The Rainbow Cup SA passes its halfway point this coming weekend and there are another two fiery local derbies in-store with the Stormers and Bulls squaring off on Friday evening and the Lions and Sharks going head to head on Saturday.
Bulls vs Stormers
Friday 4th June
To Win (80 Mins)
Stormers (-6.5) 17/20
Bulls (+6.5) 17/20
The Bulls will be looking to bounce back from their shock defeat to the Lions when they tackle old enemies, the Stormers.
Jake White’s men suffered their first defeat of the campaign in the last round as they went down 33-34 in Johannesburg. As the scoreline suggests, it was a really open game and the Bulls were suckered into playing a brand of rugby that’s not essentially in their DNA.
They will likely be more conservative in Cape Town and you can expect former Springbok Morne Steyn – who could well come into the starting lineup in place of Chris Smit – to look to control proceedings with the boot.
The Stormers had a far better time of it in Round 3 of the comp as they got one over their coastal rivals, the Sharks courtesy of a late penalty from former KZN man Tim Swiel.
The game was played in rather poor conditions with a lot of rain falling during the latter parts of the fixture. The Stormers forward pack stood up big time in these trying conditions, with Pieter Steph Du Toit playing an absolute blinder.
The 2019 IRB World Player of the Year will need to be at his best again this weekend as the Bulls have a very strong lose trio.
Verdict: Stormers (+6.5) 9/10
I think we may well get another surprise here with my money on the Stormers taking the spoils. When the two sides met in Cape Town earlier in the tournament it was a very tight affair with the hosts only going down by four points. My main bet will be on the plus line here but I’ll also be having a crack on the Stormers to win it on the board.
Lions v Sharks
Saturday 5 June
Emirates Airline Park
To Win (80 Mins)
Lions (+2.5) 9/10
Sharks (-2.5) 9/10
The Lions will be looking to upset the applecart again this Saturday when they take on a Sharks side that will still be licking their wounds after their loss to the Stormers in Round 3.
The Lions blew the tournament wide open with their one-point win over the Bulls. While it was still a big upset, the writing had been on the wall for some time as the Lions have been starting to gel rather nicely. Their backline looked really good with ball in hand last time out, and their forward pack blew the Bulls away at scrum time.
While the Lions managed to outmuscle the Bulls, the Sharks were outmuscled by the Stormers with their forward pack struggling to get ascendency at the breakdown and in the loose. The Sharks did look decent on the counter, though, and with the game being played on the Highveld, we could see the shackles well and truly loosened here and the Sharks swing the ball around.
In terms of team selection, I think the sharks may look to freshen things up at scrum-half and give Jaden Hendrikse a start in place of Grant Williams as t feel Hendrikse will be able to exploit the Lions fringe defence a bit more than his teammate.
Verdict: Lions (+2.5) 17/20
I’m on the plus line here again. The Lions have really started to click and I reckon the Sharks could be in for a tight one up in Johannesburg.