The next chapter in the rich history of the Jukskei Derby will be written when the Bulls welcome the Lions to Loftus Versfeld in a rescheduled Round Nine clash in the United Rugby Championship on Saturday (3pm kick-off), writes Quintin van Jaarsveld.
The rivalry has produced countless classics and memorable moments, and this weekend’s edition promises to be another physically intense affair.
The key objective for both teams will be to produce an 80-minute performance after what transpired in their respective European competitions last weekend.
The Bulls controlled their Champions Cup clash against Bordeaux but failed to put the French side to bed. Guilty of plenty of soft moments on defence, they leaked unnecessary tries and edged the encounter 46-40 rather than winning it comfortably as they could and should have.
The Lions, meanwhile, had a healthy 11-point lead over the Ospreys with 10 minutes left on the clock in their Challenge Cup match before they imploded and crashed to a 38-28 defeat.
The home loss was their second in succession after the previous week’s 13-3 reverse at Montpelier. The momentum is, therefore, squarely on the side of the Bulls, who’ve been in fine form.
The men from Pretoria have also dominated this rivalry in recent times, winning nine of the last 10 meetings. However, that one win the Lions managed will give them plenty of belief as it came at Loftus in the last URC game between the neighbours, which saw Ivan van Rooyen’s charges triumph 29-25 last March.
Jake White’s side have done just fine without their current Springboks with their dynamic back row of captain Marcell Coetzee, Elrigh Louw and Cameron Hanekom proving potent. Expect them to give the hosts an edge in physicality and explosiveness.
Johan Goosen and Willie le Roux acting as dual playmakers have also worked wonders while David Kriel has been a revelation at inside centre. All these factors, along with the Bulls’ hard edge, should see them prevail with a bit of breathing room.