Bulls expect Hurricanes backlash

Bulls coach Heyneke Meyer has not allowed his team too much time to celebrate their historic double at Dunedin’s infamous ‘House of Pain’ at the weekend.

The Bulls’ 22-13 win over the Highlanders at Carisbrook on Saturday ensured the class of 2007 became the first South African side to win three matches on an Australasian tour – a monumental achievement that received just the occasional mention in passing this past weekend.

It was also the Bulls’ first ever win over the Highlanders in New Zealand – both in Dunedin and Invercargill, the Highlanders’ two home basis – and it was only the fourth time ever that a South African side had beaten the Highlanders on their home turf.

The Sharks, in 2006 and 2004, also won matches at Carisbrook, while the Free State beat the Highlanders at Rugby Park in Invercargill in 1997.

However, Meyer wasn’t in a mood to dwell too long on his team’s past achievements.

He is already making sure his team have their feet firmly planted on the ground and preparing for what is expected to be a massive Hurricanes backlash in Wellington this coming weekend – the Bulls’ fifth and final encounter in New Zealand.

Meyer admits that his team will have to do the unthinkable, with a fourth game on tour, if they hope to keep alive their dreams of a place in the play-offs.

And they have to do that against a Hurricanes desperate to end their four-match losing streak – having succumbed to the Stormers, Western Force, Sharks and Lions the past month.

Meyer said he was “very proud” of what his team had already achieved, but that it is vital they start focussing on the next game.

“It is great to have three historic wins [two in Australia and one in New Zealand] on this tour,” Meyer told this website from New Zealand.

The Bulls’ achievement is put into perspective by the fact that a team like the Brumbies have never won in Dunedin in 12 years of Super Rugby.

“We knew it would require a huge effort on this tour. It makes it [the Dunedin victory] special and I’m very proud of the guys.”

But he admits that talk of play-off places now would be premature, especially with the Hurricanes up next.

The Bulls coach pointed out that their loss to the Western Force in Pretoria in the early rounds now mean they need an extra win on the road to make up the lost ground.

“We really didn’t start the campaign well and it is going to be tough to get into the semi-finals,” he said.

“We’ve got a tough game against the Hurricanes coming up. I would have liked to have played them in South Africa now [after their four defeats].

“But our feet are firmly planted on the ground and we know Saturday will be a very tough game.

“If you have the draw we have it is too wild to expect a home semi-final, especially if you don’t win all your home games, beat the other South African teams and take three on the road.”

He felt it would have been much easier to tackle the Hurricanes if his team was at full strength.

“If we had both our first choice centres [Wynand Olivier and JP Nel], [fullback] Johan Roets, [flank] Pierre Spies, [prop] Richard Bands and [hooker] Chilliboy Ralepelle it would have made our job easier.

“One thing I have learnt from this competition is that you must move on from the win as quickly as possible and look ahead to the next game.

“I’ve had too many hidings and if you don’t focus on the next game or look too far ahead you will be in trouble.

“I’m not even thinking about semi-finals yet. It is going to be very tough just to get into the semis.

“All our energy and focus is on Saturday.

“It is going to be a very tough game. They are back home, their All Blacks have now played two games – one warm-up game and a Super 14 [against the Lions].

“They are under pressure [after four straight defeats] and at home they will come with an enormous eff

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