CAPE TOWN (Reuters) – Traditional South African rivals the Stormers and Bulls will contest a “blood and guts” battle for the United Rugby Championship crown in a surprise final at Cape Town Stadium on Saturday.
South African teams had initially struggled for wins against opponents from Wales, Ireland, Scotland and Italy but have finished the season much the stronger after getting used to northern hemisphere conditions and referees.
The match-up remains South Africa’s big north-south derby, with the Cape Town-based Stormers and Bulls from Pretoria locking horns in a final that also pits two coaches at opposite ends of the experience spectrum against each other.
The Stormers’ John Dobson is only in his third year at this level, while Jake White from the Bulls won the 2007 Rugby World Cup with the Springboks and has brought vast Super Rugby knowledge to his side this season.
“It’s going to be blood and guts,” Dobson told reporters. “It’s going to be like a test match, a game that will be played with a lot of emotion. I would love to beat Jake, we would love to beat the Bulls.
“The Stormers were complete write-offs. Before the competition started, we were 100-1 to win it.”
Bulls wing Madosh Tambwe is well aware of the challenge for his side, especially after losing both home and away to their opponents in the pool stages.
“The Stormers remain the only South African team we haven’t had a win against (this season),” Tambwe said.
“It doesn’t matter how we start or what happens, we just need to worry about the fact that at fulltime when the referee blows the whistle, we are a couple of points ahead of them.”
This is the first season the Stormers and Bulls are playing in the northern hemisphere competition.
The Bulls stunned Leinster 27-26 in their semi-final in Dublin, the Irish side having won the competition the previous four years in a row.
The Stormers edged Ulster 17-15 in their home semi-final, scoring a try at the final hooter.
(Reporting by Nick Said; Editing by Peter Rutherford)