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Bulls aim to bring the heat on Griquas scrum in Currie Cup semi-final

Loosehead prop Lizo Gqoboka will captain the Bulls when they face the Pumas in the Currie Cup semi-final at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria on Friday evening. Photo: Ashley Cahill/Action Plus/Shutterstock

Loosehead prop Lizo Gqoboka will captain the Bulls when they face the Pumas in the Currie Cup semi-final at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria on Friday evening. Photo: Ashley Cahill/Action Plus/Shutterstock

Published Jun 17, 2022

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Cape Town — The Bulls may be chasing the double in South African rugby this season in the United Rugby Championship and the Currie Cup, but first they need to reach the domestic final.

Jake White’s URC team will take on the Stormers in the title decider at Cape Town Stadium on Saturday night, but Gert Smal’s Currie Cup outfit will have a serious test of their credentials in Friday night’s semi-final against Griquas at Loftus Versfeld (7pm kickoff).

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The Bulls lost 35-5 to the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein last week, where they were missing a number of players who were part of the URC squad that travelled to Dublin for the semi-final against Leinster.

Smal was able to pick a few of those players yesterday, while also welcoming other experienced figures for the Griquas showdown.

Captain Lizo Gqoboka returns following the passing of his father, and he will form a powerful front-row with Jan-Hendrik Wessels and Jacques van Rooyen, with quality back-up on the bench in Dylan Smith and Sidney Tobias.

That is probably the one area where the defending champions are significantly better equipped than the visitors, but Smal is wary of underestimating a team that have beaten fellow semi-finalists Cheetahs and Pumas in recent weeks.

“We missed him (Gqoboka) last weekend because he lost his dad, and it was his dad’s funeral on that day. We were very sad obviously for him to lose his dad, but he’s had a very good week and he has been very inspirational the whole week,” Smal said yesterday.

“You look at the players that you have, and also where we can attack them. We will attack there (in the scrums) when we can, and it’s important that we do the things correctly, put the pressure on and put them on the back foot.

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“They are well-coached and they also have one or two good youngsters. What they will throw at us will most probably be mauling. We didn’t maul well in the last game, and we worked hard on it during the course of the week.

“Their lineouts specifically are more about lineouts being set – so it’s either a maul or they come out with the loose forwards or the six plays the nine and they play their play out there. We’ve got a very good idea of the way they play, and they are a team that play for 80 minutes, so we have to be on our game for the whole duration of it.

“If you have a good defence… as they always say, defence wins you trophies. So, that’s a thing we need to get right. We know how they like to play, and they can pick up the tempo – especially in the last part of the game. That’s the challenge we have, and that’s what we’ve worked on, and we will give our best.”

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* Meanwhile, in Saturday’s second semi-final in Bloemfontein (1.30pm kickoff), the Cheetahs will look to avenge their recent loss to the Pumas.

The Free State side went down 29-28 at home on June 3, where captain Ruan Pienaar missed a late penalty to win the game, although they found their touch last week in thrashing the Bulls 35-5.

The Pumas lost 45-44 in a dramatic finish to Griquas last week, but will feel confident that they can produce a competitive performance to knock over the Cheetahs once more.

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Teams For Loftus Versfeld

Bulls: 15 Richard Kriel 14 Tharquinn Manuel 13 Lionel Mapoe 12 Marco Jansen van Vuren 11 Stedman Gans 10 Juan Mostert 9 Keagan Johannes 8 Muller Uys 7 Ruan Delport 6 Jaco Labuschagne 5 Reinhardt Ludwig 4 Raynard Roets 3 Jacques van Rooyen 2 Jan-Hendrik Wessels 1 Lizo Gqoboka (captain).

Bench: 16 Sidney Tobias 17 Dylan Smith 18 Francois Klopper 19 Willie Potgieter 20 Stephan Smit 21 Bernard van der Linde 22 Niel Beukes 23 Quewin Nortje.

Griquas: 15 Ashlon Davids 14 Munier Hartzenberg 13 Sango Xamlashe 12 Rynhardt Jonker 11 Luther Obi 10 Zander du Plessis 9 Johan Mulder 8 Siba Qoma 7 Hanru Sirgel 6 Niel Otto (captain) 5 Derik Pretorius 4 Johan Retief 3 Janu Botha 2 Janco Uys 1 Kudzwai Dube.

Bench: 16 Gustav du Rand 17 Eddie Davids 18 Andries Schutte 19 Cameron Lindsay 20 Werner Gouws 21 Fiela Boshoff 22 George Whitehead 23 Chris Hollis.

@ashfakmohamed

IOL Sport

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