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The Reds host the Bulls on Saturday evening at Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane. Join The Roar for live scores and a blog of the match, starting from 7:15pm (AEDT).
Apart from one game coached by Jeff Miller in 2004, the Reds have defeated the Bulls in all Brisbane matches through Super Rugby’s 25-year history. Moreover, Pote Human’s Pretorian pack is decidedly unhearlded. Based on that, it may be easy to conclude that the Bulls will be a Brisbane barbeque today.
However, last week the Bulls found a way to defeat the Highlanders by 25 points in the Loftus Versfeld stadium – although the New Zealanders were in the lead by the end of the first half. They did so by exploiting weaknesses in set piece and defence of the South Islanders.
The Bulls may do the same here, considering the Reds have a poor second half record, including some inconsistencies with set pieces. Today, James O’Connor returns from injury as the Reds playmaker, to partner with Scott Malolua who played a key role in successfully breaching the Crusaders defensive system.
Brisbane fans will hope this will be an even bigger improvement to last week’s attacking performance led by Isaac Lucas and Malolua. What the Reds fans expect to witness is an improvement in kicking which was lowlight of last week’s game.
To this end, Bryce Hegarty is finally re-introduced into the starting team as winger and placekicker. Hegarty’s selection is also the result of a backline shift caused by injury of devastating runner in Hunter Paisami.
The starting tighthead props from both teams will be critical in ensuring their respective teams have a solid scrum as an attack base. The Bulls will plan to attack the Reds scrum when the newbies come on, namely Ed Craig and Joshua Nasser. This will be a big night for them.
If they fail, the inexperienced Bulls halves in Embrose Papier and Manie Libbok, whilst still only 22 years old, will unleash the powerful and dangerous weapons outside them, including last week’s hat trickster Rosko Speckman along with Springbok Cornal Hendricks world-cup winning fullback Warrick Gelant.
The Bookies, along with all Roar pundits (except Harry Jones and myself) have marked this game for the Reds’ second season win. Brad Thorn and his boys will be confident after scoring more tries than the heralded Crusaders last week, although the Kiwis fielded many novices.
There is a good chance of an upset, if the Bulls can target the Reds second half set piece and unleash their deadly outside backs. If so, the Bulls will secure two wins in a row on the trot – their second in the season after seven rounds.
When: 7:15pm (AEDT)
Where: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
TV: Fox Sports
Online: Kayo, Foxtel GO
Odds: Reds $1.43, Bulls $2.84
1. Dane Zander, 2. Alex Mafi, 3. Taniela Tupou, 4. Angus Blyth, 5. Harry Hockings, 6. Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, 7. Liam Wright (c), 8. Harry Wilson, 9. Scott Malolua, 10. James O’Connor, 11. Henry Speight, 12. Hamish Stewart, 13. Chris Feauai-Sautia, 14. Bryce Hegarty, 15. Jock Campbell
16. Ed Craig, 17. Harry Hoopert , 18. Josh Nasser, 19. Angus Scott-Young, 20. Fraser McReight, 21. Tate McDermot, 22. Isaac Lucas, 23. Filipo Daugunu
1. Lizo Gqoboka, 2. Jaco Visagie, 3. Trevor Nyakane, 4. Ian Groenewald, 5. Ruan Nortje, 6. Marco van Staden, 7. Josh Strauss, 8. Muller Uys, 9. Embrose Papier, 10. Manie Libbok, 11. Rosko Specman, 12. Burger Odendaal (c), 13. Johnny Kotze, 14. Cornal Hendricks, 15. Warrick Gelant
16. Corniel Els, 17. Gerhard Steenekamp, 18. Wiehahn Herbst, 19. Ryno Pieterse, 20. Ruan Steenkamp, 21. Ivan van Zyl, 22. Morné Steyn, 23. Divan Rossouw
Referee: Mike Fraser (NZ)
Assistants: Rasta Rasivhenge (SA), Graham Cooper (AUS)
TMO: George Ayoub (AUS)