With top spot in the SA Conference secured the Vodacom Bulls continue their push to top the combined table when they host the Sharks in Pretoria on Saturday.
The Bulls made it 8 wins in 8 starts when they comfortably saw off the Kings last weekend. The bonus point win aside, they also improved their point’s difference by 30 a factor that could yet come into play when determining final log positions. The campaign has been built around a brilliant home record, with 7 wins from 7 and the last 3 have all been by double figure margins. Sad news from an injury perspective is that Louis Fouché will miss the balance of the season with injury. Morné Steyn should return to the starting XV having not really got the rest the coach would have been hoping for last week.
The Sharks played their first match under temporary management last week and they got up on the hooter to beat the Blues in a tight but scrappy game. Their playoff hopes are purely mathematical, but they will have taken confidence from the win and would love nothing better than to stop the Bulls winning run at Loftus. The flyhalf battle will be very interesting with Pat Lambie showing signs that he is getting back to the form he showed the previous 2 seasons.
Head to Head
The Bulls edged the Sharks 18-16 in Durban earlier this season, but the Sharks have a good record in Pretoria having won 4 of the last 7 matches including an 18-13 win in 2012. Loftus is generally a ground where a lot of points are scored but that often changes when these two rivals meet and in 9 Super Rugby meetings there has only been over 50 points once.
From a Bulls perspective it would have been better to play a Sharks team down in the dumps after defeat to the Blues, rather than one that is picking up confidence. The home team are without doubt favourites to win, and bookmakers have the spread at around 7 points.
With the Chiefs away to the Crusaders on Saturday morning this match may well give the Bulls the opportunity to top the log which would mean they hold their destiny in their own hands with only the Stormers at Newlands to come.
One can expect a tough and physical game with the Sharks throwing everything at the home team, but the Bulls pack will be up to the challenge and the boot of Morne Steyn can see them home for a victory of between 1-12 points.