Ross Roche

By Ross Roche

Senior sports writer

Bulls target top spot on URC log against high-flying Leinster

"Leinster are one of the best teams in the competition and in Europe, so it's not going to be easy."

The Bulls will be aiming to do the impossible once again when they front up against Leinster in their United Rugby Championship (URC) clash at the RDS Arena in Dublin on Friday night (kick-off 9.35pm).

In their first season in the URC the Bulls faced the monumental task of taking on Leinster on their home turf in the competition semifinal and walked away with a stunning 27-26 upset, to eventually finish as tournament runners-up.

It was a brilliant performance from the Bulls and one they will be looking to repeat, especially with the Pretoria-based side currently lying second on the log, four points off Leinster and knowing a bonus point win could see them move to the top.

“It is obviously not an easy task but we have done it before. Two seasons ago in the semifinal we were also the underdogs, and we showed that it’s not impossible. So we believe we have a good chance,” said Bulls hooker Johan Grobbelaar.

“Our preparations have gone quite well this week and we are definitely up for the challenge. Leinster are one of the best teams in the competition and in Europe, so it’s not going to be easy, but I am looking forward to it.”

SA v Ireland rivalry

It is also a bit of a teaser ahead of the massive incoming tour in July when the world champion Springboks will host Six Nations champions Ireland, and Grobbelaar believes that rivalry is kicking off in the URC when the SA teams take on the Irish sides.

Leinster are set to welcome most of their Irish internationals back for the game after they were given a rest last weekend, having just finished a tough Six Nations campaign, so they will be back to full strength and favourites.

“There is a big rivalry coming in June when Ireland comes to South Africa, so with that in mind I think it starts here in the URC, with the South African teams playing against the Irish teams,” said Grobbelaar.

“But it’s a great feeling coming back here to Dublin. We are staying in the same hotel, playing on the same field and at that time (URC semifinal) we basically did the impossible.

“We know we can do it again. It’s lekker to be the underdogs. Everyone is expecting Leinster to win and we can only surprise them.”

Improvement needed

The Bulls will, however, need to show an improved performance from what they produced against the Dragons in Newport last week if they want to challenge the hosts.

In that match the Bulls struggled in the first half, taking a slender 10-3 lead into the half-time break, before improving in the second half and clinching a late try after the full-time whistle to secure a bonus-point and 31-10 win.

“In that first half against the Dragons there was a lot of pressure on the breakdowns which made things a bit difficult for us in terms of playing some attacking rugby,” said Grobbelaar.

“So we are definitely putting some emphasis on the breakdown and how we can speed up our ball when we want to attack. Especially because I think Leinster will an even bigger threat and nuisance at the breakdown.”

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