The Bulls start their Super Rugby tour in Melbourne in Round 14 where they take on the Rebels and both these teams are looking to reclaim top spot in their respective conferences.
Rebels v Bulls, Friday 17th May, Melbourne, KO 11:45 (South African time)
Referee: Federico Anselmi
Assistant Refs: Damon Murphy, Aaron Pook
TMO: Ian Smith
Weather Forecast - Melbourne
The Rebels snapped a 3 match losing streak with a 30-24 victory over the Reds in Melbourne last week. They now have an overall record of 6 wins and 5 defeats and in Melbourne they have won 4 and lost just the 1. That sole defeat at home did come against South African opposition, the Stormers 41-24 victory at this venue in Round 9.
Earlier in the season the Rebels lost both their tour matches in South Africa, 36-33 to the Lions in Joburg in Round 5 and 28-14 to the Sharks in Durban a week later.
Despite last week’s win the Rebels slipped to second in the Australian Conference, 1 point behind the Brumbies although the Canberra side have played 1 game more than their rivals and they are on a bye this week.
The Bulls were absolutely no match for the Crusaders in Pretoria last week. The Saders ran in 7 tries in a 45-13 victory and given this is the first of 4 matches in Australasia, the Bulls now face a tough test before they return home and finish the regular season against the Lions at Loftus.
The Bulls have won both their matches at home to Australian sides this season. In Round 9 they beat the Reds 32-17, picking up a bonus point along the way whilst in Round 12 they beat the Waratahs 28-21 with the try count shared at 3 a piece.
Away from home this season the Bulls have lost at Jagaures (27-12) and to the Stormers (24-23) either side of wins at the Lions (30-12) and the Sharks (19-16).
From 2013 onwards the Bulls have won just 1 of 9 visits to Australia and that victory came at the Force in 2016. The Bulls played just 1 fixture in Australia last season and it ended in a 20-14 defeat to the Reds in Brisbane.
The Bulls come into the Round a single point behind the Sharks in the South African Conference and the Durban side have played 1 game more and they also sit out this round.
Rebels: 15 Dane Haylett-Petty (captain), 14 Jack Maddocks, 13 Reece Hodge, 12 Billy Meakes, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Will Genia, 8 Rob Leota, 7 Richard Hardwick, 6 Luke Jones, 5 Matt Philip, 4 Ross Haylett-Petty, 3 Jermaine Ainsley, 2 Anaru Rangi, 1 Tetera Faulkner
Substitutes: 16 Hugh Roach, 17 Matt Gibbon, 18 Sam Talakai, 19 Sam Jeffries, 20 Pone Fa’amausili, 21 Michael Ruru, 22 Campbell Magnay, 23 Matt To’omua
Bulls: 15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 Johnny Kotze, 12 Burger Odendaal, 11 Rosko Specman, 10 Handré Pollard (captain), 9 André Warner, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Hanro Liebenberg, 6 Paul Schoeman, 5 RG Snyman, 4 Jason Jenkins, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Schalk Brits, 1 Lizo Gqoboka
Substitutes: 16 Jaco Visagie, 17 Simphiwe Matanzima, 18 Wiehahn Herbst, 19 Jannes Kirsten, 20 Marco van Staden, 21 Embrose Papier, 22 Manie Libbok, 23 Divan Rossouw
Recent Head to Head (any venue)
2018 Pretoria Bulls 28-10 Rebels (Tries 4-1)
2016 Pretoria Bulls 45-25 Rebels (Tries 6-4)
2015 Melbourne Rebels 21-20 Bulls (Tries 3-2)
2014 Pretoria Bulls 40-7 Rebels (Tries 4-1)
2012 Melbourne Rebels 35-41 Bulls (Tries 5-5)
2011 Pretoria Bulls 47-10 Rebels (Tries 7-1)
Note, odds quoted are available at the time of writing but are subject to change.
The Bulls need to regroup after a major hiding last week with this being a critical game in terms of their play off chances. After this they go to Canberra, Auckland and Dunedin and I think they will give this a real go.
However, it’s also a big match for the Rebels but they have yet to get the better of South African opposition and their fairly recent home defeat to the Stormers puts me off the minus handicap.
I was initially thinking of going for the plus as the Bulls are being given a bigger start than I anticipated. After much beard scratching, preference is for the 1-7 ball game either way including the tie. It’s a market which has been pretty kind to me this season and with plenty riding on the outcome of this one for both teams, I can see it being close.
Bet: 2 units, either team to win by 7 points or less including tie, 31/20 Sunbet
(Unit Scale 1 to 5)
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