Cape Town - With the Bulls hunting a maximum five log points to try and finish as high as possible on the United Rugby Championship (URC) standings, they may as well go for broke when they take on the Ospreys in Swansea tomorrow (9.10pm SA time kick-off).
Jake White’s team have already qualified for the quarter-finals, and it’s just a matter of whether they can secure a home play-off at Loftus Versfeld.
As they are playing tomorrow night, they won’t know what will be required to secure a Pretoria knockout game. Ulster and the Sharks also play tomorrow night in Belfast (8.35pm), while the Scarlets-Stormers and Leinster-Munster encounters on Saturday night will have the biggest bearing on the Bulls’ fate.
So, when White names his team later today, it will be worth picking an all-out attacking side that can score four tries for a bonus point.
But more importantly, considering who they are up against, it might serve the Bulls well to try to avoid a set-piece battle.
The Ospreys are loaded with Welsh Test players, and not just any internationals. Veteran lock Alun Wyn Jones is still going at it, and he is partnered in the second row by the imposing fellow British & Irish Lion Adam Beard.
Fetcher flank Jac Morgan already has three Test caps to his name, and No 8 Morgan Morris scored a hat-trick against the Dragons last weekend and will have a point to prove after being left out of the Wales squad yesterday for their upcoming tour to South Africa.
In fact, the Ospreys supplied seven forwards out of the 19 for Wales’ SA trip, including the experienced prop Tomas Francis and loose forward Dan Lydiate.
And we haven’t even got to the backs … Flyhalf Gareth Anscombe, fit-again centre George North, fellow midfielder Owen Watkin and wing Alex Cuthbert have all the skills to outwork the Bulls if the game becomes a chess match.
So, rather than try to outmuscle the Ospreys and keeping things tight, White should throw caution to the wind and try to run the Welsh club off their feet.
How about continuing with Canan Moodie at fullback in the absence of the injured Kurt-Lee Arendse? And add some spice to the outside backs with Stedman Gans at No 13?
And here’s a big call – Juan Mostert and Keagan Johannes as the halfbacks instead of Chris Smith and Embrose Papier. Mostert and Johannes looked sharp in the first half of last week’s win over a Lions URC side that turned out in the Currie Cup, and it was a real pity that Mostert sustained a shoulder injury that saw Johannes filling in at No 10 for most of the second half.
They added some bite to the Bulls attack with their variety and speed, which could benefit the fleet-footed Madosh Tambwe, and would be unknown quantities for the Ospreys defence as well.
Similarly, agility should be the name of the game in the Bulls pack. Mobile lock Janko Swanepoel deserves a URC start after playing mainly off the bench, and the same can be said of dynamite ball-carrier Simphiwe Matanzima.
If things don’t work out in the first half, White could always turn to the likes of Walt Steenkamp, Arno Botha and Chris Smith later on.