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Only the Bulls' best for Newlands

Thu, 11 Jul 2013 06:44
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There certainly won't be a lack of commitment
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The Bulls are under no illusion that nothing short of a committed 80-minute effort is required if they are to avoid a Stormers ambush at Newlands on Saturday.

The two teams have vastly differing end goals, but a common thread - a long-standing rivalry that brings out the best in both teams.

Never is a quarter asked or given - be that in Pretoria or Cape Town.

Newlands is this week's battle ground - with the Bulls requiring a win in their final league match to secure top spot on the global table (on all the great benefits that go with it), while the Stormers are looking to salvage some pride after a bitterly disappointing season.

Having already conceded the South African conference trophy to the Bulls - it will be handed to the men from Pretoria on Saturday - the Stormers are looking for a consolation win over a team they just love to beat.

And nobody knows better than Bulls coach Frans Ludeke how tough it is going to be at a sell-out Newlands.

"We are up against an opponent we know, it is always very physical and there are no easy metres to be gained," Ludeke told this website, as his team stepped up their preparations for the big north-south derby.

"It will be a very tough battle, we are well aware of that," he added.

The Bulls mentor said they always enjoy a trip to Cape Town.

"There certainly won't be a lack of commitment," he said, adding: "Newlands bring out the best in our players."

Given what is at stake for the Bulls, Ludeke said his team will have to be switched on Saturday.

"We have set our goals and we have set ourselves up to achieve great things [this season]," he told this website.

"However, we can't afford to look past this coming weekend.

"We have to ensure we play quality rugby, as we are up against a good team with quality players [five Springboks in the starting XV and a couple more on the bench].

"In many ways they are similar to us - a team with a strong maul and a very competitive set of forwards.

"They have Springboks across the park and their backline is lethal from broken play - that is why we simply can't afford to look past this weekend."

The Bulls mentor spoke of the need  to "get quality possession on the front foot" and create opportunities in the right areas.

"Last week [a 20-19 squeaker over the Sharks] we were not always very accurate in this regard and it is something we looked at this week.

"We know how tough the task will be against the Stormers, so that is why accuracy becomes more important.

"In the line-outs we were under pressure at times against the Sharks last week and lost possession. However, those are minor adjustments we have to make. It is a case of ensuring we are all on the same page. They were minor things - like a call or a player that is not quick enough in his support [of the jumper].

"We have focussed on making those minor adjustments."

Ludeke also spoke of the team's discipline at the breakdown, after they fell foul of the referee on 13 occasions.

"We had a good chat with the referee," he told this website, adding: "There are times that we needed to be more accurate and also adjust to the referee.

"The key is that we go into this game [against the Stormers] with confidence to play at the breakdown. You need to be aware when to have a full go in an attempt to secure a turnover."

Then there were also several chances that were wasted because the Bulls were not patient enough and it is vital that they control the key periods in the game, just before and just after the half-time break.

But probably the biggest threat is the Stormers' vaunted defence, the most miserly - just 17 tries conceded in 15 outings.

"This weekend will be more about decision making," Ludeke said, adding: "One of their major strengths the last few years has been defence.

"That is why we have to be more patience, ensure we have the numbers at the breakdown and ball-carriers who attack the gainline with determination - run good lines and look for the spaces, to ensure we get that momentum."

By Jan de Koning

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