Ross Roche

By Ross Roche

Senior sports writer

Bulls fired up for open play battle against Stormers

The Stormers enjoy playing at a high speed and keeping the ball in play as much as possible.

The Bulls are fired up and ready to engage the Stormers in an open play battle in their crucial United Rugby Championship (URC) encounter at the Cape Town Stadium on Saturday night (kick-off 7pm).

Traditionally the Bulls have been known as a more forward driven side, but over the past few seasons have become a lot more expansive as they have changed up their game.

The Stormers are well known as a team who enjoy playing the game at a high speed and keeping the ball in play as much as possible, and Bulls director of rugby Jake White admitted his side were more than happy to take the hosts on at their own game.

“In these sorts of games, the Stormers don’t kick the ball out, and sometimes keeping the ball in-field from our point of view is also beneficial, as we’ve got guys like Willie (le Roux), Kurt-Lee (Arendse), Canan (Moodie), (Johan) Goosen and Embrose Papier and those guys,” said White.

“Having the ball in open field and broken play is also a strength that we don’t want to go away from. We don’t necessarily want to be kicking the ball out and having to set up structured play, where I think one of the areas we’ve been really good at is playing from unstructured ball as well.”

Stormers dominance

Although the Stormers have dominated the Bulls in the URC so far, winning six straight games against them over the past two seasons, they face a stiff ask to keep that record intact against the in-form Highveld side.

The Stormers have not been in the best of form and sit 10th on the URC log, while the Bulls are third. The hosts, however, will take a lot of confidence out of their impressive Champions Cup win over double defending champs La Rochelle last weekend.

But in a blow to their preparations for this game, the Stormers lost four players in Evan Roos, Herschel Jantjies, Warrick Gelant and Ben Loader, to add to their already long injury list.

Head coach John Dobson was nonetheless unfazed, admitting he was confident in the team they had chosen.

“The one thing we spent last season doing was trying to build our depth, expand the size of our squad and prove that the first year wasn’t a Cinderella thing. To be honest, if this was two years ago, we would be a lot more tense and worried,” explained Dobson.

“We have such faith in the guys coming in and we are, by nature, a resilient team. We fight and you will see that tomorrow (Saturday) because we are not going away. The way the team has handled everything, we are resilient.

“We will fight. That is in the DNA of this team. I actually haven’t lost any sleep over it. We have good plans and good players coming in. That’s because of the work we put in last season and I am very confident in the team we are putting out.”

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