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Super Rugby Preview: Highlanders v Bulls

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Wednesday, June 5, 2019    Lynn McConnell    Getty Images

Match Details: Highlanders v Bulls, Forsyth Barr Stadium, 7.35pm, June 7, 2019. TICKETS

Played: 21
Won: Highlanders 14, Bulls 6, Drawn 1
Last time: Highlanders 29-28 Bulls, Pretoria, April 28, 2018
Referee: Angus Gardner

QUICK TAP: STRONGER HIGHLANDERS LOOKING TO CASH IN

FORM
The Highlanders are coming off the back of two losses in South Africa, to the Lions 29-38 and the Stormers 22-34. They started the season with a 30-27 and 36-31 wins over the Chiefs and Reds respectively. They then went six games without a win, losing to the Rebels 19-24, the Hurricanes 22-25, the Blues 26-33, the Hurricanes 28-31 and the Crusaders 17-43 while sharing their cancelled game with the Crusaders. They then beat the Blues 24-12 and the Sunwolves 52-0, drew with the Chiefs 31-31 and beat the Jaguares 32-27. The Bulls opened their season with a 40-3 win over the Stormers. They lost to the Jaguares 12-27 but then beat the Lions 30-12 and the Sharks 37-14. They went down to the Chiefs, at home, 20-56 before beating the Sharks 19-16. They lost to the Jaguares 20-22 then beat the Reds 32-17. They lost to the Stormers 23-24 but beat the Waratahs 28-21. Then they lost to the Crusaders 13-45 before opening their Australasian tour with a 32-17 win over the Rebels, a 10-22 loss to the Brumbies and a 22-22 draw with the Blues.

WHITELOCK MILESTONE

It shapes as emotional night for the Highlanders, not only on the Super Rugby points table. Captain for the night, No.8 Luke Whitelock will play his 100th Super Rugby game, and his 50th for the Highlanders, having earlier played 50 games for the Crusaders before transferring south in 2016. He will be playing his last game at Forsyth Barr Stadium before taking up a contract with Pau in France next year. The Highlanders last regular season game is against the Waratahs next week in Invercargill. Also making his last appearance at the ground will be wing Waisake Naholo who has been named on the bench while Ben Smith's contribution to the franchise will be celebrated after the game before he also joins Whitelock in playing for Pau next year.
TOUR SUCCESS HANGS ON OUTCOME
The Bulls have named Marco van Staden at No.8 in place of the injured Paul Schoeman while halfback Embrose Papier has been recalled while Divan Rossouw and Dylan Sage have been added at fullback and centre respectively. Coach Pote Human said the success of their tour depended on achieving a win. This is going to be very tough for us, but this group thrives on challenges. I think they last lost to a team from outside New Zealand in 2016, so we need to be at our very best if we want to change that statistic." Captain Handre Pollard, recovered from his late dash to Dunedin from South Africa, said: "The short break was great and I am happy to be back. This is a great venue to play at and we are determined to make our visit a productive one. We last won here [in Dunedin] in 2007, so it is about time we change that."

THE SCOOP

The Highlanders have won their last three games against the Bulls, in spite of having led only once at halftime in those games.

FAST FACT
The Bulls have lost only two of their last six away games, including last week's 22-22 draw with the Blues.

TEAMS:

Highlanders:
1.Ayden Johnstone, 2.Liam Coltman, 3.Tyrel Lomax, 4.Jackson Hemopo, 5.Tom Franklin, 6.Liam Squire, 7.James Lentjes, 8.Luke Whitelock (captain), 9.Aaron Smith, 10.Josh Ioane, 11.Tevita Li, 12.Sio Tomkinson, 13.Rob Thompson, 14.Waisake Naholo, 15.Josh McKay.

Substitutes: 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: 1.Lizo Gqoboka, 2.Schalk Brits, 3.Trevor Nyakane, 4.Jason Jenkins, 5.RG Snyman, 6.Ruan Steenkamp, 7.Hanro Liebenberg, 8.Marco van Staden, 9.Embrose Papier, 10.Handre Pollard (captain), 11.Johnny Kotze, 12.Burger Odendaal, 13.Dylan Sage, 14.Cornal Hendricks, 15.Divan Rossouw.

Substitutes: 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.