Planet Rugby

Preview: Bulls v Hurricanes

02nd May 2013 20:29

Share:

wynand olivier bulls hurricanes

Starter: Wynand Olivier

The in-form Bulls will try to maintain their position on top of the South African Conference against the Hurricanes at Loftus Versfeld.

Unbeaten in April following a bye week - victories over the Cheetahs, Kings and most recently the Waratahs have elevated the 2010 champions to the top of the domestic table and third on the overall log.

They have not been short of tries - with eight in their last three matches - but the rout of the Kings was a particular highlight.

The newcomers to Super Rugby have been bullish in their opening matches, yet the Bulls prevented them from scoring a single point in Port Elizabeth whilst running in four tries of their own. Sure their squad is stronger, but winning 34-0 is a sign of ruthlessness that cannot be ignored.

Frans Ludeke's side though are not without their flaws. Surprisingly, they have the least successful scrum in the competition at 80 percent, a concern compared to the Hurricanes' 92 percent.

The pack maybe struggling at the scrum, but the traditional Bulls strengths at the line-out and with the boot should tell as ever.

The Bulls boast the best success rate at the line-out in Super Rugby with 88.9 percent, the departing Juandré Kruger leading the way with 36 takes so far.

Morné Steyn's boot should prove influential as ever, given his status as the second highest points scorer in the league with 132. His 25-point haul last weekend against the Waratahs meant he fully deserved to win Man of the Match.

The Hurricanes have an accurate marksman of their own in Beauden Barrett who has racked up over 100 points, but their greatest weapon lies on the wing in Julian Savea.

Recent personal problems aside, Savea has been one of the top performers in Super Rugby this season, heading the stats fors carriers and metres made, with a penchant for humiliating would-be tacklers.

Last year it was full-back Andre Taylor who was grabbing the headlines, but he has struggled so far to replicate the promise he showed in 2012 despite his try in the loss to the Stormers last weekend.

Tusi Pisi is perhaps the key selection at inside centre as the Hurricanes look for a spark in midfield to get them over the gain line.

Statisically the Hurricanes are middle of the road in terms of their attack and the scrum would appear to offer a small advantage, but their record at Loftus stands against them having not won there since 2008.

Take away the 16-18 loss to the Stormers however and the Hurricanes are in good shape, with three victories in their last five matches that saw them score 10 tries in two matches against the Kings and Waratahs.

Savea and Pisi are the two major changes along with Ash Dixon, who will make his first Super Rugby start with hooker Motu Matu'u out injured.

The Bulls meanwhile have named Wynand Olivier, Deon Stegmann and Jürgen Visser in their starting line-up, with Arno Botha, Frik Kirsten and Grant Hattingh on the bench.

Prediction: With the Bulls unbeaten at home so far this season and the Hurricanes in slightly inconsistent form, a home win seems likely. Bulls by 8.

The teams:

Bulls: 15 Jurgen Visser, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Wynand Olivier, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Morne Steyn, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Pierre Spies (c), 7 Dewald Potgieter, 6 Deon Stegmann, 5 Juandre Kruger, 4 Flip van der Merwe, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 1 Dean Greyling.
Replacements: 16 Willie Wepener, 17 Frik Kirsten, 18 Grant Hattingh, 19 Arno Botha, 20 Francois Hougaard, 21 Louis Fouchè, 22 Lionel Mapoe.

Hurricanes: 15 Andre Taylor, 14 Alapati Leiua, 13 Conrad Smith (c), 12 Tusi Pisi, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Victor Vito, 7 Karl Lowe, 6 Brad Shields, 5 Jason Eaton, 4 Jeremy Thrush, 3 Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, 2 Ash Dixon, 1 Ben Franks.
Replacements: 16 Reggie Goodes, 17 Ben May, 18 Mark Reddish, 19 Faifili Levave, 20 Jack Lam, 21 Chris Smylie, 22 Tim Bateman.

Date: Saturday, May 4
Kick-off: 19:10 local (18:10 BST, 17:10 GMT)
Venue: Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
Referee: Lourens van der Merwe (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Jaco Peyper (South Africa), Attie Buitendag (South Africa)
TMO: Johan Greeff (South Africa)

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Friday , April 18
Harlequins vs Leicester19:45
Saturday , April 19
Exeter vs Sale15:00
Bath vs Worcester15:00
Wasps vs Gloucester15:15
Sunday , April 20
Northampton vs London Irish14:00
Newcastle vs Saracens15:00
More Aviva Premiership fixtures
RaboDirect PRO12
Friday , April 18
Leinster vs Benetton Treviso17:00
Glasgow vs Ulster19:35
Saturday , April 19
Zebre vs Edinburgh14:30
Connacht vs Munster18:15
Sunday , April 20
Cardiff Blues vs Scarlets14:00
Newport Gwent D'gons vs Ospreys16:45
More RaboDirect PRO12 fixtures
Top 14
Friday , April 18
Castres vs Montpellier20:45
Saturday , April 19
Oyonnax vs Toulouse14:55
Perpignan vs Toulon17:00
Grenoble vs Bayonne18:30
Biarritz vs Brive18:30
Racing Metro Paris vs Clermont Auvergne18:30
Stade Francais vs Bordeaux-Begles20:35
More Top 14 fixtures
Super Rugby
Friday , April 18
Hurricanes vs BluesHurricanes vs Blues Preview
Melbourne Rebels vs Western Force19:40
Saturday , April 19
Chiefs vs Crusaders19:35
Waratahs vs Bulls19:00
Sharks vs Cheetahs15:00
Stormers vs Lions17:05
More Super Rugby fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Sunday , April 13
Saracens 28 - 24 NorthamptonSaracens vs Northampton Report
London Irish 40 - 12 NewcastleLondon Irish vs Newcastle Report
Saturday , April 12
Worcester 33 - 38 ExeterWorcester vs Exeter Report
Leicester 27 - 15 WaspsLeicester vs Wasps Report
Gloucester 17 - 18 BathGloucester vs Bath Report
More Aviva Premiership results
RaboDirect PRO12
Benetton Treviso 45 - 27 Newport Gwent D'gonsBenetton Treviso vs Newport Gwent D
Scarlets 27 - 20 ZebreScarlets vs Zebre Report
Munster 5 - 22 GlasgowMunster vs Glasgow Report
More RaboDirect PRO12 results
Top 14
Bordeaux-Begles 20 - 22 ToulonBordeaux-Begles vs Toulon Report
Toulouse 16 - 9 BriveToulouse vs Brive Report
Grenoble 30 - 36 Montpellier
Perpignan 22 - 12 Oyonnax
Bayonne 24 - 19 Stade Francais
Racing Metro Paris 37 - 7 Biarritz
More Top 14 results
Super Rugby
Chiefs 22 - 16 Melbourne RebelsChiefs vs Melbourne Rebels Report
Western Force 28 - 16 WaratahsWestern Force vs Waratahs Report
Lions 12 - 25 SharksLions vs Sharks Report
Cheetahs 31 - 52 CrusadersCheetahs vs Crusaders Report
More Super Rugby results
Aviva Premiership
Friday , April 11
Sale Sharks 12 - 27 HarlequinsSale Sharks vs Harlequins Report
More Aviva Premiership results
RaboDirect PRO12
Ulster 58 - 12 ConnachtUlster vs Connacht Report
Edinburgh 22 - 29 Cardiff BluesEdinburgh vs Cardiff Blues Report
Ospreys 25 - 19 LeinsterOspreys vs Leinster Report
More RaboDirect PRO12 results
Top 14
Clermont Auvergne 23 - 11 CastresClermont Auvergne vs Castres Report
More Top 14 results
Super Rugby
Highlanders 27 - 20 BullsHighlanders vs Bulls Report
Reds 20 - 23 BrumbiesReds vs Brumbies Report
More Super Rugby results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Saracens1976
2Northampton1966
3Leicester Tigers1963
4Bath1959
5Harlequins1954