Bulls 35-18 Highlanders. Mission accomplished for the Bulls although it wasn't always pretty. For all their efforts the highlanders were once again just not good enough.
TRY, HIGHLANDERS, ELLISON 18-35. It's all a bit of a mess as neither side can hold onto possession. The Highlanders get a penalty though and they take it quickly. After some gutsu running from Ioane the ball gets out to Ellison who does well to get in low under two defenders and over in the corner. The conversion attempt is off the upright and that's that.TRY, BULLS, VERMAAK 35-13. That's the bonus point and just in time! Vermaak breaks round the maul after some good work from the forwards and with just one man to beat he dashes for the corner and dives over for the all important fourth try. Steyn can't make the kick from out wide.A long pass from Vermaak doesn't go to hand and the ball is hacked forward by Gear. The Bulls look to attack but the ball is knocked on by a Highlanders player fighting for the ball. Basson has ball in hand from the scrum but he loses it and the Highlanders are tackled into touch.The Highlanders run it out from the restart but they don't make too much headway before Smith knocks it on.TRY, HIGHLANDERS, TANAKA 30-13 A beautiful dummy from replacement Jason Emery sees him surge through the defence and into the Bulls half. After nine phases the Bulls are penalised and the Highlanders take it quickly. Replacement scrum-half Tanaka dives over from close range and the Highlanders have some reward for their toil! Parker adds the extras.The Bulls are under pressure at the ruck but the Highlanders knock it on in their attempts to steal the ball. A bit of a problem for the Highlanders as King has gone off injured and they're all out of front rowers - back to uncontested scrums we go! The Bulls loose it forward as the game stutters on.Some more frustration for the Highlanders as the capatalise well on a Bulls mistake and surge into their opposition's half. The ball goes forward once more tough and the hosts run it back. Ellison puts in a high tackle and the Bulls are back on the front foot.The Highlanders are tackled into touch but they look to have got the ball back as the ball is picked up from the back of a Bulls ruck. It's adjudged not to have been out though so the Bulls have yet another penalty. King is back on the field so the Highlanders have their full compliment for the first time in some while.It's all getting a bit messy as the Highlanders exhibit some poor passing that is really stymieing their flow. The Bulls aren't doing much better has twice handling errors prevent them from taking advantage.The Bulls maul it up to the 5m line before the Highlanders pinch it at the ensuing ruck. It's moved wide and Smith pumps it down field. Engelbrecht clears and the line-out is taken quickly by the Highlanders. They move it into the Bulls half and when the ball goes into touch they go back for a little knock forward from the Bulls.The Bulls work it up through the phases before Jaco Peyper makes an exasperated blow on his whistle. The ref is growing frustrated by the consistent infringing and warns Hore that more players will go to the bin if it continues.Disappointing from Chiliboy Ralepelle as the throw at the line-out is skew when the Bulls were in a great attacking position. With King in the bin the Highlanders have to bring Hore back on as Mackintosh appears to be injured so it's uncontested scrums for the moment. Good work from the Bulls in the tackle sees the Highlanders held up and they get possession as the Highlanders can't produce the ball once it's gone to ground.YELLOW CARD, HIGHLANDERS, KING. A great maul from the Bulls and the Highlanders can't stop it legally and they're penalised. To make matters worse, Chris King is sent to the sin bin and the Highlanders have lost another man just as Nemani comes back on.Spies smashes it up from the line-out and the Bulls are into the 22. Hardie does well to turn it over as the Bulls backs are a tad isolated and they clear to halfway.Instead of keeping it with the forwards the Bulls go wide from the line-out this time and they get five out before Mapoe is tackled into touch. The Highlanders take the line-out quickly before punting it into touch on halfway.Slade does well with a little chip and chase but he loses the ball forward in the tackle just short of halfway and as the Bulls pick up and run the Highlanders are penalsied for being off-side as they scramble back.Unsurprisingly the Highlanders look to run it even from their own half and they do well, running it up to the Bulls 10m line. After good work from first Ben Smith and then Hosea Gear, Liam Coltman breaks down the far touchline. The ball swings back to the other side and is knocked into touch. More frustration.Poor organistation sees the Highlanders attack break down and as the Bulls look to counter their is a knock on and we have a scrum just on the Highlanders side of their 10m.Again the TMO has produced an interesting decision as Serfontein is penalised for a double movement after he goes over following a great rolling maul. Instead of a try to the Bulls it's a penalty to the Highlanders.The Bulls break out with great effect and as they surge into the opposition half, a desperate tackle from Nemani on Mapoe is high as he comes across and it's both a penalty and a yellow card. No malice intended but it was a bad tackle.CONVERSION, BULLS, STEYN 30-6. Steyn adds the extra two points via the upright.TRY, BULLS, SPIES 28-6. The Highlanders knew the maul was coming but they could do little to stop it. It collapses just short of the line but the damage is done and as the ball is moved to Spies the big man marks his 100th game with a try.Mapoe is put into space along the near touchline and he breaks into the Highlanders half. It's the Bulls who lose possession while on attack this time and the Highlanders look to attack from deep. They run into trouble though and with a man isolated they're isolated and Steyn kicks the resulting penalty into touch 5 out from the line.Gear does well to get the ball away after gathering the 22 right on the touchline and again Ioane carries strongly but not long afterwards some shabby passing results in a knock on.Ioane makes an immediate impact, breaking through a couple of tackles as the Highlanders start well. Again the Highlanders look to put in a kick behind inside the 22 after finding some strong Bulls defence. Not for the first time it doesn't come off.Slade gets the second period underway. Jamie Joseph has rung the changes with Coltman, Woodcock and Ioane all on the field.As expected the Bulls are dominating on the scoreboard and they're good value for their 23-6 lead. The Highlanders have looked impressive in patches but have let themselves down with silly errors and indiscretions.The Bulls bash it up some more but are penalised and the Highlanders clear it into touch for halftime.TRY, BULLS, NDUNGANE 23-6. But 10 out from the line the ball is spilled and Potgieter grabs it before handing it to JJ Engelbrecht who puts Akona Ndungae into space and he races 80ms and goes over for a try. Jaco Peyper wants to check their wasn't a forward pass and they go to the TMO. The suspicions seems correct as Hardie's great cover tackle just upset Engelbrecht enough to see the pass go forward but some astoundingly poor work from Johan Greef the TMO sees the try awarded despite it. Really poor officiating. Even the Bulls players had gone back into position for a scrum. Moving on, Steyn adds the extras.It's the Highlanders who are penalised at the scrum on this occasion and Steyn sets up a line-out just in the Highlanders half. They look to maul it but they aren't going far and Hougaard puts in the up and under. The Bulls are pinged for being in front of the kicker and the Highlanders take it quickly. Hardie and Ben Smith are prominant as the Highlanders make good ground through the phases and into the 22.Lovely stuff from the Highlanders spread it wide from the scrum and with Ben Smith coming into the line they have an extra man which puts Nemani into space and he runs down the far touchline well into enemy territory. After a good period an unforced error stops the men from Otago in their tracks as Whore knocks on.Serfontein is brought into play at 10 and the youngster does well to move it away quickly and open up some space. The ball is knocked on though, bringing an end to a promising move.A few nice little half breaks from the Highlanders but they're penalised on the Bulls 22 for sealing off.Ben Smith runs it back at the Bulls after the restart is cleared. The ball is moved through a few phases but they're not making any ground. Jaco Peyper's whistle brings play to the end as Stegmann is pinged at the ruck which have been really competitive.PENALTY, BULLS, STEYN 16-6. Ben Smith hands Slade an absolute hospital pass on halfway and it's no surprise that the fly-half is forced to hold on as he's swarmed by defenders. From 41m out Steyn makes no mistake.PENALTY, BULLS, STEYN 13-6. The long-range effort is no worry for Steyn who slots it with ease.A short arm for the Highlanders from the scrum and Mose Tuiali'i carries it up. Slade puts in a little grubber and again it's not the best option as the Bulls have a line-out just inside their own half from where Jamie Mackintosh is pinged for taking out the support player.The Bulls regain possession from the 22 and they hosts again look fairly promising but Hougaard's passing is a bit wayward and it's hindering his side. There is a knock on and the two teams take a breather.The Bulls work it up through the phases, looking to bring their big men into play. Hardie does well to win a penalty as Serfontein is isolated. Slade doesn't find touch and the Bulls fire it back. A great counter from the Highlanders as they work it right up to the 22 before Smith grubbers it foolishly over the goal line.Frustration for the Highlanders as they work the ball wide, finding some space on the outside but Hardie is ruled to have had a foot in front before he offloads. Nemani is annoyed by the decision and with good reason too, he wasn't out. The Highlanders infringe at the line-out and the Bulls are back in the opposition half.PENALTY, BULLS, STEYN 10-6. Steyn is offered a chance to hit right back as John Hardie is penalised at the ruck for using his hands. Looks a tough call. No matter though, Steyn puts the points on the board.PENALTY, HIGHLANDERS, SLADE 6-7. Slade does the business from in front. The Highlanders have done well to pick up points when they get in the opposition half.Two collapsed scrums and Jaco Peyper is not happy, penalising Frik Kirsten for going in at an angle.The ball is overthrown by Hore and as it bounces loose Tino Nemani tries to collect but he knocks on the bouncing ball.A bit of a kicking dual breaks out and the result is a Highlanders line-out about 35m from their own line. Dewald Potgieter is penalised at ruck time and Slade sets up another line-out, this time near the Bulls 22.The Highlanders are pinged for crossing as Visser puts in an up and under and Steyn has a shot from 40 out. It doesn't happen often but Steyn has missed a sitter!The Bulls infringe at the restart and the Highlanders set up a line-out in Bulls territory. There is a little intercept as the Highlanders try to attack and Francois Hougaard hammers it down field but it goes too far and it's a 22.PENALTY, HIGHLANDERS, SLADE. 3-7. Slade doesn't have the best kicking record but from out wide and 50 odd out he makes no mistake.Steyn clears from the restart and it's a line-out on halfway. Poor stuff from Hore as he delivers an awful throw to the line-out, it's very skew and the Bulls opt for a line-out. JuandrÃ¿Â© Kruger takes and they look to start the maul but it's the Highlanders that come out on top as Hore comes throw the middle to disrupt and win a penalty as Deon Stegmann doesn't release.CONVERSION, BULLS, STEYN 7-0. The whistle is blown for just the second time as Steyn adds the extras. A great start for the hosts.TRY, BULLS, ENGELBRECHT 5-0. The Bulls are on the front foot from the word go as they snaffle the restart. Jan Serfontein is brought into the action and he bashes over the advantage line. JÃ¿Â¼rgen Visser gets within inches of the line and after 14 odd phases the ball is worked to JJ Engelbrecht who crosses over. Wow, that was brutal.The players are out in the middle and we're about to get underway.Morne Steyn becomes the Bulls most-capped player today as he moves past Victor Matfield and Danie Rossouw's 116-match mark. Skipper Pierre Spies is playing his 100th match for the franchise and you can be sure their team-mates will be looking to mark these milestones with a win.The Bulls enter this fixture at the top of the South African conference with 41 points, five clear of the Cheetahs. Given the crowded nature of the Super Rugby table they need to stay ahead of the pack on the local front to ensure they remain in the play-off spots as there is little room to slip up. Conversely, the Highlanders have nothing to play for but pride, with their season over some time ago having mustered just the one victory thus far this season.The Bulls have made a number of changes for the match, with three switches among the backs and a further two in the pack. Scrum-half Francois Hougaard replaces Jano Vermaak while Jan Serfontein slots into the midfield at the expense of Wynand Olivier. Lionel Mapoe shifts to wing in the place of Bjorn Basson. At prop, Frik Kirsten and Morne Mellett exchange places with Werner Kruger and Dean Greyling respectively. Former Highlanders skipper Jamie Mackintosh returns to the starting line-up in place of Tony Woodcock. An injury to Josh Bekhuis sees Jarrad Hoeata move from flank to lock, with Joe Wheeler replacing taking over the number six jersey and Mose Tuiali'i replacing TJ Ioane at the back of the scrum.Hello and welcome to our live coverage of the Super Rugby clash between the Bulls and the Highlanders.Updates to appear here at 16:50 local (15:50 BST, 14:50 GMT)