Pretoria – After two rounds of Currie Cup action, there was little to distinguish between the six sides this season, leaving the competition wide open and making each match an exciting prospect.
The Bulls, boasting an unbeaten record after their opening games, come up against a desperate Lions side, who could count themselves a little unlucky to be without a victory from their two games.
While it was still early days, being the only team without a win so far, the Johannesburg side needed a victory to stay in the running.
“I presume the Lions will try and shift the ball and create as much broken field as they can. They've got special players in their side,” Bulls coach Pine Pienaar said ahead of Saturday's clash in Pretoria.
“They basically have a Super 15 side coming to Loftus, and they've lost two games in a row, so we know they will be a highly motivated to try and pick up a win.”
Pienaar anticipated another tough encounter, following his team's narrow 16-9 victory over Griquas at home last weekend, and looking at previous results against the Lions.
In their opening match of the 2012, the Lions beat the Pretoria side 32-23 at Loftus Versfeld, while the return fixture saw the Bulls put 50 points past their archrivals.
Lions coach Johan Ackermann said the Jukskei Derby had a history of fiercely contested matches and he expected much of the same this year.
“There is always the fire in the belly if you play the Bulls, purely because they've been the benchmark team for the last few seasons,” Ackermann said.
“If you look at Super Rugby and the Currie Cup, they've always been there and it is always a challenge – and an even bigger one when you play them at home.”
Ackermann said there was an added edge to the match with the two teams so near in proximity.
“The two sides are close to each other and there is a bit of bragging (to play for), which makes these games special,” he said.
“A lot of our players stay in Pretoria and a lot of their players have been here like Paul Willemse, Bandise Maku and Grant Hattingh.
“So it is always nice for them to have one up on each other and it makes it an interesting and challenging contest.”
Missed opportunities against the Sharks last weekend cost the Lions the match in Durban – mistakes they could ill-afford against the Bulls, who notoriously strangled the opposition into submission.
The scrums, in particular, could be a defining factor with the Lions' relatively-young front row having to prove their mettle against the more experienced Bulls' props. – Sapa