Super Rugby 2018: Bulls v Lions Preview

The Bulls will be looking to build on last week's surprise victory over the Hurricanes when they square off with the Lions in a Jukskei Derby on Saturday the 3rd of March.

After producing what was easily the best performance to come out of Loftus in quite some time, the Bulls will enter this week’s clash with their trans-Jukskei rivals full of confidence. The hosts’ 21-19 win over the Hurricanes has brought with it a refreshingly new sense of optimism to fans of the three-time champions, and a similar showing against the Lions will serve as the perfect start ahead of their tough tour 'Down Under'.

Bulls v Lions
Saturday 3 March
Loftus Versfeld

To Win (80 Mins)
Bulls 5/2
Draw 25/1
Lions 2/7


John Mitchell’s style of leadership seems to be just what this Bulls franchise needs. The 53-year-old arrived in Pretoria but a few short months ago, but already his transformation at the union has almost been palpable. Mitchell has never been afraid of making bold calls, and his dropping of regular Springboks Rudy Paige and Trevor Nyakane is testament to the fact. Mitchell doesn’t give a damn about reputation – you either shape up or ship out. No prisoners and all that jazz.

The fact that the Bulls’ opening-round win last week was their first against a New Zealand franchise since 2012 and ended a three-year bogey over Kiwi opposition, is one that cannot be understated. They will ride into this week’s rodeo on a pretty seismic wave indeed, and Swys de Bruin’s Lions certainly do have every reason to believe that their dominance of Gauteng is at serious risk of being challenged.

The Bulls’ offloading game was spot-on in their win over the Canes, while the overall work-rate and impact of locks RG Snyman and Lood de Jager was nothing short of inspirational. I’m expecting the “twin towers” to wreak more havoc this week – both in open field and in the tight-loose – to give the Pretoria boys two from two.


Despite their winning both of their opening fixtures, the Lions don’t seem to have clicked as a unit as of yet. Naturally, the early-season is never an entirely smooth ride for any side, but that shouldn’t deter from the fact that the Lions made 44-handling errors against the Jaguares last week. Better teams than the Argentinians would have made them pay for such misdemeanours and this would have been a serious focal-point for de Bruin’s troops ahead of Saturday.

Still, the Lions did make a whopping 1141m with ball-in-hand, whilst breaking the Jaguares’ line on 13 occasions. They will doubtless be up for this one – arguably their toughest test to date – and will need to draw on every last inch of their ability if they are to make good on their favourites tag.

Verdict: Bulls 5/2
I’m backing the Bulls to put in another big shift and beat the two-time runners-up. The passion and intensity they played with last week was very Lionsesque, and may just do enough to surprise the men from Jozi themselves.

Written by Shaun Goosen for

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