PRETORIA - The Bulls have only eyes for the Cheetahs as they continue digging themselves out of the hole they find themselves in Super Rugby according to Bulls defence coach Pine Pienaar.
It is true that the men from Loftus Versfeld can look no further than what stands in front of them now and after their 26-13 win against the Jaguares, there is a glimmer of hope that the Bulls can turn around their ailing campaign.
However, it is not only the Bulls that are experiencing some hardship in the competition at the moment as the Cheetahs themselves have struggled to make a convincing argument that they are amongst the best South African teams in the competition and should not face the proverbial axe that will fall on two local franchises when the competition gets a fresh and hopefully competitive look next year.
Pienaar says none of the teams can focus on what will happen regarding their futures and all that they can control is what transpires on the field on Saturday at Loftus.
What will be critical for the Bulls is how they start and finish the game and ensure that they can continue the intensity throughout the game as the Cheetahs showed how good they can be out of the blocks in their earlier encounter at the beginning of the season and when the men from the City of Roses lost to the Chiefs 41-27 after leading 24-0 in the first 20 minutes of the game.
“I think what happens with Super Rugby we are not focusing on that and not in charge what happens there. We can only focus on what we can do,” Pienaar said.
“The Cheetahs had a brilliant start against the Chiefs and against us with that game in Bloemfontein. For us and I’m sure it will be same message from Franco, they’ve got to put up 80 minute performance and we must do the same.
“We have to focus on putting together an 80 minute performance with a good start and finish well. So on the day it will be which side can build and take the pressure.”
There were signs of a much improved Bulls outfit when they played against the Jaguares over the weekend, especially on defence where they were able to pull off countless tackles to keep our the charging Argentineans and Pienaar believes that it is an area of their game that can turn things in their favour and ultimately hand them the wins they so desperately need.
“I was really happy with the work rate we made 206 tackles showed a lot of attitude and commitment from the players,” he said.
“Just one moment before half-time we conceded a line break and we held them out I think that was crucial and our defence got us through. In the 73 minutes defended 21 phases and Trevor made turnover just for the effort the guys brought I was happy for them and the confidence they can take out of that.”
But over and above defence the Bulls need to play with ball in hand and rekindle some of the white line fever they played with last year and in patches this season but that comes with the correct mindset from the players.
“Obviously we are striving to play all-round game we’ve got to try and score more tries. But again you can’t leak four and be able to score five tries that will put you under pressure.
“I believe the mindset, the effort and commitment we want every week has got to be there. There are no easy games as we saw two weeks ago when we played the Sunwolves. If your mindset is not there on the day you can be in trouble,” Pienaar added.
“Hopefully we learnt a valuable lesson there but we are also in a stage now that every game for us is a must win to give ourselves an opportunity maybe with the play-offs. It doesn’t matter what is currently happening, our most important game is this weekend.”