|The Vodacom Blue Bulls were made to pay for their lineout woes last weekend against the Sharks, but their impressive scrum and the return of breakdown specialist Deon Stegmann should hold them in good stead in Friday night’s Absa Currie Cup match against the Toyota Free State Cheetahs in Bloemfontein.
Bulls coach Frans Ludeke is confident that the lineout problems – which he said were caused by excellent contesting by the Sharks – have been solved and he has plenty of confidence in his scrum.
“The lineouts were a problem, that cost us dearly because I felt we had done enough in the other areas to win. The scrum was the best I’ve seen it since I’ve been at the Bulls and in terms of defence, it was one of our best games against the Sharks.
“The Cheetahs will bring other stuff to the game, they’re very effective from broken field. But if we can take some of their strengths away, squeeze a few turnovers, then we can put pressure on them, which will be vital because it’s going to be knockout rugby,” Ludeke said.
Stegmann will be a key figure against a Cheetahs side that usually comes hard at the breakdown, but Ludeke was quick to point out that the entire Bulls team needed to improve in that facet.
“We had crucial losses at the breakdown against the Sharks, but it’s a team thing because Deon can’t be at every ruck, it’s impossible. It starts with the carrier, he has to dominate contact. Last week the carriers just dropped to the ground, there was no second effort, they didn’t fight in the tackle, and that puts pressure on those following,” Ludeke said.
The Cheetahs scrum will be a different proposition this weekend with the return of Springbok Coenie Oosthuizen, playing in his rightful loosehead position, and he should also have a major impact at the collisions and breakdown.
Free State Cheetahs: 15-Clayton Blommetjies, 14-Rayno Benjamin, 13-Francois Venter, 12-Joubert Engelbrecht, 11-Raymond Rhule, 10-Willie du Plessis, 9-Sarel Pretorius, 8-Jean Cook, 7-Lappies Labuschagné, 6-Tienie Burger, 5-Francois Uys, 4-Henco Venter, 3-George Marich, 2-Torsten van Jaarsveld, 1-Coenie Oosthuizen. Replacements – 16-Hercu Liebenberg, 17-Caylib Oosthuizen, 18-Werner Lourens, 19-Neil Claassen, 20-Shaun Venter, 21-Pieter-Steyn de Wet, 22-JP du Plessis.
Blue Bulls: 15-Ulrich Beyers, 14-Akona Ndungane, 13-JJ Engelbrecht, 12-Burger Odendaal, 11-Sampie Mastriet, 10-Jacques-Louis Potgieter, 9-Piet van Zyl, 8-Jono Ross, 7-Jacques du Plessis, 6-Deon Stegmann, 5-Grant Hattingh, 4-Paul Willemse, 3-Werner Kruger, 2-Bongi Mbonambi, 1-Dean Greyling. Reserves – 16-Callie Visagie, 17-Morne Mellet, 18-Nicolaas Janse van Rensburg, 19-Wiaan Liebenberg, 20-Rudy Paige, 21-Tian Schoeman, 22-Jesse Kriel.