The Emirates Lions and the Crusaders clash on Friday evening in a mouth-watering Vodacom Super Rugby encounter at Emirates Airline Park in Johannesburg to kick off the local action for round six of the competition.
Johan Ackermann’s team will be hunting their seventh win from eight starts on their home turf.
The Emirates Lions are coming off a bye, while the Crusaders recorded an impressive 19-14 victory over the Cell C Sharks in Durban last Saturday, which ended the KwaZulu-Natalians’ unbeaten stint of four games since the beginning of this year’s competition. Kick-off is at 19h00.
An added flavour to the big clash in Johannesburg is the looming battle between the two No 8’s. Warren Whiteley (Emirates Lions) and Kieran Reid (Crusaders) are not only the key figures in the forward pack of their respective teams, but they are also the captains of the two sides.
The match on the Highveld is the second of their South African tour for the Crusaders, after their hard-fought win last week in Durban.
History will be made on Saturday when the Southern Kings and the Sunwolves meet each other for the very first time. The historic match in the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium starts at 17h05 and it will be the Sunwolves’ first match away from home, after they played all of their outings in the Far East.
The Kings showed admirable fighting spirit during a demanding tour of New Zealand where they suffered losses against the Crusaders and the Hurricanes. Coach Deon Davids will be hoping that a return to the impressive Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium will see his side claim their first victory of the season.
Saturday’s action will be rounded off by another intriguing battle between the Vodacom Bulls and the Toyota Cheetahs, which kicks off at 19h15 at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria. The men in blue won the first 11 of their matches against the Free Staters, but lost in their final encounter last year, by 42-29 in Pretoria.
The Vodacom Bulls have made steady progress since their opening round defeat to the DHL Stormers, and they have won two matches and drawn one since that defeat.
The two remaining South African franchises, the Cell C Sharks and the DHL Stormers are both enjoying a bye this weekend. The Hurricanes and the Reds are also sitting out the round six action.
In the other overseas matches, the Highlanders take on the Force on Friday, the Blues are at home against the Jaguares on Saturday while the Brumbies host the Chiefs. On Sunday the Waratahs will be in action on home turf against the Rebels.