Another defeat will spell disaster for Bulls' Super Rugby hopes
At Loftus this afternoon, they will hope to bob and weave their way past a tough-as-nails Jaguares side that knows how to win on the Highveld.
The name Domingo Miotti will send chills running down the backs of Bulls supporters who remember how the rookie scrumhalf came on for his first Super Rugby appearance at Loftus last year to score twice and snatch a smash ‘* grab Jaguares victory.
Miotti is on the bench again while Gonzalo Bertranou starts in the No 9 jersey for the Argentines. The Bulls will need to be wary to keep apace with his dangerous darting and quick ball movement once he comes onto the park.
For the home side, the mission is clear: win by any means necessary. Three defeats on the bounce to the Sharks, Stormers and Blues have left a ghastly stain on their early season record. They are now in a must-win scenario against the “Jags” and the competition isn’t even six weeks old yet.
Defeat here would spell disaster and could leave them stranded at the bottom of the Super Rugby combined table and the foot of the SA Conference. After the Waratahs beat the Lions 29-17 yesterday, the Bulls now hold the dishonour of being the only Super Rugby team without a win.
There’s plenty they need to correct and it starts with how they use the ball. Their chances of getting quicker ball off the base have vastly improved with the inclusion of scrumhalf Ambrose Papier into the starting line-up, while Tongan international second centre Nafi Tuitavake will add something they’ve desperately lacked: unpredictability.
he pair form part of the two changes to last week’s backline, with Burger Odendaal’s calf injury forcing a positional switch for Johnny Kotze from outside centre to inside.
Flyhalf Morné Steyn, about whom much has been written since his return to the hallowed Loftus ground, is once again at the centre of the orchestra. You have to believe this is his last chance to make the backline sing before Manie Libbok is entrusted with the reins.
The Jaguares are fierce competitors and are no longer pushovers in the forward pack either. Much will be required of the Bulls tight five to give the team a leg up.
The Argentinians have canny line-out operators in second-rowers Guido Petti and Marcos Kremer, who will give their contemporaries a good run for their money.
Andries Ferreira and Juandré Kruger, who came into the franchise following the depatures of Lood de Jager (Sale Sharks, UK), Eli Snyman (Benetton, Italy), Jason Jenkins (Toyota Verblitz, Japan) and RG Snyman (Honda Heat, Japan), have shown no sign that they are adequate replacements for the lost fire-power in the second row. It’s time they put that right.