Preview: Bulls v Crusaders

VENUE & TIME: Loftus Versfeld, Saturday, May 6 05:10 NZT.

HEAD TO HEAD: Played 10 - Bulls 4, Crusaders 6

LAST TIME: April 9, 2005 (Pretoria) - Bulls 35-20 Crusaders.

WALKING WOUNDED: Scott Hamilton was walking gingerly after a shin injury sustained against the Stormers and wasn't able to make the playing XV. The Bulls are in good shape with the same 22 expected to be available. The only talking point was the possible inclusion of first five-eighths and goal-kicker Derrick Hougaard who hasn't played since injuring his ankle in Auckland against the Blues. But he didn't make the side.

FORM: Serious question marks hang over the Crusaders, who have really struggled after their two tough matches against the Hurricanes
and Waratahs. The draw with the Force was an alarm bell, but coach Robbie Deans clearly believed he needed to rest key players for the Stormers game. That may yet prove a master-stroke but only time will tell. The Bulls clearly showed some marvellous tactical acumen in getting out to a 27-3 halftime lead against the Sharks. But showed vulnerability when letting the Sharks get so close in the final outcome.

WHO'S HOT: Bulls lock Bakkies Botha has maintained a healthy try scoring ability, picking up two at the weekend and showing some outstanding support skills around the field. His locking partner Victor Matfield managed to survive the judiciary and will be a key factor in the home team quelling the threat of Chris Jack in the lineout. Dan Carter, the Crusaders first five-eighths will be a key man in determining the tactical choices for his side while the absence of captain and flanker Richie McCaw will give Tanerau Latimer a rare chance.

WE THINK: With the prospect of a semi-final berth still alive, the Bulls will be expecting to do well, however, this is now a Crusaders team playing with an element of desperation. The Bulls need a bonus point if they win, but it is difficult to see the Crusaders defence allowing them sufficient openings for four tries. If they do score them, then the Crusaders problems are greater than realised. However, this will be a good test for the Crusaders and they are more than capable of getting back on the winning track.


Bulls: 1 - Wessel Roux, 2 - Gary Botha, 3 - Danie Thiart, 4 - Bakkies Botha, 5 - Victor Matfield, 6 - Jacques Cronje, 7 - Tim Dlulane, 8 - Pedrie Wannenburg, 9 - Fourie du Preez, 10 - Morn� Steyn, 11 - Frikkie Welsh, 12 - Wynand Olivier, 13 - JP Nel, 14 - Akona Ndungane, 15 - Jaco van der Westhuyzen.

Reserves: 16 Adriaan Strauss, 17 - Jaco Engels, 18 - Danie Rossouw, 19 - Pierre Spies, 20 - Francois van Schouwenburg, 21 - Heini Adams, 22 - Bryan Habana.

Crusaders: 1 - Wyatt Crockett, 2 - Corey Flynn, 3 - Greg Sommerville, 4 - Chris Jack, 5 - Reuben Thorne (Captain), 6 - Johnny Leo'o, 7 - Tanerau Latimer, 8 - Mose Tuiali'i, 9 - Andrew Ellis, 10 - Dan Carter, 11 - Caleb Ralph, 12 - Aaron Mauger, 13 - Casey Laulala, 14 - Rico Gear, 15 - Leon MacDonald.

Reserves: 16 - Tone Kopelani, 17 - Campbell Johnstone, 18 - Craig Clarke, 19 - Brad Mika, 20 - Kevin Senio, 21 - Cameron McIntyre, 22 - Stephen Brett/Scott Hamilton.

Referee: Scott Young