Richard Bands says the Vodacom Cheetahs should expect an almighty working over from the Vodacom Bulls front row.
The Springbok and Bulls prop was forthright in his assessment that the Bulls would have the edge on their counterparts in all facets of frontranker play.
“The Bulls front row have had an excellent all-round season and that form will continue into the final,” he told Keo.co.za.
He predicted that the showpiece match would be characterised by unbridled intensity in the tight-loose and jostling for ascendency in the scrums.
In this regard, pundits predict that Cheetahs tighthead prop, Jannie du Plessis, considered by many to be the finest player in his position in the competition, will dominate Jaco Engels at scrumtime. Bands though, rejects this notion, citing what he said was a poor performance by Du Plessis in the semi-final.
“Jaco will do more than cope,” he asserted. “Look at how Jannie suffered against the Sharks last Saturday. They scrummed him right out of the match.
“Jaco will be hungry to succeed and he will be ably supported by Gary Botha and Rayno Gerber,” he added.
Bands’ net of unrelenting criticism flung wide to include his old foe and Cheetahs captain Ollie le Roux. He said that while he felt Le Roux was a key member of the pack, his conditioning left a lot to be desired and this made him a liability to his side.
“Ollie can’t play for longer than 45 minutes before having to be substituted,” he snapped. “I think that could be their downfall because when he is substituted they lose all that experience. And experience will be crucial in this match.
“I would play Wian du Preez ahead of Ollie. Du Preez offers you more in his all-round game.”
Penalties would decide the match according to Bands, and he highlighted the goal-kicking prowess of flyhalves Derick Hougaard and Willem De Waal as the decisive factors in this regard.
He also said that revenge for last year’s 29-25 defeat would be a strong motivating factor for the Pretoria-based side.
“The final is always a tight match and to make a prediction would seem foolish with two teams so closely matched. But the Bulls will pull through because their desire to win has never been greater after the disappointment of losing last year.”
By Ryan Vrede