Planet Rugby

Preview: Bulls v Blues

07th March 2014 06:37

Share:

Marty McKenzie Jurgen Visser Super Rugby Blues Bulls

Highveld showdown: The Bulls host the Blues

The Bulls will be desperate to build some momentum when they host a determined Blues side at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.

Even though they bounced back from consecutive defeats with a win over the Lions last week, the men from Pretoria will be the first to admit that they have yet to hit their straps as their conversion rate when they have built pressure, has left much to desire.

In contrast, a far more confident Blues unit will start their two-week tour of South Africa on the back of an empathic win over the Crusaders where the influence of their most experienced forwards complimented the flair and enterprising play Sir John Kirwan's younger charges bring to the game.

Kirwan would have told his men that the first step towards victory over the Bulls is to dominate up front and this is where All Blacks Kevin Mealamu and Tony Woodcock have a huge role to play.

Mealamu and Woodcock will enjoy their first starts of the season at a venue where winning the collisions represents the best way to win the match.

While struggling to get over the try-line, the Bulls have been one of the most impressive sides at set-phase play where the influence of Victor Matfield is becoming more evident as weeks go by.

Their work at scrum-time, in particular, has impressed as they are conceding less penalties in this facet of play while it appears the team has done away with the negative approach they used to have at defensive scrums.

Whether they will be as successful against an all-All Black front row remains to be seen.

The Bulls will, however, take some comfort in the fact that with the inclusion of fetcher Deon Stegmann, their ability to create turnovers should drastically improve.

Stegmann was the missing link in the team's first three outings and has a huge role to play against Blues skipper Luke Braid who made some of the best loosies in the game look rather ordinary last week.

As for the respective backlines, the Bulls would be wise to keep it among the forwards for sustained periods on end as the strike runners in the Blues backline are known to cause havoc.

When considering their kick-and-charge strategy, the onus will be on fly-half Jacques-Louis Potgieter to execute with precision as a poorly-placed kick will not go unpunished by Frank Halai and company.

Prediction: Having been successful at the Bulls fortress the previous time they were in South Africa, the Blues will fancy their chances of making it two wins from as many visits. But then betting against the Bulls at home is a poser in itself. Bulls to scrape home by three.

Bulls:15 Jurgen Visser, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Jacques-Louis Potgieter, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Jono Ross, 7 Jacques du Plessis, 6 Deon Stegmann, 5 Victor Matfield, 4 Flip van der Merwe (captain), 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Callie Visagie, 1 Dean Greyling
Replacements: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Morné Mellett , 18 Marcel van der Merwe, 19 Paul Willemse, 20 Jacques Engelbrecht, 21 Piet van Zyl, 22 Handré Pollard, 23 Ulrich Beyers

Blues:15 Charles Piutau, 14 Frank Halai, 13 George Moala, 12 Jackson Willison, 11 Tevita Li, 10 Simon Hickey, 9 Piri Weepu, 8 Peter Saili, 7 Luke Braid (captain), 6 Steven Luatua, 5 Tom Donnelly, 4 Liaki Moli, 3 Charlie Faumuina, 2 Keven Mealamu, 1 Tony Woodcock
Replacements:16 James Parsons, 17 Sam Prattley, 18 Angus Ta'avao, 19 Patrick Tuipulotu, 20 Brendon O'Connor, 21 Bryn Hall, 22 Chris Noakes, 23 Pita Ahki

Date: Saturday, March 8
Kick-off: 17:05 local (13.05 GMT)
Venue: Loftus Versfeld
Referee: Andrew Lees (Australia)
Assistant referees: Marius van der Westhuizen (South Africa) Sieg van Staden (South Africa)
Television match official: Johan Greeff (South Africa)

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Saturday , November 29
Leicester Tigers vs WaspsLeicester Tigers vs Wasps Preview
Exeter vs SaracensExeter vs Saracens Preview
Sunday , November 30
London Irish vs GloucesterLondon Irish vs Gloucester Preview
London Welsh vs NorthamptonLondon Welsh vs Northampton Preview
Newcastle Falcons vs Sale SharksNewcastle Falcons vs Sale Sharks Preview
More Aviva Premiership fixtures
International Match
Saturday , November 29
Wales vs South AfricaWales vs South Africa Preview
England vs AustraliaEngland vs Australia Preview
More International Match fixtures
European Rugby Champions Cup
Friday , December 5
Montpellier vs Bath19:45
More European Rugby Champions Cup fixtures
Guinness PRO12
Saturday , November 29
Zebre vs EdinburghZebre vs Edinburgh Preview
Leinster vs OspreysLeinster vs Ospreys Preview
Connacht vs ScarletsConnacht vs Scarlets Preview
Sunday , November 30
Glasgow Warriors vs DragonsGlasgow Warriors vs Dragons Preview
More Guinness PRO12 fixtures
European Rugby Challenge Cup
Thursday , December 4
La Rochelle vs Exeter19:45
Friday , December 5
Brive vs Oyonnax18:30
Grenoble vs Rovigo18:30
Newcastle Falcons vs Stade Francais20:00
More European Rugby Challenge Cup fixtures
Top 14
Saturday , November 29
Toulon vs Clermont AuvergneToulon vs Clermont Auvergne Preview
Oyonnax vs Bordeaux-Begles18:30
La Rochelle vs Bayonne18:30
Castres vs Racing Metro Paris18:30
Lyon vs Montpellier18:30
Toulouse vs Grenoble20:45
Sunday , November 30
Stade Francais vs Brive18:00
More Top 14 fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Friday , November 28
Bath 25 - 6 HarlequinsBath vs Harlequins Report
More Aviva Premiership results
Guinness PRO12
Cardiff Blues 36 - 25 TrevisoCardiff Blues vs Treviso Report
Munster 21 - 20 UlsterMunster vs Ulster Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
Aviva Premiership
Sunday , November 23
Saracens 24 - 31 NorthamptonSaracens vs Northampton Report
London Welsh 5 - 26 Leicester TigersLondon Welsh vs Leicester Tigers Report
More Aviva Premiership results
International Match
Georgia 35 - 24 JapanGeorgia vs Japan Report
More International Match results
Guinness PRO12
Treviso 24 - 24 LeinsterTreviso vs Leinster Report
Edinburgh 28 - 13 Cardiff BluesEdinburgh vs Cardiff Blues Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
Aviva Premiership
Saturday , November 22
London Irish 23 - 33 BathLondon Irish vs Bath Report
Exeter 31 - 15 WaspsExeter vs Wasps Report
More Aviva Premiership results
International Match
Italy 6 - 22 South AfricaItaly vs South Africa Report
Romania 18 - 9 CanadaRomania vs Canada Report
Wales 16 - 34 New ZealandWales vs New Zealand Report
France 13 - 18 ArgentinaFrance vs Argentina Report
England 28 - 9 SamoaEngland vs Samoa Report
Scotland 37 - 12 TongaScotland vs Tonga Report
Ireland 26 - 23 AustraliaIreland vs Australia Report
More International Match results
Aviva Premiership
Friday , November 21
Harlequins 12 - 16 Sale SharksHarlequins vs Sale Sharks Report
Newcastle Falcons 20 - 10 GloucesterNewcastle Falcons vs Gloucester Report
More Aviva Premiership results
International Match
Fiji 20 - 14 USAFiji vs USA Report
More International Match results
Guinness PRO12
Dragons 12 - 38 MunsterDragons vs Munster Report
Ulster 25 - 16 OspreysUlster vs Ospreys Report
Connacht 43 - 3 ZebreConnacht vs Zebre Report
Scarlets 19 - 9 Glasgow WarriorsScarlets vs Glasgow Warriors Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
Aviva Premiership
Sunday , November 16
Leicester Tigers 21 - 21 SaracensLeicester Tigers vs Saracens Report
More Aviva Premiership results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Bath933
2Northampton830
3Exeter828
4Saracens825
5Leicester Tigers821