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VIDEO: Bulls ready to storm Bears' bastion

Bristol Bears host the Bulls in a crunch Champions Cup Pool One match at Ashton Gate on Saturday.

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The Bears and Bulls have both won one and lost one in the opening rounds.

Defeat on Saturday for either could be a mortal blow to qualification hopes and a victory would be just as significant a boost to those hopes.

The Bears started with a crucial last-minute (36-34) home win over Lyon in Round One, only for a young line-up to be crushed at Bordeaux-Bègles in Round Two, leaving the English team with five points and in fifth place in the pool – due to points difference.

The Bulls also have five – following their victory over Saracens in South Africa and despite a 28-29 loss at Lyon, they are third on points difference.

It is their first-ever Champions Cup meeting.

Utility back row forward Celimpilo Gumede admitted the 2020 Challenge Cup champions, the Bears, are a formidable side – despite their patchy form in the 2023-24 season.

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They are eighth in the 10-team Premiership with five wins from 11 starts – to go with their one-from-two in Europe.

The weather is not going to be pleasant for the South African tourists either – with the Met Office predicting that the temperatures will drop down to 0°C by kick-off, from a ‘high’ of 4°C.

(WATCH as young Bulls loose forward Celimpilo Gumede speaks about the crucial European Cup Round Three face-off against the Bristol Bears at Ashton Gate…)

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“We know what’s coming,” the 23-year-old told @rugby365com.

“Our game plan won’t change much.

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“It allows us to adapt to that weather and play in those conditions”

“They will be physical and enjoy attacking from inside their half.”

Despite back-to-back losses (to Lyon and the Stormers) before a three-week Christmas break, the Bulls are still in a positive frame of mind and upbeat about their prospects of silverware this season.

“We understand where we are, and we’ve learnt from the games we’ve lost,” Gumede said.

“We are in a good space and we can build momentum from here.”

 

Looking at his own game the loose forward said he can improve his defence, but he enjoys ‘carrying hard’ and having the ball in hand.

Gumede has benefited from working with World Cup-winning Springboks Marco van Staden, while seasoned Bok Marcell Coetzee has also been an influential figure.

“Having so many experienced guys around you teaches you leadership,” he said.

“When the chips are not on your side, how to control yourself.

Gumede said that he prefers operating as a No.8, but is pleased to feature at blindside flank as well.

@king365ed
@rugby365com

 

Champions Cup Pool One standings after two rounds

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