Currie Cup Round 8: Blue Bulls v Griquas Preview

The Blue Bulls host the Griquas in the eighth round of the Currie Cup on Friday the 1st of September 2017.

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Friday evening sees an out of sorts Blue Bulls outfit host the Griquas, fresh off a bye, at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria. The Bulls’ atrocious away performance in Nelspruit on the weekend (in a match that saw them concede 51-points to the lowly Pumas), would surely have set off alarm bells in John Mitchell’s camp. They face a tough Griquas side this week, one which too succumbed to the Pumas a fortnight ago, and which will be fighting tooth and nail to get into the playoff mix.

Blue Bulls v Griquas | 1 September | 18h15 | Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria 

To Win (80min)
Bulls 3/10 | Draw 33/1 | Griquas 5/2
Bulls (-8.5) | Griquas (+8.5)

Blue Bulls
John Mitchell’s seismic task at resurrecting a fading Bulls brand took another step backwards last week, as his men were smashed by a much hungrier Pumas outfit. Their lack of accuracy and indeed intensity would have deeply concerned a coaching staff in the midst of a mini transition as regular first team gaffer Nollis Marais begins his (so-called) “sabbatical”.

The fact that the Bulls conceded a whopping 29-points in the second-forty minutes to their rivals from Nelspruit after trailing by just 12-points going into halftime is certainly a cause for concern. According to the “Rugby Stats” app, the Pretoria boys made staggering 31-handling errors throughout the contest, while missing 32-tackles in all. This, coupled with the manner in which their forward pack was completely outmuscled at the Mbombela Stadium, highlights just how far this team needs to go to reclaim the physical aura with which they were once synonymous.

The Griquas will again offer up an incredibly abrasive challenge, and the Bulls’ strong men will need to seriously up their game if they are to avoid being embarrassingly out bullied at “Fortress Loftus”. A strong display up front should nullify a rather limited Griquas backline, although it’s hard to tell what we can expect from this Bulls side after last weekend’s disastrous showing.

Peter Engledow’s Kimberley hard men have been expectantly solid, if unspectacular thus far. Two-wins from their six-games is a rather unsurprising return for one of South Africa’s more modest rugby unions, though their 14-log points to date still betters that of the Golden Lions (10), and their opponents this week, the Bulls (13).

Fresh off of their bye last week the Griquas are just a solitary point off of fourth place, and thus a semi-final position. They will know that if they can keep up the pressure on the likes of the Pumas and Bulls throughout the remainder of the competition, they will give themselves a good shot at securing an elusive playoff pole.

The Griquas forwards would have been encouraged by their Bulls counterpart's performance or lack thereof several days ago and will look to their driving maul as a weapon to target a fragile Bulls pack. Should they match up to the Bulls’ physicality they will be in with a shout of recording a mammoth upset this weekend.

Verdict: Bulls 3/10
I’m expecting a backlash from the Blue Bulls this week. John Mitchell would have given his players an earful following their shocking display against the Pumas, and they will seriously want to up the anti at home over a relatively weak Griquas line up.