The Emirates Lions face a strong contest from the Jaguares when the two sides meet in the last Vodacom Super Rugby quarter-final on Saturday in Johannesburg from 15h05, while earlier in the day the Cell C Sharks are involved in a daunting challenge away from home against the defending champions, the Crusaders.
The encounter in Christchurch kicks off at 09h35 (SA time) and all four quarter-finals will be televised live on SuperSport 1.
Interestingly, the knockout tie between the Crusaders and the KwaZulu-Natalians will be the first meeting between the sides since their clash on 26 March 2016, when the New Zealanders won a tough battle 19-14 in Durban.
This year, the Emirates Lions and their Argentine opponents have met twice, with each side winning at home. The Highveld side won their round two tie, on 24 February, by 47-27 at Emirates Airline Park in Johannesburg, while the Jaguares triumphed 49-35 one month later, on 24 March, in a round six fixture staged in Buenos Aires.
In the other two playoffs, the Hurricanes kick off the weekend’s four knockout matches when they host fellow New Zealand side the Chiefs at 09h35 (SA time) on Friday in Wellington. And in another Saturday clash, the Australian conference winners, the Waratahs, host the Highlanders from 12h05 in the Allianz Stadium in Sydney.
The Cell C Sharks are unchanged from last week’s victory in their final pool match against the Jaguares for this match, which will see Tendai Mtawarira reach another special milestone.
The most recent Springbok centurion will play his 150th Vodacom Super Rugby game for the Durbanites. He holds the SA record for being the most caps at this level for a single franchise and is just behind Adriaan Strauss, who holds the record as the most-capped South African Vodacom Super Rugby player, with 156 caps.
The Emirates Lions’ starting team show only two changes to face the Jaguares on Saturday – at scrumhalf and wing. Ross Cronje replaces the injured Nic Groom, who underwent surgery for a broken hand on Tuesday, while Aphiwe Dyantyi comes in at wing, with Courtnall Skosan moving to the bench.
Also on the bench will be Dylan Smith (loosehead prop), who has recovered from a calf strain, and Dillon Smit, the replacement scrumhalf.
What they said:
Cell C Sharks assistant coach Dick Muir: “There’s a lot of excitement, the team had a long haul getting to Christchurch, but everyone is in good spirits. We’re coming off a good win and the team is ready to have a go. The Crusaders have the players, but our expectations are pretty high as we get to the business end of the competition. Not too many people are giving us a chance so it’s a great opportunity to prove them wrong.”
Emirates Lions wing Aphiwe Dyantyi: “It’s great that we’ve made the playoffs and that we have a home quarter-final – we’re looking forward to playing at home on Saturday. We put in a good performance (against the Vodacom Bulls) last weekend, which gives us a good platform going into the match against the Jaguares.”
CRUSADERS vs CELL C SHARKS
Head to head:
Crusaders won: 17
Cell C Sharks won: 4
Crusaders points: 675
Cell C Sharks points: 434
Average score: 32-21
Crusaders: 15 David Havili, 14 Seta Tamanivalu, 13 Jack Goodhue, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 George Bridge, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Bryn Hall, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Matt Todd, 6 Jordan Taufua, 5 Samuel Whitelock (captain), 4 Scott Barrett, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Tim Perry.Replacements: 16 Andrew Makalio, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Michael Alaalatoa, 19 Luke Romano, 20 Pete Samu, 21 Mitchell Drummond, 22 Mitchell Hunt, 23 Manasa Mataele.
Cell C Sharks: 15 Curwin Bosch, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Robert du Preez, 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Daniel du Preez, 7 Jacques Vermeulen, 6 Philip van der Walt, 5 Ruan Botha (captain), 4 Tyler Paul, 3 Thomas du Toit, 2 Akker van der Merwe, 1 Tendai Mtawarira. Replacements: 16 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 17 Juan Schoeman, 18 John-Hubert Meyer, 19 Hyron Andrews, 20 Wian Vosloo, 21 Cameron Wright, 22 Marius Louw, 23 Makazole Mapimpi.
Date: Saturday, 21 July 2018
SA time: 09h35
Venue: AMI Stadium, Christchurch
Referee: Mike Fraser (NZ)
Assistant referees: Ben O’Keeffe and Brendon Pickerill (NZ)
Television match official: Shane McDermott (NZ)
TV: SuperSport 1
EMIRATES LIONS vs JAGUARES
Head to head:
Emirates Lions won: 3
Jaguares won: 3
Emirates Lions points: 204
Jaguares points: 191
Average score: 34-32
Emirates Lions: 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Ruan Combrinck, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Harold Vorster, 11 Aphiwe Dyantyi, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Ross Cronje, 8 Warren Whiteley (captain), 7 Cyle Brink, 6 Kwagga Smith, 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Marvin Orie, 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Jacques Van Rooyen. Replacements: 16 Corne Fourie, 17 Dylan Smith, 18 Johannes Jonker, 19 Lourens Erasmus, 20 Marnus Schoeman, 21 Dillon Smit, 22 Courtnall Skosan, 23 Howard Mnisi.
Date: Saturday, 19 May
SA time: 15h05
Venue: Emirates Airline Park, Johannesburg
Referee: Jaco Peyper (SA)
Assistant referees: Marius van der Westhuizen and Egon Seconds (SA)
Television match official: Marius Jonker (SA)
TV: SuperSport 1
Other quarter-final matches (SA kick-off times):
Friday, 20 July:
09h35: Hurricanes v Chiefs – Westpac Stadium, Wellington
Saturday, 21 July
12h05: Waratahs v Highlanders – Allianz Stadium, Sydney