Former Springbok and Bulls captain Joost van der Westhuizen has predicted a narrow Bulls win by no more than four points when they clash with the Sharks at Loftus on Saturday.
“It’s going to be helluva close,” van der Westhuizen told keo.co.za. “It’s going to a huge battle of the tight fives. And the loosies too. I reckon there will be lots of kicking, especially early on.”
Van der Westhuizen also said that the possibility of a draw should not be ruled out. “It could happen and I wouldn’t be surprised. It’s going to come down to one or two kicks in the end.”
The Bulls and Sharks have been involved in two Super Rugby draws in their ten encounters – once each at Loftus Versfeld and King’s Park. The teams drew 27-all in Durban in 1997 and 14-14 in Pretoria in 2000. The average points difference in ten encounters is just two points – 19.5 to 17.5 in favour of the Sharks.
The tension in this match will undoubtedly last right until the bitter end. It is going to be 80 hard minutes of attrition that is likely only to be settled in the dying minutes.
Van der Westhuizen also said he believed the Sharks were playing games when they announced that Tony Brown would miss the game. “No way. I don’t think Tony is injured. He is a great player and I’m sure he will take part on Saturday.”
“Discipline will also be key, but I don’t think home ground is as much of a factor for the Bulls. If you had asked me four weeks ago I would have said yes. But after witnessing all the Sharks fans at Ellis Park two weeks ago, it could be as much as 40% Sharks fans at Loftus on Saturday. It all depends on how many Sharks fans pitch.â€
By Andrew Hollely