Rudolph Jacobs
Rugby Journalist
3 minute read
21 Nov 2020
7:29 am

Bulls want to win ‘the right way’, says White, with Unlocked trophy in sight

Rudolph Jacobs

A big talking point ahead of the game could be the early 2pm kickoff and the possible heat factor, but with cloudy weather and potential rain predicted, it shouldn't be a major issue.

Bulls director of rugby Jake White on the sidelines of their Super Rugby Unlocked game against Griquas last month. Picture: Gallo Images

The champagne corks are ready to be popped at Loftus, in anticipation of the Bulls likely being crowned inaugural winners of the Super Rugby Unlocked trophy on Saturday afternoon.

Though there was much doubt about whether the game would go ahead, after 10 Pumas players were put in isolation prior to their cancelled fixture against the Lions last week, they got the green light to confirm the game was on.

The Bulls would be worthy winners after securing victory in four of their five matches thus far, with big triumphs over the Sharks and Stormers underlining their dominance in the competition.

Following a correction in the official series statistics, the Bulls have also scored 17 tries and conceded seven, the best record in the competition.

For one Bulls player in particular, however, there could be a bit of regret, with star flyhalf Morne Steyn having to sit out of the match due to Covid protocol.

Steyn was in a race to become the competition’s highest point scorer with 62 points – just one behind the Sharks’ Curwin Bosch who is on 63.

In the absence of Steyn, Chris Smith gets his first start against his former team and he will be keen to repay the faith Bulls director of rugby Jake White has shown in him as Steyn’s backup No 10.

Smith will also be keen to make up for that crucial missed conversion in Bloemfontein against the Cheetahs when they could’ve salvaged a draw in what was ultimately a 19-17 loss, their only defeat of the competition.

A big talking point ahead of the game could be the early 2pm kickoff and the possible heat factor, but with cloudy  weather and potential rain predicted, it shouldn’t be a major issue.

The Pumas could be disjointed, however, after the disruptive week they have experienced, which delayed the announcement of their starting team until Friday afternoon.

While nobody can dispute that this is the Bulls’ moment in the sun, White stressed that their performance this weekend was about more than just rocking up and claiming the trophy.

“We as a team want to ensure that if we are to be named champions then we want to do it the right way, with a win against a good Pumas team,” White said.

Pumas coach Jimmy Stonehouse announced seven changes on Friday, and their side features a new front row with hooker HP van Schoor and props Morgan Naude and Ruan Kramer, while on the flank Phumzile Maqondwana and No 8 Willie Engelbrecht start in the loose trio.

The two changes in the backline are at scrumhalf, where Chriswill September replaces Ginter Smuts (who has been included on the bench) and at wing where Luther Obi comes in for the injured Neil Maritz.

The only way the Bulls can be denied the title is if the Pumas win the game by 43 points or more, which of course is highly unlikely.

TEAMS

Bulls: David Kriel, Travis Ismaiel, Stedman Gans, Cornal Hendricks, Kurt-Lee Arendse, Chris Smith, Ivan van Zyl, Duane Vermeulen (capt), Arno Botha, Marco van Staden, Ruan Nortje, Walt Steenkamp, Trevor Nyakane, Corniel Els, Jacques van Rooyen. Bench: Joe van Zyl, Gerhard Steenekamp, Marcel van der Merwe, Sintu Manjezi, Nizaam Carr, Embrose Papier, Clinton Swart, Marco Jansen van Vuren.

Pumas: Devon Williams, Luther Obi, Erich Cronje, Wayne van der Bank, Etienne Taljaard, Theo Boshoff, Chriswill September, Willie Engelbrecht, Phumzile Maqondwana, Francois Kleinhans, Pieter Jansen van Vuren (capt), Darrien Landsburg, Ruan Kramer, HP van Schoor, Morgan Naude. Bench: Marko Janse van Rensburg, IG Prinsloo, Brandon Valentyn, Daniel Maartens, Ginter Smuts, Ali Mgijima, Tapiwa Mafura, Liam Hendricks.

Kickoff: 2pm

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