RECAP: Blues v Bulls
READERS’ FORUM: Welcome to our coverage of the Super Rugby Round 16 clash between the Blues and Bulls at Eden Park.
The Blues may have lost five of their last six matches, but they were not blown away in any of those matches.
In fact, the Blues have scored 15 tries in those outings – suggesting they are not that far off the pace.
Against the table-topping Crusaders last week they showed intent and intensity in an 11-19 loss in Christchurch.
Blues coach Leon MacDonald said he wants to see the same level of commitment and want his team to convert their attacking chances on Friday.
2017: Blues won 38-14, Auckland
2015: Blues 23-18, Auckland
2014: Bulls won 38-22, Pretoria
2013: Bulls won 28-21, Auckland
2012: Blues won 29-23, Pretoria
Prediction: The Blues have won four of their last six Super Rugby games against the Bulls, the two losses sandwiched in between back-to-back victories. The Blues have won 11 of their 12 home games against the Bulls in Super Rugby history, over half of those wins (seven) have seen a final margin of 13+. The Blues have won five of their last six Super Rugby games on home turf, including a 23-8 win over the Chiefs in their last home fixture. The Blues boast the best scrum success rate (97 percent) of any team this Super Rugby season and have also lost a league-low total of three scrums. The Bulls’ Duane Vermeulen has won 20 turnovers thus far in Super Rugby 2019, more than any other player in the competition and eight more than Blues’ best Dalton Papali’i.
Margin: 10 points
As it happened: Blues v Bulls
Kick-off: 19.35 local time; 09.35 SA time; 07.35 GMT.
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Blues: 15 Melani Nanai, 14 Caleb Clarke, 13 Thomas Faiane, 12 Ma’a Nonu, 11 Rieko Ioane, 10 Harry Plummer, 9 Jonathan Ruru, 8 Akira Ioane, 7 Blake Gibson, 6 Tom Robinson, 5 Scott Scrafton, 4 Patrick Tuipulotu, 3 Ofa Tu’ungafasi, 2 James Parsons, 1 Alex Hodgman.
Replacements: 16 Leni Apisai, 17 Lua Li, 18 Marcel Renata, 19 Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 20 Hoskins Sotutu, 21 Augustine Pulu, 22 Otere Black, 23 Tanielu Tele’a.
Bulls: 15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 John-Ben Kotze, 12 Burger Odendaal (captain), 11 Rosko Specman, 10 Manie Libbok, 9 Ivan van Zyl, 8 Paul Schoeman, 7 Hanro Liebenberg, 6 Marco van Staden, 5 Rudolph Snyman, 4 Jason Jenkins, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Schalk Brits, 1 Lizo Gqoboka.
Replacements: 16 Jaco Visagie, 17 Simphiwe Matanzima, 18 Wiehahn Herbst, 19 Jannes Kirsten, 20 Ruan Steenkamp, 21 Andre Warner, 22 John Jackson, 23 Divan Rossouw.
Referee: Mike Fraser (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Brendon Pickerill (New Zealand), Dan Waenga (New Zealand)
TMO: Ben Skeen (New Zealand)