VODACOM URC: Botha, Mapoe back in Vodacom Bulls starting XV for fiery Dragons clash

The Vodacom Bulls have made three changes to their team that will face the Dragons in a Vodacom United Rugby Championship Round 14 encounter at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday night.

The Tshwane-based side will square up against the visiting side that has been bolstered by the return of some of their international players who have recently been on duty with the Welsh side at the Six Nations.

Dragons were, on their trip to South Africa earlier in the week, joined by Wales trio Ben Carter, Leon Brown, and Rhodri Williams.

The Vodacom Bulls, who have claimed crucial victories in their previous two Vodacom URC games against visiting teams at Loftus – a 29-24 win over Munster Rugby a fortnight ago, and a 57-12 win against Scarlets last week – will be hoping to make it three consecutive wins at home, and four on the trot after also beating Zebre Rugby 7-45 in Italy last month.

Marcell Coetzee will once again lead his charges this week in a match the Vodacom Bulls expect to a testing encounter.

The home team will see the return of Arno Botha to the starting XV, where he will start at No8, replacing Elrigh Louw.

In the backline, Embrose Papier will start at scrumhalf, with Zak Burger providing cover from the bench, while Lionel Mapoe returns to the outside centre where he replaces Cornal Hendricks, who will come on from the bench this week.

“This week we are up against a Dragons side that has welcomed back at least three of their internationals from Welsh duty, so that is a reflection of the strong team we will be facing,” said Vodacom Bulls director of rugby, Jake White, ahead of the game.

“This is a side that is well-coached and has shown how dangerous they can be. They will be motivated to do well and begin their tour of South Africa on a positive note. We will need to be at our very best if we intend to stop this side that can pose a real challenge.”

The match will kick off at 19h15 and it will be televised on SuperSport.

The Vodacom Bulls to take on Dragons is:

STARTERS (15-1): Kurt-Lee Arendse (Betway Centurion), Canan Moodie (Pretoria), Lionel Mapoe (Pretoria), Harold Vorster (Northam Rhinos), Madosh Tambwe (Pretoria), Chris Smith (Harlequins), Embrose Papier (UP Tuks); Arno Botha (ABE Midas Naka Bulle), Cyle Brink (Betway Centurion), Marcell Coetzee (CAPT, ABE Midas Naka Bulle), Ruan Nortje (ABE Midas Naka Bulle), Walt Steenkamp (Betway Centurion), Jacques van Rooyen (Tuine), Johan Grobbelaar (UP Tuks), Gerhard Steenekamp (ABE Midas Naka Bulle).

IMPACT (16-23):
Joe van Zyl (Harlequins), Simphiwe Matanzima (ABE Midas Naka Bulle), Mornay Smith (Betway Centurion), Reinhardt Ludwig (UP Tuks), WJ Steenkamp (Tuine); Zak Burger (Tuine), Morne Steyn (Tuine), Cornal Hendricks (Northam Rhinos)