Bulls captain relishing Newlands showdown
Vodacom Bulls captain Dewald Potgieter is relishing the opportunity to take on the DHL Stormers at Newlands this weekend.
It will be a true test of character for his side as they complete their Vodacom Super Rugby league fixtures.
The Bulls have already sewn up the conference trophy and will play in one of the playoffs as conference winners in the next few weeks. The real test for the team though is to ensure they keep their spot at the top of the log, thereby securing a home semifinal and, if they go that far, a home final at their Loftus Versfeld fortress.
Potgieter admitted his side did use some luck last week to beat the Sharks, but are actually relishing a tough battle against the Stormers to help them hone their game plan ahead of some tough playoff rounds ahead.
“We spoke last week about being in the position where your destiny is in your own hands. We have got this right, so this is very much a second version of what we faced last week. We know we have to end up on the right side of the result. We also need to make sure our processes are better – there are things that haven’t worked well for us for the past two weeks. We want to improve on that and this weekend is another opportunity to ensure we do that,” Potgieter said.
“For a team to be successful in this phase of the competition, we need to have our traditional strengths all working for us. We have one or two little details we can do better in our tight phases, and then as we said discipline is important. Last week it could have cost us, but we have an opportunity this weekend to make sure we are on the right side of the scoreline, and that we manage the situations a lot better. It will be a big focus for us to ensure we’re still in the right place, and that we don’t have to change a lot as far as game plan is concerned.
“We’re expecting the same onslaught, but it is good for us. There are parts of our game plan that we need to work on so coming up against tough opposition two weeks in a row is a good thing.”
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Potgieter underlined the fact that the Bulls need to finish top. If they don't win, they could technically finish third, which will mean they have to play a virtual quarterfinal and then a possible semi away from home. It is that factor, and the reward of a week off next week, that is on their minds as much as anything else.
“That is also one of the big reasons why we will be chasing the result. The week off will definitely help considering the long season we have had, with the little niggling injuries. It is a very nice reward, but it is only one you will get if you go out and win this weekend. This is why we’re keeping our focus and if we manage to do what we plan, hopefully we will reap the rewards for that,” he added.
While the Bulls were heavily penalised at the breakdown by referee Jason Japhta last week, Potgieter denied his team were bullied by the Sharks at the breakdown, and while he didn’t say it, a second look at the tape seems to have found several situations where the Bulls felt they were hard done by.
“I don’t think we were dominated. The struggles we had at the breakdown may have looked like we were dominated, but it certainly wasn’t that way. It may have seemed so because we were lucky to get away with the win, yet in hindsight there were many good things we did. The Sharks missed a lot of opportunities, but we also missed a couple of scoring opportunities.”
For that reason discipline this weekend is a must for the Bulls. If they fall victim of the referee again, they will struggle to win away from home.
“Beating the Stormers there – you need discipline. It is of utmost importance. If we give them the amount of penalties we gave the Sharks last weekend we will definitely be punished more this weekend. It is something we have addressed and looked at. We can’t allow our own indiscipline to ruin our game for us.
“Also territory is very important when you play down there so we will rely heavily on Morne (Steyn) and Jano (Vermaak) to control the game as they have done for us all season. So hopefully nothing new, just executing our game plan a lot better.”