Bulls planning carefully for Currie Cup final

“We don’t want to play the final before the final.” That’s how Blue Bulls coach Frans Ludeke explained how he envisaged the first week of his team’s preparation for the Currie Cup final against the Sharks in Durban on October 25.

He was speaking after an impressive Blue Bulls side had wrested the Currie Cup from the Free State Cheetahs grip with a 31-19 win after the Cheetahs had held it for the past three years – once as a share with the Blue Bulls.

“We will work on the little things this week, things we know we can put right. There is no sense starting our final preparations at this stage,” said Ludeke.

Relieved that all his players came out of the semifinal against the Free State Cheetahs on Saturday unscathed, he didn’t want to comment on Cheetahs coach Naka Drotske’s remark that, if the Blue Bulls could put their scrummaging right, they would have a good chance to win the final.

“I thought we scrummed well today,” Ludeke said, probably thinking of the two turnover balls in particular when the Cheetahs were pushed off the ball.

He was echoed by captain Victor Matfield, who conceded hat the scrums would be important in the final against the Sharks who used five Springbok frontrowers against the Lions in Durban, where they beat the visitors 29-14 to book their place in the final. “But so will the line outs,” Matfield smiled – and with good reason.

The Blue Bulls will not easily be beaten in this facet. Ludeke was not too perturbed by the fact that the Bulls seemed to have less urgency just after the break.

“The Cheetahs played well in that period,” he said, adding that the team realised that they would need to put 80 minutes of their best rugby together to win the Currie Cup.

The Bulls’ defence received great praise from Cheetahs backline coach Hawies Fourie. “They regroup very quickly,” he said. “One doesn’t know where or how to attack them.”

Like Sharks coach John Plumtree, Matfield would have preferred the final to be this week.

We’ll work on things this week and round off next week,” Plumtree said after the semifinal win. Like Ludeke he was not too worried by his side’s lapse after the break.

“It wasn’t a bad thing altogether, it forced the guys to defend and will help to keep us on our toes (for the final),” Plumtree said.

Drotske and the losing coach in Durban Eugene Eloff both felt that the home ground advantage could be a great influence – but both declined to pick a winner in the final.

The Sharks were well-balanced and, in the first half against a somewhat shell-shocked Lions side, near brilliant. They ran well, contest well on the ground, scrummed well with five Bok frontrow forwards s on the field and the bench and finished well when they still had to.

In fact, the Lions’ fight-back was much too late and much too little, as the game had been won by the 60th minute. Judging by Saturdays’ Sharks display Ludeke will not be able to focus his planning for the final on a specific facet. His Blue Bulls will have to be better in each of them to clinch this one.

For the Bulls, Wynand Olivier now plays the best rugby of his career; Deon Stegamann – like his Bloemfontein school-mate and Saturday and now adversary Heinrich Brussow – underlined that Springbok coach Peter de Villiers misses the plot if he insists a fetcher is not necessary.

Pierre Spies and Danie Rossouw are back to their best as well. But key to the final, still 11 days away, could be Fourie du Preez.

Sapa –CurrieCupRugby.com

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