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Tuesday, July 23, 2024

URC Grand Final Showdown: Teams named

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In a highly anticipated clash, the Glasgow Warriors and the Vodacom Bulls are set to battle for URC glory at a sold-out Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria this Saturday evening. The Warriors' head coach, Franco Smith, has chosen to stick with the same starting XV for the third consecutive week, demonstrating his confidence in the squad that defeated Munster last weekend at Thomond Park. This consistency is crucial as they face the formidable Bulls, who are bolstered by the return of their star winger, Kurt-Lee Arendse, following surgery.

Smith, known for his strategic squad rotation during the regular season, made only two changes to the bench. Nathan McBeth returns from concussion to provide loose-head cover, replacing Murphy Walker, while veteran Duncan Weir steps in for Ross Thompson, who has played his last game for the Warriors before moving to Edinburgh. Smith's approach reflects his commitment to fielding the best possible team for this decisive match.

"During the season, our objectives were to develop the squad and manage player fatigue," Smith explained. "Now, it's about having the best team out there. Every player knew they had to perform at their best to be part of this final. The selected players carry the responsibility of representing their teammates who didn't make the cut."

Reflecting on their preparation, Smith acknowledged the challenge ahead: "Last week, we faced 20,000 Irish supporters. This week, it's double that number. But our focus is on the task at hand, not the occasion. We need to elevate our performance to beat the Bulls."

On the other side, the Vodacom Bulls, led by coach Jake White, welcome back Kurt-Lee Arendse, whose recovery from a fractured cheekbone is a significant boost following the loss of fullback Willie le Roux. Devon Williams steps in as fullback, marking the only other change to the Bulls' starting XV.

White emphasized the importance of maintaining their form from the semi-final victory over Leinster. "There's no secret remedy. It's about doing what we did well last week and focusing on our strengths," he said. "We've grown as a team, learning from past experiences. Playing at a sold-out Loftus Versfeld will be special. The energy from 53,000 Bulls supporters will be incredible."

Despite their home advantage, White dismissed any notion of favoritism. "Favourites count for nothing in this competition. The Warriors are a strong team and we won’t underestimate them. It’s all about performing in those 80 minutes."

As both teams prepare for what promises to be a thrilling URC Grand Final, the stage is set for a captivating encounter. The Glasgow Warriors, led by Smith, will look to upset the Bulls in their own backyard, while the Bulls, energized by their passionate fans, aim to clinch the title.

Starting Line-ups:

Glasgow Warriors:
K J McKay; S Cancelliere, H Jones, S Tuipulotu, K Steyn ©; T Jordan, G Horne; J Bhatti, J Matthews, Z Fagerson, R Gray, S Cummings, M Fagerson, R Darge, J Dempsey.
Replacements: G Turner, N McBeth, O Kebble, M Williamson, E Ferrie, H Venter, J Dobie, D Weir.

Vodacom Bulls:

Gerhard Steenekamp, 2. Johan Grobbelaar, 3. Wilco Louw, 4. Ruan Vermaak, 5. Ruan Nortje (c), 6. Marco van Staden, 7. Elrigh Louw, 8. Cameron Hanekom, 9. Embrose Papier, 10. Johan Goosen, 11. Kurt-Lee Arendse, 12. Harold Vorster, 13. David Kriel, 14. Sergeal Petersen, 15. Devon Williams.
Replacements: Akker van der Merwe, Simphiwe Matanzima, Francois Klopper, Reinhardt Ludwig, Nizaam Carr, Zak Burger, Chris Smith, Cornel Smit.


Picture: Vodacom Bulls
[Submitted by Kevin Rademeyer]

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