The Blue Bulls have not fired on all cylinders recently, but they should be back at the top of the log after their Currie Cup match against Western Province at Loftus Versfeld on Friday night.
Why? Because WP have an average frontrow that will put their pack and backline on their heels; and a talented player who is new to the flyhalf position is Joe Pietersen who will be put under a new kind of pressure behind a struggling pack compared to his first flyhalf outing against the Sharks two weeks ago.
News 24 reports that Western Province impressed with their late running against the Sharks, albeit when all was lost. The 32-10 scoreline flattered the Sharks. But the crux of the matter is that the visitors to Loftus do not have the depth to compensate for their (grossly overstated in quantity and quality) losses to national duty and injury.
The Blue Bulls, however, have that depth to counter injuries and call-ups to, among others, four quality locks Danie Rossouw, Francois van Schouwenburg, Victor Matfield and Bakkies Botha; No 8 Pierre Spies; scrumhalf Fourie du Preez; wing Bryan Habana; and fullback Zane Kirchner.
The Blue Bulls have, at times, been mightily impressive. They played with the old structure that is part of the Light Blues. They ground up front and played for territory and generally did the basics right. Morne Steyn has become a complete flyhalf with his confidence growing in the absence of Derick Hougaard.
It’s in this structure of the Blue Bulls – their expected approach to Friday night’s match – that WP could be found wanting.
There will be more pressure on Pietersen despite the experience of his scrumhalf Bolla Conradie; the Bulls will have a greater unity in the forward numbers to contend with at the breakdown than WP because of their style of play; and they have backline that is vastly boosted by the fact that Wynand Olivier has been forced to outside centre where his strength on the outside break could be very effective.
The Bulls will also exploit the fact that Schalk Brits, no great scrummager, has returned to hooker in a frontrow that does not inspire confidence at this level.
The Bulls have an impressive record in that they have scored the most tries to date in the Currie Cup competition (29 in eight matches) and have conceded only 14. WP have scored 18 and conceded 19.
That speaks volumes – and if the Blue Bulls can stick to their defensive lines and capitalise on WP mistakes which come with a running approach, the match is theirs.
Sharks coach John Plumtree concedes that his team are probably favourites against the Boland Cavaliers on Friday afternoon – even on the heavy Boland Park field in Wellington. He does not, however, underestimate the home side in what he describes as a crucial stage of the competition.
“It certainly won’t be that easy against Boland, they are one of those sides that you have to be very accurate against if you want the desired result,” he said this week.
“We know we might be considered as favourites but it is vital that we perform well. ”
The Sharks, despite their many changes forced upon Plumtree, should take the spoils against the never-say-die Cavaliers.
In the First Division the Griffons are at home to lowly Border Bulldogs and should win to keep their faint hopes of promotion alive.Tweet