This might come as a surprise to many, but the Vodacom Bulls and Western Force are even in the head-to-head stakes, with three wins each in their six previous encounters!
Yes, the three-time champions from Pretoria have won three and lost three against the Force, a team that has only once finished in the top half of the standings (they were seventh in 2007).
That includes the shock defeat in 2007 at Loftus Versfeld against the team from Perth, a few months before the Vodacom Bulls lifted the trophy for the very first time.
What makes this even more impressive (if you back the Force) / disturbing (if you support the Bulls), is that the men from Pretoria have won 68% (19 out of 28) of their matches against Australian sides since 2006, when the Force came into being.
Does that make the Force the Vodacom Bulls’ Aussie bogey side? Well, if you compare the Pretorians’ success rate against the other Aussie teams, it certainly does (in some way or form).
Excluding the Rebels and looking at results from 2006 onwards, the Bulls have won all seven their matches against the Waratahs, won four and lost two against the Brumbies and won three and lost four against the Reds – but never at Loftus.
“We are grateful for the win (over the DHL Stormers last weekend), but this week we face a new opponent that will post new challenges,” said Vodacom Bulls coach Frans Ludeke.
“The Western Force has been a difficult opponent in the past and will again ask questions to our all round game and our defence. We have prepared well though and will be looking forward to the challenge.”
Vodacom Bulls captain Pierre Spies said a strong performance at Loftus would be very important as the Pretorians prepare for their tour to Australia and New Zealand.
“We cannot look past this match as it will determine the mind-set we will take onto tour. So this is a very important match for us,” Spies said.
The teams are:
Vodacom Bulls: Zane Kirchner, Sampie Mastriet, Lionel Mapoe, Wynand Olivier, Bjorn Basson, Morné Steyn, Francois Hougaard, Pierre Spies (captain), Arno Botha, Jacques Potgieter, Juandré Kruger, Flip van der Merwe, Werner Kruger, Chiliboy Ralepelle, Morné Mellett. Replacements: Willie Wepener, Frik Kirsten, Grant Hattingh, Jean Cook, Jano Vermaak, Louis Fouché, Jan Serfontein.
Western Force: Will Tupou, Nick Cummins, Winston Stanley, Kyle Godwin, Alfie Mafi, Sias Ebersohn, Alby Mathewson, Richard Brown, Matt Hodgson (captain), Angus Cottrell, Hugh McMeniman, Toby Lynn, Salesi Ma'afu, Nathan Charles, Pek Cowan. Replacements: Heath Tessmann, Tetera Faulkner, Sam Wykes, Ben McCalman, Chris Alcock, Mick Snowden, Jayden Hayward.
Head to head (since 2006)
Vodacom Bulls Won 3, Lost 3
152 Points for 136 against
16 Tries scored 13 against
Kick-off: SA Time: 17:05
Venue: Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
Referee: Jason Jaftha (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Lourens van der Merwe (South Africa), Sieg van Staden (South Africa)
Television match official: Johan Greeff (South Africa)