The emotions and pressure that come with playing in a North v South derby are palpable and much of what happens on the field will be down to which team can handle the pres-sure and emo-tions.
The Bulls will have revenge firmly on their minds as they look to erase the 33-9 drubbing they received at the hands of the Stormers in the opening round of the competition at Newlands, while the Stormers will be desperate to affirm their dominance over the Bulls in Super Rugby having won the last four encounters between the two sides.
However, coming to Loftus is no longer as easy as it has been in the past.
“History and stats don’t matter. Coach Nollis (Marais) emphasised at the beginning of the season that we want to do well at Loftus... We want to make it a special stadium for us again... It is a big challenge in playing the Stormers at home and it is going to be a massive game and this is why we play rugby, we want to measure ourselves against the big guns and good sides,” said Bulls captain Adriaan Strauss.
The Bulls have made significant progress in this department and flexed their dominance in this area by out-muscling and overpowering a Waratahs scrum last week that had demolished the Stormers a week before. Both sets of scrums have Springboks in their ranks and it will be interesting to see how replacements Trevor Nyakane for the Bulls and Vincent Koch for the Stormers gives ascendency to their respective sides.
There is no doubt that the Stormers hold the aces here especially with the return of Eben Etzebeth to the side to partner up with the in-form Pieter-Steph du Toit but they will be wary of the strides RG Snyman and Jason Jenkins have made.
The pedigree which the Stormers loose trio have in Schalk Burger, Siya Kolisi and Nizaam Carr is unrivalled at the moment. However, Lappies Labuschagne and Arno Botha have been amongst the competition’s top pillagers. Add the hard-running Jannes Kirsten to the mix and the Bulls will pose a formidable threat.
Serfontein v De Allende
This is not only a fight to give their teams ascendency but also the No 12 Springbok jersey. Both these players have the ability to bust through the most organised and water tight defences in the game but they also have the potential of being the brains of their backlines.
The key to opening up this game and giving the fans the running spectacle that they want, will be in the hands and legs of Jan Serfontein and Damian de Allende. Whoever wins this battle can claim to have won the game for their side possibley secured the Bok jersey.
Bulls starting XV: SP Marais, Jamba Ulengo, Jesse Kriel, Jan Serfontein, Travis Ismaiel, Francois Brummer, Piet van Zyl, Arno Botha, Jannes Kirsten, Lappies Labuschagne, RG Snyman, Jason Jenkins, Marcel van der Merwe, Adriaan Strauss (captain), Lizo Gqoboka
Replacements: Jaco Visagie, Trevor Nyakane, Pierre Schoeman, Grant Hattingh, Deon Stegmann, Rudy Paige, Tian Schoeman, Dries Swanepoel
Stormers starting XV: Cheslin Kolbe, Kobus van Wyk, Johnny Kotze, Damian de Allende, Leolin Zas, Jean-Luc Du Plessis, Nic Groom, Schalk Burger, Siya Kolisi, Nizaam Carr, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Eben Etzebeth, Frans Malherbe (captain), Mbongeni Mbonambi, Oliver Kebble
Replacements: Siyabonga Ntubeni, Alistair Vermaak, Vincent Koch, Rynhardt Elstadt, Sikhumbuszo Notshe, Louis Schreuder, Brandon Thomson, Huw Jones
Original source: Bulls, Stormers on a collision course