The Vodacom Bulls are back at Loftus to host the Waratahs this weekend and after successive wins, they are very much in the thick of the playoff hunt.
When the Bulls returned from tour we took the opportunity to look ahead to see what they had to do in upcoming fixtures to get themselves back into the hunt for a playoff spot. The first order of business was fourpoints against the Cheetahs and then a five pointer away to the Kings was considered a non negotiable. The required nine points have been delivered and aside from taking a long time to finally bag the bonus point, last week’s win over the Kings was impressive and since coming back to South Africa the Bulls pack in particular has been superb. They find themselves at the top of the South African conference in what looks like being a four team dogfight all the way to the line.
The Waratahs started the season poorly but they have recovered nicely and are not without an outside chance in the Australian Conference. They came off a bye to beat defending champions and current favourites the Chiefs in Sydney last week and that result in itself will ensure the Bulls do not take them lightly. They have been poor on the road losing to the Hurricanes, Brumbies and Reds by 12, 29 and 8 points respectively and they generally struggle in South Africa where they have not won since 2009.
Head to Head Stats
The Bulls have won the last five matches at home and you have to go back to 2002 for a Waratahs win. Those five matches have been a mix of high scoring and tighter affairs and on each occasion the Bulls winning margin was 11 points or less which is another reason for the Bulls to be onfull alert. They last met in Pretoria in 2011 with the Bulls coming out on top by 23-17.
The bookmakers have the Bulls as firm favourites and the visitors are being given a 9.5 point start in the handicap market.
The 5 pointer had been earmarked for the home team but given how the Waratahs have improved it may be a case of any win will do. That being said the sides have played out some high scoring thrillers so if we have dry conditions this clash could be entertaining.
There is no doubt that the Bulls have the team to win this match and consolidate their position on the log but the Waratahs are potential banana skins and we are forecasting a closer game than some may expect with the home team winning by between 5 and 10 points. If you enjoy the occasional bet then a Bulls win by 6-10 points is on offer at just over 4/1.
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