RECAP: Highlanders v Bulls
READERS’ FORUM: Welcome to our coverage of the Super Rugby Round 17 between the Highlanders and Bulls at Forsyth Barr Stadium.
A link to the match report will appear here later.
Highlanders coach Aaron Mauger was stating the obvious when he said the next two games were ”hugely important” for his team.
After hosting the Bulls in the Dunedin’s Lunchbox this week, the Highlanders travel to the deep south to face the Waratahs at their other home – Invercargill’s Rugby Park.
“If we want to play beyond the next couple of weeks [get into the play-offs], we need to win,” Mauger told a Highlanders media briefing.
The coach said the side was disappointed with its tour of South Africa, having come home empty-handed.
They lost to the Lions (29-38 in Johannesburg) and Stormers (22-34 in Cape Town).
Last week’s bye gave them a chance to regroup.
2018: Highlanders won 29-28, Pretoria
2017: Highlanders won 17-10, Pretoria
2014: Highlanders won 27-20, Dunedin
2013: Bulls won 35-18, Pretoria
2012: Highlanders won 16-11, Dunedin
Prediction: The Highlanders have won their last three Super Rugby games on the bounce against the Bulls despite leading at half-time only once in that time. The Bulls have lost only two of their last six games away from home in Super Rugby, including a 22-all draw with the Blues in their last start. The Highlanders are undefeated in their last three games on the bounce at home in Super Rugby and haven’t lost at home to a team from outside New Zealand since Round 9, 2016 (vs Sharks). The Highlanders and Bulls have each received just two yellow cards thus far in Super Rugby 2019, the joint fewest in the competition along with the Chiefs. Hanro Liebenberg (Bulls) has scored three tries in his last six Super Rugby games – including one in each of his last two – after having not scored in any of his 26 games prior.
Margin: 10 points
LIVE: Highlanders v Bulls
Kick-off: 19.35 (local time); 09.35 SA time; 07.35 GMT
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Highlanders: 15 Josh McKay, 14 Waisake Naholo, 13 Rob Thompson, 12 Sio Tomkinson, 11 Tevita Li, 10 Josh Ioane, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Luke Whitelock (captain), 7 James Lentjes, 6 Liam Squire, 5 Tom Franklin, 4 Jackson Hemopo, 3 Tyrel Lomax, 2 Liam Coltman, 1 Ayden Johnstone.
Replacements: 16 Ash Dixon, 17 Sef Fa’agase, 18 Siate Tokolahi, 19 Joshua Dickson, 20 Shannon Frizell, 21 Kayne Hammington, 22 Marty Banks, 23 Thomas Umaga-Jensen.
Bulls: 15 Divan Rossouw, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 Dylan Sage, 12 Burger Odendaal, 11 Johnny Kotze, 10 Handré Pollard (captain), 9 Embrose Papier, 8 Marco van Staden, 7 Hanro Liebenberg, 6 Ruan Steenkamp, 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 Johan Grobbelaar, 21 Ivan van Zyl, 22 Manie Libbok, 23 JT Jackson.
Referee: Angus Gardner (Australia)
Assistant referees: Paul Williams (New Zealand), James Munro (New Zealand)
TMO: Ben Skeen (New Zealand)