Bulls target Lions' scrums
TRANS-JUKSKEI DERBY: The Golden Lions' reputation as scrum monsters will be put to the test by the Blue Bulls at Ellis Park on Saturday.
The Golden Lions' reputation as scrum monsters will be put to the test by the Blue Bulls at Ellis Park on Saturday.
In Super Rugby the Lions beat all-comers - including the first-choice and back-up Springbok front rows - when it came to scrum time.
And it will be another massive battle when they host the Bulls in their Currie Cup Round One match in Johannesburg, according to Bulls coach Frans Ludeke.
Speaking to rugby365 ahead of the trans-Jukskei derby, Ludeke said Saturday's encounter would be an "extension" of their Super Rugby rivalry - which ended one-all, with the Bulls winning 25-17 in Pretoria and the Lions getting their revenge in the form of a 32-21 triumph in Johannesburg.
"It will be very competitive," the coach said of their Currie Cup opener, adding: "In our last encounter [at Ellis Park] we did not do very well and they finished much stronger than us.
"There were a number of aspects of their game that they were very effective in and we took a lot out of that game."
He said that missing the Super Rugby play-offs had a positive spin-off, as it allowed the Bulls additional time to prepare for the Currie Cup and focus on some of the key aspects of their game.
"The scrum battle will be very important," Ludeke said.
"Throughout Super Rugby the Lions were very competitive and it was a facet of the game that gave them tremendous energy.
"We also did well in that [set-piece] and it will be an important battle within the game."
The Bulls mentor said other aspects of the game - like ball control in broken play and tactical kicking - were areas they focused on in the last few weeks.
"If we are not accurate they will be able to use that for their counter-attacking opportunities," he said, adding: "That would suit their style of game and we will have to ensure we regain the ball [from those kicks].
"It is all about the pressure you apply and that will be crucial."
Although the Bulls are labelled a 'kicking team' and the Lions hailed as the unit with the 'expansive game', Ludeke felt his team has a good enough backline to be really exciting.
"At the end of the day it is all about workrate on the field - either to get into good field positions or get back in numbers [when the ball is put behind you] and then make good decisions," he told rugby365.
"It is an aspect of the game we have looked at in the last few weeks.
"They key is to make the right calls at the right time, know when to counter and when to kick."
By Jan de Koning