PRETORIA – It might be a cliche used far too often in rugby about the next game being the most important of the season, but for the Blue Bulls their Currie Cup encounter against the Pumas will go a long way in determining whether they make the semi-finals or not.
If the Bulls are able to record another bonus-point win on Friday at Loftus then they would have secured their place in the semis and all that is left for them to do is win their last outing against Western Province to fight for a home semi-final berth.
But the Pumas also find themselves in a similar predicament with victory non-negotiable for them if they still harbour any ambitions of making the semis.
The Pumas are currently sitting in sixth on the standings with six points, trailing the Bulls by six points and fourth-placed Province by four.
For the Pumas to have any chance of making the semi-finals then they will have to secure a bonus-point win on Friday and also win their remaining games against the Free State Cheetahs in Bloemfontein and the Golden Lions at home in Nelspruit.
It is this must-win scenario for both teams that will serve as motivation for them to go for broke according to Bulls centre JT Jackson.
“I think this week is the most important week of our Currie Cup campaign because we know if we can get five points in this game and the Pumas don’t get any points then we already have a semi-final. But the same applies for them, they also need to win this game. For both teams, it is going to be a huge game and a must-win game,” Jackson said.
The Bulls will go into Friday’s game the more confident of the two teams after recording a morale boosting 45-40 win against Griquas on Saturday.
As pleased and relieved as Jackson and his teammates are with the win in Kimberley, the former Junior Springbok centre has lamented his team’s poor discipline which almost cost them.
“We played our best rugby in the first 30 minutes and we then lost a bit of focus,” Jackson said. “We got two yellow cards and that made it tough for us, but I’m just happy our defence came through at the end. In our games against the Cheetahs and Sharks our penalty count was very low, and against the Lions and Griquas it was very high.
So it is something we are going to work on this week especially our offside penalties.”