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United Rugby Championship Final Prediction – Bulls v Glasgow Warriors

The Bulls are 80 minutes away from immortality as they go to battle against the Glasgow Warriors in the United Rugby Championship grand final at Loftus Versfeld.


The Bulls are 80 minutes away from immortality as they go to battle against the Glasgow Warriors in the United Rugby Championship grand final at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday (18:00 kick-off), writes Quintin van Jaarsveld.

Both sides produced stunning semi-final upsets last weekend, the Bulls beating a Leinster team full of Irish internationals 25-20 on home soil and the Warriors ending Munster’s reign with a 17-10 triumph in Limerick.

As a result, two trends since the inception of the cross-hemisphere tournament three years ago will continue as a South African team is once again hosting the final and new champions will once again be crowned.

It’s not known as Fortress Loftus for nothing. Jake White’s troops are like men possessed at their Pretoria hunting ground, where altitude makes beating them an even more daunting and steeper mountain to climb.

While they’ve been nearly unstoppable at home in all competitions this season, winning 13 out of 14 – including downing the Warriors 40-34 in May – Ruan Nortje and company took things to another level last weekend.

Beaming with passion and intensity, they plugged the holes in their defence and kept the kings of continuity at bay, with a heroic defensive set that saw them stave off over 20 phases of attacks in the final 10 minutes highlighting just how committed and cohesive they can be.

The Warriors wield an array of weapons with ball in hand. They have symmetry and good interplay between forwards and backs. As they showed last weekend, they’re opportunistic, which saw captain Kyle Steyn pounce on an error to score their first try, and they’re good on the counter-attack, which saw Sebastian Cancelliere finish off their other try.

They’ve beaten more defenders (485) and made more clean breaks (183) than any other team, but even so, they’ll have to conjure up something special to pierce the reinforced armour the men from Pretoria have put on for the playoffs.

As impressive as Glasgow’s above-mentioned numbers are, the Bulls possess greater killer instinct. They may be fourth in both defenders beaten (361) and clean breaks (159), but – crucially – they have an unrivalled conversion rate, which has seen them score the most points (669) and tries (88) this season and will leave them confident that they’ll make better use of their opportunities than their opponents come Saturday.

On the defensive end, the visitors are resilient and streetwise, a combination that enabled them to overcome two yellow cards to knockout Munster last weekend. Their stifling ability at the breakdown kept them in the fight, with Rory Darge, Matt Fagerson and Jack Dempsey combining well and even pivot Tom Jordan poaching the pill, and they’ll similarly seek to stop/slow the Bulls down at the source. Discipline has been an issue for them, though, so they’ll have to walk a fine line at Loftus.

A glaring weakness of the Warriors is their scrum. They were smashed in the set piece by Munster and are set to battle against the powerful Wilco Louw-led Bulls pack in this department. Again, though, Franco Smith’s charges are crafty and have found ways to minimise the damage they sustain at scrum time.

More than anything, Glasgow have grit. However, the power and pizazz of the hosts, coupled with their new-found lionhearted defence and support of their home crowd, should see the Bulls crowned champions.

Prediction: Bulls by 7.

Suggested Bet: Glasgow Warriors +8.5 at 1.81.

Quintin Van Jaarsveld is a former MDDA-Sanlam SA Local Sports Journalist of the Year and a former three-time Vodacom KwaZulu-Natal Sports Journalist of the Year. Formerly the sports editor and Outstanding Journalist of the Year award winner at The Fever Media Group, deputy editor at eHowzit, editor at and senior staff writer at, he boasts over 15 years’ experience and is currently a freelance sports writer.

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