Pretoria – Blue Bulls coach Pine Pienaar says his team will have to make a step-up if they want to beat the log-leading Western Province in their Currie Cup match at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria on Saturday.
“We know that we have to be at our very best to stand a chance of beating Western Province,” Pienaar said at the team announcement in Pretoria on Wednesday.
“There were certain areas of our game that we weren’t happy with against the Free State, so hopefully we can put up a better performance.
“They are the in-form team at the moment, they are unbeaten, and so it will be a massive challenge to possibly win at Loftus Versfeld.”
Province is the only unbeaten side in the competition having won three and drawn two of their first five matches.
Pienaar made three changes to the starting line-up that beat the Cheetahs 26-10 in Pretoria last weekend.
Scrumhalf Rudy Paige will receive a starting berth in the place of Ruan Snyman, who was released to join French club, Racing Metro.
In the midfield Ulrich Beyers slots in at outside centre, with Waylon Murray moving to the bench to provide cover.
In the only change to the forwards, Jacques du Plessis has been promoted to the staring XV, with Jacques Engelbrecht dropping down to the bench.
Lohan Jacobs is the replacement nine, while Dean Greyling will also make his first appearance in the competition as replacement prop.
In their first-round clash the Bulls and Province played to a 24-24 draw at Newlands in Cape Town.
While Province is seen as the pace-setting team, Pienaar believes his side had made steady improvements since that match.
“We have definitely improved, and we have to get out and every weekend there are certain facets that we have to better at,” he said.
After two consecutive losses against the Lions and the Sharks, the Bulls got their campaign back on track against the Cheetahs last Saturday.
Bulls captain Jono Ross, however, said the pressure was still on the team to perform as the competition entered the second round.
“We got a win, but there are still five games left in this Currie Cup, we are under no illusions about how tough it is going to be,” Ross said.
“We are obviously happy with the win, but it is a new week and a new challenge, we realise that we have to be at our very best.”
Blue Bulls team
Jurgen Visser, Sampie Mastriet, Ulrich Beyers, Francois Venter, Akona Ndungane, Handre Pollard, Rudy Paige, Jono Ross (captain), Jacques du Plessis, Wiaan Liebenberg, Grant Hattingh, Paul Willemse, Frik Kirsten, Bongi Mbonambi, Marcel van der Merwe. Replacements: Bandise Maku, Dean Greyling, David Bullbring, Jacques du Plessis, Lohan Jacobs, Waylon Murray, Clayton Blommetjies. – Sapa