The Bulls will be looking at bouncing back from last week with a polished performance that should steer them back on to the path of making the play-offs.
It will be critical that the Bulls end their three match Tour of Australia with a win and build up enough momentum ahead of two derbies at home against the Stormers and Lions which will go a long way in determining which South African teams qualify for the knock-out stages.
However, before entertaining any thoughts of the play-offs the Bulls will need to heed the lessons from last week as they play against a Waratahs team that is similar in nature to the Brumbies.
What the Bulls would have left Canberra with are the consequences of not being at your best in Super Rugby but a valuable lesson in how important it is not to stray away from your gameplan.
By their own admission, the men from Pretoria were far from their best and in the face of quality opposition they capitulated under pressure.
It was in the set-piece where the Bulls surrendered any control of the game and they further played into the hands of the Brumbies by being outplayed and outmuscled at the breakdown where they conceded more possession.
Marais has urged his team to react differently on Saturday against a Waratahs team that will want to replicate what the Brumbies did in order to claim the prized scalp of the Bulls.
“I think the Brumbies were quite good in the game and put us under a lot of pressure in the set-pieces and I expect the same thing from the Waratahs. But we’ve learnt a lot from last week and we’ve put a few things in place to make sure we can handle it better this week,” Marais said from Sydney.
Amongst the things Marais has put in place is the change in personnel starting with the return of try-scoring machine Jamba Ulengo on the wing, while the tried and tested halfback combination of flyhalf Tian Schoeman and Springbok scrumhalf Rudy Paige will be entrusted with giving the team direction.
Marais has also made further changes in the pack with Jannes Kirsten returning to the starting line-up after being benched last week while the formidable second row combination of RG Snyman and Jason Jenkins has been reunited after Jenkins’ injury.
Springbok prop Trevor Nyakane has been demoted to the bench in favour of the spirited Lizo Gqoboka. Nyakane along with Roelof Smit, Piet van Zyl and Dries Swanepoel have been shouldered with the responsibility of making an impact in the latter stages of the game.
Marais has made no secret of the fact that he wants his team to continue playing an expansive brand of rugby and that will nullify the strength the Waratahs have in the set-piece and force them into playing into the Bulls hands.
“We’ve looked at how they’ve played the whole season and know where to target them. If we are going to make it a first phase battle then we are going to have problems so if we can play more like we want to play, it will be a much better game.”
Bulls STARTING XV: SP Marais, Jamba Ulengo, Jesse Kriel, Jan Serfontein, Bjorn Basson, Tian Schoeman, Rudy Paige, Hanro Liebenberg, Jannes Kirsten, Lappies Labuschagne, RG Snyman, Jason Jenkins, Marcel van der Merwe, Adriaan Strauss, Lizo Gqoboka; Replacements: Jaco Visagie, Trevor Nyakane, Pierre Schoeman, Marvin Orie, Roelof Smit, Piet van Zyl, Francois Brummer, Dries Swanepoel - The Star
Original source: Bulls looking to stretch Waratahs