Strauss v Marx
A classic case of the old versus the new and a duel that Springbok coach Allister Coetzee will watch with keen interest. There is no doubting the pedigree of Bulls captain Adriaan Strauss and what he has achieved as a player but it will take more than just a good reputation to outshine Lions hooker Malcolm Marx.
Marx has been in scintillating form this season and has improved tenfold in his play as a hooker while still holding on to the attributes that made him a great schoolboy loose forward. Strauss has only had one outstanding game this season but veterans like him often wait for the biggest stage to show why they are the best.
Snyman v Mostert
Both have been students of Bulls coach Nollis Marais and he holds both players in high regard. Franco Mostert has been banging on the door of making the step up to the national team and disturbing the order of things there.
He has been one of the most consistent locks in the competition and is an exceptionally hard worker on the field. He will have his hands full trying to keep the young and energetic RG Snyman in check.
The lanky Bulls second rower is just as busy as Mostert and backs his high work rate with an abrasive frame that puts in some bone-crunching tackles on defence and is a worthy ball carrier.
Snyman is more than capable in the line-outs but he could be found wanting by the experienced Mostert.
Labuschagne v Kriel
They’ve got to be two of the unluckiest loose forwards in the country. They’ve proven time and time again that they should have been Springboks by now and they will be embroiled in a tight duel that could go a long way in determining the ultimate winner of this derby.
Both are strong ball carriers with Jaco Kriel dangerous when given space while Lappies Labuschagne is more effective at close quarters.
Labuschagne is a mean tackler and really gets stuck into the breakdown, areas of the game where Kriel has some catching up to do.
As much as they vary in style and their approach to the game, they remain two figures who will have a huge influence on the game.
Kriel v Mapoe
There can be no denying that Lionel Mapoe is the best outside centre in the country and one of the best performers in the competition.
There is nothing more that Mapoe can prove as an individual but he will still need to continue contributing towards his team’s goal of making the Super Rugby play-offs. Mapoe will come face-to-face with the incumbent Springbok No 13 Jesse Kriel who has struggled to rekindle the form that made him the most talked about backline prospect of last year’s Super Rugby competition.
Both players have a keen eye for the gap and they possess deceptive pace. Mapoe has used that in scoring tries this season while Kriel has been deprived the space and time on the ball that makes him dangerous.
This duel will be for Kriel to prove that he is still worthy of wearing the Green and Gold or he will relinquish it to Mapoe whose displays this season have justified his status.
Ulengo v SkosanThey are the finishers of the game and Courtnall Skosan has benefited greatly from his team’s ability to spread the ball wide.
Jambo Ulengo, on the other hand, has seen minimal ball on attack but remains a threat to any opposition side as things happen when he gets the ball. Ulengo is a big, strong and powerful runner and much of his skills have been honed playing Sevens for the Blitzbokke while Skosan is obviously quick and has now mustered the heart to take on opposition defences no matter how big and strong they are.
Both players have an outside chance of making the Springbok squad while place in the SA “A” side beckon, it will be their ability to get over the whitewash that could get their respective teams over the line in the most crucial of derbies.
Original source: Bulls v Lions: Fighting on Four Fronts