On Saturday, it will be 2,899 days since the Waratahs’ last Vodacom Super Rugby victory over the Vodacom Bulls – or rather seven years, 11 months and seven days.
Yes, the Vodacom Bulls have not lost to the Sydneysiders since going down in their 2005 semi-final. For seven straight matches, including three in Australia, the team from Pretoria have been on the the winning side.
The Waratahs’ last win at Loftus Versfeld – where they face the Vodacom Bulls on Saturday afternoon – was more than a decade ago, on 9 March 2002, when they smashed the team from Pretoria by 51-19.
But both teams are on an upward curve – the Vodacom Bulls have won both their matches since returning to South Africa following their tough tour Down Under, while the Waratahs have put a slot start to the competition behind them by winning three of their last four encounters.
Victories over the Toyota Cheetahs in Pretoria and the Southern Kings in Port Elizabeth have catapulted the Vodacom Bulls to the top spot on the South African Conference log – a position they would not like to lose this weekend.
“We finally played the rugby we wanted last weekend and the challenge will be to back it up against the Waratahs,” Vodacom Bulls coach Frans Ludeke said.
“They are dangerous opponents and at this level the margins are very small, so we cannot afford to play at any level other than our best.”
Vodacom Bulls captain Pierre Spies added: “The Waratahs are capable of beating anyone, as they showed against the Chiefs last week.
“We will need to use the momentum we have created last week on attack, but from a defensive perspective, they will ask a lot of new questions. We will have to answer all of them if we want to keep on winning.”
The teams are:
Vodacom Bulls: Jürgen Visser, Akona Ndungane, JJ Engelbrecht, Jan Serfontein, Bjorn Basson, Morné Steyn, Jano Vermaak, Pierre Spies (captain), Arno Botha, Dewald Potgieter, Juandré Kruger, Flip van der Merwe, Werner Kruger, Chiliboy Ralepelle, Dean Greyling. Replacements: Willie Wepener, Hencus van Wyk, Wilhelm Steenkamp, Jacques Potgieter, Francois Hougaard, Louis Fouchè, Lionel Mapoe.
Kickoff SA Time: 17h05
Venue: Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
Referee: Francisco Pastrana (Argentina)
Assistant referees: Sindile Mayende (South Africa), Ben Crouse (South Africa)
Television match official: Gerrie Coetzee (South Africa)