Bulls must jump for glory

Victor Matfield believes the Vodacom Bulls have to dominate the lineouts against the Vodacom Cheetahs in order to stand a chance of victory.

Matfield, generally considered to be the premier lineout jumper in world rugby, stressed the importance of offensive and defensive domination of the set phase, and warned that the Cheetahs would pose a formidable threat in this facet of play.

“They are highly underrated at lineout time,” he told Keo.co.za. “They have built on their excellent form in the Super 14, where they were the top South African team statistically in terms of securing their own ball and poaching opposition ball and in the Currie Cup they have been really efficient and well drilled in that area.”

Matfield worked with the Bulls as a lineout consultant in the week preceding their semi-final match against Vodacom Western Province but has since been restricted from doing so after teams logged complaints with the South African Rugby Union.

He nevertheless is highly regarded as an astute reader of the game and warned the Pretoria outfit to brace for a meticulously planned attack on their ball at the throw in.

“They’ll definitely come hard at us in the lineouts and will look to put severe pressure on our jumpers. On their throw in they’ll look to secure clean ball and get the driving maul going as quickly as possible,” he explained. “That has worked really well for them this season so I don’t see them changing that much.

“Barend [Pieterse] [Cheetahs lock] is amongst the best in the country and he is complemented perfectly by Rory [Duncan], who is in the same big and physical mould as Bakkies Botha or Danie Rossouw. If they play, they, together with Giscard Pieterse, will be the key men for the Cheetahs.”

Matfield tempered his comments by sounding a warning to their hosts that they would be prepared both defensively and offensively. The Bulls lineouts were clinical on Saturday and provided a solid platform to get momentum for their devastating driving maul, which resulted in Derick Kuün’s first try.

“We’ve got quality players like Francois van Schouwenburg and Adriaan Fondse in the second row and they will be really up for the challenge. Even if Adriaan doesn’t recover from injury we don’t lose any quality because we have Danie to cover and the rest of the pack will support them.

“Everybody expects a ferocious battle between the forwards and I think the match will live up to that billing.”

By Ryan Vrede