SR: Highlanders 27, Vodacom Bulls 20


imagesThe Highlanders will be desperate to change their recent trend of lose-win-lose-win when the Bulls arrive in town.

Not that the visitors from Pretoria have been much better – with their two most recent matches producing a heart-breaking draw and a bitterly disappointing defeat.

Friday is also the last home game for the Highlanders before they head to South Africa – to play the Sharks and the Stormers.

Bulls coach Frans Ludeke said it being his team’s second week on their Australasian tour they are a lot more settled and in a positive frame of mind.

However, he admitted his team will have to improve significantly on last week’s performance as the Highlanders will not just match his charges in terms of physicality, like any New Zealand team they keep the ball in hand, string phases together and wear you down.

“We did well [against the Hurricanes] last week, with a massive defensive effort – which included almost 200 tackles – and kept them down to just one try,” Ludeke said in a teleconference call from New Zealand.

Recent results:
2013: Bulls won 35-18, Pretoria
2012: Highlanders won 16-11, Dunedin
2011: Highlanders won 35-28, Pretoria
2010: Bulls won 50-35, Pretoria
2009: Highlanders won 36-12, Palmerston North
2008: Bulls won 47-17, Pretoria


Highlanders: 15 Ben Smith (captain), 14 Richard Buckman, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Shaun Treeby, 11 Patrick Osborne, 10 Lima Sopoaga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Elliot Dixon, 7 Shane Christie, 6 Gareth Evans, 5 Joe Wheeler, 4 Brad Thorn, 3 Chris King, 2 Liam Coltman, 1 Kane Hames.
Replacements: 16 Ged Robinson, 17 Craig Millar, 18 Ma’afu Fia, 19 Jarrad Hoeata, 20 John Hardie, 21 Fumiaki Tanaka, 22 Trent Renata, 23 Nasi Manu.

Bulls: 15 Jurgen Visser, 14 Bjorn Basson, 13 Johannes Engelbrecht, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Francois Hougaard, 10 Jacques-Louis Potgieter, 9 Pieter van Zyl, 8 Grant Hattingh, 7 Jacques du Plessis, 6 Jono Ross, 5 Victor Matfield, 4 Phillip van der Merwe (captain), 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Callie Visagie, 1 Dean Greyling.
Replacements: 16 Mbongeni Mbonambi, 17 Marcel van der Merwe, 18 Paul Willemse, 19 Morné Mellet, 20 Jacques Engelbrecht, 21 Handré Pollard, 22 William Small-Smith, 23 Ulrich Beyers.

Referee: Rohan Hoffman (Australia)
Assistant referees: Kane McBride (New Zealand),Shane McDermott (New Zealand)
TMO: Vinny Munro (New Zealand)

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Better known as Bunny, Took over after Pissant went over to the "Dark Side"


  1. Sorry Guys, picking up my wife at the airport so I will not be able to do updates on the two games tomorrow, I am sure Aldo will be able to keep you guys up to speed or if someone can please stand in and let us know what is happening….

    Go Bulls!!!!

  2. Bulls 13 Highlanders 3 23 mins into the game, Bulls seem to have the upperhand so far, but Im just saying what the updates say

  3. Yip welshbok, Zane is sorely missed, but guess we have to make due. Hopefully visser gets better, he has the pace to make an impact.

  4. The Bulls have made some good clean line breaks, but their loosies are just not getting there in support quick enough. We’re really missing Potgieter and Stegmann and it’s only half time.

  5. After defending like Trojans last week, the Bulls have slipped 12 tackles so far, high amount of tackles in last 2 games taking its toll?

  6. Highlanders score under the posts after Bulls stupidly opening up the game. This can only suit the Highlanders, Bulls need to slow down the game and tighten up defence, slipped a lot of tackles again.

  7. All it takes are 5 odd knock-ons and a major miss-tackle and hey presto… Bulls have gone from dominating to being dominated… painful!

  8. 27 – 13 to the Highlanders 55 min in and Potgieter kicks the kick off directly into touch. Luckily I cant watch this, cos jees the Bulls seems to be poor.

  9. From the scrum, Highlanders clear really well, Stupidly Bulls take lineout quickly on their own 22 and kick out on the full.

  10. Time running out, about 10 min to go, Highlanders still lead 27 – 13. Bulls started on fire, but from there have been really poor. Twice giving away a penalty on highlanders line and once knocking the ball on.

  11. At least 2 stats the Bulls lead on in the second half. 11 handling errors to 2 in the second half and a lot of slipped tackles.

  12. And finally after the hooter the Bulls manage to hold onto the ball and score a converted try by Marcell van der merwe. Lucky to get a bonus point. Final score 27 – 20. Wow talk about being your own worst enemy, dominate the ste pieces, get a 10 point lead 23mins into the game and then only score again, after countless oppertunities, after the hooter goes. 14 knock ons by the Bulls in the second half cost them the game.

  13. Ive seen enough of this Bulls teams attacking abilities to believe all is not lost for the future, esspecialy with the loss of players end of 2011 and 2013, but boy do they need to learn how to hang on to the ball and a lead.

  14. @Aldo:

    But remember SA teams only train the set pieces and believe you automatically win the game if you dominate those.

    Does not matter if you cannot catch or pass. If you win the scrum you win.

    Oh, wait…

  15. @Aldo:

    Zane plays for Leinster here in Dublin. I helped him get his pushpram onto a lift in a shopping mall not a week ago!

    bloody novice…

  16. Oom boer en brendon, daai is nou absoluut snert. The Bulls do not have this amount of knock ons every game, I wouldve thought that you would be happy with how much more attacking the Bulls have been these last few weeks Brendon? You have a misconception of South African play and no matter how well a team plays, that will remain.

    Take the Sharks for instance, highest on the list for average points scored per game, lowest amount of points conceded per game. That to me equates to pretty impressive rugby.

  17. But then in the perfect world point scored for and against doesnt matter, it is the points given out of ten by 5 randomly picked crowd members that matter. Forget the scoreboard, lets see how well the guys at home says they played.

    Thanks for correcting me on Zane, I was sure he went to France.

  18. @Aldo:

    Dont be so dramatic. I have long said the Bulls are not given their dues when it comes to enterprising play, but like all SA teams they cannot do so under pressure, which is why they play themselves into a puff and then they need to they cannot create tries because like most SA teams they lack the skills and decision making.

    As for the Sharks, I see after this journey to JHB they again go back to Durban for two cosy games. It must certainly be the most favorable draw in the history of the game!

  19. @Cheetah Glory:

    You must have read Brendan Venter on SuperSport:
    The lack of skills is exactly what he points out.

    “In a South African context, the overriding consensus is that our sides are too conservative offensively. I believe that to prove more effective on attack does not require a mindset change but rather a variant skillset.

    “Ultimately it’s about equipping players with a well-rounded set of skills, and accuracy in decision making in order to both retain ball possession and make it count at the correct time and right areas on the field of play.

  20. @Boertjie:

    All those words just to tell us the Pope is Catholic.

    Paragraphs of self evident bla is valueless, but the obvious conclusions are none the less overlooked.
    *The skills need to be instilled at junior level, which they clearly are not.
    *To play a style for which your players do not have the skill set would be folly.
    *And then their are the insurmountable physical differences. SA players are mostly big OR fast whereas your typical Polynesian is big AND fast.

  21. You making a grammar error?

    Where is the real Timeo you imposter!

    Send the cops, Marines, and those guys who atttacked that rancher’s farm to save him… and Seal Team Six!

    The advantage of the big Boer though is that in contrast to your average Polynesian he can tackle…

  22. Saw Paul Wilemse next to Vic. He is a big slab of beef had no idea how huge that guy is. Definitely no string bean

  23. @Timeo:

    You are of course spot on. SA coaches are doing a great job working within the relative limitations of the stock they get to work with.

    Our game plans reflect our strengths and weaknesses. If you want the Bulls to have better skills you need to start at under 9 level and in 12 years time you will reach your goal.

  24. Matfield is 2 inches taller than “Paul Bunyan” Wilemse…..
    But 60 lbs less in weight!
    Wilemse is listed @ 297 lbs!

    I also noted that Wilemse used to be with the Lions. He is another that was raided in the middle of the night by…..the usual suspects.

    I am new a fan of Paul Wilemse.

  25. Willemse is a giant and has really impressed me. Much more than poster boy Pieter stef du Toit. He really plays hard but never gets to involved in the off the ball stuff. The young Jacques du Plessis has been a relevation and has the stuff of legend in him. Im frightened by just how good he is. I really thought him a soft player but boy has he proven me wrong.

    On another point and Im not blaming the ref here for the loss, that can be put solidly at the door of the Bulls 14 knock ons in the second half and 19 missed tackles, as well as not taking 5 kickable penalties, which we mauled and knocked the ball, but when are we going to start seeing yellow card for the NFL style play off the NZ teams? Holding defender around the ruck etc? And they just keep on doing it, if that is not a proffesional foul then nothing is.

    Is it just me or does Pieter Rossouw seem sidelined in the coaching box? He made such an impact on the team when he started coaching and I attribute a lot of our more expansive game to him, but he barely gets excited anymore and in all the footage he seems not to be in the inner circle, maybe Im just looking for faults, but I get the feeling that with Victor being our attacking coach he has been sidelined a bit.

  26. @Americano:

    Ruan Venter and Willemse were the Baby Bok youngsters at the Lions… Stormers took Ruan, Willemse moved over to the Bulls to plug some gaps at lock left by Bakkies/Kruger et al…


    I have not been impressed by Du PLessis at all… not once since the Baby Boks…

    That pack that beat the Baby Blacks in the final was huge… they had 3 locks with PSDT at flank… where he should be…

  27. I’ll have to check out JDP Aldo. I’ve only noticed his surf hair.
    He is same height as Wilemse & 40 lbs less.
    They are both only 20!

    I agree on PSDT. He gets a lot of hype – hope he recovers well still very young.
    I’ll be looking at how Willemse absorbs & drags tacklers.

    For all of Etzbeth’s huff & puff, he consistantly gets chopped at the legs and dropped very quickly – I hate that. There has to be some coaching that can take place to allow him to get more yardage & allow for more time to allow support to arrive.