Currie Cup: Blue Bulls vs Pumas Preview


The Bulls host the Pumas on Friday the 13th of October at Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria.

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Blue Bulls v Pumas
13 October 19h00
Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria

To Win Match
Bulls 2/13 | Draw 33/1 | Pumas 4/1
Handicap
Bulls 17/20 (-12.5) | Pumas 17/20 (+12.5)

While John Mitchell’s Bulls need a hell of a lot to go their way if they are still to qualify for the playoffs, it would seem that the Pumas need nothing short of a miracle. The Bulls will play knockout rugby next week should they manage a bonus-point win at home on Friday, and the loser of the Lions versus Cheetahs encounter fails to pick up any bonus-point. The Pumas, on the other hand, require five-log points from Loftus (a bonus-point victory) as well as either the Lions or Cheetahs claiming zero-log points from their clash on Saturday - in the Cheetahs’ instance, they would qualify on superior points-difference. Whatever happens on Friday the 13th, it would seem that either or both sides may just run out of luck at Loftus Versfeld.

Bulls

The Bulls have had a seriously below-par campaign to date, picking up just four-wins from their 11-encounters. Their defence - much like most others in this season’s competition – has been extremely shoddy, and they can count themselves lucky that they are still in with a shot at qualifying for the playoffs.

Mitchell has named an unchanged team from the one that put away the Cheetahs 64-36 in Bloemfontein last week, and he will hope that his boys can put in a similar shift to get them over the line this time out. The Pretoria outfit may look to Warrick Gelant to provide offensive impetus, so expect to see him coming into the line regularly from fullback. The 22-year-old will more than likely turn out for the Springboks on their end-of-year tour this November, and another solid showing will not go unnoticed by Bok coach Allister Coetzee.

Gelant and skipper Burger Odendaal bagged hat-trick apiece last week, and their powerful attacking runs may just subdue the Pumas into submission.

Pumas

Whatever the result this weekend, the Pumas can be proud of the way that they have performed in this season’s Currie Cup. Coming up against the stronger unions is never an easy task for the minnows from Nelspruit, and coach Brent Janse van Rensberg and his men have put in a solid effort this year. Kudos to them.

That said, they will still be excited by the prospect of playoff rugby, and they may look to ambush an over-confident Bulls side on Friday. A more structured game is probably the way for the Pumas to go this weekend, as their forwards will look to win the battle up front and perhaps manage a few rolling-maul tries along the way.

Janse van Rensberg will be pleading with his players to do the improbable - it remains to be seen whether or not they will rise to the challenge.

Blue Bulls: Warrick Gelant, Duncan Matthews, Burger Odendaal (c), JT Jackson, Johnny Kotze, Marnitz Boshoff, Ivan van Zyl, Nic de Jager, Tim Agaba, Marco van Staden, Aston Fortuin, Ruben van Heerden, Conraad van Vuuren, Edgar Marutlulle, Pierre Schoeman.
Subs: Johan Grobbelaar, Matthys Basson, Jano Venter, Boom Prinsloo, Piet van Zyl, Tony Jantjies, Travis Ismaiel

Pumas: Gerrit Smit; Selom Gavor, Jerome Pretorius, Hennie Skorbinski, Ruwellyn Isbel; Kobus Marais, Stefan Ungerer; Willie Engelbrecht, Nardus van der Walt, Chris Cloete, Hugo Kloppers, Jannie Stander, Pieter Scholtz, Marko Janse van Rensburg, Khwezi Mona.
Subs: Frankie Herne, De-Jay Terblanche, Cameron Lindsay, Hilton Lobberts, Francois Kleinhans, Reynier van Rooyen, Gerrie Labuschagne

Verdict: Bulls 17/20 (-12.5)
As spirited a side as the Pumas are, the Bulls have enough attacking firepower to consolidate for their weaknesses on defence. I’m backing the Bulls to win at home by 10-plus.

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