CAPE TOWN – Having been battered, bruised and drowned in a matter of 40 minutes at Loftus Versfeld, the Blue Bulls remain hopeful that they could still cause a major upset in their Currie Cup semi-final clash against Western Province at Newlands on Saturday.
The Bulls believe that within a week they can turn around the one-side, rain drenched drowning that saw Western Province secure a 34-7 bonus point win before the match was abandoned at the half-time interval in Pretoria due to heavy rain and lightning making it too dangerous for the players to be out on the park.
Belief may not be enough for the men in light blue and they will also be pinning their hopes on a bit of luck that comes with the lottery that is play-off rugby.
But the Bulls know that they will be tempting fate and if the one half of rugby played in appalling weather conditions at Loftus is anything to go by, they fully appreciate how things can go horribly wrong again if they don’t have their wits about them this time out, especially in Cape Town in front of Province’s adoring fans.
“I’ve said to the guys after the game, the one positive thing is that everyone is on zero.
“It is a once off. If we can pitch and play like we can, I think we can surprise them but it is going to be very difficult especially in Cape Town. We know now why they are unbeaten. They came for 40 minutes and played for 40 minutes,” said Blue Bulls coach Pote Human.
Bulls captain Hanro Liebenberg concurred with Human on them believing that they can make a proper contest out of the semi-final and lamented the wet weather conditions for how they were not able to get any play together at Loftus.
“I don’t think it is necessarily playing with ball in hand, we couldn’t even set up a ruck as soon as the ball went to hand we knocked it. As soon as they kicked deep on us, we made just one pass and that cost us at the end of the day. It is small things.
“It is semi-finals now and everybody is on zero and we are all up for a semi-final. It’s not going to be easy at Newlands but we will be up for the challenge,” Liebenberg said.
However, besides the rain and the many errors the Bulls committed that ultimately cost them the game, Western Province will go into the semi-finals with a major psychological edge from the manner in which Springbok prop Wilco Louw destroyed the Bulls in the scrums.
It was from their dominance in the scrums that Western Province were able to take the game by the scruff of the neck and dictate terms and they will again look to do the same at Newlands.
Bulls prop Matthys Basson looks to have suffered a calf injury and is likely to miss out on coming face-to-face with Louw again but that could also prove to be a blessing in disguise for the Bulls with a possible switch from tighthead to loosehead for Springbok prop Trevor Nyakane.
“They got a sniff and we will just have to sort it out. We have to be hard on each other and it is something we’ve already spoken about in the changing room after the game. Next week Wilco is also going to play that is not going to change anything so we still have to be up for the challenge,” said Liebenberg.