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The insights Saints have on the Bulls

INTERVIEW: The Saints will have some real insights on the Bulls, when the men in Black, Green and Gold tackle the visitors from Pretoria in a Champions Cup quarterfinal at Franklin’s Gardens on Saturday.

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The encounter with the South African outfit comes a week after dismissing Irish province Munster 24-14 in the Round of 16.

The Bulls booked their place in the last eight with a big (59-19) victory over Lyon at Loftus Versfeld.

It is a team Saints Director of Rugby Phil Dowson has first-hand experience of.

“They have a very, very rich history,” the Saints boss said.

“I went to spend a week with [former Bulls coach] John Mitchell when he was there and the game is religion out there,” he said of Pretoria.

“They’re a group who have huge heritage and are keen to establish themselves in that same vein.

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“They’ve produced a tonne of incredible players in the past and they will no doubt continue to do that.

“They’ve got their own style and you can watch three or four games and get the idea [of what they will be like].

Dawson can also draw on a resource within his own ranks for info.

One is former Bulls captain Burger Odendaal, who ended up at the Saints after his previous club, Wasps, closed down last year.

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There is also former Stormers No.8 Juarno Augustus.

“We’ll always look for advice and try to find ways to be better, but the game doesn’t lie so you can watch a few games and see what a good outfit they are,” Dawson said.

“From our own point of view, it’s the same stuff as always – but the threats Bulls bring to the table are a very powerful forward pack, their maul game is incredibly strong, they create loads of opportunities from scrum and maul in terms of penalties and chances to play.”

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Dowson also believes Saints’ journey in the Champions Cup this term shows how far his side have ‘pushed on’ in recent years.

The victory over the Irish province extended Saints’ unbeaten run in the competition this term, after emerging from the pool stages unbeaten – defeating Toulon, Glasgow Warriors, Bayonne and Munster along the way.

“Some of our performances in Europe this season have shown where we have got to, both from a technical point of view with our defence, and from an emotional point of view and a maturity point of view,” said the Director of Rugby.

“I don’t think the game last weekend was a particular tipping point but I think when you are up at Glasgow, who have a very, very good home record, when you go away at Munster, when you play Toulon here, I think that spoke a lot about the group and how much they have pushed on in the past couple of years.”

Saints were roared on by a sold-out Gardens last weekend and the atmosphere was not lost on Dowson, whose side are on a nine-game winning run in front of their own supporters.

“I think the Munster fans played their part in how many came across and how loud they were,” he said.

Source: @SaintsRugby

 

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