Bulls to bury the ghost of Loftus

Pote Human is confident the Vodacom Bulls can emulate the Vodacom Cheetahs feat of winning the Absa Currie Cup away from home but says it’ll take a collective effort.

The Cheetahs staged a dramatic comeback at Loftus in the showpiece match of the 2005 competition to steal the win 29-25 and Bulls coach, Human believes his side can overcome their underdog billing and win at Vodacom Park on Saturday.

“If the Cheetahs could beat us at a “blue” Loftus, we surely stand a chance at an “orange” Vodacom Park,” Human told Morris Gilbert of Beeld.

But Human was adamant that retribution for the narrow deafeat at Loftus played no role in his desire to beat the Cheetahs.

“We have too much respect for the Cheetahs as a team and for Rassie Erasmus as a coach to waste any time or energy on revenge. If we want to beat them, we’ll have to be at our very best and we’ll only succeed in doing so if we concentrate fully on the huge task ahead,” he explained.

Bulls technical coach John McFarland earlier told Keo.co.za that the teams were very similar in their styles of play. “They play Bulls rugby,” he said. “They punt for territory and put pressure on the counter-attackers through solid defence.

“On attack they rely on their dominance in the lineouts to lay the platform for driving mauls. That’s traditional Bulls rugby,” he reiterated.

Human though was less comprehensive in his assessment of his opponents, but did lavish praise on the Bloemfontein outfit.

“We have no illusions about what awaits us against the Cheetahs. They are a solid team and showed in the semi-final against the Sharks on Saturday they are capable of playing excellent rugby.”

The potential loss of key players to injury as a result of the bruising semi-final encounter against Vodacom Western Province is a worry for Human.

If Pedrie Wannenberg fails a fitness assessment later this week, he could have selection problems.

Lock Adriaan Fondse has sustained a serious knee injury and is unlikely to recover in time for the final, while his second row partner Francois van Schouwenburg suffered a minor rib injury and had to be substituted against WP, but both he and Wynand Olivier (head injury) are expected to recover.

“If Pedrie is available, it will make the loss of Adriaan more bearable,” Human said. “Then Danie Rossouw can be moved from flank to lock.”

WP rallied in Saturday’s match to draw within nine points of the Bulls and could’ve made it a much closer affair had Justin Melck’s handling error not allowed Hilton Lobberts in for an immediate response to an earlier Bolla Conradie touchdown.

Human warned that the Bulls would have to have a killer instinct in order to triumph in the final.

“We still do not deliver the knockout punch when we get the opportunity,” he said. “In a final, that could mean the difference between winning and losing.”