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Carling Currie Cup Preview – Vodacom Bulls v Xerox Lions

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It is semi final weekend in South Africa with the Bulls hosting the Lions in the first semi final at Loftus on Saturday.

It has been an unusual Currie Cup this year being played over December and January under strict regulations due to the Pandemic.

The Bulls have been the inform side throughout the Super Rugby Unlocked and Currie Cup competitions and has the tag as favourites to win a second trophy in two weeks time but first they will have to overcome an much improved Lions side who has been getting better since rugby return in South Africa at the end of September.

For the Bulls, coach Jake White has picked his strongest side again which sees Jacobs retaining his place on the wing and Kriel back at 15.

In the midfield White has gone back to his strongest combination this year in Hendricks and Gans with Steyn at flyhallf.

Sevens star Arendse is back on the right wing with Van Zyl partnering Steyn at halfback.

Springbok Vermeulen will lead the Bulls again from the number eight jumper with Louw and van Staden on the side of the scrum.

This has been a formidable combination for the Bulls this season.

In the second row Manjezi has been partnered with Nortje to counter the likes of Marvin Orie and Willem Alberts which is one of the key battles for us this weekend.

In the front row the Bulls have two Springboks in Gqoboko and Nyakane with Schalk Erasmus to take on the Lions Jannie du Plessis, Jaco Visagie and Sti Sithole.

To say the set pieces will be an important aspect of this game is an understatement as we expect fireworks come Saturday afternoon.

Nyakane has been the anchor for the Bulls in the scrums and his improvement throughout the season was great to see.

This is an eighty minute game and both sides has some great replacements to make an impact later in the game.

Another key battle will be in the midfield with Wandisile Simelane and Burger Odendaal taking on Hendricks and Gans but the key for both sides will be their Springbok flyhalfs we feel.

Between Steyn and Jantjies both sides have a tactical player and a flyhallf that do not shy away from giving the ball air. Both 10’s also have an educated boot to use for tactical kicking or keeping the scoreboard ticking over.

This is gong to be a massive test character for both players and the one that dominate the game might just hold the key between winning and loosing.

Predictions: At Loftus one do not bet against a good Bulls side but this Lions side is dangerous. We still believe the Bulls will have just too much and will take the win by 9

Teams:

Vodacom Bulls: 15. David Kriel, 14. Kurt-Lee Arendse, 13. Stedman Gans, 12. Cornal Hendricks, 11. Stravino Jacobs, 10. Morné Steyn, 9. Ivan van Zyl, 8. Duane Vermeulen (C), 7. Elrigh Louw, 6. Marco van Staden, 5. Ruan Nortje, 4. Sintu Manjezi, 3. Trevor Nyakane, 2. Schalk Erasmus, 1. Lizo Gqoboka.

Replacements: 16. Johan Grobbelaar, 17. Jacques van Rooyen, 18. Mornay Smith, 19. Jan Uys, 20. Arno Botha, 21. Embrose Papier, 22. Chris Smith, 23. Marco Jansen van Vuren.

Xerox Lions: Tiaan Swanepoel; Stean Pienaar, Wandisile Simelane, Burger Odendaal, Courtnall Skosan; Elton Jantjies (captain), André Warner; Len Massyn, Vincent Tshituka, Jaco Kriel, Marvin Orie, Willem Alberts, Jannie du Plessis, Jaco Visagie, Sti Sithole.

Replacements: Jan-Henning Campher, Ruan Dreyer, Carlu Sadie, Reinhard Nothnagel, Wilhelm van der Sluys, Morné van den Berg, Dan Kriel, Francke Horn, Nathan McBeth, EW Viljoen, Ross Cronjé.

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