Bulls beef up to ten­derise Sharks’ meaty de­fence

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT - VATA NGOB­ENI

THE SHARKS may be up to their an­tics of be­ing in­con­sis­tent so far in this year’s Cur­rie Cup com­pe­ti­tion but the Blue Bulls won’t be tak­ing them lightly ahead of their clash at Lof­tus Vers­feld to­mor­row.

There is no doubt that the hosts, with their un­blem­ished record af­ter their 54-22 thrash­ing of the Golden Li­ons on Sat­ur­day, will go into the clash as favourites to win, They also be­gan the sea­son with a high scor­ing vic­tory against Gri­quas in Kim­ber­ley.

How­ever, Blue Bulls coach Nol­lis Marais is some­what con­cerned at how good the Sharks de­fence has been of late, with the Dur­ban­ites only con­ced­ing a measly three points in their games against Gri­quas and the Pu­mas.

“I think they have good qual­ity play­ers ei­ther way. They have a good bal­ance be­tween youth and se­nior play­ers. If you look (at) how they played against the Pu­mas, they are a re­ally good side. If you aren’t go­ing to keep them out they will score 40 points against you and they don’t leak tries. They have only leaked three points in the last two games, which shows you that they are a good de­fen­sive side. I don’t think not hav­ing their Spring­boks will dis­rupt them too much, it is the same for us and ev­ery­one else,” said Marais yes­ter­day.

And Marais has brought in the cavalry to help break down the Sharks de­fence with beefy Spring­bok wing Jamba Ulengo re­turn­ing af­ter a long in­jury lay-off, while Ju­nior Spring­bok Manie Lib­bok will start at full­back and ex­cit­ing scrumhalf An­dre Warner will also get a start.

As im­por­tant as it will be for the Bulls to put the points on the score­board, Marais says it will be just as crit­i­cal to make sure that their de­fence is up to scratch against a side that has shown that they en­joy run­ning with ball in hand as well as play­ing with­out it.

The Bulls have al­ready leaked an un­nec­es­sary 67 points.

“I’m happy, I think we are play­ing good rugby at the mo­ment.

“We man­aged to score eight tries against the Li­ons and six against Gri­quas but we must get the bal­ance right be­tween a good at­tack and a good de­fence. We are still giv­ing away way too many points.

“But the way we play is very quick which sees us score a lot of points and is work­ing for us at the mo­ment but we need to find that bal­ance and get it right,” Marais said.

Blue Bulls: Manie Lib­bok, Travis Is­maiel, Franco Naude, Burger Oden­daal, Jamba Ulengo, Tony Jan­tjies, An­dre Warner, Nic de Jager, Jannes Kirsten, Boom Prinsloo (cap­tain), Ruben van Heer­den, Irne Herbst, John-Roy Jenk­in­son, Jan-Hen­ning Cam­pher, Pierre Schoe­man; RE­PLACE­MENTS: Jaco Vis­agie, Matthys Bas­son, Abongile Nonkot­wana, Shaun Aden­dorff, Ivan van Zyl, Dries Swanepoel, JT Jack­son

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