PRETORIA - The Sharks may be up to their antics of being inconsistent so far in this year’s Currie Cup, but the Blue Bulls won’t be taking them lightly ahead of their clash at Loftus Versfeld on Wednesday.
There is no doubt that the hosts, with their unblemished record after their 54-22 thrashing of the Golden Lions on Saturday, will go into the clash as favourites to win, They also began the season with a high scoring victory against Griquas in Kimberley.
However, Blue Bulls coach Nollis Marais is somewhat concerned at how good the Sharks defence has been of late, with the Durbanites only conceding a measly three points in their games against Griquas and the Pumas.
“I think they have good quality players either way. They have a good balance between youth and senior players. If you look (at) how they played against the Pumas, they are a really good side. If you aren’t going to keep them out they will score 40 points against you and they don’t leak tries," Marais said.
"They have only leaked three points in the last two games, which shows you that they are a good defensive side. I don’t think not having their Springboks will disrupt them too much, it is the same for us and everyone else."
And Marais has brought in the cavalry to help break down the Sharks defence with beefy Springbok wing Jamba Ulengo returning after a long injury lay-off, while Junior Springbok Manie Libbok will start at fullback and exciting scrumhalf Andre Warner will also get a start.
As important as it will be for the Bulls to put the points on the scoreboard, Marais says it will be just as critical to make sure that their defence is up to scratch against a side that has shown that they enjoy running with ball in hand as well as playing without it.
The Bulls have already leaked an unnecessary 67 points.
“I’m happy, I think we are playing good rugby at the moment. We managed to score eight tries against the Lions and six against Griquas but we must get the balance right between a good attack and a good defence. We are still giving away way too many points," Marais added.
“But the way we play is very quick which sees us score a lot of points and is working for us at the moment but we need to find that balance and get it right.”
Blue Bulls team: Manie Libbok, Travis Ismaiel, Franco Naude, Burger Odendaal, Jamba Ulengo, Tony Jantjies, Andre Warner, Nic de Jager, Jannes Kirsten, Boom Prinsloo (captain), Ruben van Heerden, Irne Herbst, John-Roy Jenkinson, Jan-Henning Campher, Pierre Schoeman; Replacements: Jaco Visagie, Matthys Basson, Abongile Nonkotwana, Shaun Adendorff, Ivan van Zyl, Dries Swanepoel, JT Jackson