Wounded Bulls always a danger

2013-08-31 00:00

THE Sharks are preparing for the most bruising of Currie Cup contests at King’s Park tonight. They face a Blue Bulls outfit desperate to lift the blushes after the humiliation of last Saturday.

The Bulls were crushed 62-23 by the neighbouring Golden Lions in front of their stunned Loftus supporters. All week they have been told how dreadful they were and how jolly badly they played.

Even coach Pine Pienaar joined in the chorus: “There is a lot to answer for this week,” he said. “It was unacceptable and we are ashamed. We have disappointed a lot of people, including ourselves, with our performance against the Lions and the only way to get that out of the system is to go to Durban and get a result.”

Sharks coach Brad Macleod-Henderson also could not believe that the Bulls had been blown away on their home paddock.

“The Bulls defeat took everyone by surprise. I’m certain they will come back firing.”

While Pienaar has spent the week trying to lift his young Bulls, the Sharks’ coaching staff will want to bring their players to ground after their win over the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein last Friday. “The Bulls are a proud union and a quality team. It will be a very tough game,” he warned.

He also tried to place the Bulls’ defeat in perspective. “The yellow card to one of their props [Morné Mellett] was a breaking point and then the Lions clicked and played fantastic rugby.”

Macleod-Henderson said the Sharks squad, still settling into new systems, were improving with every passing week.

“You have to achieve a balance, maintaining continuity in the side but also providing youngsters with opportunity. You have to look at what the opposition is doing and nullify their strengths, but you also want to keep on focusing on what is going well for you.”

The Sharks have a healthy mix of old and new. The experience in the Sharks team is concentrated in the back row of Jacques Botes, Keegan Daniel and Jean Deysel; the youth is the hub of the team and centred on Heimar Williams (21), Fred Zeilinga (20) and Cobus Reinach (23) at inside centre, flyhalf and scrumhalf.

Pienaar has this week talked up his new flyhalf, Baby Bok Handré Pollard, who will make his Currie Cup debut today. The coach said that injury had prevented him playing for the Bulls earlier.

Certainly the clash between the two young flyhalves, the 19-year-old Pollard and Zeilinga who is just one year older, will provide an intriguing sideshow. However, the war will be won up front where the contest will be particularly fierce.

The wounded Bulls will not simply roll over. The Sharks have the talent, both in the starting line-up and on an experienced bench, to win this evening. But attitude will be critical and the Sharks’ coaching staff will have urged the players to put last weekend’s results behind them.

The problem, of course, is that so often players talk without listening … as Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer found in Mendoza last Saturday.


Sharks: 15. SP Marais, 14. Odwa Ndungane, 13. Louis Ludik, 12. Heimar Williams, 11. Lwazi Mvovo, 10. Fred Zeilinga, 9. Cobus Reinach, 8. Jacques Botes (captain), 7. Jean Deysel, 6. Keegan Daniel, 5. Marco Wentzel, 4. Peet Marais, 3. Wiehahn Herbst, 2. Craig Burden, 1. Dale Chadwick.

Replacements: 16. Kyle Cooper, 17. Rayno Gerber, 18. Edwin Hewitt, 19. Justin Downey, 20. Charl McLeod, 21. Butch James, 22. Jaco van Tonder.

Blue Bulls: 15 Jürgen Visser, 14 Sampie Mastriet, 13 Waylon Murray, 12 Ulrich Beyers, 11 Akona Ndungane, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Ruan Snyman, 8 Jono Ross (captain), 7 Jacques du Plessis, 6 Wiaan Liebenberg, 5 Grant Hattingh, 4 Paul Willemse, 3 Frik Kirsten, 2 Mbongeni Mbonambi, 1 Morné Mellett.

Replacements: 16 Bandise Maku, 17 Werner Kruger, 18 David Bullbring, 19 Jacques Engelbrecht, 20 Rudy Paige, 21 Tiaan Schoeman, 22 Clayton Blommetjies.

Referee: Jonathan Kaplan. Kick-off: 5.05 pm.

In Bloemfontein: Free State vs Griquas 3 pm.

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