Brendan Nel – SuperSport.com
Pretoria – The Vodacom Bulls are wary of another “sucker punch” when they head to Newlands to face the DHL Stormers in their opening Vodacom Super Rugby clash this weekend.
In what has become a trend in the past few years, the Bulls dominate possession and territory for large periods of time, but struggle to overcome the Cape side’s defensive system, and eventually fall to breakaway tries scored near the end of the game.
This is the scenario that played out between the two provincial versions of these teams in the Absa Currie Cup last year and in Super Rugby a number of times before that.
And this time the Bulls feel they have worked on countering this and ensuring that if they are in a position to finish their opposition off, they take it and don’t allow a back door for the Stormers to come back in.
Grant Hattingh, who returned in the off-season after another stint in Japan and currently looks more like a mountain cave man than a rugby player with a hefty beard, believes the team won’t be the victim of another sucker punch this time around.
“It’s definitely happened in the last few years and we’re hoping to change it obviously,” Hattingh told supersport.com
“I think we’ve planned around that and if we stick to what we do best, we will be all right.”
The Bulls aren’t big on predictions this year, and know they will go into the game as firm underdogs, especially with the Stormers boasting a number of settled combinations.
But the hard work they have put in, coupled with the young talent they have at the moment means they believe they can surprise a bit.
And they’re hoping it happens in this game.
“We don’t really want to talk too much, we want to let our actions speak,” Hattingh explained.
“Everyone here has worked really, really hard and we’re hoping it does pay off. We’ve done the hard yards and everyone has had a long pre-season. We need to stick to what we have done best, and things will work out.
“Our squad is a lot younger, but it is exciting. A bunch of these backs especially are really exciting to watch. I think everyone should look forward to a good season with them.
“The first one is always tough, no matter who you play and it is always tough in Cape Town. But I have the confidence that we’ve put things in place and we’re confident in our game plan so we know things will work out.”
The Bulls are set to name their team Wednesday but received a boost with the return to fitness of flanker Roelof Smit and hooker Bandise Maku, who rejoined their teammates in training this week.
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