The second-round match between the Cell C Sharks Under 21’s and the Blue Bulls takes place at Kings Park on today with plenty riding on the outcome of this match.
A disappointing return leg loss to Western Province (who they beat in the first round) last week has added pressure for a Cell C Sharks side looking to keep out the Golden Lions who trail in the fifth spot on the SA Rugby Under 21 Championship table, one log point behind.
There is an almighty tussle between the front-runners, with only points-differential separating the Blue Bulls and Free State, both on 32 log points and six wins apiece. The Blue Bulls travels to Durban after another commanding win against the Golden Lions last weekend (41-22).
Just five points separated the Blue Bulls and Cell C Sharks Under 21s in their first round match at Loftus and certainly home ground advantage is something the Cell C Sharks Under 21s will look to use in their quest to upset the log leaders.
Sharks head coach Mike Vowles has made several injury-enforced changes for this match, including naming a completely new front row. James Scott and Sean Barnes swap jerseys, while Donovan Grant comes in for Dylan Richardson at hooker and Cleopas Kuniana, is in for Francois Klopper at tighthead. JJ van der Mescht replaces Dylan Weideman at lock while Jacques Ackerman is in for captain and eighthman Adam Mountford.
Amongst the backs, Murray Koster takes over the flyhalf duties from Boeta Chamberlain with Le Roux Malan slotting in at outside centre in place of Koster, partnering Donald Falconer who comes in for Muller du Plessis at outside centre. The final change sees Asanda Kunene replacing Caleb Dingaan on the wing.
Blue Bulls head coach, Nollis Marais has kept the changes to a minimum with the backline completely unchanged. Amongst the forwards, there is a new lock combination with Ruan Nortje and Ryno Pieterse getting the nod. On the bench, Carl Els will provide lock cover.
Vodacom Blue Bulls U21: 15. Richard Kriel, 14. Gershwin Mouton, 13. Marnus Potgieter, 12. Wian van Niekerk, 11. Sebastiaan Jobb, 10. Vaughan Isaacs, 9. Keagan Johannes, 8. Muller Uys (C), 7. Hanru Sirgel, 6. Jaco Labuschagne, 5. Ruan Nortje, 4. Ryno Pieterse, 3. Mornay Smith, 2. Werner Fourie, 1. Kudzwai Dube. Replacements: 16. Llewellyn Classen, 17. Etienne Janeke, 18. Carl Els, 19. Ewart Potgieter, 20. Johan Mulder, 21. Theo Boshoff, 22. Jay-Cee Nel, 23. Cabous Eloff
Cell C Sharks u/21: 1. James Scott, 2. Donovan Grant, 3. Cleopas Kuniana, 4. JJ van der Mescht, 5. Emile van Heerden, 6. Vian Fourie, 7. Jeandre Labuschagne (c), 8. Jacques Ackerman, 9. Jaden Hendrikse, 10. Murray Koster, 11. Asanda Kunene, 12. Le Roux Malan, 13. Donald Falconer, 14. Henk Cilliers, 15. Thaakir Abrahams. Replacements: 16. Mark Venter, 17. Sean Barnes, 18. Tiaan de Jager, 19. Dylan Weideman, 20. Lunga Ncube, 21. Ntsika Fisanti, 22. Xavier Swartbooi, 23. Rynhardt Jonker.