Close... but Bulls to win

2012-03-08 11:43

Cape Town - Rob Houwing, in his SA Super Rugby Week 3 preview, believes the Bulls will survive nervy moments to make it three-out-of-three against the Blues.


BULLS v BLUES, Pretoria

When: Saturday, 19:10
Referee: Steve Walsh
TV: M-Net, SS1, SHD
Long-range weather forecast: Warm, gentle breeze.

These teams have experienced completely contrasting fortunes thus far ... and many critics are probably a little surprised that it is the visiting Blues labouring rather than the other way around. After all, the Bulls are supposed to be in transition and the New Zealanders were touted fairly heavily upfront as potential title-grabbers. Instead the Aucklanders find themselves nought from two and now on a tricky two-game safari in southern Africa where they must also tackle the Stormers! Arguably, their position is a little deceptive, considering that one of their reverses was by one point to the Crusaders, so there can be no room for complacency when Frans Ludeke’s overall log-topping troops entertain the Blues under lights. Still, having thumped the Cheetahs by a lofty margin in Bloemfontein, smart money says Pierre Spies and his merry men ought to secure a hat-trick of wins ... 

Key head-to-head:
With Gary Botha now out of the mix, Chiliboy Ralepelle has finally had the opportunity for consistent service in the hooker’s slot ... and made a forceful impression against each of leading South African rivals Bismarck du Plessis and Adriaan Strauss in the first two weeks of the competition. There’s no let-up for the dynamic character, however, as this time he squares up to that old, cauliflower-eared All Black warrior Keven Mealamu, who also leads the Blues. Not much more than a week shy of his 33rd birthday, the 10-year Test veteran remains a combative presence, although Ralepelle’s rather more youthful legs could just be a useful advantage at altitude.   

Recent history:
These sides avoided each other last year, but in 2010, the last year of the old Super 14 format when the Bulls landed the title for the second time on the trot, one of their three round-robin losses came away to the Blues, 32-17 in mid-season. But the previous year (and last meeting between the two at Loftus) the hosts earned a handsome 59-26 victory.

Rob Houwing’s prediction:
I fancy a fairly high-scoring affair and some swings of the pendulum during the 80 minutes - but ultimately the Bulls to clinch it by around three points, with customary help from Morne Steyn’s deadly right boot.



When: Saturday, 17:05
Referee: Mark Lawrence
TV: M-Net, SS1, SHD
Long-range weather forecast: Warm, moderate breeze, chance of rain.

There’s a double reason for the Sharks to be suitably amped to clinch this third derby challenge for them on the trot ... the obvious one is that they remain winless and even coach John Plumtree concedes that another setback would represent a significant torpedo to their hull in the quest to win the SA conference this year. The other is the opportunity to avenge that remarkable 42-16 Currie Cup final humbling late last year. The Sharks do remain vulnerable with a few of their “hardebaarde” still missing through injury, but the tonic of this being their slightly belated home debut in 2012 could be enough to see them over the line against Josh Strauss and company, who will feel they rather let it slip against the Hurricanes last time out. Still, it was a reality check of sorts, wasn’t it?

Key head-to-head:
Lineouts have presented some problems for the Sharks for a couple of seasons now, so one plus from the desperately narrow defeat to the Stormers at Newlands was this phase functioning rather better against highly-touted Andries Bekker and company. They will want to build on that against the Lions, with No 5 lock Ross Skeate presumably intended to come to the fore again. But he is up against the visitors’ main aerial threat in Franco van der Merwe, and their battle could be influential to the result. Skeate will want to make amends for his costly yellow card at an important stage against the Stormers ... he’s already tweeted as much!

Recent history:
It was a pretty clear-cut 27-3 to the Sharks in the equivalent conference fixture last season (with a bonus point courtesy of scrumhalf Charl McLeod’s 78th minute fourth try), so that is cause for some much-needed optimism in the currently embattled home ranks. That said, the Lions would have scratched their heads as to how they surrendered that match so emphatically on paper ... their pack dominated for solid periods on the day.

Rob Houwing’s prediction:

Sharks by 12 points, going reasonably clear in the final quarter after a typically tight derby scrap against foes perhaps slightly vulnerable in the front row now that JC Janse van Rensburg and CJ van der Linde are both sidelined.



When: Saturday, 06:35 SA time
Referee: Keith Brown
TV: M-Net, SS1, SHD
Long-range weather forecast: Partly cloudy, mild, windless.

It was a long way from pretty, but Jake White at least got his Brumbies coaching career off with a scrappy, two-point triumph against the moderate Western Force. Then the Brumbies had a bye, so the Cheetahs may hope to catch them a little “cold” at Canberra Stadium. But the visitors from Bloemfontein, starting out their overseas leg, have issues of their own, most notably that unexpected drubbing at the hands of the Bulls last week, who romped over for six tries to spark some fresh reservations about the defensive organisation of Naka Drotske’s charges.

Key head-to-head:
There’s an earthy, honest match-up between two bustling, beavering No 8s as the Cheetahs’ Bok-capped Ashley Johnson locks horns with Ben Mowen, a similarly seasoned campaigner in Super Rugby with service across three Aussie franchises - the Reds, Waratahs and now Brumbies. Mowen consciously bulked up last season but that will be no special alarm bell to Paarl Gym product Johnson, who does not hold back from big hits and earnest mauling either. 

Recent history:
These teams last saw combat against each other in Bloemfontein last year, at the start of a productive little four-game winning trot by the previously pallid Cheetahs (they had previously won just one of nine games). Then, the hosts won a points-fest 47-36, including two tries by now Aussie-based scrumhalf Sarel Pretorius.

Rob Houwing’s prediction:
Brumbies by 16 points, alas, as the Cheetahs presently seem rather at sixes and sevens even on SA soil, and their away record in Super Rugby still remains abject overall.


  • Sue - 2012-03-08 11:59

    Pretty in Pink !!!!!!!!!!!!!! LOL

      Bulldozer - 2012-03-08 12:05

      Get over it.

      Jason - 2012-03-08 13:01

      @Bull but what if we dont want to? lol

      Henri - 2012-03-08 13:09

      i think that picture wouldv`e looked so much more faboulus if he had worn a scarf instead of that common golf cap :) (handjie)

      Japjapjap - 2012-03-08 14:56

      @clutch plate- you just have to...get over yourself.

      Leeu - 2012-03-08 15:14

      weet jy nie dat alles wat lekker is in die lewe, pienk is nie

  • Henri - 2012-03-08 12:01

    Die bulle sal wen maar die LIONS GAME GAAN BY VERRE BAIE MEER AKSIE HE. LIONS TO WIN AND HAVE shark STEAK !!!!!! Voorspoed bulle !!!!!!

      Dhirshan - 2012-03-08 12:36

      lol guys please speak english in future comments for us rugby fans who don't 100% understand afrikaans. SPIES = LEGEND!

      Bulldozer - 2012-03-08 12:57

      I are completely agrees wiff you.

      S - 2012-03-08 14:26

      Dhirshan, if you think Spies = Legend, you don't 100% understand rugby either.

      Japjapjap - 2012-03-08 15:14

      @dhirshan- Sorry shani but the world languages is mandarin and Afrikaans! You have to choose witch one you want to learn...The universal rugby language is Afrikaans ONLY-just to help you with your choice...and you’re on the right track when you choose to say Spies is a legend. Now have to make that big second choice. Good luck

      pieter.thefuture - 2012-03-08 15:40

      @dhirshan - I'm sorry that some of us might be so selfish as to want to talk about our favourite sport in our home language, feel free to skip the post you do not understand, because there is no way we are going to give up our right to post in Afrikaans just because you asked. You might as well ask us to remove the springbok from the springbok jersey, or asking all the bull supporters to support the stormers or vice versa. Dit gaan nie gebeur nie boet, bou 'n briggie en kom oor dit.

      Tino - 2012-03-08 18:04

      ai you okes are dof, Dhirshan is not attacking our language, he just wants to be part of the discussion, don't be so sensitive

      Jason - 2012-03-08 18:42

      @Tino my thoughts exactly................................I often battle to understand whats going on because i dont read Afrikaans very well. If you speak it to me i understand it but i just cant read it.

  • sandile.vanheerden - 2012-03-08 12:28

    Lions have drawn 1 (super rugby) and won 1 (CurrieCup) against the Sharks in their last two meetings. Maybe not so easy 12 point win this weekend??

      malcolm.molver - 2012-03-08 12:42

      Uh Sandile, both those games were in Joburg. This game's in Durban where last year the Sharks won 27-3(Super Rugby) and 53-9 (Currie Cup).

      sandile.vanheerden - 2012-03-08 13:36

      Malcolm all I am saying is that the teams have moved a lot closer since those matches played in Durban. I do not see the Sharks winning by 12 points even if they move the game to the beach!

  • John Murray McKay - 2012-03-08 12:35

    Ballsy to pick a miserable sardine side over the lions. Watch my bulls turn on the style!!

      graydon.meneses - 2012-03-08 13:01

      John! The sardines may have had miserable results in this year's comp, but if you'd seen the games, you'd know that it's an iffy reflection of the team. We'll see.

  • hvanderlinde - 2012-03-08 12:44

    "...Pierre Spies and his merry men..." haha

      hvanderlinde - 2012-03-08 14:25

      The mental picture I got was something from a Robin Hood movie, but yeah, I suppose you could see it your way as well.

      S - 2012-03-08 14:30

      All the Bullerinas together now: "I feel pretty Oh so pretty I feel pretty and witty and gay..."

      hvanderlinde - 2012-03-08 14:31

      stirrer. lol

      Bulldozer - 2012-03-08 14:39

      Us supporters are sure pretty.

      S - 2012-03-08 14:47

      @BlueRaven - Yes, where are the good ol' days when "gay" meant "happy" and nothing else... ***sigh***

      hvanderlinde - 2012-03-08 15:18

      Raven, Just like all bulls supporters have a thing for men in pink?

      Japjapjap - 2012-03-08 15:20

      @stirerer- the good ol days are right here...ONLY IN BLUE BULL LAND! and the good new ones, but down under in haasbek land, its sigh time.

      S - 2012-03-08 15:28

      @Japjapjap - Are you talking about the Haasbek of Notre Dame?

      Tino - 2012-03-08 18:07

      stirrer, seems that you have an issue with "pienk" and "spies", is there something that you want to share with us? come on, it is not so hard to come out of the closet, all your brothers and cousins did so allready

      S - 2012-03-09 09:28

      @Tino: No issues, just laughing my butt off, you have to admit the Bulls' "wardrobe committee" handed it to us on a plate :D Yes, I have three cousins who came out of the closet recently. It's a sad thing, really, all three of them from Pretoria. The family would rather not talk about them. Not because they are gay, but because they support the Bulls.

  • Kevin - 2012-03-08 12:57

    Thanks to mark Lawrence. The Sharks were and are the better side

      hugo.naude - 2012-03-09 11:24

      So typical of a wannabee shark ... blame the ref ... still blaming the ref for LOSING the final in Durban are we?? GET OVER IT CRYBABY!!

  • Morné - 2012-03-08 13:29

    Blues by 4 Sharks by 6 Jake White by 11

  • Kevin - 2012-03-08 14:52

    Come on Blues . Beat the pink pooftes

      Japjapjap - 2012-03-08 15:23

      @kevin- you're so political incorrect and even more.shame on you

      Tino - 2012-03-08 18:19

      siestog, die pienk poofters het jou magtige span n' rugby les geleer net nou die dag

      hugo.naude - 2012-03-09 11:30

      nOW REMEMBER Kevin ... your little team was given a lesson at Loftus by our Bulls (pink pooftes, bullerinas - call them what u like) and Newlands (shame on u for losing to the stink snoeke) ... so what does it make of u and your team ... let us put it in terms u can understand --- the BULLS = BOSS ... Sharks = Shemales

  • Marcel - 2012-03-08 14:57

    every year when the bulls lose their first games, they say you have to peak at the right time to win the cup, now that you are peaking in the beginning you all think youre going to win the cup. every year different stories. remember it is a long season.

      Tino - 2012-03-08 18:12

      well, they peaked at the right time in 2007, 2009 and 2010, when did your bunch of dagga koppe peaked ever in the super rugby? heck out the champion teams boet, they bulldoze the other teams, build for a year or two, then bulldoze them again, just like the bulls and the crusaders.

  • Japjapjap - 2012-03-08 15:31

    @rob houwing- ol rob where did you get these predictions?? Not that they are wrong, but I mean for somebody who don’t have a cooking clue about rugby... we're really glad you got help somewhere-we hope!! Rob wright us a little about your astounding rugby career and what positions did you play- wing?? fly halve?? centre... Thank you f@tso

      Jason - 2012-03-08 18:49

      Put the Tik away!

  • jean.rossouwsa - 2012-03-08 17:16

    Gaan kyk na wat julle voorspel het vir die Bulle tten die Cheetahs game, en dan try jy weer!

  • Lynette - 2012-03-09 14:48

    I realize that comments about the " Pink" are only for fun, but really, a joke is only funny for a while! Besides, the Bulls are only wearing that jersey for four away games, and it's also supporting a great cause

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