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URC Final: Bulls v Glasgow Warriors – Key Battles

Quintin van Jaarsveld identifies and examines the key head-to-head battles of Saturday’s United Rugby Championship grand final between the Bulls and the Glasgow Warriors in Pretoria.

United Rugby Championship

Quintin van Jaarsveld identifies and examines the key head-to-head battles of Saturday’s United Rugby Championship grand final between the Bulls and the Glasgow Warriors in Pretoria.

Johan Grobbelaar v Johnny Matthews

The set pieces will go a long way in determining who lifts the coveted trophy at Loftus Versfeld. One part of that equation is the lineout, where the key men responsible for its efficiency collide in a battle of laser-accurate, all-action hookers.

Springbok hopeful Grobbelaar has an advantage in mobility and poaching ability, while one-Test Scottish international Matthews has a bit more mongrel.

Both teams use the maul as a mightily effective weapon as well, which has earned Matthews the Top Try Scorer of the Season award with 14 touchdowns.

Wilco Louw v Jamie Bhatti

Glasgow’s scrum has a bullseye on it. It’s the one obvious weakness the Warriors have and Louw is like a 138kg great white shark that smells blood in the water.

Hungry to return to the Test arena, having won the last of his 14 Springbok caps back in 2017, the 29-year-old has been a smashing machine all season and dominated Ireland and Leinster loosehead Andrew Porter last weekend.

Bhatti is no slouch. The 123kg unit has 34 caps for Scotland but he’s heading into a lion’s den for one of the most daunting duels of his career. Warriors’ fans should wish him well, because he’s going to need it.

Cameron Hanekom v Jack Dempsey

Hanekom heads into Saturday’s decider with plenty of hype around him, all of which he’s earned in his remarkable rookie season.

The Bulls’ breakout star walked the walked and talked the talk last weekend, going full beast mode in a monstrous Man of the Match performance to help the Bulls claim an epic 25-20 win over vaunted Leinster before proclaiming, “This is our home, and you don’t come and mess around by us” in his post-match interview.

The 22-year-old Springbok in waiting will have to back up those words this weekend and after overshadowing Ireland’s Caelan Doris with his semi-final show-stealing shift, he’ll be going up another seasoned international in Dempsey.

The 30-year-old has represented Scotland on 34 occasions and knows all the tricks of the trade. Aside from his physicality, he’s one of the Warriors’ primary pilferers and his breakdown battle against the Bulls blue-chipper should be a fiercely contested one.  

Harold Vorster v Sione Tuipulotu

One of the Bulls’ unsung heroes meets one of Glasgow’s most revered stars in midfield.

Vorster has been an unheralded performer his whole career and this season has been no different. The no-nonsense, hard-running veteran has been happily doing the donkey work so that those outside of him can shine and he has arguably his most physically demanding challenge of the campaign in front of him.

A compact, tank of a man at 5’10” and 102kg, Tuipulotu packs a serious punch on both sides of the ball and showed what he’s all about in an explosive Man of the Match performance in the Warriors’ 17-10 win over Munster last weekend.

Capped 25 times for his adopted country of Scotland, the Australian-born ace is Glasgow’s go-forward gladiator, so Vorster will have to be at his physical peak to win their all-important gainline battle.

Sergeal Petersen v Kyle Steyn

Petersen would’ve gotten a world of confidence from his wonderful performance last weekend, in which he more than made up for his yellow card for a deliberate knockdown with a two-try salvo, the second of which proved to be the winning score.

He heeded Jake White’s halftime call to be brave on defence, making both dominant and important tackles, and will have to be emotionally intelligent and on his toes in his tussle against the Warriors’ skipper.

Johannesburg-born Steyn is an opportunist through and through, which he showed last weekend when he pounced on a Munster mistake to score his team’s first try.

Renowned for his speed and fleet-footed finishing ability, the former Griquas prospect turned Glasgow and Scotland star injects himself into the action, so Petersen will have to match his work rate and could deal the visitors a telling blow by keeping their captain quiet.

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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