With the current quartet of South African sides only joining the United Rugby Championship (URC) in 2021/22, the rivalry between the Warriors and their Grand Final opponents the Bulls is relatively new. 

So far, there has been no shortage of tries with 22 across three games, including four try bonus points.

Will Saturday’s final be a more typically cagey fixture, or will these sides still go with their instinct to attack whenever possible?

Here are the past encounters between the 2023/24 URC finalists.

Bulls 29-17 Glasgow Warriors

URC regular season, Loftus Versfeld, April 29 2022

Bulls tries: Zak Burger, Madosh Tambwe, Walt Steenkamp, Cyle Brink; Conversions: Morne Steyn (3); Penalty: Morne Steyn

Glasgow Warriors tries: Ollie Smith. penalty try; Conversion: Ross Thompson; Penalty: Duncan Weir

The very first game between these two sides came at a rather inopportune time for Glasgow. They had played all their home games in the 2021/22 season by April 15 and were on a run of six away fixtures to close out the campaign – five of which they lost.

There’s  an argument then that Loftus Versfeld didn’t really see the best of the Warriors on this inaugural visit.

The score was 10-10 with half-time looming. An early Warriors’ penalty try from a lineout had been cancelled out by a score from a Bulls side – who were down to 14 men at the time – followed by an exchange of penalties from veteran fly-half pair Duncan Weir and Morne Steyn.

If Glasgow could have made it back to the dressing room level on the scoreboard, might it have changed the outcome? Possibly not, but it would have certainly changed the psychology for both teams starting the second half.

Ollie Smith scored for Glasgow in their first trip to Loftus VersfeldOllie Smith scored for Glasgow in their first trip to Loftus Versfeld (Image: SNS)

The clock was red when Zander Fagerson was sin-binned after an accumulation of team offences. The Bulls opted to go for the jugular, kicking for the corner and eventually strolling in for their first lead of the game.

The visitors spent the third quarter under huge pressure and did well to resist. Eventually the dam burst though, and the home side’s forwards powered over for two tries in the space of four minutes to clinch the bonus point and effectively seal the game.

Ollie Smith sliced through late on and then had an even later score chalked off that would have at least earned the Warriors a losing bonus point. As it was, they went home empty-handed as they did from every one of their final five fixtures that season.

Lesson for Saturday: Starting and finishing strong are good but Glasgow can’t afford to have a near hour long spell in the middle of the game that is dominated by their hosts.

Glasgow Warriors 35-21 Bulls

URC regular season, Scotstoun Stadium, October 8 2022

Glasgow Warriors tries: Matt Fagerson, Sebastian Cancelliere, Scott Cummings, George Horne, Josh McKay; Conversions: George Horne (5)

Bulls tries: Kurt-Lee Arendse, Bismarck du Plessis, Janko Swanepoel; Conversions: Chris Smith (2), Morne Steyn

It was another fast start and a try within the first 10 minutes for Glasgow. The difference was that this time, at home in front of their own fans at Scotstoun, and on a chilly evening at sea level, they were able to sustain that opening burst and parlay that into a completely dominant 28-7 half-time lead, with a try bonus point already secured.

In fact, when Josh McKay crossed for a fifth score with 47 minutes on the clock the main question on most Warriors’ fans’ lips might have been ‘how many points can we rack up?’

That the Bulls held their hosts scoreless for the remaining half hour or so probably speaks to both the bloody-minded relentlessness of the South African side, no matter how far behind they have fallen, combined with a bit of a lack of ruthlessness on the part of the Warriors.

Josh McKay scored one of Glasgow's tries in a big win at ScotstounJosh McKay scored one of Glasgow's tries in a big win at Scotstoun (Image: SNS)

There was a lot more action in this game than there had been in Pretoria six months earlier, with a third more rucks, tackles and carries.

This suited Glasgow’s high-octane style better than slowing the game down at every opportunity. Realistically though, the impact of dealing with altitude away to the Bulls is always going to require adaptations to the game plan.

Lesson for Saturday: The Warriors can’t move too far away from their core identity but there needs to be a hardheaded approach to just what the energy levels are and how they are best applied.

Bulls 40-34 Glasgow Warriors

URC regular season, Loftus Versfeld, May 11 2024

Bulls tries : Akker van der Merwe, Cameron Hanekom, Elrigh Louw, Canan Moodie; Conversions: Chris Smith (4); Penalties: Chris Smith (4)

Glasgow Warriors tries: Matt Fagerson, Kyle Steyn, Sebastian Cancelliere, Duncan Weir; Conversions: George Horne, Tom Jordan, Duncan Weir (2); Penalties: George Horne, Duncan Weir

Matt Fagerson getting Glasgow on the board in the sixth minute again was surprising enough. Not as surprising as realising it was actually the fourth time he had bagged a try six minutes into a game for Glasgow!

Following that early score, the match followed a similar pattern to the first time these sides met at Loftus Versfeld, but on this occasion the Bulls were much quicker into their stride.

They powered into a 31-10 lead with 46 minutes played before adding a couple of penalties to surely make the game safe heading into the final quarter.

Scotland Rugby News: Elrigh Louw scored a crucial try for the Bulls at the end of the first halfElrigh Louw scored a crucial try for the Bulls at the end of the first half (Image: Getty Images)

For the third match running, the team that was behind in this fixture showed a bit of never-say-die spirit. This time though the Warriors’ explosiveness as they finally found their feet at altitude actually put the result in a bit of doubt, with three tries in the space of eight minutes.

The home supporters breathed a sigh of relief when Chris Smith added another penalty to make it a two score game with three minutes to play. It was Duncan Weir who had the final word, when his kick snatched a losing bonus point to add to the try BP Glasgow had already collected.

The vast majority of the match stats ran in the Warriors’ favour. Discipline was an issue though with a penalty count of 12-8 against them plus a yellow card for Kyle Steyn.

In the first half in particular there was a big imbalance between how much Glasgow had possession (54%) and where they had the ball – just 40% of the game was in the Bulls’ half.

The home side were content to continually push their visitors deep and then wait for a turnover or kick to allow them to start their own attack from positive field positions.

Lesson for Saturday: Glasgow have to find ways to exit their own half successfully and stop themselves being pinned in dangerous areas by the Bulls.