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Ken Borland

Bulls need to overcome strong Ospreys kicking game and pack, and the weather

Posted on June 20, 2022 by Ken

The Bulls will be targeting a bonus point win in Swansea on Friday night to give themselves the best chance of a home quarterfinal in the United Rugby Championship, but they will have to overcome an Ospreys side that has a strong territorial kicking game and a powerful pack of forwards to do that, and potentially rainy weather as well.

Ospreys will also be just as desperate to win as the Bulls, because defeat could cost them a place in the lucrative European Champions Cup as the winners of the Welsh Shield.

But while people tend to think of blazing counter-attacking backs as the ones to win a bonus point, White said it will take a complete team effort to secure the spoils in Swansea, starting up front.

“We’ve got to give everything to try and get a bonus point because even if we win, we could still finish sixth or seventh with just four log points,” White said on Thursday.

“People always look at players like Canan Moodie and Madosh Tambwe when it comes to x-factor and bonus points, but guys like Elrigh Louw and Cyle Brink, if someone puts them away in space or there is interplay between them, can also win the game for you.

“Jan-Hendrik Wessels or Embrose Papier coming off the bench can also do it. We need to find the ability to win in different ways.

“X-factor does not necessarily mean a sidestep and running 50 metres to score, it means finding a way to win. It’s about your combination as a group.

“Ospreys kick a lot, close to the most in URC, a lot of high balls and up-and-unders from the lineout. But David Kriel is a good high-ball catcher and he played very well against the Lions in the Currie Cup last weekend,” White said of the player he has brought in at wing to support Moodie at fullback.

But teams who win with a bonus point almost always start with dominance up front, and White warned the Bulls were coming up against a formidable pack.

“Eleven of the 33 players who will be touring South Africa in July come from Ospreys and seven of the forwards are playing for Wales. So we’re under no illusions that it’s going to be easy.

“Ospreys could have had more players picked too because there’s an outcry that eighthman Jac Morgan wasn’t chosen and people in Wales are saying Rhys Webb is the form scrumhalf.

“It’s easy to say ‘get a bonus point’, but both Ospreys locks are British Lions, Alun-Wyn Jones is one of the greatest Wales locks ever. It’s going to be a challenge for the whole pack.

“Then there’s the experience of George North at outside centre and Justin Tipuric. And Ospreys have a lot on the game as well. They may be ninth but they’ve won their last couple of games to come from nowhere,” White warned.

Bulls team: Canan Moodie, David Kriel, Cornal Hendricks, Harold Vorster, Madosh Tambwe, Chris Smith, Zak Burger; Elrigh Louw, Cyle Brink, Marcell Coetzee (CAPT), Ruan Nortje, Walt Steenkamp, Mornay Smith, Johan Grobbelaar, Gerhard Steenekamp. IMPACT– Jan-Hendrik Wessels, Simphiwe Matanzima, Robert Hunt, Janko Swanepoel, Arno Botha; Embrose Papier, Juan Mostert, Stedman Gans.

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