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Super Rugby Preview: Highlanders v Bulls (7/06/19)

    • The Highlanders have won eight of their nine home matches against the Bulls in Super Rugby history (L1), including the last three matches in succession.
    • The Highlanders have won their last three Super Rugby games on the bounce against the Bulls despite leading at half-time only once in that time.
    • The Highlanders are undefeated in their last three games on the bounce at home in Super Rugby (W2, D1) and haven’t lost at home to a team from outside New Zealand since Round 9, 2016 (vs Sharks).
    • The Highlanders have lost their last two games on the bounce against South African opposition; the last time they lost more was a three-game stretch in March 2010 which included a 50-35 defeat to the Bulls.
    • The Bulls have lost only two of their last six games away from home in Super Rugby (W3, D1), including a 22-all draw with the Blues in their last start.
    • The Bulls have won only one of their last 14 games against New Zealand opposition in Super Rugby (D1, L12), and haven’t won a game in New Zealand since Round 4, 2013.
    • Each of the last three Super Rugby games between the Highlanders and Bulls have seen the away side on the day cross for the first try of the game, with the Highlanders striking first in each of their last two meetings.
    • The Highlanders and Bulls have each received just two yellow cards thus far in Super Rugby 2019, the joint fewest in the competition along with the Chiefs.
    • Sio Tomkinson (Highlanders) has crossed for a try in each of his last three Super Rugby appearances, as well as contributing two try assists in that time.
    • Hanro Liebenberg (Bulls) has scored three tries in his last six Super Rugby games – including one in each of his last two – after having not scored in any of his 26 games prior.

Highlanders captain Luke Whitelock will reach 100 Investec Super Rugby games tonight, when he takes to the field against the Bulls at Forsyth Barr Stadium.

The dynamic loose forward will become just the 62nd player to achieve 100 Investec Super Rugby caps, joining an elite group that includes current Highlanders teamamtes, Ben Smith, Aaron Smith, and most recently Elliot Dixon.

Whitelock said it was special to join a select group of current and former players who have all played an important role in shaping the game.

“It’s a huge honour to play for this team, and I never would have dreamed of reaching 100 games when I made my Super Rugby debut seven years ago.

“My clearest memories of the 100 games are my debuts for both the Crusaders and the Highlanders. I have to say eight seasons have gone by very quickly and I count myself as fortunate to have had the experiences that I have had. If I were to pick one special game from that time period it would be the Highlanders win over the British and Irish Lions in 2017.”

The 28-year-old five-Test All Black’s milestone achievement will be acknowledged in front of a home crowd tonight, when New Zealand Rugby (NZR) present him with a traditional pounamu mere – given to players who play 100 Investec Super Rugby games for New Zealand sides – at the conclusion of the match.

Highlanders Head Coach, Aaron Mauger, said: “Luke has many great qualities that we look for in a Highlander man – strength of character, loyalty, dependability and above all, hard-working.

“He has been a leader on and off the field during his time with us and its fantastic he will  bring up his 100th super game at home this weekend. We wish him and Claire all the best for the future.”

NZR Chief Rugby Officer Nigel Cass said: “I’d like to congratulate Luke on reaching this exciting milestone as he joins a very special club of New Zealand players to reach 100 Super Rugby games.

“Luke has established himself as a talented player, and fine leader in the Highlanders. His loyalty and dedication to the game is second to none, and it’s fitting that his service will be recognised at Forsyth Barr.”

Whitelock, who will lead the side against the Bulls, also brings up 50 games for the Highlanders. 

The Fielding High School old-boy’s career has also included captaining the Highlanders in their historic victory over the British and Irish Lions (2017) and leading the New Zealand Under 20s to Junior World Championship success in Italy (2011), earning an IRB Junior Player of the Year nomination.

The Highlanders have played the Bulls 19 times in Super rugby since 1998 and the Highlanders have won 13 matches, lost 5 times and drawn one.

The Highlanders 13 wins out of 19 matches gives them a record of winning 68% of their matches against the Bulls regardless of venue.

This weekend the match will be played in Dunedin which is home for the Highlanders and the venue where the teams have met 6 times.

In those 6 matches played in Dunedin, the Highlanders have won 5 matches and lost 1. This gives the Highlanders a record of winning 83% of their matches against the Bulls at home.;

The average score when the Highlanders play the Bulls in Dunedin is Highlanders 29 Bulls 14.

The Highlanders have won the last two matches against the Bulls in Dunedin and the Bulls have not won in the city since 2007.

Average score: Highlanders 29 Bulls 23

Last five results 
Sat, 28 Apr 2018 Highlanders 29 v 28 Bulls @Pretoria
Sat, 13 May 2017 Highlanders 17 v 10 Bulls @Pretoria
Fri, 11 Apr 2014 Highlanders 27 v 20 Bulls @Dunedin
Sat, 18 May 2013 Highlanders 18 v 35 Bulls @Pretoria
Sat, 19 May 2012 Highlanders 16 v 11 Bulls @Dunedin
Sat, 05 Mar 2011 Highlanders 35 v 28 Bulls @Pretoria

Highlanders overall record against the Bulls
Played 19 , Wins 13, Losses 5 , Draws 1

Teams
Highlanders
Ayden Johnstone, Liam Coltman, Tyrel Lomax, Jackson Hemopo, Tom Franklin, Liam Squire, James Lentjes, Luke Whitelock (c), Aaron Smith, Josh Ioane, Tevita Li, Patelesio Tomkinson, Rob Thompson, Waisake Naholo, Josh McKay
Replacements: Ash Dixon, Sef Fa’agase, Siate Tokolahi, Josh Dickson, Shannon Frizell, Kayne Hammington,Marty Banks, Thomas Umaga-Jensen

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

Match Officials and details
Date : Friday 7 June
Venue : Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin
Kick Off local: 19:35
Referee: Angus Gardner
Assistant Ref 1:Paul Williams
Assistant Ref 2:James Munro
TMO : Ben Skeen

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