Wed 11 May 2022 | 11:10

Why the Bulls are wary of 'limp' Lions

Why the Bulls are wary of 'limp' Lions
Wed 11 May 2022 | 11:10
Why the Bulls are wary of 'limp' Lions
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INTERVIEW: The winless Lions may not rank as serious Currie Cup opposition, but the Bulls are determined to avoid the obvious pitfall of complacency.

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Young lock Janko Swanepoel, speaking to the media in a midweek briefing, said the table-topping Bulls are determined to deliver a performance befitting of their defending champion status.

He made it clear you can not take the Lions for granted, despite their record nine-match losing streak – the longest in the storied history of the Johannesburg-based outfit.

“Just look against the Cheetahs last week, they almost caused an upset,” he said of a Lions team that held a lead till 15 minutes from full-time – being 13-0 up at the end of the first quarter and still looking good with a 23-14 lead at the 50-minute mark.

“It was just their discipline that let them down in the final quarter,” he said of the Lions that eventually lost 26-35 to the unbeaten Cheetahs.

He added that Trans-Jukskei derbies are “always tough” and the Bulls must be prepared for a real test.

With the Cheetahs breathing down their neck in the race for the top spot in the Currie Cup competition, the Bulls are determined not to let any points slip out of their grasp.

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“Every game in the Currie Cup is important to ensure we keep first place,” Swanepoel said.

With just three matches remaining – against the Lions in Pretoria this week, the Pumas at Loftus in Round 12, a bye in Round 13 and the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein in Round 14 – every outing is a crunch game.

After Round 10, the Bulls lead the standings one point ahead of the unbeaten Cheetahs.

The men from Pretoria are on 37 points and the Free Staters on 36, but the defending champions have played one more game.

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The two teams at the top are followed by the Sharks in third (24 points after nine games), fourth-placed Griquas (21 points after nine games), the Pumas (19 points after eight games), Western Province (nine points after eight games) and the Lions (three points after nine games).

However, there is also the United Rugby Championship trip to Swansea for an encounter with Ospreys on May 20.

“After the Lions game [this coming Saturday], we will start to focus on the Ospreys,” the lock said.

“Jake [White] and coach Gert [Smal] manage the players very well,” Swanepoel said.

“The young players are being groomed very well by mixing the teams.

“It allows the youngsters to put up their hands in the Currie Cup to show they can play URC as well.”

Having missed last week’s win over Griquas as a result of concussion protocols, he is fit and ready for the Round 11 Currie Cup visit by the Lions to Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.

Having benched regularly for the URC team and starting for the Currie Cup side, the 22-year-old second row forward said he will grab every opportunity to play – be that as a No.4 or No.5 lock.

With discipline having been a problem against Griquas – resulting in Director of Rugby Jake White giving the team the ‘hairdryer treatment’ – the Bulls’ goal this week is to “maintain the standards” for the entire 80 minutes.

Being behind the URC pair of Ruan Nortj√© and Walt Steenkamp in the Bulls’ second row pecking order, Swanepoel is patiently waiting for his ‘big break’.

“They are both in great form,” he said of Nortj√© and Steenkamp.

“It is healthy competition and I am happy with where I find myself in the Bulls set-up and being part of the playing squad at the weekend.

“I have to deliver my best every week and if the opportunity arrives, I will have to grab it with both hands.”

@rugby365com

Why the Bulls are wary of 'limp' Lions

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