Johannesburg – The Blue Bulls' chances of reaching the Currie Cup playoffs are hanging by a thread with the Golden Lions standing in their way of remaining in the running.
They take on their Gauteng neighbours at Ellis Park on Saturday.
The Light Blues need to put their 62-23 annihilation by the Lions in the previous round behind them if they want a chance of beating their opponents on their own turf.
Bulls coach Pine Pienaar believed his charges would rise to the challenge on Saturday.
“We realised that we gave them a lot of broken field play and turnover ball. They are an extremely dangerous team when it comes to playing with the ball in hand. We don't want to give them those kind of opportunities and I would like us to react better to what they will bring,” he said.
The Bulls are fifth on the log standings with 10 points, five adrift of the fourth-placed Lions. A positive result could give them a lifeline, while a victory for the Lions would strengthen their position on the log.
Pienaar said while it had been a trying season for the Light Blues, he still had faith in his troops.
“It's been a difficult season, but I believe in this side. They are really a special bunch of guys. This side will definitely make the supporters proud in future, I hope it is this year.
“What we are busy with makes me excited and I hope that we can go out this weekend and play the rugby that I know we can.”
After this weekend's Currie Cup matches three more rounds remain before next month's playoffs.
The Lions have an easier route ahead of them as they will host two of the games, while the Bulls only have one more home match to look forward to.
Pienaar said his team had come out on top in the past when they seemed to be facing a dead end.
“We've been in the position where we have to fight our way out of a hole and hopefully we can do it this weekend,” he said.
The match will see Lions pivot Elton Jantjies and his younger brother, Bulls flyhalf Tony, go toe-to-toe.
The Lions may be better known for their expansive brand of rugby, but the Bulls will be fielding a backline with dangerous strike runners of their own.
The return of Springbok wing Bjorn Basson and the inclusion of the fleet footed Clayton Blommetjies at fullback could balance out the attacking battle.
The fight among the forwards could therefore be the deciding factor on how much quick ball either backline receives in the game. – Sapa