Currie Cup / 22 August 2019, 12:30pm / Ockert de Villiers
PRETORIA – A bad day at the office in their clash against the Sharks at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday would not only dash a possible play-off berth but could relegate the Blue Bulls to the bottom of the Currie Cup log.
This scenario would set up an embarrassing promotion-relegation match for one of the most successful provinces in the competition.
Bulls captain Ivan van Zyl said that although they have a steep mountain to climb, their gutsy win over the Golden Lions proved they have the potential to overcome any challenge. The Pretoria side managed to beat the Lions in their previous match despite copping a red card and two yellows.
“There is no place to hide and we know what the Sharks need and we know what we need, and we will have to be close to perfect in every aspect of our game,” Van Zyl said.
“We can’t slack on defence and give them four tries; we can’t be bad with the ball in hand because we need four tries ourselves.
“It is a nice challenge for us, and I think we have shown against the Lions we relish a challenge by making it difficult for ourselves. If we can keep 15 players on the field, it would already be a positive for us.”
If Western Province earn two points or more in their earlier match against the Free State Cheetahs in Bloemfontein, the Bulls’ semi-final hopes will be gone, triggering survival mode to stay away from the promotion-relegation play-off zone.
Coach Pote Human said their fate was partly out of their hands and they would be looking to fire at all cylinders in their final home match.
“We know what we need to do, so our options are very clear-cut,” Human said. “We need to beat the Sharks by 12 points, with a bonus point and make sure they don’t get a bonus point. It cannot be clearer than that, so this is a quarter-final match for us if you like.”
The Bulls were strengthened with the return of Springboks, prop Lizo Gqoboka and loose forward Marco van Staden, after they were released from national duty. They featured for the Boks against Argentina at Loftus last weekend.
While it may seem like an impossible task, Human said they have done it before and will be looking to score tries in the deciding Currie Cup match of the weekend.
“We want to play to score tries. I believe I have the team to score great tries, which is our mindset, but the Sharks have a good defensive system,” Human said.
“We will have to be patient and everyone will have to be on song to score four tries against the Sharks. If we stick to our processes, the scoreboard will look after itself.”
Blue Bulls v Sharks starting XV:
Divan Rossouw, Cornal Hendricks, Johnny Kotze, Dylan Sage, Rosko Specman, Manie Libbok, Ivan van Zyl (capt), Tim Agaba, Wian Vosloo, Marco van Staden, Ruan Nortje, Andries Ferreira, Wiehahn Herbst, Johan Grobbelaar, Lizo Gqoboka
Replacements: Corne Els, Dayan van der Westhuizen, Conraad van Vuuren, Jean Droste, Ruan Steenkamp, Embrose Papier, Vaughen Isaacs, Stedman Gans