The Bulls are ready to pounce on mistakes the Lions may make
CAPE TOWN - THE Lions can run with the ball if they want – the Bulls can also pounce on their mistakes. That was the warning issued by Jake White to his team’s opponents in tomorrow’s Currie Cup semi-final at Loftus Versfeld (2pm kick-off).
Lions coach Ivan van Rooyen chose six forwards on the bench, which is why White thinks Van Rooyen was not being entirely honest yesterday when he spoke about dictating the tempo of the game and putting the Bulls under pressure with ball-in-hand.
“Interesting that they say they are going to run – they chose six forwards on the bench. So, for a team that will run, I can’t understand why they would have just two backs on the bench, so it’s a massive risk for them as well,” the former Springbok mentor said.
“With running around and giving the ball air comes great risk, so there will be opportunities for us too.”
White was able to pick his strongest available line-up yesterday, with only Walt Steenkamp (Covid19 protocols) and Travis Ismaiel (shoulder injury) still sidelined from the regular starters.
He opted for Lizo Gqoboka and Schalk Erasmus in the front row ahead of Jacques van Rooyen and Johan Grobbelaar, while youngster Stravino Jacobs will start at left wing.
“To be fair, Lizo is a Springbok and Jacques isn’t. Lizo has played many times with Trevor (Nyakane), and having worked with the pack last week with Daan Human (scrum coach), the thinking is that the combination is settled. They like to play together,” White said.
And while the Lions may look to increase the tempo, the Bulls are not going to deviate from their attacking strategy just because it’s a knockout game. While Morné Steyn has been solid with the boot, he has varied his play well, and the Bulls have tried to make the most of speedsters such as Kurt-Lee Arendse and Stedman Gans.
“I’m glad that you see that the Bulls are not just a one-dimensional team that plays with our forwards and we will continue to play like that,” White said.
“The secret with the team is that we got ourselves here with the things we do well, so let’s just keep doing those things well and back ourselves.
“There’s no use going into our shell now, we’ve done all the hard yards.
“If it means keeping the ball, that’s fine. If it means we’ve got to be tactically aware, we can change it up.”
TEAMS FOR LOFTUS
Bulls: David Kriel, Kurt-Lee Arendse, Stedman Gans, Cornal Hendricks, Stravino Jacobs, Morné Steyn, Ivan van Zyl 8 Duane Vermeulen (capt), Elrigh Louw, Marco van Staden, Ruan Nortje, Sintu Manjezi, Trevor Nyakane, Schalk Erasmus, Lizo Gqoboka
Bench: Johan Grobbelaar, Jacques van Rooyen, Mornay Smith, Jan Uys, Arno Botha, Embrose Papier, Chris Smith, Marco Jansen van Vuren
Lions: Tiaan Swanepoel, Stean Pienaar, Wandisile Simelane, Burger Odendaal, Courtnall Skosan, Elton Jantjies (capt), Andre Warner, Len Massyn, Vincent Tshituka, Jaco Kriel, Willem Albert, Marvin Orie, Jannie du Plessis, Jaco Visagie, Sti Sithole
Bench: Jan-Henning Campher, Ruan Dreyer, Carlu Sadie, Reinhard Nothnagel, Wilhelm van der Sluys, Morne van den Berg, Dan Kriel.