Round 5 of Super Rugby Unlocked is upon us and it features a couple of important matches as the teams battle to crowned the inaugural champions of the competition. The Sharks and the Cheetahs will get the weekend of rugby underway on Friday night before Griquas take on the Stormers and Lions face Bulls the following day.
Here is a look at the two games on Saturday:
Griquas vs Stormers
Saturday, November 7 – Tafel Lager Park, Kimberley
The Stormers have been perhaps the most underwhelming side in the competition to date and have yet to produce any sort of performance that they would have expected as they headed into Super Rugby Unlocked. Their games against the Lions, the Pumas, and the Bulls have seen them come away with eight points from two wins and one defeat. The Griquas – who came into the tournament with a very different set of goals – have also been frustrated thus far as they have failed to pick up a win and sit bottom of the log with just two bonus points from three matches.
The Stormers have – as expected – freshened up their side and have five youngsters ready to go in Kimberley. Prop Neething Fouche, lock David Meihuizen, and flanker Marcel Theunissen all start, as does Paul de Wet at scrum-half as Herschel Jantjies misses the game on compassionate grounds. Winger Angelo Davids will also make his Stormers debut. Griquas have also rung the changes in their backline, with captain George Whitehead dropped to the bench from pivot to give Tinus de Beer a shot.
Griquas matches have been interesting enough as they have scored more than 20 points each time out. Their 61-31 defeat at the hands of the Lions last time ut shows where their issues lie and a Stormers win in the 11-15 (4.75) or 16-20 (5.50) range with BetXChange seems reasonable value.
Lions vs Bulls
Saturday, November 7 – Emirates Airline Park, Johannesburg
This is a crucial match if anyone wants to have a shot at running down the Bulls over the final couple of weeks of the campaign. The Lions sit in third place on the ladder with nine points from their four games. It is a record that could be better than it is – one win, one draw, and two defeats doesn’t sound good – but their draw was Covid enforced and their defeats at the hands of the Sharks and the Stormers came by a combined nine points.
The BUlls have been – by and large – ruthlessly efficient. They are top of the log with 15 points from three wins and one defeat. They started slowly in beating Griquas by seven and then losing by two to the Cheetahs, but they have really picked it up over the last two weeks with thumping wins over the Sharks (41-14) and the Stormers (39-6).
The Bulls are giving a debut to giant lock Walt Steenkamp here, with the 6-foot-8, 123kg monster playing in place of the injured Ruan Nortje. He will be expected to keep their 95% lineout win efficiency on their own throw ticking over. The Lions also make just one change to their starting XV as Burger Odendaal resumes his effective partnership with Wandisile Simelane in the centers.
The Lions will put up a fight but the Bulls were so good in their last two outings that it is hard to see anything other than a win for the visitors here. Take the Bulls on BetXChange and look for a win in the 11-15 (5.50) or even 16-20 (8.50) point range.