Bulls wary of dangerous 'Canes
Frans Ludeke (Gallo Images)
Pretoria - Since 2003, the Bulls have lost only seven out of 29 home matches against teams from New Zealand (there was also on draw), but on Saturday they face the Hurricanes, the side with the best away winning record against the Bull of all Kiwi teams.
The Hurricanes have beaten the Bulls four times out of seven visits to South Africa for a winning percentage of 57.1% - higher than that of the Highlanders (50%), Crusaders (36.4%), Blues (28.6%) and Chiefs (25%).
And even though the Hurricanes have endured a bit of a roller coaster season this year, they are still very dangerous - from a South African point of view, only the Cheetahs, with 23 tries, have scored more than the Canes’ 22.
“They are a very dangerous side when there is broken field and open play, so we need to make sure we dominate territory and possession and win the gain line battle,” Bulls coach Frans Ludeke said.
“We are in control of our own destiny at this stage and that is exactly where we want to be. This means that we are doing some things right, but we all realise that we are also not accurate enough in other phases.”
Bulls captain Pierre Spies said defence will be key: “We leaked some unnecessary tries last weekend and we are not happy about that. The Hurricanes are known for their fantastic attack, so we need a very disciplined and determined approach on defence.”
Playing in his 116th match at this level, Morné Steyn will equal the record for most appearances for the Bulls in Super Rugby, which is shared by Victor Matfield and Danie Rossouw.
Springbok scrumhalf Francois Hougaard will play in his 50th Super Rugby match this weekend if he gets game time off the bench, while Bok lock Flip van der Merwe will play in his 50th match at this level for the Bulls. He also played six matches for the Cheetahs.
Victory on Saturday will also see the men from Pretoria notch their 100th Super Rugby win. They’ve also lost 100 and drawn four, but if they can beat the Hurricanes, they will join fellow South Africans the Stormers (105 wins) and the Sharks (104) on a century of victories.
Kick-off at Loftus Versfeld is at 19:10.
15. Jürgen Visser, 14. Akona Ndungane, 13. JJ Engelbrecht, 12. Wynand Olivier, 11. Bjorn Basson, 10. Morné Steyn, 9. Jano Vermaak, 8. Pierre Spies, 7. Dewald Potgieter, 6. Deon Stegmann, 5. Juandrè Kruger, 4. Flip van der Merwe, 3. Werner Kruger, 2. Chiliboy Ralepelle, 1. Dean Greyling
Substitutes: 16. Willie Wepener, 17. Frik Kirsten, 18. Grant Hattingh, 19. Arno Botha, 20. Francois Hougaard, 21. Louis Fouché, 22. Lionel Mapoe
15 Andre Taylor, 14 Alapati Leiua, 13 Conrad Smith (captain), 12 Tusi Pisi, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Victor Vito, 7 Karl Lowe, 6 Brad Shields, 5 Jason Eaton, 4 Jeremy Thrush, 3 Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, 2 Ash Dixon, 1 Ben Franks
Substitutes: 16 Reggie Goodes, 17 Ben May, 18 Mark Reddish, 19 Faifili Levave, 20 Jack Lam, 21 Chris Smylie, 22 Tim Bateman