chiliboy Ralepelle, 1. Dean Greyling
Replacements: 16. Willie Wepener, 17. Frik Kirsten, 18. Wilhelm Steenkamp, 19. CJ Stander, 20. Jano Vermaak, 21. Louis Fouche, 22. JJ Engelbrecht
Sharks: 15. Riaan Viljoen, 14. Louis Ludik, 13. JP Pietersen, 12. Tim Whitehead, 11. Lwazi Mvovo, 10. Patrick Lambie, 9. Frederic Michalak, 8. Ryan Kankowski, 7. Marcell Coetzee, 6. Keegan Daniel (Captain), 5. Anton Bresler, 4. Steven Sykes, 3. Jannie du Plessis, 2. Bismarck du Plessis, 1. Dale Chadwick
Replacements: 16. Craig Burden, 17. Wiehahn Herbst, 18. Ross Skeate, 19. Jacques Botes, 20. Charl McLeod, 21. Meyer Bosman, 22. Paul Abraham JordaanTweet