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    It's all about winning for Bulls

    2016-05-04 21:30

    Lloyd Burnard - Sport24

    Cape Town - A common theme to emerge from Bulls coach Nollis Marais's press conferences throughout the season has been a desire to show improvement every week. 

    It is a cliche that rivals the likes of "we'll take it game by game", "it's important not to get carried away" and "we're focusing on ourselves, not the opposition". 

    But, in this particular case, Marais can be forgiven for talking in cliches because the Bulls are the one South African side that actually has shown constant improvement throughout the season. 

    A loss on the opening weekend in Cape Town has been followed by seven straight matches without defeat - a draw and six wins. 

    It has been enough to catapult the Bulls into serious playoff contention, and the overall improvement was there for all to see when Friday's 42-20 win over the Force gave the Bulls their first win in Australasia in 12 attempts.  

    Marais has also been vocal on his side's willingness to play a more attacking brand of rugby, and that too was visibly clear in the Force win.

    Jan Serfontein's first try, in particular, showed how far the Bulls have moved away from their traditional forwards-driven style when fullback SP Marais started a counter-attack from inside his own 22m area. 

    But the task for the Bulls gets significantly more difficult this weekend when they take on the Brumbies in Canberra on Friday. 

    For the time being, how the Bulls win is not as important to Marais as them winning. 

    "There are certain things that we are trying to improve on every week, but for us it’s just winning at the moment," he said from Sydney on Tuesday.

    "You win on tour by keeping it simple and keeping it close with a good all-round game.

    "If you get intimidated by your opposition then you won’t win so the guys must just believe in themselves and play.

    "It’s always going to be difficult to beat them down there. In the last three matches we’ve lost here. For us it’s going to be a challenge but we’re looking forward to it."

    One piece of good news for the Bulls is that the Brumbies are on the ropes somewhat, having lost three of their last four. 

    But Bulls captain Adriaan Strauss has seen enough over the years to know that his side is in for a major test, particularly up front. 

    "The set phases - lineouts, scrums - are definitely one of their strengths," said Strauss.

    "They’ve got a very strong maul and their first phase play from the lineout mauls is exceptional so it’s going to be tough.

    "It’s going to be a different challenge. I was very proud, our pack of forwards really put up their hands (against the Force) and we’re going to have to do it again this weekend."

    Marais has announced an unchanged starting lineup for the clash.

    Kick-off on Friday is at 11.45.

    Teams:

    Brumbies

    15 Aidan Toua, 14 Robbie Coleman, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Matt Toomua, 11 Nigel Ah Wong, 10 Christian Lealiifano (co-captain), 9 Tomás Cubelli, 8 Jarrad Butler, 7 David Pocock, 6 Scott Fardy, 5 Sam Carter, 4 Rory Arnold, 3 Ben Alexander, 2 Stephen Moore (co-captain), 1 Scott Sio

    Substitutes: 16 Josh Mann-Rea, 17 Allan Alaalatoa, 18 Les Leuluailii-Makin, 19 Tom Staniforth, 20 Blake Enever, 21 Jordan Smiler, 22 Joe Powell, 23 James Dargaville

    Bulls

    15 SP Marais, 14 Travis Ismaiel, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Francois Brummer, 9 Piet van Zyl, 8 Hanro Liebenberg, 7 Arno Botha, 6 Lappies Labuschagne, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 RG Snyman, 3 Marcel van der Merwe, 2 Adriaan Strauss (captain), 1 Trevor Nyakane

    Substitutes: 16 Bandise Maku, 17 Lizo Gqoboko, 18 Werner Kruger, 19 Jannes Kirsten, 20 Roelof Smit, 21 Rudy Paige, 22 Tian Schoeman, 23 Dan Kriel

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    Saturday, 17 February 2018
    • Stormers v Jaguares, Cape Town 15:05
    • Lions v Sharks, Emirates Airlines Park 17:15
    Friday, 23 February 2018
    • Highlanders v Blues, 08:35
    • Rebels v Reds, AAMI Park 10:45
    Saturday, 24 February 2018
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