Bulls (@1.9) vs Sharks (@2.0)

Our Prediction:

Bulls will win

Bulls – Sharks Match Prediction | 22-08-2019

Esterhuizen returns from suspension to replace Johan Deysel, while Sithole starts in place of Lukhanyo Am at outside centre. Up front, Tera Mtembu gets a chance at number seven in place of Springbok Jean-Luc du Preez, while Etienne Oosthuizen comes in for the suspended Ruan Botha at lock. Franco Marais also starts ahead of Chiliboy Ralepelle at hooker. Team news: Sharks coach Robert du Preez has made several changes to the team that beat the Stormers 22-10 in the final weekend of May. Odwa Ndungane starts at right wing in place of Kobus van Wyk, while theres a new midfield combination in Andre Esterhuizen and Sbura Sithole. Curwin Bosch is back from his Junior Springbok duties but will play at full-back in place of Lwazi Mvovo, as Garth April retains the 10 jersey.

Marais made two changes to the starting pack. RG Snyman is also available again following his suspension and will combine with Jason Jenkins with Lood de Jager been ruled out. Van Vuuren, who has made three appearances off the bench, starts in his first match in place of Trevor Nyakane, who was ruled out, while John-Roy Jenkinson will take Van Vuurens bench duties. Serfontein and Kriel played together in two of the three Springbok Test matches in the recent series against France. Andre Warner could make his debut for the team after being named back-up scrum-half with Ivan van Zyl not available. Nick de Jager is promoted off the bench and will start at number eight in place of the injured Hanro Liebenberg, with Renaldo Bothma and Shaun Adendorff coming onto the bench as lock and loose forward cover. Marais also opted to start Tony Jantjies at fly-half, with the former Junior Springbok running out in the starting team for the first time after three consecutive appearances off the bench. He also handed a first start to winger Kefentse Mahlo and prop Conraad van Vuuren as the competition continues again after the June break. Meanwhile, Bulls coach Nollis Marais has named the incumbent Bok midfield combination of Jesse Kriel and Jan Serfontein to face the Sharks. Regular inside centre, Burger Odendaal, who played at number 12 against the Hurricanes late last month, moves to the bench. Tian Schoeman, who started against the Hurricanes, moves to the bench. Mahlo takes over from Kriel, who moves to outside centre, while Serfontein will wear the 12 jersey for only the second time this season.

No team from Argentina and Japan have made the finals. 62% of the teams that played in the history of the Super Rugby Grand Final have come from New Zealand. 16 out of the 23 previous winners of the Super Rugby Cup including six out of the last seven were New Zealand-based squads. Super Rugby is a competition that has been dominated by the New Zealand Conference.

The Crusaders have made it to the Grand Final game in four out of the last eight years. The Crusaders have been the dominant team in this tournament as they have won it a total of nine times, including the last two. This year, they topped the standings and are the rugby betting favorites to win the whole thing for a third straight season.

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Players to watch: Keep an eye on Jan Serfontein who enjoyed an excellent June international Test series with the Springboks, being named man-of-the-match in the final Test that took place on Saturday. Serfontein seems to have regained the confidence he lost and looks as if he is finally beginning to fulfil the potential that saw him named IRB Junior Player of the Year back in 2012 when the Springboks won the U20 World Junior Championships.

For all the talk that teams from South Africa and Australia are making ground on their New Zealand counterparts, half of the eight remaining teams in the 2019 Super Rugby Cup are from New Zealand, including the top seed. The Crusaders were the top performing team in 2019 and there is no reason to believe that they will be stopped in their quest for a third straight Rugby Super Cup title.

Against teams from New Zealand though, that winning rate at Christchurch is down to 75% but thats still impressive. The Crusaders have never lost a match in Christchurch in the finals and they have an 89% winning percentage at home. To win it again this year, the Crusaders have to beat two New Zealand teams to get there, starting with the Highlanders in the quarterfinals.

Teams played their conference mates twice during the group stage one at home and one away and they played four teams from each conference once to complete the regular season. The same will hold true in the final with the higher-ranked squad hosting the Grand Final. The Top three teams from each conference move on to the knockout stage along with the next five teams with the most points in the team standings. The Group stage was made up of 18 rounds of matches, with the teams playing a total of 16 matches each with two bye weeks. The top three teams and the highest-ranked wild card team will host the quarterfinals and the higher-ranked semifinalists will host the semifinals.

Curwin Bosch has scored the second-most points in Super Rugby this season, nine behind Elton Jantjies by virtue of having played two games less. He will assume the goal-kicking responsibility from the full-back position this weekend. Bosch has a conversion rate of 82.14 percent, five percent more than Jantjies. He was mighty impressive in the recent U20 Junior World Championship and is no doubt knocking on the Springbok selectors' doors.

Serie B

For the Bulls, their season thus far has been poor, and does not look to be going anywhere better soon. The Sharks will have a target on their back however as the Bulls will play with a lot more freedom without the pressure, and they also have history against the Durban team. They cannot make it into the quarterfinals, no matter what happens, so they essentially have nothing left to play for in this horror season. The Bulls have only won three game in their 12 encounters all season and they have also suffered some embarrassing defeats, like against the Sunwolves.

The winners of QF1 and QF2 will then face each other in the semifinals while the victors of QF3 and QF4 will square off in the other semifinal match. The winners will then play each other to determine who wins the 2019 Super Rugby Final scheduled for July 6, 2019, and will be hosted by the higher ranked team as well. The semifinal games will be hosted by the higher ranked teams.