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Super Rugby 2017: Bulls v Sunwolves Preview
The Bulls will be looking to get their first win of 2017 when they play host to the struggling Sunwolves on Friday at Loftus.
The Bulls will be looking to claim the five-point haul when they take on a Sunwolves side that ran the Cheetahs close last Saturday. This game represents an ideal opportunity for Pretoria's finest to get some vital points under their belts before they head off on a daunting tour of New Zealand.
Bulls v Sunwolves | Friday 17 March | Loftus Versveld | 19:00
To Win (80 Mins)
Bulls N/A | Draw 45/1 | Sunwolves 18/1
Bulls (-32.5) 9/10 | Sunwolves (+32.5) 9/10
The Bulls come out of their bye with much to prove. Having gone down in both of their opening games - against the Stormers and Cheetahs respectively - they will want to put some pride back into the jersey when the ‘Wolves come knocking on Friday. Coach Nollis Marais’ side have looked to add much more swagger to their attack in 2017, and although this has led to some exciting plays, they have yet to show a win for their efforts. With their trip to the 'Land Of The Long White Cloud just a week away, the Pretoria boys will consider a win this weekend as an absolute must if they harbour any hopes of qualifying for the playoffs.
While captain Handre Pollard has battled to assert himself yet this season after his lengthy injury lay-off, the performances of his back-three have really added substance to the Bulls attack so far. Jambo Ulengo and Travis Ismael have been very good so far, and will continue to catch Allister Coetzee’s eye should they perform well again this weekend.
While the Bulls will sweat over the fitness of bruising loose-forward Jacques Potgieter (concussion), they will welcome the return of Arno Botha, Jannes Kirsten and Jan Serfontein and Warrick Gelant who have all overcome their respective injury troubles. The Bulls should put their guests to the sword this Friday to allow for some sort of momentum going into their overseas tour, but should be wary of being overconfident (as the Cheetahs were last week).
After a disappointing opening two games that included a humiliating loss against the Hurricanes, and another at the hands of the Southern Kings, the Japanese side did well to push the Cheetahs close last week (especially considering they conceded over 90 points to them last season). They will feel aggrieved that they didn’t pull off a win after an encouraging start to the game, and will look to take out their misery on the Bulls of Pretoria.
Ed Quirk’s men capitalised on the over-confidence of the Cheetahs side, and took the fight to them as opposed to falling for the trap of remaining overly passive. They will rely upon the likes on Quirk and Saffa-born Willie Britz to match the Bulls’ physicality, but will do well to stop the Bulls’ forwards from dominating the majority of Friday’s collisions. Quick phase play and solid ‘D’ will be the focus for the Sunwolves, but they should ultimately battle to subdue an angry Bulls outfit.
Verdict: Bulls (-32.5) 9/10
The Bulls’ last two results will make them less likely to fall into the same ‘over-confidence’ trap that nearly cost the Cheetahs last week, but their desperation should see them add a first ‘W’ to their campaign against a spirited Sunwolves side.