Ken Borland
Sports Journalist
2 minute read
8 Jun 2022
1:09 pm

Tough crag for Bulls to scale as Leinster have hallmark of champs

Ken Borland

"Playoffs are 50/50 games and we see it as an opportunity for a place in the final."

Marcell Coetzee scoring a try against the Sharks in last weekend's quarterfinal. Picture: Anton Geyser/Gallo Images

Leinster have all the hallmarks of a champion team and Bulls captain Marcell Coetzee knows that overcoming them at the RDS Arena on Friday night is going to require the same strength, stamina, skill and commitment it takes to scale the crags of Howth Head in nearby Dublin Bay.

But the Bulls are embracing the challenge of their United Rugby Championship semi-final and the strenuous, sustained effort that will be required to upset the favourites.

“Leinster are a proven championship team, history over the years shows that,” Coetzee said from Dublin on Tuesday. “But we’ve been playing playoff rugby for a while now, we’ve been in that mindset.

“We are really eager, we will embrace the challenge and keep doing what we’ve been doing. From that first game against Leinster, we’ve seen boys become men and we will see how far we have come on Friday.

“Playoffs are 50/50 games and we see it as an opportunity for a place in the final. It will be an interesting test for us. Leinster play at a very high tempo, like an international team.

“So if we don’t sustain our effort, then we’ll start slipping tackles. We can’t allow them to get pace on the ball with playmakers like Jonny Sexton and Garry Ringrose around,” Coetzee said.

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The former Ulster star said Leinster have quality all around the park, meaning the Bulls will have to produce their best, most-controlled 80+-minute performance to have a chance.

“Leinster are the sort of side you measure yourself against as a team and as individuals because they have great players all around the park,” Coetzee said.

“They play at incredible tempo and if we let them settle early, play their expansive rugby with guys running on to the ball, then we’ll be under pressure.

“One of the pillars of success in knockout games is your set-piece, it gets you into the right areas and can help you get control of the game. We need to sustain our game-plan when the pressure is on.

“And there can be no soft moments because Leinster will capitalise. We have to cut those out because it puts unnecessary pressure on ourselves. And we can’t give away unnecessary access penalties,” Coetzee said.