Eli Snyman will make a welcome return to the Bulls team ahead if their clash with the Crusaders. Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix
The Bulls will be getting lock reinforcements just in time for their biggest challenge of the season when they face the Crusaders at Loftus Versfeld on Friday evening.

Jason Jenkins and Eli Snyman have been declared fit and could pack down next to RG Snyman for the all-important match. The top-of-the-table clash will gauge whether the Bulls can string back-to-back victories together before they embark on their Australasian tour.

The Bulls have won matches on the trot this season but the victories over the Lions and the Sharks on consecutive weekends are a but a distant memory.

The clash may be between the two sides at the top of the overall log but the Crusaders’ 14-point lead over the second-placed Bulls emphasis the gulf. The Pretoria side knows full well they will have to make major improvements to diminish the gap between them and the pace-setting Crusaders.

Utility forward Jannes Kirsten, who has had to shift between the second-row and the side of the scrum due to the lock injury crisis this season, admits they will have their work cut out for them.

“The Crusaders are No 1 on the points table, and they are the best team in the competition so far, and you want to measure yourself against the best,” Kirsten said. “You do tend to lift yourself for a game like this, and I don’t know if the pressure is more, but I do think the guys look forward to a game like this to prove a point.”

The Bulls are on a mission to find their groove with a tough four-week tour looming after this crunch match.

“A win would give us good momentum for the tour ... it would give us a lot of confidence to and win a game or two in Australia,” Kirsten said.

Memories of the last encounter between the sides at Loftus Versfeld would give any Bulls supporter sleepless nights. The Crusaders gave the Bulls a brutal 62-24 beating two years ago.

But the Bulls have made a note of the Sharks’ 21-21 draw with the Crusaders in Christchurch providing some sort of a blueprint to beat the nine-time Super Rugby champions.

“The Sharks showed that the Crusaders could be beaten and if the forwards can lay a good foundation for the backline then we stand a chance,” Kirsten said.

“We have a few plans for them which would hopefully put pressure on them, and hopefully we can finish better than against the Waratahs.”

Kirsten might move back to flanker with Hanro Liebenberg, who left the field due to a concussion, in doubt for the weekend. Springbok hooker Schalk Brits is expected to make his return after he had served his four-week ban for striking a player.

Inside centre Burger Odendaal, who was a late withdrawal ahead of the Waratahs match due to an eye injury, has been given the all clear.

@ockertde


The Star

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