So I’ve made plans to go watch my beloved Emirates Lions once again at their den, the Emirates Airline Park in Johannesburg, and as you can imagine, I’m very excited.
Excited not only that I’m going to watch some Super Rugby action again after more than two months, but also because it’s a big clash that’s in store: the Jukskei derby!
The mighty Lions will welcome the Tshwane-based Vodacom Bulls on Saturday in one of this coming weekend’s big clashes, and what makes this Super Rugby derby special is that it’s not only a South African derby but obviously also that of the Gauteng province. I can imagine that it’s the kind of fixture that both camps look for first as soon as the fixture list is released at the beginning of the season.
Excited as I am to be going to witness a contest of such great magnitude, I, however, have a little concern. My concern is that it might not even be a contest, if the two sides’ contrasting fortunes of late is anything to go by. I mean it’s no secret that the mighty Lions have once again proved to be one of the best in the competition with their impressive run of 10 wins from their first 11 outings this year. What with their rampant form in Australia in the last three weeks, which saw them wining all three matches against the Western Force, Melbourne Rebels and most recently the Brumbies, which I correctly predicted, by the way.
This clearly shows that this Lions team, with injuries to their star players and all, means business and can even repeat last year’s feat of going as far as the final.
The Bulls, on the other hand, haven’t been all that great so far.They had a faltering start to the season and shortly after getting a few wins in the bag, they had to meet New Zealand sides, who didn’t do them any favours.
So they come into this weekend’s match on the back of a crushing defeat to the invincible BNZ Crusaders (where they conceded 62 points at home!) and another defeat, albeit much narrower, at the hands of the Highlanders.
That should give you an idea of the contrasting spirits within the two camps, over and above the evidence that the Lions play better rugby than their neighbours.
So I’m a bit concerned that the match on Saturday could be a predictable, lopsided affair, given all the facts about these two sides’ recent runs. I’m concerned that the fun of the derby could be taken away by the uneven strengths of the two teams who are supposed to serve us some big-match intensity for entertainment.
But having said that, it must be clear that I won’t mind seeing a big win against our Jukskei neighbours, just so we can prove that we’re not only the wizards of Oz, but also that we run Jozi.
*Picture taken from: albertonrecord.co.za.