Sharks to make Bulls work hard
Pretoria - The Bulls have their work cut out if they want to secure first place on the Super Rugby log when they face the Sharks in Pretoria on Saturday.
The Sharks will not only be keen on spoiling the Bulls’ ambitions but they should back themselves with an outside chance of reaching the playoffs.
The sides have had equal success at Loftus Versfeld in recent years, with each team winning four of their last nine matches, with one game drawn.
“It is just two sides that traditionally have played well against each other. It is always a big game and you know what you will get,” said Bulls captain Dewald Potgieter.
“The margins are always small…the games in the past have been so close that it could have gone either way in the end, and this weekend may be one of those games.”
The Pretoria side have found consistency in their performances and have won eight matches on the trot.
While last week’s victory over the Southern Kings helped secure the conference title, Bulls coach Frans Ludeke said they still had a lot to play for in the next two weeks.
“It is vital for us not to get ahead of ourselves. This weekend we are playing a very good side, and they have their goals, but we are focussing on our game plan,” Ludeke said.
“There are areas in which we would like to make the step up. It is a great test playing a side with some quality players.
“There are areas in which we are going to be tested, moving forward, and there are areas in which we were not accurate enough. It is about chasing detail and accuracy.”
Ludeke believed the Sharks had a strong forward pack, while they also had a good kicking game, and were dangerous from broken field.
“We respect them and we know what they will bring. It is going to be a great test for both sides."
Grant Bashford, who shares the head coach responsibilities with Hugh Reece-Edwards since John Plumtree recently left the Sharks, said his charges were determined for the win.
The coastal side have experienced a below-par season, but scored a confidence-boosting victory over the Blues in Durban last week, and will be desperate to keep their playoff hopes alive.
“We are four points behind sixth place and that is the position we can chase," Bashford said.
"There is still 10 points in it for us with two games to go and anything can happen.
“The Bulls have been the form South African franchise in the tournament and they build their game around the lineout.
"They probably have the best kicking game in the tournament and around the rucks they test your defence.”