Hougaard vs Pretorius

An exciting battle looms between two of the best attacking scrumhalves in the Vodacom Super Rugby competition, writes JON CARDINELLI.

Much has been said and written about Francois Hougaard's aptitude as a No 9. While he may not possess the skills to be an effective tactical kicker in that position, he boasts other strengths that will test even the best opposition defences.

The Cheetahs would do well to keep this player in check at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday. With a terrific turn of speed, Hougaard is capable of exploiting the space around the fringes of the ruck. He is also a dangerous runner from broken field.

But Hougaard won't be a factor if his forwards fail to provide him with the necessary platform. The Bulls pack needs to make a statement after an inconsistent showing in Perth last week. If they succeed in laying the foundation, Hougaard's strengths will be amplified.

Like Hougaard, Sarel Pretorius is known for his incisive running rather than his kicking out of hand. The Cheetahs No 9 will present the same sort of attacking threat as his opposite number.

Both teams will be desperate for victory, and this may force them to employ more conservative tactics in Saturday's game. That said, it's possible that one of Hougaard or Pretorius could decide the contest with a piece of attacking brilliance.

Photos: Johan Pretorius/Lee Warren/Gallo Images

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