The Highlanders are looking to extend their rich winning streak in the New Zealand Conference when they make the trip to Pretoria to take on the Bulls. Catch all the live scores on The Roar from 11:05pm (AEST).
The Highlanders come into this one with a six-game winning streak behind them, kicking off with a grinding 18-13 win over the Brumbies in Canberra back in Round 5.
Since then, they’ve piled on 40 points or more in four of their last five games and have even hit the half century twice.
They were given a scare last week against a Cheetahs outfit that jumped out of the gate and shocked the New Zealanders. It was a miracle comeback that got them over the line in the end, scoring three tries inside the final five minutes to take a thrilling 45-41 win.
The Landers still sit fourth in the New Zealand Conference, but their record of seven wins from ten games now has reduced the gap to six points behind the Hurricanes.
More importantly, they are now in front of the Blues by one point in the fight for that final wild card position in the Conference.
For the Bulls, they are in a bit of a tougher position following a mammoth defeat to the Crusaders last week at home, letting in 62 points to see them drop to their sixth loss of the season from just nine games.
They are now 12 points behind the Stormers in Africa 1 where they need to finish in top spot to book their ticket to the finals.
History isn’t kind on the Bulls either. They have won just five of 17 games against the Highlanders in Super Rugby.
However, Pretoria is a little kinder to them, winning four and losing four to the Landers at home.
Bulls coach Nollis Marais has not only named Hanro Liebenberg to come back into the side at No. 8 to replace Renaldo Bothma, but he’s given him the captaincy as well, making him the 19th Bulls skipper in Super Rugby history.
The new captain has come at a cost for the home side who will be without regular skipper Adriaan Strauss thanks to a foot injury from last week.
Leinberg is one of a few changes to the scrum. Jaco Visagie comes in for the aforementioned Strauss injury, while Lizo Gqoboko, Ruan Steenkamp and RG Snyman all come into the starting line up in place of Pierre Schoeman, Nick de Jager and Lood de Jager.
In the backline, Jade Stighling will take his place out on the wing with the No. 14 jumper, replacing Travis Ismaiel.
For the Highlanders, coach Tony Brown has made six alterations to his side for the trip to Pretoria.
Five of the six changes are in the scrum.
Chief among those is the absence of Liam Squire and skipper Luke Whitelock who copped a thumb and training injury respectively within the last week.
Elliot Dixon has come up off the bench to replace Squire at flanker, while Gareth Evans takes the No. 8 jersey from Whitelock.
In the front row, Aki Seiuli takes the loosehead role from Dan Lienert-Brown, while Ash Dixon wins the starting hooker role and the captaincy over Liam Coltman.
Alex Ainley pushes Joe Wheeler to the bench, taking his place in the second row.
The only change in the backs is the inclusion of Richard Buckman at inside centre.
The Highlanders are on a serious role right now, looking to overturn a slow start to the season and not only break away from the Blues to confirm a finals spot, but reign in the top three New Zealand sides.
The Bulls haven’t been terrible in the last two months, but they continue to fall short when it counts and that has left them hanging precariously within South Africa.
The Highlanders should be looking to pile the points on once again today.
Highlanders to win by 32