Preview: Bulls vs Rebels - Green and Gold Rugby
Melbourne Rebels

Preview: Bulls vs Rebels

Preview: Bulls vs Rebels

This week the Melbourne Rebels travel to the Republic of South Africa to take on the Vodacom Bulls in Pretoria. Can the Rebels finally break through for their first win on South African soil or will the Bulls continue their recent form and extend the Melbourne side’s misery?

FORM

The Bulls have won three and lost four matches in 2018. After losing four games in a row their recent form has been good, earning convincing wins against both the Sharks and Stormers either side of their second bye. With 14 points after seven games the Bulls sit in second place in the African Conference and eighth overall.

Last week the Melbourne Rebels blew a halftime lead against the Jaguares; their third loss in their last four games. Currently the Rebels are second in the Australian Conference and in sixth place overall with 21 points from seven matches.

Head-to-head, the Bulls have won four of the five clashes between the two sides scoring 40 or more points in each of their wins. The Rebels did manage to beat the Pretorians in a cliff-hanger at AAMI Park in 2015, 21-20.

Statistically there is very little separating the two sides and they play a similar style of game. Even their respective coaches, John Mitchell and Dave Wessells, have Western Force coach on their resumes. In their last three home games against Australian teams the Bulls have scored an imposing 17 trys.

VODACOM BULLS

The Bulls go into this game with a largely unchanged side from the team that thrashed the Sharks last start. Openside flanker, Roelof Smit will replace the injured Hanro Liebenberg in the back row while Marco van Staden switches from flanker to the back of the scrum. Shaun Adendorff will take up a seat on the bench.

The Bulls have scored more than half of their trys this season from first-phase play. No doubt they will look to use their superior lineout as a platform to create attacking opportunities in the Rebels half of the ground and continue this trend. Considering the experienced players in their tight five the Bulls scrum has not performed particularly well this year with a success rate of only 85%.

During the week coach, John Mitchell said, “We are gaining some momentum and are improving all the time. We are not the finished product yet though and hard work and commitment remains important for us.”

Melbourne Rebels

Dave Wessels has made four changes to last week’s starting side. In the Forwards, Matt Philip replaces Geoff Parling in the second row and Angus Cottrell will start in the seven jersey with Richard Hardwick benched. Reece Hodge returns from injury at inside centre to resume his successful mid-field partnership with Tom English. Michael Ruru earns his first Rebels start replacing the injured Will Genia and Harrison Goddard comes on to the bench. Also on the bench, Fereti Sa’aga replaces Ben Daley.

The Rebels have once again selected a very big backrow. This strategy has its benefits but they will rely heavily on Amanaki Mafi to do the bulk of the ball carrying. With no other running threats among the forwards the Rebels have become quite predictable and opposing teams have found ways to limit Mafi’s effectiveness.

The Rebels have lacked direction and leadership when Will Genia has been off the field. Not only will Micheal Ruru need to step up this week, but the whole leadership group will need to have their act together to cover the loss of Genia.

TEAMS

VODACOM BULLS

  1. Pierre Schoeman
  2. Adriaan Strauss
  3. Trevor Nyakane
  4. RG Snyman
  5. Lood de Jager
  6. Roelof Smit
  7. Thembelani Bholi
  8. Marco van Staden
  9. Ivan van Zyl
  10. Handre Pollard
  11. Divan Rossouw
  12. Burger Odendaal (C)
  13. Jesse Kriel
  14. Johnny Kotze
  15. Warrick Gelant

     

    Reserves

  16. Jaco Visagie
  17. Lizo Gqoboka
  18. Frans van Wyk
  19. Jason Jenkins
  20. Shaun Adendorff
  21. Andre Warner
  22. Manie Libbok
  23. Duncan Matthews

Melbourne Rebels

  1. Tetera Faulkner
  2. Anaru Rangi
  3. Sam Talakai
  4. Matt Philip
  5. Adam Coleman (C)
  6. Ross Haylett-Petty
  7. Angus Cottrell
  8. Amanaki Mafi
  9. Michael Ruru
  10. Jack Debreczeni
  11. Marika Koroibete
  12. Reece Hodge
  13. Tom English
  14. Jack Maddocks
  15. Dane Haylett-Petty

     

    Reserves

  16. Jordan Uelese
  17. Fereti Sa’aga
  18. Jermaine Ainsley
  19. Geoff Parling
  20. Richard Hardwick
  21. Harrison Goddard
  22. Billy Meakes
  23. Sefa Naivalu

KEY MATCH UPS


Warrick Gelant vs Dane Haylett-Petty
Gelant had a day out with a hat trick of trys against the Sharks. His pinpoint kicking skills and evasive running make him a real threat. Haylett-Petty has been superb under the high ball and regularly on the Rebels score sheet. This will be an entertaining match up.

Jesse Kriel vs Tom English
Kriel has played every minute of every game this season, his mid-field defence has been top notch and he is one of the Bulls most reliable ball carriers. English had a quiet game last week and needs to find his early season form.

Marco van Staden vs Amanaki Mafi
van Staden has a big job ahead of him. Containing Mafi is not an easy thing to do and he will need plenty of help from his flankers. Mafi leads the competition in carries and is second only to the Chief’s Solomona Alaimalo in run metres.

PREDICTION

It’s going to be tough for the Rebels. This game will be played at altitude in front of a hostile home crowd and the Bulls are in form. The loss of Will Genia leaves a huge void for the Rebels to fill. And of course the Rebels have a diabolical record in South Africa with one draw and twelve losses to show for their efforts. Virtually everyone is tipping a comfortable win to the Bulls.

Nevertheless, just as all winning streaks eventually come to an end so to must losing streaks. I’m predicting a close game with the Rebels getting up by four points.

MATCH DETAILS

Date: Saturday 21st April
Venue: Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
Kick-off: 11:00pm Melbourne time
Referee: Ben O’Keefe
AR1: Rasta Rasivhenge
AR2: AJ Jacobs
TMO: Willie Vos
Weather: Partly sunny, maximum of 23°
  • John_R

    “With no other running threats among the forwards the Rebels have become quite predictable and opposing teams have found ways to limit Mafi’s effectiveness.”

    Very true sadly. Here’s hoping they can get up. But no Gen-Doggs. I dunno…. seems a stretch. Jack Debreczini is a running back that needs Genia to steer the team around.
    Also, why isn’t Uelese starting??

  • HomerJ

    Why isn’t Meakes starting? His stats have been very good and his defence is solid. Apart from that he brings energy to the team.

    • Brendan Hume

      I thought the same when I saw this – can only imagine it’s about having Hodge at 12 – bigger player, bit more direct. I’d have done it differently, but there you go…

  • Missing Link

    hard to pick – Bulls have some big names. Strauss, Nyakane, de jager, pollard, kreil and Oodendaal who is a veryunder rated player. On the other hand their bench peters off into obscurity, whereas the Rebels have a decent bench which could suggest that this week if the Rebels are in touch or in the lead after the 60 minute mark, they should hold onto it. that said their last 2 games would suggest otherwise.

    Anyway, go the Rebels. gotta back our teams!

  • Keith Butler

    Thought that Adam Coleman was the answer to the Aussie lock problem. Plenty of grunt, good line out, good carry. Him and Arnold should be the future. Hasn’t shown anything like that form. Has being captain affected his play? Time to step up to the plate AC. The Rebs and Aussies need you firing on all cylinders.

  • Keith Butler

    Thought that Adam Coleman was the answer to the Aussie lock problem. Plenty of grunt, good line out, good carry. Him and Arnold should be the future. Hasn’t shown anything like that form. Has being captain affected his play? Time to step up to the plate AC. The Rebs and Aussies need you firing on all cylinders.

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