PRETORIA – It has become crystal clear that the Bulls will not go down without a fight and they will use the Lions' poison against them in their upcoming derby at Ellis Park on Saturday.
The plan sounds simple but whether the Bulls will emerge victorious or not will depend on the execution. All the Bulls need do is attack, attack and attack in the same way the Lions have found relative success over the years of dominance in the South African conference, says Bulls skills coach Hayden Groepes.
It has been in the way the Lions have performed with ball in hand that has seen them rule the African roost and be crowned conference winners while making it to two successive Super Rugby finals. And it is that very same brand of rugby that Groepes believes the Lions can be beaten with to ensure that the men from the capital end the season on a high.
“If we control the ball well, we will try and limit the amount of possession that they get. It will definitely help us on defence especially. Who is going to win regardless of where they are carrying and who they are carrying, we’ll have to just stop them on the gain line,” said Groepes.
And while the Lions continue to show that they are still the best South African team in the competition, Groepes is adamant they can expose the Johannesburg-based franchise by attacking their soft underbelly in the midfield and opening space out wide for their in-form wings Jamba Ulengo and Divan Rossouw.
But capitalising on the Lions frailties will come from the Bulls forwards and backs singing from the same hymn sheet and making sure they produce the same type of expansive rugby they have shown in glimpses this season.
“Good momentum down the middle will always give you space on the edges and we’ve got to find that momentum down the middle first. It comes down to backs and forwards being aligned in what we want to do and where we want to do it,” Groepes said. “They are a very good side and they have shown it throughout the season. Individuals have gotten them good going forward and we will have to stop them in all facets of play.”
The Bulls will once again look to their Springboks in RG Snyman, Embrose Papier, Handre Pollard, Jesse Kriel, Warrick Gelant and Ulengo to give them the same spark that saw them come back from a 19-0 deficit to beat the Jaguares 43-34 at Loftus Versfeld last weekend.
In that performance against the South Americans, the men in blue showed great maturity in not panicking at the face of adversity and religiously followed coach John Mitchell’s blueprint in earning themselves a well-deserved victory.
And it will be with that same mindset and execution of their attacking game that the Bulls will certainly gain the upper hand over their provincial rivals and bring the curtain down on their season with the same hope for the future that they began earlier this year.
“I thought it was a complete team effort and they (Springboks) brought a lot of energy into the team,” said Groepes.
“I thought it was a very mature approach that the players had within the second half. And to actually wipe the first half and put a blanket over it and come out with a fresh mindset and sticking to the process. Whether we are up by 19 or down by 19, we are asking for the same process to be chased.”