Brenden Nel, SuperSport
Pretoria - Bulls captain Dewald Potgieter has targeted a solid start to Saturday’s Super Rugby semi-final against the Brumbies at Loftus Versfeld as the key for his team to make it through to their fourth final.
According to supersport.com, Potgieter will lead a younger and very different Bulls side out onto his home ground this weekend – a side with much less experience than the ones that won the other three competitions, but one which believes they have what it takes to become Southern Hemisphere champions.
But even though they play at Loftus Versfeld, a field where they are unbeaten this year, and one where they have never lost a playoff match, the Bulls know they will need to be at their best to beat Jake White’s Brumbies - a side who are not flashy but very effective in the way they win matches.
For this reason he believes they need to start well, and from there build an innings towards the victory.
"There is a reason why we have been successful this year at Loftus and it is not about Loftus itself, or the altitude or anything else.
"It is about the way we have tried to play. We’ve developed a total game this year.
"We’ve had success in the past in semifinals but it won’t count for anything this weekend, the only thing that matters is how we pitch up and hopefully the way we start the game," Potgieter said.
"That is a key factor for us this weekend – to get a good start.
"Against the Stormers we were on the back foot from the start because we gave away easy points.
"We don’t want to find ourselves in that situation again.
"It just goes to show you momentum can be on your side but against a good side one or two mistakes will put you under pressure."
One of the massive chinks in their armour in recent weeks has been in the setpieces.
The departure of Juandré Kruger has put them under pressure in the lineouts, while at the scrums, what they managed to get right has been undone at times and the Bulls have been pinned at the setpiece.
Considering the last time they played the Brumbies – in their 23-20 loss in Canberra – they conceded six scrum penalties in the match, it is a massive stat that they will want to get right this weekend.
"We definitely got shown up once or twice in those contests, but we’ve had the full week now to work on those things.
"We could spend a lot of time on those aspects of the game, especially in the setpieces.
"I’m very confident though, we’ve had a great week and that is all you can go on at the moment.
"You can just try and get your rhythm in the game – but it will be tough.
"The Brumbies also have a total game, like we do, and they have a lot of strength.
"It is about trying to force your gameplan on the opposition.
"With the setpieces, if you get that right, it gives you territory if you can gain ascendancy in that battle and it allows you to try to play the type of game you want to play in a semi-final.
"You want to play in the right areas, limit your mistakes and keep discipline."
And if the Bulls can do that, they’re halfway to the victory they so clearly desire.