Bulls wary of resurgent Pumas
Johannesburg - The Blue Bulls will be desperate for a win over the Pumas in Pretoria on Friday as they bid for a place in the Currie Cup semi-finals.
The consequences of a loss would be more dire than a mere knock to their egos as a negative result could see them missing the playoffs.
The Bulls slipped up against the Pumas in last year's competition, and came close to losing their first round encounter in Nelspruit this season when they scraped through for a 16-12 win.
The Pretoria side's coach, Pine Pienaar, said ahead of this week's match they were aware of the dangers posed by the in-form visitors.
"We are not underestimating the Pumas. We know it's going to be a difficult one on Friday night," Pienaar said.
"They've done well against Griquas and the Leopards, so they'll come here with that confidence."
The Pumas have threatened to down the more esteemed sides throughout the season and are now on a rare two-game winning streak after a gutsy 34-31 win over Griquas in Kimberley two weeks ago and a victory over the log bottom Leopards in their last match.
The Bulls, after a troubled start to the campaign, have seen a recent upsurge and are fresh off a morale boosting 21-18 win over log leaders the Golden Lions last week.
However, September's Currie Cup coach of the month, Pumas mentor Jimmy Stonehouse, said the pressure on their hosts to secure a bonus point could lead to their undoing.
"They have to get those five points and they will do anything to get it," Stonehouse said.
"All the pressure is on them as we have don't have anything to lose."
Pienaar, though, said they would first look to secure the win before considering bonus points.
"When we come into the position where we have to decide between taking the points or scoring a try, we could maybe look at it," he said.
"But our first focus will be to pitch up against a quality Pumas side and get the win first and look at the bonus point later."
The Pumas are hopeful of finishing the competition in sixth place in the standings to remain in the premier division of the domestic competition next season.
"We will take our chances until the end of the competition," Stonehouse said.
"We want to make a name for ourselves and prove that we deserve to be at the top."
15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Bjorn Basson, 13 Wynand Olivier, 12 Francois Venter, 11 Gerhard van den Heever, 10 Louis Fouche, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 CJ Stander, 7 Jacques Potgieter, 6 Warwick Tecklenburg, 5 Juandre Kruger, 4 Flip van der Merwe, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Gary Botha (captain), 1 Dean Greyling
Substitutes: 16 Willie Wepener, 17 Rossouw de Klerk, 18 Gerrit-Jan van Velze, 19 Arno Botha, 20 Dustin Jinka, 21 Francois Brummer, 22 Jurgen Visser
15 MJ Mentz, 14 Wilhelm Loock, 13 JW Jonker, 12 Siviwe Magaba, 11 Johan Jackson, 10 Coenie van Wyk, 9 Shaun Venter, 8 Doppies le Roux, 7 Jaco Bouwer, 6 Corné Steenkamp (capatain), 5 Marius Coetzer, 4 Boela Serfontein, 3 Ashley Buys, 2 Pellow van der Westhuizen, 1 Dawie Steyn.
Substitutes: 16 Torsten van Jaarsveld, 17 Brett Nel, 18 Eduan van der Walt, 19 JP Mostert, 20 Hendrik van der Nest, 21 Dewald Pretorius, 22 Carl Bezuidenhout.