Rainbow Cup SA action resumes in Gauteng this weekend after a bye week with the Bulls in pole position to advance to the final as the South African competition has reached an exciting conclusion with just two more rounds remaining.
During the previous round of matches, the Stormers and the Lions spectacularly turned the competition on its head as they pulled off the much needed victories over the pacesetters Sharks and the Bulls respectively.
Having lost in their previous matches, the Bulls and the Stormers will be looking to bounce back to winning ways when they meet at Loftus on Friday night while the Lions and the Sharks will be looking to keep momentum going at Ellis Park on Saturday.
Bulls vs Stormers
Bulls coach Jake White has welcomed Springbok loose forward Marcell Coetzee, who will earn his first cap for the franchise, and scrumhalf Ivan van Zyl in his starting line-up while vastly experienced utility back Gio Aplon starts on the bench.
Van Zyl, who has returned from injury, will partner flyhalf Morné Steyn, winger Stravino Jacobs reclaims the no.11 jersey in place of James Verity-Amm and besides the inclusion of Coetzee at openside flank, Mornay Smith and Gerhard Steenekamp will prop up the scrum alongside hooker Johan Grobbelaar.
For the Stormers, coach John Dobson has included winger Rosko Specman in his starting line-up in what is one of the four changes for the visit to the top of the log Bulls in Pretoria and the other change to the backline sees Tim Swiel make his first start of the campaign at flyhalf.
In the forward pack, David Meihuizen comes in at lock for JD Schickerling who picked up an ankle injury in training this week while Neethling Fouche starts at tighthead prop.
Pick: Bulls Wins at 0.30 at BetXChange
Lions vs Sharks
Lions coach Ivan van Rooyen has named an unchanged starting team in their must win match against the Sharks, with the only change coming on the bench where Dan Kriel has come on for Manny Rass.
With some consistency in selection from the side that stunned the Bulls last time around, the men from Johannesburg will be confident going into this encounter as they have taken a lot of inspiration from their last performance on home soil.
For the Sharks, they have suffered two losses in a row coach Sean Everitt has picked a much-changed side for Saturday’s match by an all-new front row with Ntuthuko Mchunu, Kerron van Vuuren and Wiehahn Herbst taking over from Ox Nche, Fez Mbatha and Thomas du Toit who have dropped to the bench.
In the second row, Hyron Andrews returns to the side in the place of Reniel Hugo while James Venter is a welcome inclusion after a long-term injury.
Phepsi Buthelezi will play at eighthman, with Thembelani Bholi named on the bench and Henco Venter taking over the captaincy from Lukhanyo Am and shifting back to flank.
Backline changes see Manie Libbok replacing Curwin Bosch at flyhalf, Makazole Mapimpi makes a welcome return for his first Sharks appearance of 2021 after returning from Japan.
Yaw Penxe takes over from the injured Sbu Nkosi on the other wing and Werner Kok replacing Lukhanyo Am at centre. The final change sees Anthony Volmink coming in for Aphelele Fassi at fullback.
Pick: Sharks Wins at 0.80 at BetXChange