The Vodacom Bulls will be out for revenge when they host Benetton in a Vodacom United Rugby Championship match at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.
The Bulls will not enter uncharted territory against the Italian side – they’re all too familiar with Benetton who were their first European opponents on foreign soil in the 2021 Rainbow Cup final. The Italians ambushed the tourists to claim an emphatic 35-8 win in Treviso.
The Bulls have since learned a number of lessons and developed as a team, making gradual improvements in the URC over the past few months.
With the experience of having measured themselves against a Benetton side boasting a number of international players, and on the back of a 19-17 defeat by the Stormers a fortnight ago, the Bulls have been working hard this week to redeem themselves.
“We know exactly what we need to fix for our match against Benetton after our last match against the Stormers. We will be well prepared for them,” said Bulls breakdown coach Nollis Marais ahead of the game.
“For two years we played local sides, where we saw the same picture every week at the breakdown, attack and all other areas,” said Marais. “Then we played in the Rainbow Cup. It was the first time we played overseas, and that brought us a totally different picture about the breakdown and what we were used to.
“That is when we realised that it didn’t matter what level we thought we were in terms of the breakdown and other aspects, we were a bit behind the European sides. We needed to adapt very quickly.”
Marais believes the Bulls can be satisfied with a recovery that has them knocking on the door for a spot in the playoffs.
“At one stage, we were not that good with ball carries, and we are now one of the top sides, it’s getting better. The breakdown is getting better, and I think that is an area we made a huge step up from the beginning of the URC.”
Benetton have shown their capabilities with some good wins this season, which include the scalps of the Stormers, Edinburgh, Glasgow Warriors and Zebre Parma.
The match will kick off at 2pm on Saturday and be televised on SuperSport.
Photo: Roberto Bregani/Gallo Images