Pretoria - The Blue Bulls know their best chance of beating Western Province this weekend at Newlands depends on their ability to impose their own game plan on the opposition.
And the return to form of Springbok winger Bjorn Basson is a key element in this, reports the supersport.com website.
Basson’s hat-trick against Griquas last weekend not only got the flyer his 50th Currie Cup try, but also underlined his form ahead of the showpiece semifinal, a game that the Bulls will start as rank underdogs having lost twice this season to Province.
But its not all doom and gloom for the Bulls, as their form has been improving with every week since the Province loss at Loftus Versfeld, and while they are nowhere near the force they were in the last decade, there is a semblance of hope in the side at the moment.
They will have to contend with a strong counter-attack from Province, one of their downfalls in their games against the Cape side this season, but the return of Basson and in particular his prowess in the air will make things a lot easier for the team, especially if they can win the aerial battle.
Coach Frans Ludeke is looking forward to what he can bring to the team and believes that the form that Basson will be in good form this weekend and the big occasion should bring out the best in him.
"You create moments in the game and that is important, he has been there before and has that experience, and has played at Test level.
"So he will be used to the pressure," Ludeke said.
Ludeke’s biggest headache may well be at inside centre at the moment, but at least indications are that he has finally seen the light at hooker.
Bongi Mbonambi is set to start this weekend for the second week in a row, stopping the rotation with Callie Visagie that Ludeke has used up to now.
Mbonambi’s lack of game time contributed to him signing for Province from the end of the season, and while Ludeke has finally found some faith in him, it will come too little too late.
Piet van Zyl’s injury and the fact he can only train on Thursday means that Rudy Paige is likely to start at nine, with the rest of the team not likely to change.
After a poor start to the season, which included two 40 point defeats in their opening two games, the Bulls have turned their situation around to make the semis and will now look to up the ante and take the momentum they have gained into the semis.
"Things are coming together and I’d like to see us finally put things together next week with a good performance at Newlands.
"We had a bad start but slowly we turned things around and when the players got together, you could see things happening.
"I saw it against the Pumas a week ago, the way the team held out in pressure situations and how they responded.
"It just overflowed into the game against Griquas.
"Those are the things you need in these sort of situations," Ludeke added.
But to win at Newlands is a different monster altogether.
The Bulls will be hoping their new found confidence can carry them through in the most important game of the season.