Win or bust for Bulls

Blue Bulls flank Jacques du Plessis says Saturday's match against the Golden Lions is a 'must win' encounter. BRENTON CHELIN reports.

The Bulls currently find themselves languishing in sixth spot, seven points off the semi-final places. With just one win to show for their efforts, a narrow victory over the lowly EP Kings, the Bulls Currie Cup campaign is perilously close to coming undone.

This weekend they host the Lions at Loftus Versfeld, a side that brushed them aside on the opening weekend. Du Plessis missed that encounter with a broken jaw, and his return coincided with an improvement in the Bulls' performances.

As the Bulls' chief ball-carrier, he caused log-leaders Western Province endless problems at the weekend and was rewarded with a try for his efforts.

Speaking ahead of the Jukskei derby, Du Plessis told just what's at stake.

'This one is personal. It's a game that we must win. We'll be playing for our pride and for our fans.'

Strong words, but words no less. The Bulls, for all their endeavour, have managed just eight tries in four matches, while their opponents lead the way with 19. The Lions' approach is not too dissimilar to that of Province, a side the Bulls have succumbed to twice already this season. Du Plessis says they learned from those losses and will alter their systems accordingly.

'They like to play from broken play, so we need to shut them down early and keep them from getting any space on the outside.'

Du Plessis highlights the role that Deon Stegmann will play in preventing the Lions from getting quick ball, although, they will be looking to impose themselves and bend it to their will.

'We're going to play to our strengths and keep the game as tight as possible,' said Du Plessis. 'We'll be looking to dominate them at the gainline, tackle them backwards and beat them at the set pieces.'

With so much riding on the outcome of Saturday's match, the pressure continues to build at Loftus.

'There may be some pressure on the coaches, but we're not feeling it [as players]. We'll go out and play our game, we still believe we can turn things around.'

Photo: Carl Fourie/Gallo Images