The Bulls could take a giant leap forward in their quest for a play-off berth in this year’s Super Rugby competition by beating the Brumbies.
While the Brumbies will undoubtedly take plenty of courage and belief from their two wins over the Bulls last year, the Australians remain wary of the monumental task that is beating them at Loftus Versfeld, and the imposing figure of Victor Matfield.
The Brumbies captain Ben Mowen was cautious not to elevate his team to favourites as no team this year has managed to defeat the Bulls at home, and his team are fresh off a defeat at the hands of the Cheetahs last weekend.
But the bricks and mortar that form part of the intimidating factor at Loftus, with the thousands of Bulls faithful cheering their team on, won’t be the ultimate challenge for the Brumbies.
Brumbies director of rugby Laurie Fisher has no illusions of the task that faces his team and believes that only consistency in their game will give them a chance to overcome the Bulls.
“I don’t know if we have found a particular way but we have just been consistent the last two times we have come here. That is what we are looking for – consistency. But we haven’t unlocked any particular door in the Bulls psyche.
“When you come to a wonderful stadium like Loftus where the Bulls have been so good for a number of years, it is a really exciting challenge. When you know you have to be at your best, its easy to be at your best,” Fisher said.
There is no doubt the Brumbies will look to employ the same tactics as last year but Matfield says the Bulls have prepared well and will be looking to inflict their own game on the visitors.
“I think they’ll be playing the same as last year. Territory is very important for them and with their kicking they sometimes out-thought us last year,” said Matfield this week.
“I think we have a good plan for this weekend and we have put in a lot of work to ensure we are prepared for that kicking game of theirs. Hopefully that will work for us and that will give us opportunity in the right areas and we’ll score a few tries.”
The Bulls may have no score to settle with the Brumbies and in tonight’s game will just seek victory to edge them closer to their goal while the Brumbies will again use the Bulls and Loftus as a litmus test to their championship hopes.
Bulls: Jürgen Visser, Akona Ndungane, JJ Engelbrecht, Jan Serfontein, Bjorn Basson, Jacques-Louis Potgieter, Francois Hougaard, Grant Hattingh, Jacques du Plessis, Jono Ross, Victor Matfield, Flip van der Merwe (capt), Werner Kruger, Callie Visagie, Dean Greyling, Replacements: Bongi Mbonambi, Morné Mellett, Marcel vd Merwe, Paul Willemse, Jacques Engelbrecht, Piet van Zyl, Handré Pollard, Ulrich Beyers.
Brumbies: Jesse Mogg, Henry Speight, Tevita Kuridrani, Christian Lealiifano, Robbie Coleman, Matt Toomua, Nic White, Ben Mowen (capt), Jarrad Butler, Scott Fardy, Sam Carter, Leon Power, Ben Alexander, Stephen Moore, Scott Sio. Replacements: Josh Mann-Rea, Ruan Smith, JP Smith, Fotu Auelua, Jordan Smiler, Conrad Hoffman, Andrew Smith, Pat McCabe. - The Star