The Emirates Lions play their first Vodacom Super Rugby Unlocked home match on Friday evening when they face the Tafel Lager Griquas in a testing encounter in Johannesburg.

Kick-off at Emirates Airline Park is at 19h00.

Last weekend the Phakisa Pumas came very close to an upset against the DHL Stormers in Nelspruit, and on Saturday Jimmy Stonehouse and his team are involved in another big home fixture when they face the visiting Cell C Sharks. Kick-off in the Mbombela Stadium is at 16h30.

The final fixture of the weekend is a traditional North/South battle between the Vodacom Bulls and the DHL Stormers. The two big rivals face each other on Saturday evening in Pretoria, where the starting time is 19h00.

The Toyota Cheetahs have a bye this weekend. All the matches are live on the SuperSport Grandstand and Rugby channels.

Elton Jantjies

Elton Jantjies

Jantjies resumes captaincy for Emirates Lions’ first home clash

Springbok flyhalf Elton Jantjies has recovered from the calf injury he picked up during a training session last week and will captain the Emirates Lions in their Vodacom Super Rugby Unlocked clash with Tafel Lager Griquas in Johannesburg on Friday evening.

The Emirates Airline Park fixture starts at 19h00 and is the Emirates Lions first home match of the new campaign, 258 days since their previous match on home turf before the season was suspended due to COVID-19.

Jantjies was not considered for his side’s encounter last weekend against the Toyota Cheetahs because of the leg injury, but the match was eventually called off in line with COVID-19 protocols. It was confirmed that Friday evening's clash would go ahead following consultation between SA Rugby and the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NCID).

Other changes to the Emirates Lions side include the selection of a brand new back trio of Gianni Lombard, Stean Pienaar and Courtnall Skosan. Lombard comes into the side in place of EW Viljoen at fullback, while speedsters Pienaar is preferred over Jamba Ulengo, and Skosan starts instead of Rabz Maxwane.

Tafel Lager Griquas coach Scott Mathie has named a much-changed team for their Friday evening encounter.

Only six players from their last match – a home defeat to the Phakisa Pumas almost a fortnight ago – have retained their positions in the starting line-up, while there are two positional changes.

The six players who will start in the same positions as two weekends ago, are the midfield pairing of Harlon Klaasen and Andre Swartz, the halfbacks George Whitehead and Zak Burger, Stefan Willemse (flank) and HJ Luus (hooker).

The teams:

Emirates Lions: 15 Gianni Lombard; 14 Stean Pienaar, 13 Wandisile Simelane, 12 Dan Kriel, 11 Courtnall Skosan; 10 Elton Jantjies (captain), 9 Morné van den Berg; 8 Len Massyn, 7 Vincent Tshituka, 6 MJ Pelser, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Ruben Schoeman, 3 Carlu Sadie, 2 Jaco Visagie, 1 Sti Sithole. Replacements: 16 PJ Botha, 17 Ruan Dreyer, 18 Jannie du Plessis, 19 Reinhard Nothnagel, 20 Jaco Kriel, 21 Ross Cronjé, 22 Burger Odendaal, 23 Tiaan Swanepoel.

Tafel Lager Griquas: 15 James Verity-Amm, 14 Ederies Arendse, 13 Harlon Klaasen, 12 André Swarts, 11 Eduan Keyter, 10 George Whitehead (captain), 9 Zak Burger, 8 Carl Els, 7 Stefan Willemse, 6 Gideon van der Merwe, 5 Adré Smith, 4 Mzwanele Zito, 3 Ewald van der Westhuizen, 2 HJ Luus, 1 Andrew Beerwinkel. Replacements: 16 Monde Hadebe, 17 Mox Mxoli, 18 John-Roy Jenkinson, 19 Johan Momsen, 20 Ewan Coetzee, 21 Theo Maree, 22 Tinus de Beer, 23 Masixole Banda, 24 Bandisa Ndlovu, 25 CJ Velleman, 26 Johnathan Francke.

Match information – Emirates Lions v Tafel Lager Griquas

Date: Friday, 30 October 2020

Time: 19:00

Venue: Emirates Airline Park, Johannesburg                                        

Referee : Marius van der Westhuizen

Assistant referees: Aimee Barrett-Theron, Stuart Berry

Television Match Official: Jaco Peyper

TV: SuperSport Grandstand and Rugby

Curwin Bosch and Manie Libbok

Curwin Bosch and Manie Libbok

Phakisa Pumas tweak starting side for Cell C Sharks encounter

Phakisa Pumas head coach Jimmy Stonehouse made just two changes to his starting 15 for their round four home clash against the Cell C Sharks in Nelspruit on Saturday afternoon.

Stonehouse kept his side that tested the DHL Stormers to the limit last week at the Mbombela Stadium largely intact, making only one change in the front row and another at flyhalf.

Front ranker Liam Hendricks comes into the side as a rotational switch with Morgan Naude, while Fiela Boshoff earned the nod at flyhalf in place of Eddie Fouche.

Meanwhile, Cell C Sharks head coach, Sean Everitt, has had to make a few changes due to injury, while also using rotation to keep the squad both fresh but also battle-hardened.

Springbok prop Thomas du Toit is out because of injury and he’s replaced by John-Hubert Meyer.

The loose-forward trio has been rejigged; with James Venter having injured his ankle against the Vodacom Bulls, he is replaced by Dylan Richardson while Sikhumbuzo Notshe is out with a hamstring strain although it is hoped he will be available next week.

Madosh Tambwe (wing) will also get his first run in the competition in place of Werner Kok.

“We weren’t happy with our set-piece, but fortunately it is something we can fix and we’ve worked hard to rectify that. We’re looking forward to redeeming ourselves this weekend,” Everitt explained.”

The teams:

Phakisa Pumas: 15 Devon Williams, 14 Neil Maritz, 13 Erich Cronje, 12 Wayne van der Bank, 11 Etienne Taljaard, 10 Fiela Boshoff, 9 Ginter Smuts, 8 Jeandré Rudolph, 7 Willie Engelbrecht, 6 Francois Kleinhans, 5 Pieter Jansen van Vuren (captain), 4 Darrien Landsburg, 3 Ruan Kramer, 2 AJ le Roux, 1 Liam Hendricks. Replacements (from): Marko Janse van Rensburg, Stepan de Jager, Brendon Valentyn, Phumzile Maqondwana, Chriswill Willemse, Neil Marais, 22 Ali Mgijima, Dewald Maritz, Daniel Maartens, HP van Schoor, Kwanda Dimaza.

Cell C Sharks: 15 Manie Libbok, 14 Sbu Nkosi, 13 Lukhanyo Am (captain), 12 Marius Louw, 11 Madosh Tambwe, 10 Curwin Bosch, 9 Sanele Nohamba, 8 Phepsi Buthelezi, 7 Henco Venter, 6 Dylan Richardson, 5 Hyron Andrews, 4 JJ van der Mescht, 3 John-Hubert Meyer, 2 Dan Jooste, 1 Ox Nche. Replacements: 16 Kerron van Vuuren, 17 Mzamo Majola, 18 Michael Kumbirai, 19 Ruben van Heerden, 20 Thembelani Bholi, 21 Grant Williams, 22 Jeremy Ward, 23 Yaw Penxe.

 Match information – Phakisa Pumas v Cell C Sharks

Date: Saturday, 31 October 2020

Time: 16h30

Venue: Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit

Referee: Rasta Rasivhenge

Assistant referees: Cwengile Jadezweni, Egon Seconds

Television Match Official: Marius Jonker

TV: SuperSport Grandstand and Rugby

Jake White

Jake White

Nyakane to anchor Vodacom Bulls’ scrum against DHL Stormers

Springbok Rugby World Cup winning prop Trevor Nyakane will anchor the scrum in the only change to the Vodacom Bulls starting team for their outing against the DHL Stormers at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday evening.

The starting team will no doubt lean toward the abrasive yet dynamic style of play that former Junior Springbok lock forward Ruan Nortje brings to the table. The talented youngster has made 20 carries and 21 tackles thus far and is one of only two players to do so after three rounds of action.

The only change amongst the replacements sees Springbok loose forward Nizaam Carr replacing fellow Springbok Arno Botha.

“The Stormers tend to be our measuring stick and beating them is non-negotiable amongst the players,” said Vodacom Bulls Director of Rugby, Jake White.

Springbok loosehead prop Steven Kitshoff will captain the DHL Stormers for their visit to the capital.

Kitshoff takes over the captaincy from Siya Kolisi, who has been ruled out with a hamstring injury.

Jaco Coetzee, meanwhile, replaces Kolisi on the side of the scrum, while JD Schickerling will start at lock in the only other change to the forward pack.

DHL Stormers Head Coach John Dobson said that his side is looking forward to testing themselves in what should be another North-South classic.

“This match is one of the highlights on the South African rugby calendar, so we are looking forward to taking on that challenge this weekend,” said Dobson.

The teams:

Vodacom Bulls team: 15 David Kriel, 14 Travis Ismaiel, 13 Stedman Gans, 12 Cornal Hendricks, 11 Kurt-Lee Arendse, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Ivan van Zyl, 8 Duane Vermeulen (captain), 7 Elrigh Louw, 6 Marco van Staden, 5 Ruan Nortje, 4 Jason Jenkins, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Johan Grobbelaar, 1 Jacques van Rooyen. Replacements: 16 Joe van Zyl, 17 Gerhard Steenekamp, 18 Marcel van der Merwe, 19 Sintu Manjezi, 20 Nizaam Carr, 21 Embrose Papier, 22 Chris Smith, 23 Marco Jansen van Vuren.

DHL Stormers team: 15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Edwill van der Merwe, 13 Dan du Plessis, 12 Rikus Pretorius, 11 Leolin Zas, 10 Damian Willemse, 9 Herschel Jantjies, 8 Juarno Augustus, 7 Ernst van Rhyn, 6 Jaco Coetzee, 5 JD Schickerling, 4 Salmaan Moerat, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Steven Kitshoff (captain). Replacements (from): 16 Scarra Ntubeni, 17 Leon Lyons, 18 Neethling Fouche, 19 Chris van Zyl, 20 David Meihuizen, 21 Marcel Theunissen, 22 Ben-Jason Dixon, 23 Godlen Masimla, 24 Tim Swiel, 25 Angelo Davids, 26 Tristan Leyds.

Match information Vodacom Bulls v DHL Stormers

Date: Saturday 31 October

Kick-off: 19:00

Venue: Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria                                                         

Referee: AJ Jacobs

Assistant referees: Aimee Barrett-Theron, Stuart Berry

Television Match Official: Jaco Peyper

TV: SuperSport Grandstand and Rugby