Loftus set for classic contest

2011-03-18 13:09

The underperforming Bulls and equally unimpressive Stormers will be out to set the record straight on Saturday when they take the field in the traditional north versus south Derby in Pretoria.

This match will be the first derby between two South African sides that have realistic hopes of reaching the play-offs and at kick-off the Stormers will be the only unbeaten side in the competition.

The Sharks lost their first match in Hamilton on Friday going down 15-9 to the Chiefs.

Notwithstanding the current form of the teams playing at Loftus on Saturday, there are still enough game breakers on the park to provide entertainment of Test quality.

“Both sides have great players so it will boil down to those big moments in the match that will create momentum,” said the Bulls coach Frans Ludeke.

While there will be no shortage of World Cup hopefuls on the field on Saturday, very few of them can with honestly say that they are playing William Webb Ellis rugby at the moment.

Even the die-hard fans of the respective sides are in agreement about one thing, and that is that their beloved teams are yet to play the brand of rugby which earned them a place in last year’s fiercely contested Super 14 final in Soweto.

However, the mutual feeling amongst the players will be that they need only one solid performance to return to rectify the situation.

As is to be expected from matches of this magnitude, there will be several intriguing battles between current and prospective Springboks, while the strategic approaches of the coaches will be just as important as winning those battles.

Then the commercialisation of traditional derbies will inevitably result in a dramatic increase on the number of battered bodies, so this is a match national coach Peter de Villiers will be monitoring closely.

At the start of the season the Bok coach made it clear that the starting line-up for his attempt to defend the World Cup should only be a formality – regardless of Super Rugby form.

Springboks already on the injured list are Cheetahs flank Juan Smith (Achilles tendon) and Sharks wing JP Pietersen (knee cartilage damage) and Schalk Burger – although the last mentioned is expected to be back in action soon.

As far as intense rivalry is concerned, it does not get much tougher than this fixture.

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