Can Blue Bulls bounce back?

Can Blue Bulls bounce back?

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Can the Vodacom Blue Bulls bounce back into Absa Currie Cup contention?

The rugby365.co.za website does not think they can when they face the Toyota Cheetahs this weekend at Loftus Versfeld.

Here is why, according to them.

The Blue Bulls, after a promising start when they drew with Western Province at Newlands in Week One, seem to have hit the slippery slope of mediocrity.

Even their Round Two win over Griquas failed to convince their detractors the Bulls are genuine contenders for overall honours.

They are up against a Cheetahs team that is beginning to find some serious attacking form - epitomised in the three-try (19-point) blitz late in the first half of their 40-20 drubbing of Griquas last week.

Vodacom Blue Bulls coach Pine Pienaar is well aware of the monumental task awaiting his side at home on Saturday.

" The Cheetahs are always a tough hurdle in the Currie Cup competition," Pienaar told this website, adding: "They don't usually have a lot of players out and in the Springbok team. They retain the core of the team that played Super Rugby."

Pienaar said he felt the Cheetahs are one of the favourites in the competition.

"They are playing with a lot of confidence and know each other well. "It is a huge challenge, but one that I am looking forward to."

The Blue Bulls mentor said that for many of the players in their team this will be one of the biggest and most important games they will have played in their careers.

"I am looking forward to see how they cope with it [the pressure of the occasion] and what they can produce."

The irony of this game is that the Bulls, traditionally a more conservative team, have shown a willingness to be adventurous - even though execution has often let them down.

The Cheetahs, in contrast, have been working hard on improving their kicking and defensive games, while they are willing to employ a territory-base game at the expense of 'entertaining'.

"They have varied their game very well in Super Rugby and in the Currie Cup competition most of those structures have remained," Pienaar said.

"They do defend very well and that is one of the reasons they did so well in Super Rugby. They also ask more questions of your back three in terms of their kicking game - they do play the territory game more.

"The Cheetahs do have a more balanced game, where they have the ability to cut you apart with ball in hand, but can also put the ball in behind you with the boot.

"No doubt we will have to be on top of our game if we want any chance to win this."

Recent results:

2012: Blue Bulls won 34-30, Pretoria
2012: Free State Cheetahs won 32-18, Bloemfontein
2011: Free State Cheetahs and Blue Bulls drew 22-all, Bloemfontein
2011: Blue Bulls won 33-30, Pretoria
2010: Free State Cheetahs won 20-14, Bloemfontein
2010: Free State Cheetahs won 25-23, Pretoria

Prediction: You know the Blue Bulls can never be written off, given the quality of the game they produced in Week One against Western Province. However, it is difficult to see them upset a Free State Cheetahs team of this quality. The visitors have the experience and form and should take the points. The Cheetahs by about 10 points.

Teams:

Blue Bulls: 15 Jürgen Visser, 14 Sampie Mastriet, 13 Waylon Murray, 12 Francois Venter, 11 Akona Ndungane, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Ruan Snyman, 8 Jono Ross (captain), 7 Jacques Engelbrecht, 6 Wiaan Liebenberg, 5 Grant Hattingh, 4 Paul Willemse, 3 Frik Kirsten, 2 Mbongeni Mbonambi, 1 Marcel van der Merwe. Replacements: 16 Bandise Maku, 17 Werner Kruger, 18 David Bulbring, 19 Jacques du Plessis, 20 Rudy Paige, 21 Ulrich Beyers, 22 Clayton Blommetjies.

Free State Cheetahs: 15 Hennie Daniller, 14 Riaan Smit, 13 Johann Sadie, 12 Robert Ebersohn, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Elgar Watts, 9 Sarel Pretorius, 8 Philip van der Walt, 7 Pieter Labuschagne, 6 Johannes Prinsloo (captain), 5 Lodewyk de Jager, 4 Teboho Mohoje, 3 Rossouw de Klerk, 2 Hercu Liebenberg, 1 Trevor Nyakane. Replacements: 16 Ethienne Reynecke, 17 Wian du Preez, 18 Waltie Vermeulen, 19 Davon Raubenheimer, 20 Kevin Luiters, 21 Willie du Plessis, 22 Piet Lindeque.

Referee: Stuart Berry
Assistant Referees: Marius Jonker and Cobus Wessels
TMO: Tappe Henning

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Sep 06, 2013
Absa Currie Cup, Vodacom Blue Bulls, Toyota Cheetahs

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