Planet Rugby

Preview: Bulls v Western Force

01st March 2013 09:56

Share:

Pierre Spies Bulls v Western Force SR 2011

Bulls: Struggled against the Force in previous encounters

The Bulls will be keen to build on their fine start to the tournament when they host the Western Force in Pretoria on Saturday.

The three-times champions' gave a dominant display in their 25-17 victory over the Stormers, at Loftus Versfeld, and a repeat of that performance could spell trouble for the Force.

In that triumph over the Stormers, the men from Pretoria put in a display reminiscent of the Bulls teams which won three Super Rugby titles.

That effort has set the benchmark for the rest of their campaign and they will fancy their chances against the Force who lost their opening two matches to the Rebels and the Kings.

The Bulls thrive in dominating the tight exchanges so don't be surprised if they keep the game tight, especially during the game's early stages.

Morne Steyn gave one of his best performances, in a while, last weekend. His allround kicking was superb and he varied his play well by linking well with his outside backs.

If his forwards provide him a solid platform the Springbok pivot could be running the show again in this clash.

Despite their fine performance against the Stormers, Frans Ludeke and his charges will not underestimate the Force as they have not always had things going their way against them.

The Bulls have won three and lost three of their six previous encounters against the Force. And Ludeke's men were on the losing side the last time they faced their opponents - a 26-21 loss in Perth in 2011.

After being ambushed against the Kings last weekend, the Force know they have another uphill task ahead of them in this encounter.

The Perth-based franchise have lost their two opening fixtures, to the Rebels and the Kings, and will be feeling the heat to at least get a bonus point from their two-match tour to South Africa.

There have been some positives which emerged during their two defeats.

Amongst the backs, left wing Alfie Mafi has impressed on attack. Mafi is currently amongst the tournament's leading try-scorers, with three five-pointers in two matches.

And in the forwards, loosehead prop Pek Cowan has made a fantastic start to the tournament.

Cowan's general play has shown great improvement and he seldom takes a backward step in the scrums. However, he faces an acid test in the set-piece against the Bulls who place great emphasis in that aspect of the game.

Prediction: Playing in their own backyard means that the Bulls will go into this clash as overwhelming favourites. They seldom lose in front of their fervent supporters and don't expect this match to be any different. Bulls to win by 15 points!

Bulls: 15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Sampie Mastriet, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Wynand Olivier, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Mornè Steyn, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Pierre Spies (c), 7 Arno Botha, 6 Jacques Potgieter, 5 Juandrè Kruger, 4 Flip van der Merwe, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 1 Mornè Mellett.
Replacements: 16 Willie Wepener, 17 Frik Kirsten, 18 Grant Hattingh, 19 Jean Cook, 20 Jano Vermaak, 21 Louis Fouchè, 22 Jan Serfontein.

Western Force: 15 Will Tupou, 14 Nick Cummins, 13 Winston Stanley, 12 Kyle Godwin, 11 Alfie Mafi, 10 Sias Ebersohn, 9 Alby Mathewson, 8 Richard Brown, 7 Matt Hodgson (capt), 6 Angus Cottrell, 5 Hugh McMeniman, 4 Toby Lynn, 3 Salesi Ma'afu, 2 Nathan Charles, 1 Pek Cowan.
Replacements: 16 Heath Tessmann, 17 Tetera Faulkner, 18 Sam Wykes, 19 Ben McCalman, 20 Chris Alcock, 21 Mick Snowden, 22 Jayden Hayward.

Date: Saturday, March 2
Kick-off: 17:05 local (15:05 GMT)
Venue: Loftus Versfeld
Referee: Jason Jaftha (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Lourens van der Merwe (South Africa),Sieg van Staden (South Africa)
Television match official: Johan Greeff (South Africa)

By David Skippers

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
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
More European Rugby Challenge Cup fixtures
Top 14
Saturday , November 29
Toulon vs Clermont AuvergneToulon vs Clermont Auvergne Preview
Oyonnax vs Bordeaux-Begles18:30
Castres vs Racing Metro Paris18:30
La Rochelle vs Bayonne18:30
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