Watson wary of Bulls backlash

EP Kings captain Luke Watson says he expects a hostile reception from the Blue Bulls fans at Loftus on Saturday. BRENTON CHELIN reports.

Two matches, two comprehensive defeats. The Kings and the Bulls share almost identical records following a pair of below-par performances in their opening matches.

Barring incredible circumstances, one team will claim their first win of the season in Pretoria this weekend, while the losers will remain rooted to the foot of the table.

Watson returns to the starting lineup for the match at Loftus, having missed the defeat to the Lions with flu. Speaking to SARugbymag.co.za, he said that the Bulls remain a formidable opposition, regardless of their position on the log.

'We're both under pressure to pick up a win,' admitted Watson. 'The Bulls may have had a tough start to the season, but they are still a good side on paper. They've got a number of players with Super Rugby experience and some talented youngsters.

'Their pride is hurting at the moment. They're going to be physical and confrontational, and we expect to receive a hostile reception at Loftus. Credit to their fans, they make it a tough place to visit and an even tougher place to win.'

The match is their second in succession on the highveld, following the 60-19 hammering at Ellis Park last weekend. Watson believes that they paid for their inexperience against the Lions, and has welcomed the return of Steven Sykes and Darron Nell to the fold this week.

'There were a handful of things there. We had a bad day and they had a really good day. It all added up to a proper hiding.

'But I think this group of players has shown great attitude this week. It always helps having senior players around and they'll have an important role to play on Saturday.'

Under new coach Carlos Spencer, the Kings have tried to implement a more expansive game plan with limited success. Following two resounding defeats, there might be an urge to tighten things up with a more tactical approach. However, Watson disagrees.

'We're not panicking. It's been a big step-up for a number of our players and we know we need to cut out the errors and execute with more accuracy.

'We believe in the way that we want to play the game and it would be foolish to try change that after two defeats. There's still plenty of rugby to be played.'

Photo: Michael Sheehan/Gallo Images