South Africa takes centre stage yet again in the United Rugby Championship this weekend, with the final set of SA derbies on Saturday.
The Stormers are starting to find their feet in the competition as they head to Johannesburg to tackle the Lions at Emirates Airline Park in the early fixture.
Attentions then head just a little further north in Gauteng to Loftus Versfeld Stadium, as SA’s best-funded franchises meet in Pretoria in the shape of the Bulls against the Sharks.
Lions vs Stormers
Saturday’s United Rugby Championship clash between the Lions and the Stormers pits South Africa’s leading side against those most lagging behind.
As a fragmented, Covid-19 disrupted first edition of the URC finally threatens to take some shape, it’s the visitors who appear to be finding their feet in the competition at last.
The men from the coast backed up their scrambled draw away to the Sharks a fortnight ago with a 20-10 success against the same opponents at the Cape Town Stadium last weekend.
It leaves them tenth in the overall standings, for what they are worth given the fixture mayhem so far.
No such luck for the Johannesburg franchise, who made it back-to-back defeats against the Bulls last time out, with 21-13 the final score at Loftus Versfeld a week ago.
Only the Dragons and Zebre, who have lost all seven of their fixtures, sit below them coming into this weekend’s action.
Sergeal Petersen, Damian Willemse and scrum-half Paul de Wet all rotate in to freshen up the backline, in which Seabelo Senatla, Ruhan Nel and Warrick Gelant shone last time out.
Vincent Tshituka is back on the flank for the home side, who also welcome the return of Jordan Hendrikse as far as the bench.
Kick off is at 15:00 SAST.
Bulls vs Sharks
A set of South African derbies come to a climax in Pretoria on Saturday evening, as the Bulls host the Sharks in the United Rugby Championship.
The home side are out to avenge their 30-16 defeat in Durban the last time these two met in the URC in December.
They’ve started the new calendar year well enough, though, thanks to successive victories over Jukskei rivals the Lions.
A 21-13 win last weekend at Loftus Versfeld followed hot on the heels of their 31-10 triumph in Johannesburg, giving Jake White’s side the momentum coming into this one.
The Sharks have stalled, meanwhile, as they strive to meet rising expectations following their American takeover and high-profile signings including Springbok captain Siya Kolisi and World Cup-winning hooker Bongi Mbonambi.
Ill discipline cost them at Kings Park two weeks ago as they coughed up a healthy lead to draw 22-22 with the Stormers.
It was even worse down in the Mother City last weekend, as the Cape Town-based side held their nerve for a 20-10 success to leave Sean Everitt’s side scratching around for points.
David Kriel is in at full-back while there’s also a berth on the wing for Cornal Hendricks, with Gerhard Steenekamp the sole new face in the Bulls’ pack.
Kick off is at 17:05 SAST.
United Rugby Championship: Predictions
Prediction methodology explained: The expected win percentage is based off publicly available odds. For example, if a team?s odds are 2.30, the expected chance of winning is 43%. If the odds are 1.62 the expected chance of winning is 62% and so on. These are accurate at the time of writing but are subject to change. Where there is no value listed, the odds were not available at the time of writing. Score margins are taken from statschatnz.