Bulls chasing win before bye

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iol spt mar7 - Bulls Lions Gallo Images The Bulls will be hoping for a positive result against the Blues at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria on Saturday before their first bye of the season next week. Photo: Lee Warren

Johannesburg – The Bulls will be hoping for a positive result against the Blues at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria on Saturday before their first bye of the season next week.

The Pretoria side got their campaign back on track with a victory over the Lions last weekend, following two consecutive defeats against the Sharks and Cheetahs respectively.

They face dangerous opposition in the Blues, who last week demonstrated they were more than efficient on attack, scoring four tries against the Crusaders.

The Bulls will place emphasis on their ball retention to ensure they do not allow the Blues quality ball to attack with.

“It is amazing when you look at New Zealand rugby, every new season there is a new kid on the block and they just get bigger, quicker, and they can step,” Bulls coach Frans Ludeke said.

“The way they performed against the Crusaders last weekend was impressive also coming from behind.

“We are looking forward to games like this against New Zealand and Australian sides where they definitely challenge us in all levels of our game.”

The Bulls were particularly impressive in their set pieces against the Lions, and they will be hoping for a similar performance against the tourists.

The continuous downpour in Pretoria over the past week, and with rain expected for Saturday's match, should see a tight battle among the forwards.

Bulls captain Flip van der Merwe said last weekend that it seemed like the inclement weather was following the side.

In their season opener against the Sharks in Durban they had to contend with the severe humidity, while they played in torrential rain against the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein.

Last week the Bulls adapted well to the constant drizzle, with their tactical game paying off against the Lions.

Bulls flyhalf Jacques-Louis Potgieter was the main instigator in his side's victory last weekend, as he contributed 20 points to the scoresheet through a drop goal, five penalties and a conversion kick.

The Pretoria side will no doubt again call on his reliable place-kicking in an attempt to build an innings against the Blues.

While Loftus Versfeld is often seen as a difficult hunting ground for overseas franchises, the Blues had the home side's number with a 29-23 victory the previous time they met at this venue.

Ludeke was confident that his team would be able to handle the Blues, as they were looking to build on their positive momentum.

“We put a lot of play together, no matter the weather, we have a positive mindset,” he said.

The match will also mark a special occasion for Bulls stalwart Akona Ndungane, who will play in his 100th Super Rugby match for the Light Blues.

He made his Super Rugby debut way back in 2005, against the Cats, and earned his 50th cap for the Bulls in 2009, playing against the Reds in Pretoria.

Ndungane's wing partner on the other side of the field will reach his 50th Super Rugby match milestone. – Sapa


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