South African supporters have two matches to look forward to this weekend and the first one, the Bulls taking on the Hurricanes in New Zealand.
We have seen a massive game last weekend from the Bulls when they outplayed the Lions at Loftus coming of a really good tour of Australia and New Zealand.
To write this Bulls side off against the Hurricanes will be a huge mistake even if they have traveled to South Africa and back to New Zealand the last two weeks.
The Bulls have some quality players who are on good form at the moment but more than that they have experience to add to that.
in knockout game you need that players that have been through those difficult games and can help the younger players when the chips are down in the match.
The fact that Pollard, Vermeulen, Van Standen and Gelant came back into the team after being injured showing great form, will help them against a quality side like the Hurricanes.
The Bulls will go into the match as underdogs and it would also be a upset if they beat the Hurricanes at home but it is not as impossible task as many make it out to be.
The confidence they picked up from their tour earlier in the month in New Zealand will help the players a lot to come into the game with the believe that they can win this game.
The Bulls have a great pack of forwards and they have been brilliant in the set pieces but what is standing out is that they are not afraid to try things.
With Pollard playing some of the best rugby we have seen this season in the last two games and the great news that Jesse Kriel is fit and back again will add to the confidence going into this match.
One can only be impressed by Trevor Nyakane and Lizo Gqoboka in the front row. They have dominated most teams throughout the year and have been the pillars the Bulls build their set pieces on.
The Hurricanes will have all their stars for this weekend match which include, the Barrett brothers, Ben Lam, Laumape, Perenara, Savea and Dan Coles.
All of these players have been in top form this season but the have shown when you put pressure in the set pieces they struggled to build momentum in their dangerous attacking play.
There is one way to give you a chance to beat a New Zealand side and that is closing down their space which force them into mistakes.
This is easier said than done and you need to be on par from the first minute to the last whistle as they never ever give up no matter the scoreboard.
The Bulls did loose Burger Odendaal for this match which may be an area the Hurricanes will target but with Jesse Kriel back in the side we know he has a great feeling on defence and should be able to stand his ground with Johnny Kotze.
The loos trio of Vermeulen, Liebenberg and Van Staden have just worked for the Bulls this season. They will have their work cut out on the ground but they have the measure to dominate this aspect of the game.
It will be massively important for them to do so because this is the one area where the Hurricanes start most of their attacks from. If they can starve the home side in this they will be in a good space to force mistakes and put scoreboard pressure on with Pollard boot.
Both sides have a brilliant back three but the need ball which takes us right back at the set pieces and the rucks.
One do feel this match will be won and loss upfront and hopefully we see some great rugby from two teams that looks to be on form at the right time.
Kriel is the only change in the backs for the Bulls coming in for the injured Odendaal.
Jason Jenkins also returns from injury to partner with RG Snyman with Kirsten as backup on the bench
Some Interesting Facts (OPTA)
- The Hurricanes have won three of their last four Super Rugby matches against the Bulls (L1), three of the four matches in that span have been decided by five points or fewer.
- The Bulls come into this match on the back of a three-game undefeated run (W1, D2), the Pretoria-based side haven’t had a longer undefeated stretch in Super Rugby since a seven-game span from March-April 2016 (W6, D1).
- The Hurricanes lost their most recent Super Rugby finals match against the Crusaders (12-30 in 2018), they haven’t registered back-to-back losses in the postseason since 2008-2009.
- The Bulls have won six of their last eight games in the Super Rugby finals series (L2), both of those losses coming in their previous two outings.
- The Hurricanes have won 14 of their last 15 Super Rugby matches at home against South African teams (L1), including their last 12 matches on the bounce.
- The Bulls have drawn their last two Super Rugby matches on the road against New Zealand teams, only the second time in their history they have avoided defeat in consecutive away matches against New Zealand sides (W2, 2010-2011).
- The Hurricanes have won the most turnovers per-game in Super Rugby 2019 (9), two more than the Bulls (7).
- The Bulls have recorded the best lineout success rate of any team in Super Rugby 2019 (93%), no team has a lower percentage than the Hurricanes (80%).
- Ardie Savea (Hurricanes) has won 27 turnovers in Super Rugby this season, more than any other player and six more than the Bulls’ Duane Vermeulen who has won the second most (21).
- Handre Pollard’s (Bulls) 188 points in Super Rugby 2019 is the most in the competition and 63 more than the next best player involved in the finals series (125 points – Richie Mo’unga, Crusaders).
Prediction: For some reason I see an upset here, just because of the improvement we have seen the last month from the Bulls and the fact that the Hurricanes have not been close to consistant this season, logic say Hurricanes at home so Hurricanes by 10 but I go with Bulls by 7(fat gamble, I know but that is what my gut is saying)
Hurricanes: 15 Jordie Barrett, 14 Wes Goosen, 13 Peter Umaga-Jensen, 12 Ngani Laumape, 11 Ben Lam, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Gareth Evans, 7 Ardie Savea 6 Reed Prinsep, 5 Isaia Walker-Leawere, 4 James Blackwell, 3 Jeff To’omaga-Allen, 2 Dane Coles (captain), 1 Toby Smith
Replacements: 16 Asafo Aumua, 17 Fraser Armstrong, 18 Ben May/Alex Fidow, 19 Kane Le’aupepe, 20 Du’Plessis Kirifi, 21 Richard Judd/Finlay Christie, 22 James Marshall, 23 Salesi Rayasi
Bulls: 15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Johnny Kotze, 11 Rosko Specman, 10 Handre Pollard (captain), 9 Andre Warner, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Hanro Liebenberg, 6 Marco van Staden, 5 RG Snyman, 4 Jason Jenkins, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Jaco Visagie, 1 Lizo Gqoboka
Replacements: 16 Johan Grobbelaar, 17 Simphiwe Matanzima, 18 Wiehahn Herbst, 19 Jannes Kirsten, 20 Ruan Steenkamp, 21 Ivan van Zyl, 22 Manie Libbok, 23 Divan Rossouw