Currie Cup / 3 August 2019, 2:40pm / Ockert de Villiers
Winning just one match in the first half of their Currie Cup campaign does not bode well for the Blue Bulls’ title hopes.
But coach Pote Human is hopeful the victory over the Pumas was enough to ignite his charges ahead of their meeting at home against the Griquas.
The Griquas were the early pacesetters in the competition before their central region neighbours, and the Cheetahs, unceremoniously knocked them off their perch.
Human knows full well the Griquas did not turn into a bad team overnight, and they expect the Peacock Blues to be back to their best in today's crucial clash.
The Blue Bulls mentor said he did not read too much into the Griquas’ 68-14 defeat to the Cheetahs last weekend and believes they will put up a fight at Loftus.
Another slip-up will edge the Blue Bulls closer to an early Currie Cup exit thanks to the truncated format of the competition. It is also the Pretoria side’s penultimate home match and they can ill-afford another defeat.
“The confidence is back, we’ve got a good side, but it is going to be difficult against Griquas, who had two great games at the beginning,” Human said during the week.
“They had an off week last week, but they will bounce back. I know the guys there, and it will be a great game for both of us. It is a final for both teams, and we can’t afford to lose any more games, especially at Loftus.”
A defeat will not necessarily end the Bulls' hopes of the play-offs, but it will compound their problems before their final two pool matches.
They will travel across the Jukskei River for their clash against the Golden Lions next week before they host the Sharks at Loftus Versfeld.
The Blue Bulls have improved since the start of the campaign with the forwards finally pulling their weight. Griquas will provide another test upfront and they will have to win the battle of the heavies to stand any chance of winning the match.
Griquas are a settled outfit buoyed by their SuperSport Challenge title exploits and will be looking to cement their place among the front-runners.
Human said they expected an aerial battle from Griquas and a war of attrition up front.
“They play a good kicking game, so we know what to expect from them. When they get into your half, they hold onto the ball and use their outside backs.”
Blue Bulls: Divan Rossouw, Cornal Hendricks, Dylan Sage, Johnny Kotze, Rosko Specman, Manie Libbok, Embrose Papier, Tim Agaba, Marco van Staden, Ruan Steenkamp (capt), Ruan Nortjé, Andries Ferreira, Wiehahn Herbst, Jaco Visagie, Simphiwe Matanzima
Replacements: Johan Grobbelaar, Dayan van der Westhuizen, Conraad van Vuuren, Adre Smith, Wian Vosloo, André Warner, Marnitz Boshoff, Stedman Gans.
Griquas: Anthony Volmink, Ederies Arendse, Michal Haznar, André Swarts, Eduan Keyter, George Whitehead (capt), Zak Burger, Neill Jordaan, Sias Koen, Gideon van der Merwe, Victor Sekekete, Ian Groenewald, Ewald van der Westhuizen, AJ le Roux, Khwezi Mona
Replacements: Wilmar Arnoldi, Mox Mxoli, Johan Momsen, Zandré Jordaan, Chriswill September, Chris Smit, Bjorn Basson, Ruan Kramer