'Wet weather' Bulls plan for set piece battle

Thu, 23 Feb 2017 13:20

BIG NORTH-SOUTH DERBY: The extraordinary amount of rain to have hit Gauteng this week, proved to be an unwanted distraction for the Bulls.

However, given the challenge that awaits them at Newlands on Saturday, in the form of a motivated Stormers team, they had no choice but to remain focused on the job at hand.

Bulls coach Nollis Marais, speaking to rugby365 ahead of the season-opener in Cape Town, said he feels it will be a "massive set-piece battle" at Newlands.

"We haven't won at Newlands since 2011, so victory is a big issue for us," Marais said.

"We know how tough the Stormers are at home, but if we execute the things that we worked on in training it will be a big opportunity [to break that duck]."

He said the wet weather - which caused flooding - did not help their preparations.

He admitted the temptation was there to make adjustments in training for the weather, but because Saturday will be hot and dry in Cape Town they stuck to their guns.

"We continued to focus on how we want to play Saturday, despite the rainy conditions," he told rugby365.

"We paid attention to the things we can control, our own game.

"Yes, there were more errors [in training], but our focus was on what we want to do Saturday."

Although the Bulls would have like another warm-up match, Marais said the risk of injuries meant they settled for the pre-season hit-out against a young Lions team and the trip to Australia - where they beat the Chiefs in Brisbane and lost to the same Chiefs team in the semifinals of a 10s tournament.

"Based on that [15-a-side] game against the Chiefs [in Brisbane] I feel we are on the right track," the Bulls mentor said.

He added that in terms of injuries they are in a much better position than last year.

"[In 2016] we started the season with a host of serious injuries," he old rugby365, adding: "On top of that, in the next three weeks we will also get players like [captain] Adriaan [Strauss, back surgery], Jannes [Kirsten, shoulder surgery] and Arno [Botha, shoulder surgery] back from injury.

"Jan Serfontein [the Bok centre missing the trip to Cape Town] will also be back next week."

By Jan de Koning
@king365ed
@rugby365com

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Fri, 15 December 2017
Ulster v Harlequins 19h45 Kingspan Stadium
Sat, 16 December 2017
Treviso v Scarlets 13h00 Stadio Comunale di Monigo
Montpellier v Glasgow Warriors 13h00 Altrad Stadium
Leinster v Exeter Chiefs 15h15 Aviva Stadium
Racing Metro v Castres 15h15 Stade Yves-du-Manoir
Bath v Toulon 17h30 Recreation Ground
Sun, 17 December 2017
Wasps v La Rochelle 13h00 Ricoh Arena
Clermont Auvergne v Saracens 15h15 Stade Marcel-Michelin
Ospreys v Northampton Saints 15h15 Liberty Stadium
Leicester Tigers v Munster 17h30 Welford Road
Fri, 22 December 2017
Wasps v Gloucester 22h00 Ricoh Arena
Newcastle Falcons v Harlequins 22h00 Kingston Park
Northampton Saints v Exeter Chiefs 22h00 Franklin's Gardens
Leicester Tigers v Saracens 22h00 Welford Road
Worcester Warriors v Leicester Tigers 22h00 Sixways
Sale Sharks v Bath 22h00 AJ Bell Stadium
RESULT SCORE
Mon, 11 December 2017
Saracens v Clermont Auvergne 14 | 46
Sun, 10 December 2017
Exeter Chiefs v Leinster 8 | 18
Harlequins v Ulster 5 | 17
La Rochelle v Wasps 49 | 29
Sat, 09 December 2017
Munster v Leicester Tigers 33 | 10
Castres v Racing Metro 16 | 13
Northampton Saints v Ospreys 32 | 43
Toulon v Bath 24 | 20
Scarlets v Treviso 33 | 28
Fri, 08 December 2017
Glasgow Warriors v Montpellier 22 | 29
Sun, 03 December 2017
Harlequins v Saracens 20 | 19
Sat, 02 December 2017
Cheetahs v Scarlets 28 | 21
Munster v Ospreys 36 | 10
Wasps v Leicester Tigers 32 | 25
Treviso v Leinster 10 | 36
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Hurricanes 15 12 0 3 58
Chiefs 15 12 1 2 57
Highlanders 15 11 0 4 51
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