Preview: Waratahs v Bulls

Date published: April 18 2014

The Waratahs host the Bulls in what promises to be an explosive encounter at the Allianz Stadium in Sydney on Saturday.

The Waratahs host the Bulls in what promises to be an explosive encounter at the Allianz Stadium in Sydney on Saturday.

The home side will look to returning full-back Israel Folau to provide the same attacking flair he did in the solid start the side enjoyed at the start of the season.

Prior to Folau's three-week injury enforced absence, the Waratahs were far more accurate in the opposition 22, with the code-hopper dotting down eight tries in their first four outings.

His return could not have come at a better time and should bolster confidence in a side that is looking to secure their first win against the Bulls since 2005.

Interestingly enough, the Waratahs are yet to take on a New Zealand opponent and have a 50 percent success rate against South African sides this season while they have not lost a match at home this season.

Victory will ensure that they remain in the top six.

While the 'Tahs welcome back their first choice number 15, the visitors suffered a late injury setback in the same position when Jurgen Visser sustained an ankle injury in training.

Visser's place in the side will be taken by Ulrich Beyers and this change could have a huge impact on the match.

Leading up to the contest both sides made it clear that they are desperate to return to winning ways following disappointing losses, but will need their forwards to make a step-up as far as their discipline at the tackle area is concerned.

The battle up-front should be an intriguing one with the Wallaby-laden Waratahs well aware of the threat Victor Matfield is set to pose at line-out time.

Watching Jacques Potgieter face-off against a side that let him slip through their system due to poor wage negotiations should be equally entertaining.

Potgieter breathed fire in his team's victory over the Stormers and, when considering the losses in personnel they have suffered at flank, the previous inefficiencies of the Bulls' contracting policy could come back to haunt them.

Despite losing their first two matches on tour, the Bulls have improved in many aspects of their game and word from the camp is that the tough times they have experienced has had a galvanising effect on the team.

Form: The Waratahs have not lost at home this season and have not suffered back-to-back defeats either. In contrast the Bulls started their campaign with two losses and after a strong comeback, are in a position where they could suffer a third defeat in as many matches.

Recent Results:

2013: Bulls 30 – 19 Waratahs
2012: Waratahs 24 – 27 Bulls
2011: Bulls 23 – 17 Waratahs
2010: Bulls 48 – 38 Waratahs

Prediction: It will be a tough encounter, but the Bulls have improved steady and are unlikely to lose three on a trot. Bulls to win by 10.

The teams:

Waratahs: 15 Israel Folau, 14 Cam Crawford, 13 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 12 Kurtley Beale, 11 Rob Horne, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Dave Dennis (captain), 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Jacques Potgieter, 5 Kane Douglas, 4 Will Skelton, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Tatafu Polota Nau, 1 Benn Robinson.
Replacements: 16 Tolu Latu, 17 Jeremy Tilse, 18 Paddy Ryan, 19 Pat McCutcheon, 20 Wycliff Palu, 21 Brendan McKibbin, 22 Jono Lance, 23 Matt Carraro

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

Date: Saturday, April 19
Venue: Allianz Stadium, Sydney
Kick-off: 15:00 (local, 09:40 GMT)
Referee: Rohan Hoffmann (Australia)
Assistant Referees: James Leckie (Australia), Ed Martin (Australia)
TMO: Peter Marshall (Australia)

By Michael Mentz