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Scarra Ntubeni during a Stormers training session. Picture: GRANT PITCHER/GALLO IMAGES
Scarra Ntubeni during a Stormers training session. Picture: GRANT PITCHER/GALLO IMAGES

Saturday’s much-anticipated north versus south derby has the potential to deliver a classic encounter when the Stormers face the Bulls, the Cape franchise’s coach John Dobson says.

With top spot in the SA conference up for grabs, the stakes will be high for both teams at the Cape Town Stadium in the SA derby (kickoff 2pm).

Taking full advantage of the opportunity to play at home, SA sides have won 15 of their past 16 matches against European opposition. Thanks to their winning streak, the Stormers are sixth on the log with 43 points after beating the Ospreys at Cape Town Stadium and the Bulls are just one point behind in seventh place.

“In terms of winning the conference, the Bulls game is huge,” Dobson said. “Any game between the Stormers and Bulls is a big occasion and this one has all the makings of a classic.”

Dobson has made four changes to his starting line-up for what promises to be a brutal battle up front, three to the pack and one in the backline.

In the front row, hooker Scarra Ntubeni returns from injury and there is a rotational switch at tighthead prop, with Neethling Fouche starting and Frans Malherbe set to make an impact off the bench in the second half.

Flanker Deon Fourie is also back in the starting line-up, with Junior Pokomela dropping to the bench. In the back division Herschel Jantjies starts at scrumhalf in place of Paul de Wet.

Fullback Warrick Gelant is set to make his return from the bench, which also features prop Brok Harris this week.

“It is fantastic to have the likes of Scarra and Warrick back from injury for this game,” Dobson said. “Warrick is being managed carefully and will make a big impact from the bench as he did earlier in the season.

“Our team cannot wait to run out in front of our fans at Cape Town Stadium on Saturday and will be giving absolutely everything to get the result.

“The Bulls are playing an expansive brand of rugby, but they’re still direct with that big pack,” Dobson said. “I think we’ve been also-rans because everything has been about the Sharks and the Bulls, but now we’re within touching distance.”

Dobson says his team will be on their guard to stop the Bulls’ powerful pack in their tracks.

“I think it’s going to be a great game of rugby,” he said.


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