We are very keen to get back on the winning trail - Vodacom Bulls coach Frans Ludeke earlier this week from Sydney.
Victor Matfield is the only “survivor” in the Vodacom Bulls’ team from the last time they lost to the Waratahs – which was in the Vodacom Super Rugby semi-final of 2005. On Saturday, when they face each other in Sydney, it will be 3,256 days since the last Waratahs win.
Yes, it’s been almost nine years since the team from New South Wales have beaten the side from Pretoria. Those eight matches include three successful visits to Sydney for the three-time champions and the Vodacom Bulls will be aiming to keep alive a winning streak which stretches back to 2005.
Upon their last visit to Sydney, in 2012, the Vodacom Bulls won a tight encounter by 27-24. In 2009 the score was 20-6 to the South Africans and in 2007 it was 32-19.
But the Vodacom Bulls have not yet won away from home this season and they will be hard-pressed to turn this trend around at Allianz Stadium on Saturday morning (SA time). They will face Jacques Potgieter, who was on the bench at Loftus Versfeld last year when the side from Pretoria beat the Waratahs.
“We are very keen to get back on the winning trail,” said Vodacom Bulls coach Frans Ludeke earlier this week from Sydney.
“We had opportunities in Napier and Dunedin, but could not convert enough of those to secure us victory. We have played well in patches, so will be looking for a solid performance in Sydney.
“We realise we are facing one of the leading teams in the competitions in the Waratahs, who has been playing great rugby this season, but also know that we are very hard to beat if we stay in our structures, rhythm and manage to keep the ball.”
Flip van der Merwe, who will captain the Vodacom Bulls, said they owe it to themselves to deliver on Saturday.
“We are desperate for a win and the only way we will achieve that is by showing up and playing to our potential on Saturday. We have ambitions in this tournament, but we need to make a stronger statement about that than we have done up to now,” said Van der Merwe.
Utility back Ulrich Beyers will start at fullback for the Vodacom Bulls against the Waratahs on Saturday after Jurgen Visser was ruled out of the match due to a foot injury.
Beyers, who came off the bench in both tour matches in New Zealand, played at centre on those occasions, but now get a first start of the season following the failed fitness test by Visser. His only Vodacom Super Rugby start (at fullback) was against the Waratahs almost a year ago on 27 April 2013, when the Vodacom Bulls defeated the Australians 30-19 at Loftus Versfeld.
The teams are:
Waratahs: Israel Folau, Cam Crawford, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Kurtley Beale, Rob Horne, Bernard Foley, Nick Phipps, Dave Dennis (captain), Michael Hooper, Jacques Potgieter, Kane Douglas, Will Skelton, Sekope Kepu, Tatafu Polota-Nau, Benn Robinson. Replacements: Tola Latu, Jeremy Tilse, Paddy Ryan, Patrick McCutcheon, Wycliff Palu, Brendan McKibbin, Jonathan Lance, Matt Carraro.
Vodacom Bulls: Ulrich Beyers (7), Bjorn Basson (63), JJ Engelbrecht (41), Jan Serfontein (20), Francois Hougaard (64), Jacques-Louis Potgieter (48), Piet van Zyl (39), Grant Hattingh (27), Jacques du Plessis (9), Jono Ross (11), Victor Matfield (131), Flip van der Merwe (69, c), Werner Kruger (100), Callie Visagie (31), Dean Greyling (46). Replacements: Bongi Mbonambi (8), Marcel van der Merwe (23), Morné Mellett (16), Paul Willemse (12), Jacques Engelbrecht (20), Rudy Paige (4), Handré Pollard (6), William Small-Smith (1).
Head to Head:
Played 17, Bulls won 10
Points: Bulls 397 for, 466 against
Tries: Bulls scored 38, conceded 52
Average Score: Bulls 23-27/
Kick-off: SA Time: 11h40
Venue: Allianz Stadium, Sydney
Referee: Rohan Hoffmann (Australia)
Assistant referees: James Leckie (Australia), Ed Martin (Australia)
Television match official: Peter Marshall (Australia)