Massive two weeks coming up for Bulls
Durban - The race for Super Rugby playoff places has intensified in the South African group following this weekend's Super Rugby action.
The Stormers dropping points in Singapore and the Bulls losing in Sydney, coupled with wins for the Lions and Sharks, means that just four points separate the Lions (32) in first place and the Bulls (28) in fourth on the Group log.
Of course, the two conference winners automatically secure playoff places while the other wildcard playoff spot goes to whoever finishes third in the South African group.
It means that of Stormers, Bulls, Lions and Sharks only one will miss out on the knockout stages.
As things stand, that side would be the Bulls, but the Sharks have played a game more than each of their South African rivals.
The Bulls have just finished their three-match tour of Australia, returning with a single win, and are now eyeing a massive fortnight at Loftus that is set to have a major say in the playoff picture as the June international break approaches.
The Bulls host the Stormers this Saturday in a match that could see them move to the top of the conference if they win, while the week after that they host the Lions.
"We’re going back to Loftus now where we have a good record. We’re playing the Stormers there who are our arch enemies so we’re going to have to better next weekend and pitch for that game," coach Nollis Marais said after his side's 31-8 loss to the Waratahs on Saturday.
"For us it’s just taking it game by game and seeing where we stand after the June break.
"We play the Stormers and Lions at home and if we want to come into contention to play anything further in this competition then we’ll have to beat those two sides."
Marais bemoaned a lack of accuracy following Saturday's loss, but he remained pleased with the direction the side was moving in.
"We always knew from the beginning of the season that it was a long road for us," he said.
"We’ve got a lot of guys, about 12 guys, making debuts this year in Super Rugby.
"My main focus has been on the new way we want to play and getting better every week. Obviously it didn’t look that way today."
Captain Adriaan Strauss was a slight concern with a knee injury following the Waratahs game, but it was not expected to be serious enough to threaten his participation against the Stormers.