Can Brumbies bury Loftus bogey?

Mon, 22 Jul 2013 09:43
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Loftus Versfeld has once again become a near impenetrable fortress for the Bulls and the Brumbies are geared for a gargantuan effort.

Loftus Versfeld has once again become a near impenetrable fortress for the Bulls and the Brumbies know it will require a gargantuan effort when the two sides go head-to-head in a Super Rugby semifinal on Saturday.

The Bulls, who earned home ground advantage courtesy of the second place on the tournament standings, are on a 10-match victory run in Pretoria, dating back more than a year.

This is surpassed only by their 18-match winning streak in 2009 and 2010 - which resulted in back-to-back Super Rugby titles.

The Brumbies have also not beaten the Bulls at Loftus since 2006. And their only wins since 2006 were both fortuitous squeakers in Canberra - 23-20 in March this year, courtesy of a dubious last-minute penalty, and a one-point (31-30) win in 2009.

Making it an even more daunting task is the fact that the Bulls have never lost a play-off match at home - beating the Crusaders three times in the semifinals (even though one of those were in Soweto in 2010), as well as the Chiefs and Stormers in successive Final appearances (the 2010 win also in Soweto).

Brumbies coach Jake White, a man familiar with the pressure-cooker atmosphere his team will encounter in Pretoria, suggesting that his team's visit to Pretoria this week will be an experience his young team would likely never forget.

"It doesn't get bigger for this group of players than a semifinal at Loftus," the World Cup-winning for Springbok coach said before he and his team boarded a plane in Canberra to take on the 14,000-kilometre trip across the Indian Ocean.

"I've heard it's a sell-out crowd with 50,000," White added.

"It's going to be tough. Let's not kid ourselves.

"We're flying now to the other side of the world and playing in a country where rugby is No.1, No.2 and No.3 as their [favourite] code."

White, who has turned the Brumbies from no-hopers in 2011 (when they finished 13th in the 15-team competition) to Australian conference winners this year, said the Bulls will be a more formidable task than the Cheetahs - whom they beat 15-13 in the preliminary play-off (quarterfinal) at the weekend.

"They're a South African side and we know what they're like," White said of the Bulls.

"They'll play with their forwards and use [flyhalf] Morné Steyn to add the extras.

"But if we play to our best there's no reason we can't take a result."

He admitted the Brumbies were perhaps a touch fortunate against the Cheetahs.

"We got lucky with that [Riaan Smit] kick at the end there," White said of a last-minute conversion attempt that brushed the upright and could have sent the game into extra time.

"However, when I look back at that game from last week [against the Western Force], when we didn't play well, there's no doubt that our graph has started to go up.

"We spoke a lot about the fact that finals footy means playing for 80 minutes and we had to play 81 to get the result."

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FIXTURE GMT VENUE
Fri, 28 April 2017
Highlanders v Stormers 07h35 Dunedin
Cardiff Blues v Zebre 18h05 Cardiff
Edinburgh v Dragons 18h35 Myreside
Leinster v Glasgow Warriors 18h35 RDS Arena
Newcastle Falcons v Worcester Warriors 19h00 Kingston Park
Sat, 29 April 2017
Chiefs v Sunwolves 07h35 Hamilton
Reds v Waratahs 09h45 Suncorp Stadium
Force v Lions 11h55 Perth
Ospreys v Ulster 14h00 Liberty Stadium
Bath v Gloucester 14h00 Recreation Ground
Exeter Chiefs v Northampton Saints 14h00 Sandy Park
Saracens v Bristol 14h00 Allianz Park
Harlequins v Wasps 14h00 Twickenham Stoop
Leicester Tigers v Sale Sharks 14h00 Welford Road
Cheetahs v Crusaders 15h15 Bloemfontein
Treviso v Munster 17h05 Stadio Monigo
Kings v Rebels 17h30 Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium
Connacht v Scarlets 18h35 Sportsground
Jaguares v Sharks 19h40 Buenos Aires
Sun, 30 April 2017
Brumbies v Blues 06h05 Canberra
RESULT SCORE
Sun, 23 April 2017
Clermont Auvergne v Leinster 27 | 22
Sat, 22 April 2017
Sharks v Rebels 9 | 9
Bulls v Cheetahs 20 | 14
Munster v Saracens 10 | 26
Force v Chiefs 7 | 16
Crusaders v Stormers 57 | 24
Highlanders v Sunwolves 40 | 15
Fri, 21 April 2017
Lions v Jaguares 24 | 21
Waratahs v Kings 24 | 26
Hurricanes v Brumbies 56 | 21
Mon, 17 April 2017
UP-Tuks v Maties 28 | 21
Sun, 16 April 2017
Northampton Saints v Saracens 25 | 27
Bristol v Wasps 21 | 36
Sat, 15 April 2017
Connacht v Leinster 24 | 37
Treviso v Edinburgh 21 | 6
SUPER RUGBY
MORE LOGS
Pool AU
Team P W D L Pts
Brumbies 8 3 0 5 17
Reds 8 2 0 6 10
Force 7 2 0 5 9
Waratahs 8 2 0 6 9
Rebels 7 1 1 5 7
Pool NZ
Team P W D L Pts
Crusaders 8 8 0 0 36
Hurricanes 8 7 0 1 33
Chiefs 8 7 0 1 33
Highlanders 8 5 0 3 23
Blues 8 3 0 5 17
Pool SA1
Team P W D L Pts
Stormers 8 6 0 2 26
Bulls 8 3 0 5 14
Cheetahs 8 2 0 6 10
Sunwolves 8 1 0 7 5
Pool SA2
Team P W D L Pts
Lions 8 7 0 1 32
Sharks 8 5 1 2 24
Jaguares 8 4 0 4 20
Kings 8 2 0 6 10