I have had a look at the Bulls recent results, to try and spot a few areas where the Sharks can take advantage and walk away with a victory from fortress Loftus.
I started looking at their game against the Pumas, which they lost, but decided not to read too much into it, as they fielded a second string team and there is no chance they would do it against us. That said, it is nice to know that their bench is not even close to the standard of our bench.
Looking at the games they played against Griquas and Western Province, it became very apparent that they played two very different games against these teams. Against Griquas, they played with ball in hand and kept more than 70% of the possession that game. What is very pleasing though, with all that possession, they only managed to beat Griquas by one point.
Against Western Province, they seemed to play a completely different game, kicking away a lot more ball and ending up with only 53%. They made double the amount of kicks against WP than they did against Griquas. So what do we expect from them against the Sharks? Surely they took their A-game to the Western Province match, so are we going to get a lot of kicking on our back three?
On the point of kicking the ball out, lineouts are a major factor against the Bulls. For a team that have lost 4 of their locks to Springbok duty, they have a really good record, winning at least 80% of their lineouts weekend after weekend. It is really important that the Sharks compete, we have more experienced locks and should harass and make it difficult for them to play their set pieces.
One of the most interesting stats I picked up on, was that the Bulls do not commit players to defensive rucks. This means that they have more players available and ready in their defensive lines. Against WP, they hit about 366 attacking rucks, and a mere 26 on defence, and against Griquas they hit about 285 attacking rucks and only 65 on defence. (The rucks stats are for the first 3 players at a given ruck, so these aren’t the amount of rucks in a game, but the amount of people at the rucks).
On a final note, the Sharks beat the Bulls already this Currie Cup season (albeit at home), but we did that without the likes of Beast Mtawarira, Bismarck du Plessis or Willem Alberts, and we still had Pat Lambie at inside centre. Add them into the mix, and I think our Sharks stand a good chance of extending their winning run..Tweet