Crunch time for Bulls


Coming from a man who led the Bulls to their three Super Rugby titles and a man who knows exactly how to navigate teams to success, Matfield says the Bulls will need to win every game at home and on their tour of New Zealand and Australia if they are to secure themselves a play-off berth.

While the Bulls fifth place standing on the combined Super Rugby log and second place in the South African conference may not seem dire, it is the small margin in points between themselves and the chasing pack that must be of concern to Matfield.

There is only a three point gap between the Bulls and the eighth placed Lions meaning that a second loss for the Bulls against their provincial rivals will see them swap places on the log and the Bulls may even run the risk of finishing the weekend in ninth spot if the Crusaders manage to beat the Hurricanes with a bonus point.

Making the Bulls task of making the play-offs even tougher is that they face a Lions team that dramatically beat them 22-18 in the dying moments of their encounter in Johannesburg three weeks ago while their tour abroad is also riddled with banana peels of fixtures starting and finishing with matches against bottom-of-the-log teams the Blues and Rebels, respectively. Matfield, who is set to lead the Bulls against the Lions with regular captain Pierre Spies likely to start from the bench, sees danger in all of the Bulls’ remaining fixtures including their last game of the round robin stages against the Cheetahs at Loftus.

“Every game going forward for us will be a do-or-die. In this competition it doesn’t matter where you lie on the log, if you win you shoot up the standings and if you lose then you drop drastically. Every team has a goal to achieve and by the week the games get tougher and tougher,” Matfield said. Before getting carried away with what may lie ahead for the Bulls, Matfield is extremely cautious about the threat the Lions will pose on Saturday especially with Johan Ackermann’s men seeking a place in the play-offs and on a six match winning streak.

Just a few weeks ago Bulls coach Frans Ludeke had referred to the past three weeks and this week coming as a make-or-break period for the Bulls and even though they lost two games to the Lions and Stormers, Matfield believes that the team is still on track in making good of a season that started off badly.

“We knew it was going to be tough and a pity we couldn’t win two out of the three games so far. I think the game against the Lions we should have won and we had the opportunity against the Stormers as well,” added Matfield. - The Star

Original source: Crunch time for Bulls