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By Athenkosi Tsotsi

Sports Reporter

Jannes Kirsten spells out what Bulls must do to beat Leinster

'It’s going to start with us; the good thing is it’s in our hands. We have to just stick in there.'

If there’s anyone at the Bulls who knows how to win championship playoff games, it would be Jannes Kirsten.

And he has an idea of what they need to do to defeat Leinster on Saturday in their United Rugby Championship semi-final at Loftus Versfeld (kick-off 4 pm).

Kirsten, who is back at the Bulls for a second spell, was part of the English side Exeter Chiefs’ core that won the English Premiership and Champions Cup double in 2020.

The Bulls’ director of rugby, Jake White, has previously highlighted the experience a player like Kirsten brings in knockout rugby.

This past weekend, in the 30-23 win over Benetton in the URC quarter-final, Kirsten made a telling contribution off the bench.

‘We have the home advantage’

On Saturday, the Bulls will be up against it as they take on a Leinster side that’s full of Irish internationals. As daunting as the task of taking on Leinster may be, Kirsten has ideas about how they can approach the game.

“This is what we live for, it’s a semi-final, and at least we have the home advantage,” Kirsten said.

“I think the big focus for us will be to concentrate on our own processes. Obviously, Leinster have a lot of international players; they are going to bring a lot of set-piece pressure, and they can keep the ball through multiple phases, but in essence, it’s going to be in our hands — how hard we are willing to work.

“It’s going to start with us; the good thing is it’s in our hands. We have to just stick in there and try to blast them away,” he said.

‘Bench must find balance’

The 30-year-old, who can cover lock and loose forward, emphasised the importance of the substitutes understanding the game feel when they come on and controlling the match in the last 20 minutes.

“It’s something we are focusing on, to get together and get that focus right for the last 20 minutes of the game,” he said.

“It’s something we’ve spoken about; in the last couple of games, we had a decent lead at some stages, and towards the last 20 minutes of the game, we leaked points.

“It is a focal point for us — coming from the bench, all you can do is try and make an impact, and sometimes it’s a difficult thing. It’s about finding that balance,” Kirsten said.

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