Cape Town - This might come as a surprise to many, but the Bulls and Force are even in the head-to-head stakes, with three wins each in their six previous Super Rugby encounters, according to SARU
The three-time champions have surprisingly struggled in the past against the Force, a team that has only once finished in the top half of the standings (seventh in 2007).
That includes the shock defeat in 2007 at Loftus Versfeld, the venue for their clash on Saturday, a few months before the Bulls lifted the trophy for the first time.
What makes this even more impressive (if you back the Force)/disturbing (if you support the Bulls), is that the men from Pretoria have won 68% (19 out of 28) of their matches against Australian sides since 2006, when the Force came into being.
Does that make the Force the Bulls’ Aussie bogey side? Well, if you compare the men from Pretoria’s success rate against the other Aussie teams, it certainly does.
Excluding the Rebels and looking at results from 2006 onwards, the Bulls have won all seven their matches against the Waratahs, won four and lost two against the Brumbies and won three and lost four against the Reds - but never at Loftus.
“We are grateful for the win (25-17 over the Stormers last weekend
), but this week we face a new opponent that will post new challenges,” said Bulls coach Frans Ludeke
“The Western Force has been a difficult opponent in the past and will again ask questions to our all round game and our defence. We have prepared well though and will be looking forward to the challenge.”
Bulls captain Pierre Spies
said a strong performance at Loftus would be very important as they prepare for their tour to Australia and New Zealand.
“We cannot look past this match as it will determine the mind-set we will take onto tour. So this is a very important match for us,” Spies said.
Kick-off at Loftus is at 17:05 on SaturdayTeams:Bulls:
15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Sampie Mastriet, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Wynand Olivier, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Mornè Steyn, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Pierre Spies
(captain), 7 Arno Botha, 6 Jacques Potgieter, 5 Juandrè Kruger, 4 Flip van der Merwe, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 1 Mornè Mellett
Substitutes: 16 Willie Wepener, 17 Frik Kirsten, 18 Grant Hattingh, 19 Jean Cook, 20 Jano Vermaak, 21 Louis Fouchè , 22 Jan Serfontein