{
    "title": "Bulls and Jaguares top the bill",
    "image": "https:\/\/images.supersport.com\/2018\/5\/Jesse-Kriel-SideStepping-180512-BP-1050.jpg",
    "body": "<p>\r\nThere are two games being played in South Africa on Saturday but in terms of finding out where the conference battle will go in the final weeks the big focus this weekend should be the match in Buenos Aires.<\/p>\r\n<p>\r\nThe Vodacom Bulls will be playing the Jaguares in a game that kicks off just short of midnight South African time. It is an ungodly hour, but the other local teams, regardless of how they go earlier on Saturday, might well be watching with interest (well except the Stormers, who will be in the air) for the outcome will tell them a lot about both the Bulls\u2019 and Jaguares\u2019 chances of making the playoffs.<\/p>\r\n<p>\r\nFor the Jaguares the question is whether they can ride the momentum of a good away winning sequence in Australasia and pick up some winning form at home.<\/p>\r\n\r\n<p> If they beat the Bulls it will suggest they can, and then the Sharks had better watch out when they go their next week and the Stormers after that. <\/p>\r\n\r\n<p>Funnily enough the Lions are the only South African team the Jaguares have really had the wood over in Buenos Aires. <\/p>\r\n\r\n<p>And the Lions haven\u2019t helped themselves by sending under-strength teams on at least two occasions, so a Jaguares win will be a further injection of confidence and make them red-hot contenders for conference honours.<\/p>\r\n<p>\r\nConversely, with a game in hand on the Lions, a Bulls win will announce the Pretoria team as proper contenders, particularly as they will have to overcome a big test of their composure and answer key questions following the season ending injuries to Lood de Jager and Lizo Gqoboka if they are to prevail.<\/p>\r\n<p>\r\nCoach John Mitchell telegraphed an intention to drive his forwards at the Jaguares when he said that the teams the Jaguares beat overseas didn\u2019t test them enough in that department. <\/p>\r\n\r\n<p>Getting that right may be less of a sure thing without De Jager, but Jason Jenkins is a capable replacement. <\/p>\r\n\r\n<p>The Bulls have made some interesting changes at the back, but it is at forward that they will need to assert themselves if they are to return from Argentina in a good space.<\/p>\r\n<p>\r\nA good space isn\u2019t what the Lions returned from New Zealand in but they should have too much firepower for the Brumbies in Johannesburg and the Chiefs, who the Sharks play in Durban, played their big game of the tour last week. <\/p>\r\n<p>The Stormers will be looking to break their away duck in the competition this year when they go into what for them really is a Last Chance Salloon game against the Sunwolves in Hong Kong.<\/p>\r\n<p>\r\nThe reason it is more desperate for the Stormers than the other teams is because they don\u2019t have a game in hand on the table-topping Lions (seven points in front) like the others do, but with the Lions likely to win, the Sharks and Bulls can\u2019t really afford to slip either. <\/p>\r\n\r\n<p>It makes for an intriguing Saturday of viewing. <\/p>\r\n<p>\r\n<b>WEEKEND PREVIEWS AND PREDICTIONS<\/b><\/p>\r\n<p>\r\n<b>SOUTH AFRICAN CONFERENCE<\/b><\/p>\r\n<p>\r\n<b>DHL Stormers v Sunwolves<\/b> (Hong Kong, Saturday 07.15)<\/p>\r\n<p>\r\nApart from the need to win, the Stormers also have a secondary need to get Jean-Luc du Plessis properly assimilated back as the man who calls the shots at flyhalf. <\/p>\r\n\r\n<p>There is a big match against the Lions to look forward to at Newlands next week, and they will need Du Plessis to be playing with confidence if they are going to take confidence into that match. <\/p>\r\n\r\n<p>The Stormers haven\u2019t won away from home yet this season, and their record against the Sunwolves is not as flush as some of the other South African teams. <\/p>\r\n\r\n<p>They will have to play clever rugby in the humidity, and perhaps this is one time to suggest, to coin a clich\u00e9, that they don\u2019t play too much rugby. <\/p>\r\n\r\n<p>Particularly not early on. Build an innings first, use their forwards, and the Stormers should avoid suffering the same fate the Reds did.<\/p>\r\n<p>\r\n<b>Prediction<\/b>: Stormers by 10 to 15<\/p>\r\n<p>\r\n<b>Cell C Sharks v Chiefs<\/b> (Durban, Saturday 15.05)<\/p>\r\n<p>\r\nIt has been an up and down season for the Sharks and their fans must be wondering how to classify it. At times they have been outstanding, and at others they have been abjectly poor. <\/p>\r\n\r\n<p>They have tended to save their best for games against Kiwi teams though, and if they are anywhere near as good as they were against the Highlanders at home two weeks ago and against the Hurricanes in their narrow defeat in Napier before that, a depleted Chiefs team could be in trouble. <\/p>\r\n\r\n<p>The Chiefs are missing the spine of their side for a variety of different reasons and while it is probably wise for the Sharks to be speaking up the likelihood that there will be extra motivation for the newcomers, the reality is that with 20 players missing from the Chiefs line-up the Sharks should be expected to win on their home field.<\/p>\r\n<p>\r\n<b>Prediction<\/b>: Sharks by 10 to 15<\/p>\r\n<p>\r\n<b>Emirates Lions v Brumbies<\/b> (Johannesburg, Saturday 17.15)<\/p>\r\n<p>\r\nFor the Lions the focus this week should have been a simple one \u2013 eradicate the errors. There were just too many of them against the Highlanders and it cost them a game they could easily have won.<\/p>\r\n\r\n<p> It would also be helpful if the forwards turn in an energetic 80-minute performance, something they haven\u2019t always done this season and it has cost them when they haven\u2019t.<\/p>\r\n\r\n<p> The Brumbies aren\u2019t the team they were when Jake White was coaching them and before that when George Gregan and Stephen Larkham fronted a decorated playing team, and they shouldn\u2019t be expected to trouble the Lions in Johannesburg. <\/p>\r\n<p>The last time the Lions were at home they posted 50 against the Stormers. A repeat of that performance will do wonders for their momentum and confidence in this crucial stage before the June break.<\/p>\r\n<p>\r\n<b>Prediction<\/b>: Lions to win by 20<\/p>\r\n<p>\r\n<b>Jaguares v Vodacom Bulls<\/b> (Buenos Aires, Saturday 23.40)<\/p>\r\n<p>\r\nSo how will the Bulls go without Lood de Jager? The behemoth Springbok has been so influential for the Bulls this year that it is the million dollar question for a team that has been reshuffled in an interesting way by coach John Mitchell, who has moved Handre Pollard to inside centre and brought in Manie Libbock as the flyhalf.<\/p>\r\n\r\n<p>It will be Libbok\u2019s first start at pivot for the Bulls and what a game and venue to get your introduction. <\/p>\r\n<p>As Mitchell has put it, with a log-jam having developed in the South African conference, games against other teams in the conference are worth double points. <\/p>\r\n<p>Pollard moves to centre to cover for the injured Burger Odendaal, and also assumes the captaincy, while Jason Jenkins has moved back into the second row from flank to replace De Jager.<\/p>\r\n<p>Injuries have also forced changes to the front-row, so it is hard not to write up the Jaguares, who are on a hot winning streak, as the favourites. <\/p>\r\n<p>The Bulls should push them close though, particularly if the forwards get their drive going and they force the Jaguares to lose their discipline.<\/p>\r\n<p>\r\n<b>Prediction<\/b>: Jaguares by seven or less<\/p>\r\n<p>\r\n<b>AUSTRALASIAN CONFERENCE<\/b><\/p>\r\n<p>\r\nHurricanes v Reds (Friday, Wellington 9:35am)<\/p>\r\n<p>\r\n<b>Prediction<\/b>: Highlanders to win by 30<\/p>\r\n<p>\r\nBlues v Crusaders (Auckland, Saturday 9:35am)<\/p>\r\n<p>\r\n<b>Prediction<\/b>: Crusaders by 10<\/p>\r\n<p>\r\nWaratahs v Highlanders (Sydney, Saturday 11:45am)<\/p>\r\n<p>\r\n<b>Prediction<\/b>: Highlanders by 8<\/p>",
    "blurb": "There are two games being played in South Africa on Saturday but in terms of finding out where the conference battle will go in the final weeks the big focus this weekend should be the match in Buenos Aires.",
    "date": "2018-05-17T17:27:51",
    "author": "Gavin Rich",
    "credit": "supersport.com",
    "img_credit": "Jesse Kriel \u00a9 BackPagePix ",
    "category": "Vodacom Super Rugby",
    "videos": []
}