Bulls line-out can stop dangerous Sharks attack
JAKE White actually said he “felt a bit” for the Stormers in the line-out battle at Cape Town Stadium at the weekend, as the hosts had lost main jumper Marvin Orie to an injury in the first half.
That was on top of starting the match without injured first-choice locks Salmaan Moerat and JD Schickerling, while veteran Chris van Zyl decided to retire recently.
That left Orie and talented youngster David Meihuizen to front up to the highly pedigreed Bulls line-out, comprising of No 5 Ruan Nortje and second-row partner Walt Steenkamp, who is also essentially a No 5.
Blindside flank Elrigh Louw and captain Duane Vermeulen are also renowned jumpers at the back, despite the presence of Pieter-steph du Toit for the Stormers.
The Bulls capitalised by either pinching a number of Stormers throw-ins, or making it difficult for them to secure the ball in the setpiece.
Just to finish things off in style, Nortje tapped the final Stormers attacking line-out to the Bulls’ side to secure the 20-16 victory for the Pretoria outfit, and he could easily have been the Man of the Match.
White said that his team were “going to target” the Stormers lineout, and such a strategy could be the blueprint for Saturday’s showdown against the table-topping Sharks at
Loftus Versfeld (6.15pm kick-off) as well.
The Durbanites are missing regular hookers Dylan Richardson and Schalk Erasmus due to injury, which has seen Fez Mbatha don the No 2 jersey.
Kerron van Vuuren is no slouch as a reserve either.
But specialist line-out jumper Hyron Andrews has not featured over the last two weeks, which has seen new signing Reniel Hugo take over at No 5 as Ruben van Heerden’s second-row partner.
The Sharks, though, cannot match the Bulls’ height at the back of the line-out, with Siya Kolisi, Henco Venter and Sikhumbuzo Notshe their loose trio.
White added that the Bulls had
“played a bit differently to how we have been playing in the past, because we felt that was one way in which we could sort of suffocate the Stormers’ attack”, and that could work against the Sharks too.
Sharks coach Sean Everitt will look to unleash his dangerous backline on Saturday, when Aphelele Fassi, Sbu Nkosi and Lukhanyo Am will want to run at the Bulls in Pretoria.
But they won’t be able to do so if they don’t have the ball…
For that plan to work, though, the Bulls can’t afford to be as illdisciplined as they were at Cape Town Stadium, where White expressed his frustration with his team, saying they “just gave away too many penalties”.