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By Athenkosi Tsotsi

Sports Reporter

‘It’s not going to be easy’: Bulls preparing for intensity of knockout games

"The next month is not going to be different to what we experienced (against Leinster) in terms of intensity, accuracy and pressure."

Bulls director of rugby Jake White is focussed on drilling his players on how to handle the intensity and pressure that comes with playing in the knockout stages of the Champions Cup.

As European rugby takes centre stage this weekend and next weekend, the stakes will be high, and the Bulls host French Top14 side Lyon on Saturday at Loftus Versfeld in the last 16 of the Champions Cup.

The Bulls are looking to do better than last season’s finish in the Champions Cup, where they bowed out in the round of 16. They’re now targeting a quarterfinal or semi-final spot in Europe’s premier competition.

The Pretoria side are going into their tie against Lyon on the back of a 47-14 drubbing by Irish province Leinster in the United Rugby Championship.

Leinster taught the Bulls a rugby lesson in Dublin and the visitors couldn’t keep up with all the home team’s internationals. However, White feels the lessons they got from the heavy defeat will equip them for what’s to come in the Champions Cup.

‘A good lesson’

“We will be better, I have no doubt,” White said.

“It’s probably a good lesson for us to play Leinster before we play Lyon in a knockout game because the next week if we get through we play the winner of Northampton and Munster. That’s not going to be easy either and the following week we play Munster in the URC.

“So, the next month is not going to be different to what we experienced (against Leinster) in terms of intensity, accuracy, and pressure. Those are the lessons we are going to have to put into our planning and hopefully into our preparations to get them to understand they have to be able to handle those situations against these good teams.”

In the group stages, the Bulls finished in second place in pool one, and it was enough to get them a home draw for the last 16. White is hoping that playing in front of their fans will help them get past Lyon.

“Everyone appreciates when you play at home. It has definite value,” White said.

“That’s why everyone tries so hard to make sure they finish top of the log in all competitions because to play at home, playing in front of your home crowd, sleeping in your own bed is also a big bonus.”

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