|Cheetahs v Bulls: Sunday 3.10am (AEST)
at Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein
|Best Bet: Cheetahs +5.5 ($1.90)
Value Bet: Cheetahs 1-12 ($3.50)
The Bulls are highly unlikely to still be in the finals picture by the time this match rolls around, which could open the door for another Cheetahs upset this weekend.
The Bulls have named flyhalf Tian Choeman and prop Marcel van der Merwe to replace Francois Brummer and Werner Kruger.
The Bulls hold an imposing 14-3 lead in 17 matches against the Cheetahs. Two of the Cheetahs’ three wins have come in their last five meetings, however. The Cheetahs are 2-7 at home against the Bulls, but won at Free State Stadium 42-29 in the final round last year. The Bulls edged out the Cheetahs 23-18 in Pretoria earlier this year.
The Cheetahs pipped the lowly Force in Round 15 but fell 26-10 to the Sharks last week. With a 4-10 record, the Cheetahs have the ninth-ranked attack and the 11th-ranked defence.
The Bulls flubbed their finals chances with a 29-11 away loss to the Jaguares two weeks ago, before putting the Sunwolves to sword 50-3 in Round 16. They need the Sunwolves to beat the Sharks if they’re to have a chance of sneaking into the playoffs. The 8-5-1 Bulls are ranked 10th in both attack and defence.
The battle of the No.10s, Fred Zelinga for the Cheetahs and the promoted Tian Schoeman for the Bulls, shapes as the most critical individual matchup in this one.
Stats That Matter
The Cheetahs are 5-9 against the start in 2016, while the Bulls are 7-7 ATS this year. The Cheetahs have won five of their last 12 at home. The Bulls are 5-10 on the road since the start of 2015 (6-9 ATS). Five of the teams’ last seven games were decided by margins of six points or less. Home sides are 70-52-3 this season (66-60 against the start). Home underdogs are 8-26-3 overall and 20-23 ATS in 2016.
In all likelihood, the Bulls will be playing for nothing but pride after the Sharks inevitably take care of the Sunwolves. That deflating development will test the Bulls’ mental strength, while the Cheetahs – out of contention for some time – will be buoyed by the prospect of finishing the season on a high. The Cheetahs will go in with an expansive, attacking mindset and are arguably the best-value outsider of the weekend.
The Way It’s Shaping
Cheetahs by 6
Cheetahs +5.5 ($1.90)
Cheetahs 1-12 ($3.50)