Nothing less than a five-point haul against the Calamity Cats will suffice for the Bulls in their Vodacom Super 14 clash at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.
Bulls captain Victor Matfield has said if his team cannot beat the Cats at Loftus on Saturday, they certainly don’t deserve a shot at the Super 14 semifinals.
And defeat will see that dream reduced to tatters for another year.
Matfield was also expressing his and the teams need to look for redemption as they try to keep alive their slim chances of making the playoffs.
Their task is quite clear – they need to win their next four games with a bonus point to get to 43 points which should book their place in the semifinals.
Talk of redemption has been widespread at Loftus this week. The Bulls are disappointed with their loss to the Reds last week – had they won that game they would have been in a far more favourable position in the race to the semifinals than they are now.
“We have lost a number of games that we should and could have won and now is the time to lift our game and play like we should. We haven’t played to our potential this year,” Matfield told the Pretoria News.
Bulls coach Heyneke Meyer has made a number of interesting changes to the side in order to rest players on the one hand and give the team a more solid look.
Frikkie Welsh, who has been on the bench since returning from Bath, is back on the wing meaning that the dreadlocked Akona Ndungane gets a well-deserved rest. But it is this move, coupled with the return to outside centre of JP Nel, which has given the defensive line a nice solid look. Nel usually revels in having another defensive enforcer in the backline. And Welsh certainly fits the bill.
Morne Steyn stays at flyhalf by virtue of the continued injury problems Derick Hougaard is experiencing while Johan Roets also gets a rest giving Springbok flyhalf Jaco van der Westhuyzen a start in the number 15 jersey this weekend.
The front row shifts around with veteran Wessel Roux coming in for Jaco Engels at loosehead while Danie Thiart replaces Andries Human at tighthead.
Bulls Team: Jaco van der Westhuyzen, Frikkie Welsh, JP Nel, Wynand Olivier, Bryan Habana, Morne Steyn, Fourie du Preez, Pedrie Wannenburg, Tim Dlulane, Jacques Cronje, Victor Matfield, Bakkies Botha, Danie Thiart, Gary Botha, Wessel Roux.
Replacements: Adriaan Strauss, Jaco Engels, Danie Rossouw, Francois van Schouwenburg, Pierre Spies, Heini Adams, Akona Ndungane.