Bulls out to end Blues hoodoo

2010-04-01 15:44

Johannesburg - They say that winning breeds a winning culture - but the Bulls, unbeaten in their last 13 Super 14 games, will do well not to rely on the adage alone when they play the Blues in Auckland on Saturday.

The reality is that the defending champions have not been at their best in their last two matches against the Hurricanes and the Western Force. It is also a fact that the Bulls have started slowly in virtually all six of their matches to date, leading at halftime in only one of them.

The fact that the Bulls have never beaten the Blues in Auckland is a story in itself.

The Blues, despite three losses and only three wins to date, have done well enough to suggest that they are a dangerous side. They have a front row with three All Blacks, supplemented by five solid players and a backline that is one of the most lethal in the competition with players of the calibre of Isaia Toeava, Joe Rokocoko, Ren Ranger, Rudi Wulf and Stephen Brett, who is a competent flyhalf indeed.

The Blues need a win desperately, or their season could have run its course.

They will be focussed and determined.

However, Bulls captain Victor Matfield has emphasised that the Bulls really want to win this match; that they’re aware of their slow starts and will try to turn that around; and that the Super 14 title is, although not uppermost, truly in their minds.

The Bulls are experienced and a very, very good side. And if the Blues don’t concentrate for the full 80 minutes - something they are yet to do this season - the Bulls should extend their winning sequence.

** At home, the Sharks will hope to make it three in a row after their first five defeats. Their injury problems have continued, and although Andy Goode has been selected, the injury to Adi Jacobs has seen the move of Stefan Terblanche - in his 100th Super game - to centre for the clash against the Reds on Saturday.

It is a sad reflection on the depth of the side that this is necessary -as it is that they have been importing flyhalves for the past few seasons.

John Smit is again at the loosehead side, and Wllem Alberts again starts ahead of Springbok Jean Deyzel.

A win for the Sharks could bring them into (highly unlikely) contention for the play-offs; a loss will spell the end of that dream.

But they are motivated. Lucky they might have been against the Hurricanes last weekend, but their joy at winning was sign enough of a committed and determined team.

** The Reds will know that the tired-looking bunch of Cheetahs they faced last weekend is not a reflection of South African rugby. They’ve won five of their last seven matches in Durban and have the talent to do so again.

The Cheetahs, against fourth-placed Waratahs, have never won in Australasia.

Their good performance against the Bulls to start off the season has deceived, and they have only two wins to their credit.

It will be a small surprise if the South Africans win this match, unless the Waratahs struggle as they did a fortnight ago when they scraped through 14-10 against the Western Force.

The Cheetahs will be without one of their main weapons, their loose trio.

Frans Viljoen and Heinrich Brussow are injured, and Juan Smith has remained behind to be with his father who is seriously ill.

Speed to the loose ball with Springboks Hendro Scholtz and Barend Pieterse - usually a lock - at flank could be a major problem. They are two very good players, but are both probably getting to the end of their distinguished careers.

** The Stormers have a good record against the Force and recorded a convincing 32-16 victory over the Force when these sides last met at the Subiaco Oval in Perth in 2008.

However, with injuries to their kicker Joe Pietersen, a scrum blow to Wicus Blaauw, and the strange selection of the slower Ricky Januarie ahead of Dewaldt Duvenage, this will be no walk-over as the Force showed in no uncertain manner against the Bulls last week.

The Stormers should nevertheless win. Their defence has been solid all season and will withstand any onslaught from a good but unstructured and often disjointed team, and they have a backline - even without Pieterse - that is up there with the best.

** It should be a wonderful match between the Crusaders - third on the log - and the under-performing Hurricanes in Wellington on Friday. It defies logic that the Hurricanes have won only three of their seven matches. They have such a good side that they could do the Stormers and Bulls a favour by knocking Crusaders over - and perhaps give themselves an outside chance to make the play-offs.

This could be a game where their mind-set and lack of confidence will let the Canes down against a side that believes they are the best every time they take the field.

This weekend’s fixtures (home teams first, SA times):


Hurricanes v Crusaders, 8.35am
Western Force v Stormers, 12.05pm

Blues v Bulls, 6.30am
Chiefs v Highlanders, 8.35am
Waratahs v Cheetahs, 10.40am
Sharks v Reds, 5.05pm


  • Baron - 2010-04-01 16:24

    Nice blond in the FHM ad.....and the SA rugby aint too bad either!! Go get them boys!!!

  • KeepItReal - 2010-04-01 16:27

    Come Saturday after the match the BULLS will have the Blues (one way or another) - Hoping it will be "have the blues in the bag) :-) Thanks to all the BULLS players for giving your best every game.

  • Riaan Putter - 2010-04-01 16:52

    Bring Faan Rautenbach back from London Irish if you want to see somebody that could scrum

  • Priester - 2010-04-01 17:55

    @KeepItReal, I’m in! Read all the postings this week and agree with you some of the comments are atrocious and have nothing to do with rugby hence my refusal to join the postings during the week. I am concerned about the Bulls defense but believe if they do stop the Blues before or even on the gain line they will win the game. I doubt it if they would be able to stop the Blues if they need to turnaround and defend. All teams, good luck! Sharks you can do it, Stormers, it will be tough, Cheetahs eishh it hurts and the Lions seems like they will have nothing to lose this weekend! ? Oppie Blou!!

  • Vic J - 2010-04-01 18:47

    Sorry but the Bulls are going to feel Blue after this game. They have peeked to early as the Sharks did last year.

  • KeepItReal - 2010-04-01 18:48

    @ Priester - Cool, Welcome to what I hope will be a growing "club" - Missed your input the past week - glad you're back :-) The BULLS could end up winning every game but it is HIGHLY unlikely. Personally for me it is not the end of the world if they lose one or do as long as they don't lose by playing badly or because of bad decision making. The games against the Blues should be a good barometer for what lies ahead. I still think we kick a little to much at times - should try and starve a team like the blues out of ball possesion a little more. Easier said than done though.

  • Bryan - 2010-04-01 19:05

    Nice article. Looking forward to the rugby almost as much as going to church on Sunday. It will definintly be tough for all the SA teams this weekend. I have seen a fair amount of the Reds this season and have really enjoyed watching their style and general team work.

  • Blue Bull Hater/Anti-Blue Bull - 2010-04-01 19:40

    I feel sorry for the Blue Bulls. May their souls rest in peace after this game. Want die Blues gaan hulle begrawe!!!! PROOOOOOOOOOVINCEEEEE!!!

  • WP man - 2010-04-01 21:09

    Die Blou Bulle moet hulle kant bring of ek k*k in my broek. Nie omdat ek so lief is vir die BB nie, maar omdat ek in totaal R300 se weddenskappe op die BB het. My mede Stormer ondersteuners wed uit beginsel teen die BB.

  • Praters - 2010-04-02 00:32

    Shame die BB het nou klaar die Showpony trademark by die Stormers afgevat en nou die baie praat een ook!GO THE BLUES!

  • BullsYouBeaut - 2010-04-02 02:08

    who gives a crap if the Bulls have played at their best or not - point is: THEY WIN! And they are top of the log with 5 points clear of second place with the same amount of games played. can you imagine what massacre they WILL cause when they play at full strength? which I think, is what we can be expecting from them as of now, because it's crunch time for the play offs and they are a clever side, very much in charge of what they are doing. We've got the leaders, we've got the players, we've got the coaches and we've got the heart! GO BULLS you good thing! You make us proud!

  • Blue Jake - 2010-04-02 11:12

    @KeepItReal. I'm in.

  • LekkerBlou - 2010-04-02 14:12

    Blue Bull Hater/Anti-Blue Bull - EN DAAR BRAAI JOU KIERANKIES TOE!!! Lekker..., jou hatige ou grootbek! Wat jy aan ander doen het nogal 'n manier om terug te kom na jou toe.

  • Ciela - 2010-04-02 20:02

    Juan Smit - we are thinking of you!!! Hope your dad gets well soon!!! Will keep him in our prayers!!

  • phillip britz - 2010-04-02 20:54

    Gou BULLE GO, julle pragtige goed. aan bul haters, vlieg. stormers verkoop habana

  • TS - 2010-04-03 08:10

    Al wat jy net sien is blou (BLUES) masjien. LOL arrogant fools

  • @Lekkerblou - 2010-04-03 08:31

    en al jou ander blou tewe...Seker die ref na jul hom betaal het?52min voor kaart....skelm! Kan bly wees Blues het swak hanteer anders was dir 60-17!Het Skolpad Steyn gespeel die laaste 2 games

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