Bulls out to stop the rotComment on this story
Johannesburg – The Bulls will be looking to get their Super Rugby campaign back on track at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday against a Cheetahs side that seems to have found their groove again.
The hosts need to reverse a four-match losing streak if they want to stay in the running for a playoff berth in this year's competition.
Their five-week winless streak relegated them to the bottom half of the Super Rugby log, but they are only a victory away from being in touch of the pace-setters.
The Cheetahs, on the other hand, will fancy another go at the history books as they search for their first Super Rugby victory over the Bulls at Loftus Versfeld.
The Bloemfontein-based side broke the Bulls' stranglehold in their encounter earlier this season, with a 15-9 victory in torrential rain.
They should also have their tails up after a comprehensive 35-22 win over the Stormers in the City of Roses.
Bulls coach Frans Ludeke said his charges were looking to keep their campaign alive, but conceded there was enough reason to be wary of the Cheetahs.
“If you look at them they scored the second most tries, conceded the most tries, and they kicked the third most of all the teams,” Ludeke said during the week.
“So they have a balanced game, and they go for the offload in contact and they are positive on attack.
“They have a flat-out attacking mindset, but also a smart kicking game... so we know we are up against an in-form side.”
However, Ludeke said his side were looking to redeem themselves and demonstrate what they were capable of.
While the Bulls are not quite at panic stations, it will become increasingly important to claim the maximum bonus points to enhance their chances of reaching the playoffs.
Ludeke, however, said they would continue to earn the right to score tries, which depended on how well his charges executed their game plan.
“That will present itself we must just get control in the game, make sure you get the lead and build on that,” he said.
“If you work hard enough you will get enough opportunities.”
The Bulls will back their chances of scoring tries against the Cheetahs, who have conceded 39 tries so far this season.
The match will also mark a special occasion for the Cheetahs' inspirational captain Adriaan Strauss, who will be playing in his 100th Super Rugby match.
He will play a pivotal role at the breakdowns, along with ball scavenger Heinrich Brussow, who has been a revelation over the past two weeks.
The turnover ball created by the likes of Brussow and Strauss, has given the Cheetahs' dangerous backline ample opportunity to show off their individual skill and pace out wide.
Springbok playmaker Willie le Roux specifically thrives on turnover ball, and the Bulls' under-fire loose trio of Grant Hattingh, Jono Ross and Jacques du Plessis will have to make a step up at the breakdown area.
The match will also see the talented Handre Pollard take charge of the number 10 jersey for the first time.
A lot will be weighing on the shoulders of the 20-year-old, but he will take confidence from having Jan Serfontein and William Small-Smith – who was his centre combination during the 2012 Junior World Championship – on his outside. – Sapa