URC – Vodacom Bulls Set Sights On A Second Final

 

The Vodacom Bulls will have their sights set squarely on booking their second Vodacom United Rugby Championship grand final spot in three seasons when they host Leinster in the first semi-final at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria on Saturday at 16:00 (SA Time) when they will fly the flag as the last remaining South African team in the cross-hemisphere showpiece.

They will have the extra motivation of knowing that should they register a victory, and Munster suffer a defeat against the Glasgow Warriors in the other semi-final final a few hours later in Limerick, the Vodacom Bulls will earn the right to host the grand final next weekend – which will mark an historic first for the union.

Spicing up the clash, the teams are currently tied on two wins apiece in their last four outings, with the Pretoria outfit having won the last match between the sides at their fortress, Loftus Versfeld, by 62-7 last season, while they also pipped the Irish giants by 27-26 in a pulsating semi-final in Ireland in 2022.

They will, however, wary of the threat posed the visitors – who have former Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber on their coaching staff – after suffering defeats away from home earlier this season (47-14) and in the inaugural season in 2021 (31-3).

The newly crowned SA Shield winners will enter the match with the mental boost that they boast the best attack in the competition with 669 points scored to Leinster’s 577, while they have also only suffered one defeat at home this season.

The visitors, however, have been superior on defence, conceding 357 points in their 19 matches to date to 456 by the Vodacom Bulls, and given the high stakes in this knock-out clash, it is set to be a gripping encounter.

The hosts will draw inspiration from winning their last five Vodacom URC matches, while the Irishmen have suffered defeats in their last three away games in the championship, although both sides have registered 14 wins in their 19 matches to date.

Making things even more interesting, Leinster’s only victory in South Africa since the Pro14 days in 2018, was late last season against the Emirates Lions in Johannesburg.

With a place in the grand final on the line, however, neither team will pay much attention to history nor past results, meaning they will not give an inch, although Leinster will have semi-final defeats in the last two seasons in the backs of their minds.

Fortunately for the Vodacom Bulls, they will have their passionate support base behind them, which will inspire them significantly to advance to the final, and there is no doubt that they will understand they have to step up the quality of their play immensely from their performance in the quarter-final last week against Benetton (which they won 30-23).

That said, Jake White’s team will face a Leinster side with the mindset that they have nothing to lose. These factors combined means fans could be glued to their seats for an exhilarating 80-minute showpiece.

The first semi-final between the Vodacom Bulls and Leinster kicks off at 16h00, with defending champions and log-leaders, Munster, taking on the Glasgow Warriors at Thomond Park at 19h00. Both matches will be broadcast live on SuperSport.

Vodacom URC semi-final information:

Vodacom Bulls v Leinster
Date: Saturday, 15 June
Venue: Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
Referee: Sam Grove-White
SA Time: 16h00
TV: SuperSport

Munster v Glasgow Warriors
Date: Saturday, 15 June
Venue: Thomond Park, Limerick
Referee: Andrea Piardi
SA Time: 19h00
TV: SuperSport