Bulls aim for historic Canberra first

Bulls coach Heyneke Meyer calls himself a “realist”, but that doesn’t stop him from dreaming of a rare Canberra victory.

The Bulls, struggling at the lower end of the table with two wins from four starts in the Super 14 competition, face the Brumbies (also two wins in four games and just a couple of places higher on the log) in a Round Five match at the Canberra Stadium on Saturday.

The venue has not been a happy hunting ground for South African teams and only one side from the Republic has ever won there – the Sharks, almost a decade ago, when they beat the Brumbies 41-23 in March 1998.

No other South African team has managed a win in Canberra and the best the Bulls have managed was a two-point (21-19) loss two years ago. They have also suffered some heavy defeats their – in fact their biggest ever defeat was a 73-9 hammering they received from the Brumbies in 1999.

Add to this the fact that the Brumbies have not lost more than one game a year in Canberra since 2002 and it is obvious what the Bulls are up against.

But Meyer feels his team need to do what no other team from Pretoria has done before and win in Canberra to ensure their five-match road trip starts on a positive note.

“It is very important to win, but I am very realistic,” Meyer told this website from the team’s base in Canberra.

“I’ve been in this game for a long time and as we know no South African team has won in Canberra for years.

“I realise how tough it will be and the Brumbies have been very unlucky not to have won all four their games this year. Both their defeats [against the Blues, 17-15 in Round Two and the Hurricanes, 11-10 last week] came in the last minute … against top teams.

“It will take an enormous effort to beat them there, especially in our first game. Remember, we had a long trip and only arrived here [in Canberra] Monday night.

“It will take a huge effort, but we want to win our first game to set up the tour. But I remain very realistic about how tough it will be.”

Meyer said the team has no major injury worries, the first time this year there are no concerns, and the match-day 22 will not differ much from that which scored a 30-27 win over the Chiefs with a last-minute Bryan Habana try.

The coach may make some tactical changes, with a couple of players who were on the bench last week getting a chance to start this week.

By Jan de Koning 365 Digital 

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