Newsletter

Get the Sport24 daily newsletter delivered to your Inbox!

LIVE

    Bulls coach: Rebels are favourites

    2016-03-04 14:04

    Cape Town - Bulls coach Nollis Marais says the Rebels are the favourites for Saturday's Super Rugby clash in Pretoria. Don't believe him.

    The Bulls underdogs? At Loftus? Against the Rebels? Surely not!

    To be fair on Marais, the Rebels did win - just - the last time these teams met, in Melbourne last year. They also got their campaign off to a winning start against the Force last week, outscoring their fellow Aussies three tries to none.

    It's true also that the Bulls are winless in their last six matches, their longest losing streak since 2002.

    And things didn't exactly go to plan for the Bulls at Newlands last week either, but the day the three-time champions are considered underdogs against the Rebels on home soil is surely some way off.

    Yes, this is a young Bulls side, and yes, they struggled in the lineouts and scrums in Round 1, but the Rebels shipped over 40 points in both their previous visits to Pretoria. They've yet to win a game on South African soil in ten attempts. 

    The Bulls' set-piece issues should be seen in context too. The Stormers' have one of the best tight-fives in the tournament and an impressive set of front row replacements. Marais has shown some faith by naming an unchanged pack and an improvement should be expected. It'll be key to giving an exciting-looking Bulls backline decent platform. 

    The loss of Springbok Jesse Kriel to concussion is a blow, but his replacement, Burger Odendaal, has looked very sharp.

    The Rebels have had a couple of injury disruptions too but a good win on the road last weekend will have given them some confidence.

    The Rebels won 15 turnovers in their opening game, more than any other side in the opening round, which points to a potentially pivotal battle of the loose forwards. 

    With the Loftus faithful expecting a turnaround from last week's horror start, all the pressure is on the home side.

    The last time these teams met: The Rebels earned a hard-fought 21-20 victory at home in Round 17 last year, ending the Bulls overseas tour on a negative note. Rebels outscored their visitors by three tries to two with Sean McMahon, Jack Debreczeni and Lopeti Timani crossing the whitewash for the home side. Dean Greyling and Lappies Labuschagne scored for the Bulls but Odendaal was denied what would have been the winner by the TMO. 

    Players to watch: Bulls flank Jannes Kirsten made 18 tackles in the opening round, the second most of any player behind Michael Hooper (21) and the most of any player who didn’t miss a single tackle. He'll be looked to back that up with another outing in the Bulls' back row this week.

    Rebels full-back Reece Hodge made a dream debut a week ago, scoring 20 points, including two tries. Hodge is back in the 15 shirt for the visit to Pretoria but may relinquish the goalkicking duties to returning number ten Debreczeni.

    Team news: Marais has made only one personnel change to his starting team with centre Burger Odendaal replacing Springbok Jesse Kriel, who has been ruled out due to concussion. Dries Swanepoel will make his debut off the bench. If Grant Hattingh passes a late fitness test, he'll earn his 50th Super Rugby cap. 

    The Rebels have been forced into tow changes following injuries to Mike Harris and Colby Fainga'a. Jack Debreczeni takes over at flyhalf while Steve Cummins comes into the second row, moving Lopeti Timani to number eight.

    Form: The average score between these sides is 37-18. After a 25-19 away victory against the Force in their first match the Rebels will be looking to open a Super Rugby season with back-to-back victories for the first time in their history. The Bulls were outscored three tries to nil in their 33-9 loss to the Stormers last week.

    Previous results: 

    2015: Rebels won 21-20 in Melbourne

    2014: Bulls  won 40-7 in Pretoria

    2012: Bulls  won 41-35 in Melbourne

    2011: Bulls  won 47-10 in Pretoria

    Teams:

    Bulls: 15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Travis Ismaiel, 13 Jan Serfontein, 12 Burger Odendaal, 11 Bjorn Basson 10 Francois Brummer, 9 Rudy Paige, 8 Arno Botha, 7 Jannes Kirsten, 6 Nic de Jager, 5 Grant Hattingh, 4 RG Snyman, 3 Marcel van der Merwe, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1 Trevor Nyakane

    Substitutes: 16 Jaco Visagie, 17 Lizo Gqoboka, 18 Hencus van Wyk, 19 Jason Jenkins, 20 Roelof Smit, 21 Piet van Zyl, 22 Tian Schoeman, 23 Dries Swanepoel

    Rebels: 15 Reece Hodge, 14 Dom Shipperley, 13 Tamati Ellison, 12 Mitch Inman, 11 Tom English, 10 Jack Debreczeni, 9 Ben Meehan, 8 Lopeti Timani, 7 Sean McMahon (c), 6 Adam Thomson, 5 Steve Cummins, 4 Luke Jones, 3 Laurie Weeks, 2 James Hanson, 1 Toby Smith.

    Substitutes: 16 Pat Leafa, 17 Cruze Ah Nau, 18 Jamie Hagan, 19 Sam Jeffries, 20 Jordy Reid, 21 Mick Snowden, 22 Jonah Placid, 23 Dan Hawkins

    Read News24’s Comments Policy

    Live Video Streaming
    • Blitz
      Mon, 24 Nov 2014 @00:00
    • SS1
      Mon, 24 Nov 2014 @01:00
    • SS2
      Mon, 24 Nov 2014 @02:00
    • SS3
      Mon, 24 Nov 2014 @03:00
    Video Highlights
    Sport Talk
    Most Read
    /Sport

    Fixtures

    27 May 2016
    • Hurricanes v Highlanders, Westpac Stadium 09:35
    • Waratahs v Chiefs, Allianz Stadium 11:45
    • Kings v Jaguares, Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium 19:00
    28 May 2016
    • Blues v Crusaders, Eden Park 09:35
    • Brumbies v Sunwolves, GIO Stadium 11:45
    • Stormers v Cheetahs, Cape Town 15:00
    • Bulls v Lions, Loftus Versfeld 17:10
    29 May 2016
    • Rebels v Force, AAMI Park 08:05

    Results

    21 May 2016
    20 May 2016
    14 May 2016
    13 May 2016
    07 May 2016
    06 May 2016
    30 April 2016
    29 April 2016
    24 April 2016
    23 April 2016
    22 April 2016
    16 April 2016
    15 April 2016
    09 April 2016
    08 April 2016
    03 April 2016
    02 April 2016
    01 April 2016
    27 March 2016
    26 March 2016
    25 March 2016
    19 March 2016
    18 March 2016
    12 March 2016
    11 March 2016
    05 March 2016
    04 March 2016
    27 February 2016
    26 February 2016

    Logs

    Rank Team P W Pts

    Opinion Poll

    Which of the four SA franchises in contention for the Super Rugby quarter-finals will miss out?

    The ultimate Super Rugby quiz!

    TAKE THE QUIZ
    There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.