In another enticing round of Super Rugby action, this week’s much-anticipated match comes out of Loftus, as the Highlanders go running with the Bulls.
Both clubs have shown a defiance to play ball this year and will no doubt have that same attitude heading into this showdown. The winner will be the team that keeps a cool head when fatigue starts to creep in.
The Bulls will be hunting their second Kiwi scalp after claiming victory against the Hurricanes in round one. This result will hinge on their ability to negate the speed of the Highlanders pill and being able to continuously introduce their big ball carriers. The Bulls need to sap the energy out of the Highlanders through brute force and a tactically sound performance from fly-half, Handre Pollard. They have shown they are a quality outfit and they have the potential to roll over their Kiwi opponents, the challenge for them is their aptitude to show composure throughout those key moments in a match.
The Highlanders travel to Pretoria in search of maximum points and will be keen to flex their muscles after a run of good form. A combination of Bulls brutality, thin air and testy temperatures will have the Highlanders on notice, however, they will be confident of producing a sound performance on Sunday morning (New Zealand time). If they go out there all guns blazing and fail to put points on the board early, then it could spell trouble as their legs start to wobble through the latter stages of the match. The Highlanders will need to be cautious and tactically negotiate the right areas of the park to ensure they remain fresh and in the fight for the full eighty.
Player to watch: Ben Smith
The sabbatical has done wonders for Ben Smith and he has returned with a big spring in his step. Looking fresh and enthusiastic, Smith has once again been at the forefront of Highlander attacking play and he will be after more of the same at Loftus. A dry track will provide the perfect canvas for Smith to show his full bag of tricks and the Highlanders will be looking to include him as much as they can. If he can get his hand on the ball and dictate play in partnership with his namesake Aaron Smith, then the Bulls will be in for a long night.
Source: SuperRugby – YouTube
Source: All Blacks – YouTube
The Bulls are a fearsome outfit and if they get things ticking it could spell trouble for the men from Otago. On the other hand, the Highlanders are blessed with weapons all over the park and they too could dominate if they get things right. Highlanders by 3.
Author: Simon van Ryn
I am a sports mad fanatic who loves watching drama filled code. Growing up in Wellington I have been fortunate enough to witness some great sporting moments at the Cake Tin – non more satisfying than seeing my beloved Hurricanes finally lift that trophy after 21 years of hurt.