Ross Roche

By Ross Roche

Senior sports writer


‘Awesome to be in Champs Cup quarters, but we’re in it to win it,’ says Bulls flyhalf

South Africa's only representative in the Champions Cup last-eight take on Northampton Saints in England on Saturday.


The Bulls will be taking plenty of lessons from their heavy United Rugby Championship (URC) loss against Leinster into their Champions Cup quarterfinal against Northampton Saints at Franklin’s Gardens in England on Saturday night.

Two weeks ago the Bulls took on Leinster in Dublin in what was billed as a massive encounter between the top two teams on the URC log, but it turned into a one-sided mauling as the Irish giants produced a scintillating second half performance to clinch a thumping 47-14 win.

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The Bulls managed to bounce back from that disappointment with a 59-19 hammering of Lyon at Loftus last weekend, but they now face another monstrous challenge against the in-form English Premiership log leaders.

Bulls flyhalf Chris Smith believes that the team have taken lessons from that loss in Dublin that they can now use to progress even further in the Champions Cup competition.

Right plan, wrong execution

“I think we had the right plan against Leinster. We just didn’t execute it. They are a world class outfit and had us under pressure which clouded our decision making,” explained Smith.

“We have obviously reviewed that. We had a good hit out against Lyon. Northampton are an unbelievable side, I watched their game against Munster. So it is going to be extremely tough to put one over them (on their own turf), but we are looking forward to the challenge.

“We have taken it a step further from last year, where we lost to Toulouse in the round of 16 in Toulouse. So making the quarterfinals is awesome. But you enter into a competition to win it.

“Playing away is tough. But we are prepping as well as we can and we are looking forward to an awesome occasion.”

Where the Bulls will be more confident than in previous seasons is their improved form away from home, which has seen them pick up some good wins on the road and that will give them confidence going into a difficult match.

“It has been a case of adapting (to travel and conditions). This is our third URC season and second in the Champions Cup,” said Smith.

“As a Bulls squad we have built good depth. We have been in these big games (before), playing away and we have gained and learnt from those experiences. So there is a bit more belief in the camp in being able to win away from home.”