In the first game of the season, the Bulls succumbed to a far superior Stormers outfit at Loftus Versfeld but Bulls coach Frans Ludeke and captain Pierre Spies sang off the same hymn book yesterday stating that the Bulls were a far better outfit now and it was their mission to get a full house of points tomorrow.
And the Bulls have certainly improved and become a better team since those dark days at the beginning of the season but it will be the scalp of the Stormers in their own backyard that will confirm their title credentials not only for the South African Conference but also for the overall title.
The Stormers have somewhat cooled down from their early season blitzkrieg but have been able to keep within touching distance of the competition frontrunners and that was largely due to their two successive wins on tour which saw them claim the prized scalp of the defending champions the Waratahs in Sydney two weeks ago.
However, of the two teams it is the Bulls that have looked slightly better and they will be buoyed by their rich vein of form which has seen them win three out of their last four matches with the win against the Sharks last weekend a major confidence booster ahead of another highly anticipated South African derby.
“I think it is more about what happened with us. We are a different side from then and we definitely have an all round game and that is what we are going to need to be successful away from home. They (the Stormers) also came together on their tour. They had two tough games in New Zealand but they pulled together and won their last two games,” Ludeke said at yesterday’s team announcement at Loftus.
Spies concurred with his coach on the strides his team has made since that disastrous day in the capital and is hopeful that the Bulls will be able to inflict the same misery on the Stormers.
“It is going to be another tough South African derby. It’s an important game for both teams and the table is set for something special. Obviously they came to Loftus and won so hopefully we can do the same by going down to Newlands and getting the points there,” said Spies.
For such a big occasion Ludeke has wasted no time in recalling his big guns and so Springbok centre Jan Serfontein returns at inside centre in place of the injured Burger Odendaal while Springbok Piet van Zyl is elevated into the starting line-up in place of the injured Rudy Paige.
Ludeke has also gone as far as naming a potent bench that includes three Springboks and sees the return of veteran wing Akona Ndungane for his first appearance this year in the Bulls’ Super Rugby match day team. With minimal change in the starting team that beat the Sharks in Durban, Ludeke is confident that consistency in team selection will go a long way in keeping the momentum the Bulls gained with their win at King’s Park last weekend.
“It builds confidence and understanding especially in the scrums and line-outs where you want to provide that platform so you form that unity and that players are in sync with each other,” said Ludeke. - The Star
Original source: Bulls ready to storm Newlands