Lions vs Bulls: Five things to look forward to in URC Jukskei derby

Kurt-Lee Arendse of the Bulls (centre) runs with the ball during the United Rugby Championship (URC) final match between South African teams the Stormers from Cape Town and Pretoria Bulls at Cape Town Stadium, in Cape Town

It promises to be a good battle on the wings between the Lions and the Bulls, especially when the likes of Edwill van der Merwe and Kurt-Lee Arendse (pictured centre) are set to face each other. Picture: Rodger Bosch/AFP

Published Feb 13, 2024


Judging how the last Jukskei derby between the Bulls and Lions went down to the wire, another fiery clash can be expected when the two teams face off on Saturday.

Ellis Park will this time play host to Jake White’s men, who will be looking for a second consecutive win over the home side in the United Rugby Championship (URC). Kick-off is at 3pm.

Leighton Koopman takes a look at some tasty clashes that the game can provide.

Generals could dictate the game

Last time out, the flyhalves of both sides controlled the game and it will most likely be the same this time around in what is set up to be a free-flowing clash in scorching Johannesburg temperatures.

Whether it’s Sanele Nohamba or Jordan Hendrikse, the Lions should be able to play their natural attacking game, something that put the Bulls under pressure early on in the previous clash.

The composure of Johan Goosen saved the Loftus side the last time out after they fought back in the first half to claim ascendency in the second half. Should he get the nod, Goosen will be a vital cog in his side's quest to go back-to-back in the derby.

Battle in the scrums

After having the upper hand last time out, the Lions forwards will look forward to scrumming against the Bulls again.

It could set the platform for the attacking game that is predicted. Lions tighthead Asenathi Ntlabakanye will be licking his lips at the opportunity to get under the Bulls’ loosehead again, like he did at Loftus. The prop had a field day at scrum time and made sure Simphiwe Matanzima, his opposite, couldn’t stand his man.

The Bulls will have to come up with a counter for the woes in the scrum if they want to have a say in this facet of play.

Keeping a tight ship on defence

The last time out, the Bulls’ tackling almost led to their downfall against the Lions. Nohamba had a field day wherever he popped up on the field as he and captain Marius Louw sliced through the defence.

The Bulls were equally able to penetrate the Lions too easily at times.

Hopefully both sides will have worked on their defence in their preparations for the return derby.

As much as their supporters want to see attacking rugby and great five-pointers, they also want to see the big hits flying in.

Winging it out wide

It promises to be a good battle on the wings, especially when the likes of Edwill van der Merwe and Kurt-Lee Arendse are set to face each other. The Bulls also have Sergeal Petersen and Canan Moodie to let loose.

If the game becomes loose, the finishing of the wingers can play a big role in determining the eventual winners. Moodie and Arendse did not feature in the previous Jukskei derby, so if they do come in now, that firepower at the back will be vital to stopping the Jozi team.

Both teams failed to score a fourth try for a bonus point in the last clash, and it will be one of their priorities this time.

Battle of the young No 8s

Both sides have some brilliant youngsters in the loose trio that can turn matches on their heads. Last time out there was a tough duel between outstanding Lions No 8 Francke Horn and Bulls youngster Mpilo Gumede.

The two of them are backed by their coaches and should they go head-to-head again on Saturday, it will surely be a match-up to watch closely.

Both are known for their ball-carrying abilities and will be crucial on the attack, but their work off the ball, and under kicks, will be equally important to their side’s causes.