Vodacom Bulls in must-win against Highlanders

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The Vodacom Bulls are normally rock-solid at Fortress Loftus, however, they will be looking to avoid back-to-back losses at home for the first time since 2015 when they entertain the Highlanders.

The Highlanders, who have won six straight games, are looking for their seventh win in succession in a season - a mark yet to be achieved by the southern franchise.

Even though the Bulls lost to the Crusaders by more than 50 points, they remain a threat - as they look to evolve from a predictable to a more expansive game.

Recent results:
2014: Highlanders won 27-20, Dunedin
2013: Bulls won 35-18, Pretoria
2012: Highlanders won 16-11, Dunedin
2011: Highlanders won 35-28, Pretoria
2010: Bulls won 50-35, Pretoria

Prediction by rugby365.co.za: The Highlanders have won four of their last six games against the Bulls, though the last time they beat them by more than seven points was in Round Seven, 2009. The Bulls will be looking to avoid back-to-back losses at home for the first time since the opening fortnight of the 2015 campaign. The Highlanders’ last four games in South Africa have seen an average aggregate score of 73 points. The Bulls boast a line-out success rate of 92 percent, the best of any team in the competition and four percentage points higher than the Highlanders. Waisake Naholo beat a round-high 12 defenders in Round 11, the last time any player made more was Digby Ioane’s 13 defenders beaten in Round 12, 2013. There is a temptation to back the Bulls, as they will be charged up and desperate to bounce back.

Teams:

Vodacom Bulls: 15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Jade Stighling, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Burger Odendaal, 11 Jamba Ulengo, 10 Tian Schoeman, 9 Piet van Zyl, 8 Hanro Liebenberg (captain), 7 Jannes Kirsten, 6 Ruan Steenkamp, 5 Rudolph Snyman, 4 Jason Jenkins, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Jaco Visagie, 1 Lizo Gqoboka. Replacements: 16 Edgar Marutlulle, 17 Pierre Schoeman, 18 Coenraad van Vuuren, 19 Lodewyk de Jager, 20 Nick de Jager, 21 Rudy Paige, 22 Tony Jantjies, 23 Jan Serfontein.

Highlanders: 15 Matt Faddes, 14 Waisake Naholo, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Richard Buckman, 11 Patrick Osborne, 10 Marty Banks, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Gareth Evans, 7 Dillon Hunt, 6 Elliot Dixon, 5 Tom Franklin, 4 Alex Ainley, 3 Siosuia Halanukonuka, 2 Ash Dixon (captain), 1 Aki Seiuli. Replacements: 16 Greg Pleasants-Tate, 17 Daniel Lienert-Brown, 18 Siate Tokolahi, 19 Joe Wheeler, 20 Jackson Hemopo, 21 Kayne Hammington, 22 Fletcher Smith, 23 Teihorangi Walden.

Referee: Jaco van Heerden (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Egon Seconds (South Africa), Cwengile Jadezweni (South Africa)
TMO: Johan Greeff (South Africa)

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