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Matfield: We have a secret plan
Victor Matfield (Gallo Images)
Pretoria - "The Stormers have a good defence, but we have a plan or two to get through it. We have analysed them and there are ways of getting around it."
Those were the words of Bulls captain Victor Matfield, who is not only respected as a lineout strategist worldwide, but also as someone who is good at analysing the weaknesses of opponents.
According to Matfield, the Bulls have "one or two" new tricks with which they hope to surprise the Stormers, but he admits that the rest of their onslaught will be fairly familiar.
"We won't deviate too much from the typical Bulls pattern - it has, after all, brought us to where we are. But there is a surprise or two in store," said Matfield.
"It's about applying pressure and territorial advantage. Early points will help and if you have a lead and build pressure from there, it will also help," added the most experienced captain in local rugby.
Matfield is only too aware that the Bulls have effectively been engaged in a knockout battle for the past five weeks. It has the ability to exhaust a team mentally.
"But we are mentally sharp. Remember, they are also under pressure. The only thing that counts is what happens this weekend; what happened previously counts for nothing. We need to win and so do they."
He does not doubt that the Bulls want this one more than the Stormers.
"We only have one goal and it's to win this one. Even 3-0 will do the trick. This one has to be won. You only really see in the dressing room whether the guys are switched on, but this one is easy to predict."
Bulls coach Frans Ludeke believes the coaching staff have succeeded in keeping the players focused.
"The pressure week after week could catch up with the guys, but if you strike a good balance with training and keep a good focus on the field, it has a positive effect on the players.
"The team feels they're in a situation where they are in control of their season and that keeps the players focused."
He said that the Bulls would not be making special plans for rookie Stormers flyhalf Kurt Coleman.
"The performances of individuals are usually the result of how the team performs. He has experienced players around him and if the team's structures are good he will play well. We are taking notice of him, but won't focus on him. What matters is that we are accurate in what we want to achieve."
The unexpected omission from the Bok training squad of players such as Bjorn Basson, Zane Kirchner, Dewald Potgieter and Deon Stegmann could motivate those players to produce big performances. None of them have disgraced the Bok jersey and all are having good seasons.
Kirchner and Basson will get the opportunity to measure themselves against Gio Aplon and Bryan Habana.
Potgieter said that matches against the Stormers at Newlands are unique.
"If there are sparks in the eyes of the guys when we assemble on Mondays during any other week, then I suppose there will be shooting stars this time around," he wrote in a column on a website earlier this week.
Matfield's declaration confirms that the sparks will fly.