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Preview: Highlanders v Bulls

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Thursday, April 10, 2014    Sportal.co.nz    Getty Images

When: Friday, April 11 – 7:35pm (NZT). Where: Forsyth Barr Stadium. I can view it on: SKY Sports. What did they do last week? The Highlanders saw off a game Rebels side 33-30 at Forsyth Barr Stadium. The Bulls ran into an improving Hurricanes side in Napier and lost 20-25.

Things you need to know:
The Highlanders have called back veteran lock Brad Thorn, just as the Bulls have brought in Victor Matfield after injuries hit them hard in their first game of the tour. Nasi Manu has been given a break after a torrid start to the season and Elliot Dixon has been named at No.8. Shaun Treeby has held onto the starting position at second five-eighths while Patrick Osborne is back on the left wing as the result of Kurt Baker's suspension for a tipping tackle. The Bulls lost leading loosies Deon Stegmann and Dewald Potgieter which has seen Grant Hattingh named at No.8 with Jono Ross and Jacques du Plessis on the flanks. First five-eighths Jacques-Louis Potgieter appears to have recovered from the dead leg suffered in Napier.

Reason to watch: Can the Highlanders play guerilla rugby? That is, can their small, fast men run the Bulls off their feet. After a couple of days in Queenstown they could struggle.

Reason to worry: The Bulls could be tempted to maul their way to a win. The Highlanders would be wise not to kick the ball out to often.

Say what: "We are working on improving the good aspects of our game and eliminating the bad aspects. – Bulls captain Flip van der Merwe.

Final instructions: Historically the Bulls have a second game hiccup on their tours. They go well in their first game and then suffer in the second. Admittedly, their injuries will not have helped their chances, but it will take a magnificent effort for the Highlanders pack to best the South Africans, especially at the lineout. The scrums could be a different story because they have become such a lottery. Around the field back the Highlanders but it could be a case of how much ball the Bulls give them to try to run with. And if it comes down to goal-kicking it could be tight as both Lima Sopoaga for the home team and Jacques-Louis Potgieter have been on song this year. The home side will be ready for a tough contest but the Bulls may have the final say by eight points.

Teams:

Highlanders: 1.Kane Hames, 2.Liam Coltman, 3.Chris King, 4.Brad Thorn, 5.Joe Wheeler, 6.Gareth Evans, 7.Shane Christie, 8.Elliot Dixon, 9.Aaron Smith, 10.Lima Sopoaga, 11.Patrick Osborne, 12.Shaun Treeby, 13.Malakai Fekitoa, 14.Richard Buckman, 15.Ben Smith (co-captain).

Reserves: 16.Ged Robinson, 17.Craig Millar, 18.Ma'afu Fia,19.Jarrad Hoeata, 20.John Hardie, 21.Fumiaki Tanaka, 22.Trent Renata, 23.Nasi Manu.

Bulls: 1.Dean Greyling, 2.Callie Visagie, 3.Werner Kruger, 4.Flip van der Merwe (captain), 5.Victor Matfield, 6.Jono Ross, 7.Jacques du Plessis, 8.Grant Hattingh, 9.Francois Hougaard, 10.Jacques-Louis Potgieter, 11.Bjorn Basson, 12.Jan Serfontein, 13.JJ Englebrecht, 14.Akona Ndungane, 15.Jurgen Visser.

Reserves: 16.Bongi Mbonambi, 17.Marcel van der Merwe, 18.Paul Willemse, 19.Jacques Engelbrecht, 20.Piet van Zyl, 21.Handre Pollard, 22.William Small-Smith, 23.Morne Mellet.

Referee: Rohan Hoffman