The Vodacom Blue Bulls return to Loftus to host the Free State Cheetahs on Saturday and having suffered back to back defeats, victory is a non negotiable.
The Blue Bulls came out hard against the Sharks in Durban last week and for the first 40 minutes it looked as though the heavy defeat to the Lions the week before was going to be put behind them. They appeared to be in control up front and had the home team rattled however the Sharks bench had the greater impact and another loss without a bonus point was the end result. With only 6 teams in the Currie Cup and the halfway point of the season approaching the Blue Bulls will need to throw everything at the Cheetahs to secure victory this week. The Blue Bulls have played 2 home matches beating the Griquas by 9 and losing to the Lions by 39 points.
The Cheetahs were dominant against the Griquas and never looked like losing although they made pretty heavy weather of things in the end especially given that the Griquas were down to 14 men for the last quarter. This will be their 3rd away match of the season having beaten the Lions by a point and lost to Province by the same margin. The away loss to WP aside, they also lost to the Sharks at home and for that reason they are also under a fair amount of pressure to win this one.
Head to Head
The Blue Bulls have won their last 2 home games against the Cheetahs but on each occasion by under 7 points. Games at Loftus have tended to be high scoring
2012: Blue Bulls 34 Cheetahs 30
2012: Cheetahs 32 Blue Bulls 18
2011: Cheetahs 22 Blue Bulls 22
2011: Blue Bulls 33 Cheetahs 30
2010: Cheetahs 20 Blue Bulls 14
2010: Blue Bulls 23 Cheetahs 25
The Blue Bulls will know that defeat here would see them face an uphill battle to qualify for the semifinals. They are heavily affected by Bok call ups especially when compared to a team like the Cheetahs, but the youngsters have shown signs that they are capable of stepping up, and they now have to do so for 80 minutes.
While history suggests an entertaining high scoring encounter I am not so sure we are in for more of the same as there is just so much on the line, for the home team in particular.
Even though Voltbet have priced the Cheetahs as very slight favourites, the Blue Bulls have always been a side that is dangerous with their backs to the wall.
This will be a supremely physical encounter and I am taking the Blue Bulls to get ascendency upfront and ultimately come away with a hard fought win, most likely by less than 7 points.
Prediction: Bulls win by 1-7 points.