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.
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)