Super Rugby Preview – Blues vs BullsAuthor: Nick | Filed under: Match Previews, Super Rugby
Match Date: Sunday 10th March
Eden Park is the scene for the final clash of the weekend between two sides that are both undefeated in 2013. Pretoria will be waking up early on Sunday and putting on their Bulls Jersey’s (some of them pink) to watch Super Rugby before changing into their Sunday best and heading off to Church. If the Bulls manage to pull off an away win against the in-form Blues, some may just keep their jerseys on.
Here comes trouble! The Blues were the butt of many jokes last season but oh how the times have changed – last weekend was going to be a true test of how far they had come from last season and we’d have to say they’ve pretty much circumnavigated the globe and then some. Admittedly, they faced off against a Crusaders outfit that hadn’t played a match yet but the result wasn’t just a win, it was a resounding roundhouse kick straight to the face of anyone who thought the result would be anything other than an absolute stomping.
Frank Halai, Charles Piutau and Francis Saili have replaced the old 1.4litre Blues backline engine with a supercharged V12 version and it has done wonders. Francis’s brother Peter must have been given some go-go juice by John Kirwin because, while he hasn’t been quite up to the standard of Luke Braid, he’s pulled up his boots this season. So much so that he headlines a very interesting article on Rugby 365 that gives insight into why the Blues have done so well this season (so far, at least).
Piri Weepu is revelling in his role of marshalling his troops (as opposed to marshalling food into his mouth) and we reckon that his weight loss has more to do with trying to keep up with the young blood than anything else – those guys are quick. While we’re lending credit to old pros (not that Weepu is actually that old at 29 years) we should have a look at captain Ali Williams – not exactly Fantasy gold but he seems to be having some serious influence on the team. Chris Noakes is another one – not the gold you’d find in your team but the wily old pro is playing his hand with the style of Cool Hand Luke and he is living proof of what happens when a flyhalf plays all the right chords.
The Blues outfit looks very settled for a team that has been through a season of turmoil – but we have to say, the men from Auckland look like they’re getting their mojo back… and quickly!
*Fantasy note: the Blues average 4 tries a game against the Bulls
And here come the Bulls! Stampeding into town after a scrappy demolition job of the Force. The Bulls may be winning ugly at the moment but at least they’re winning. SA’s most successful franchise have been able to keep momentum through the once-again trusty boot of Morne Steyn – back to his kicking best. The flyhalf’s kicking has never been much of a problem at Loftus though, the faithful will we hope he can do the business away from home.
Bulls captain Pierre Spies, after a big game against the Stormers, had a quiet one last week with Arno Botha on the field and no Deon Stegmann to cover for. The bad news for the Bulls on the injury front is that fantasy favourite Bjorn Basson is out for a month and even worse news is Stegmann is back from injury; however Jacques Potgieter is on the bench as relief.
The Bulls, despite not having Bak-field, hold one trump card over the Blues which is experience. The New Zealand outfit had a blinder last week and the visitors will have the quell Sir John Kirwin’s dangerous young kiwi upstarts. The breakdown will be vital and the aforementioned loosies must get the better of Braid, Luatua and Saili. The now well established lock combination of Juandre Kruger and Flip van der Merwe face a tough challenge in the form of Williams and Brodie’s shorter cousin 1.99m Calum Retallick (wouldn’t want to play in that families backyard game at Christmas).
The backline will miss the game-winning attributes of a guy like Basson but Sampie Mastries showed a good turn of pace last week to score against the Force. With the devilish Bjorn out Lionel Mapoe is the star amongst the backs, if Wynhard Olivier passes him the ball he’ll have a chance to shine. Louis Ludik took a season before he settled into the Sharks and started to find the magic that he showed with the Lions; for the Bull’s sake Mapoe will need to put on his dancing shoes a lot faster (preferably this weekend). If the Bulls win it won’t be with langarm/ sokkie-sokkie dance moves, it will be by strong-arming the opposition in the tight phases.
The Blues hardly won a match all season but one of their victories was over the Bulls at Loftus so the visitors will want to get their own back. The Blues have a superior record overall having won 9 out of 14 games between the sides. The average score is 35-26 so expect lots of fantasy points up for the taking. The Bulls have never beaten the Blues away in 7 attempts. If they do win it will be historic.
The History says it all, the Pretoria side don’t play well in Auckland, even when they’re playing well. BLUES to welcome the Bulls with a slap in the face and send them home with a kick in the ass!
Convincing. 12 points
The Bulls have been given an 8-point start to the game after the Blues convincingly pummeled the Saders last week.
The Blues are firm favourites with that phenomenal home record, the Bulls are placed at a healthy 4:1 for the upset
If you fancy a punt bet365 are offering a great special at the moment click here or on our main banner and they will double you first deposit. No deposit required to signup.
Click here to subscribe & keep up to date with the latest fantasy rugby news or like us on facebook!
Join the official Fantasy Rugby Scout League. Code: 5678343087788