Blue Bulls looking to up the tempo in Currie Cup

The Blue Bulls are looking at upping the tempo in their penultimate Currie Cup rugby knockout match against the Griquas in Kimberley on Saturday.

After their 47-12 win over the Pumas last Friday, Bulls coach Pine Pienaar said they had not quite succeeded in following the same tactic against the Mpumalanga side.

This time they will be travelling to Kimberley where the Northern Cape heat could have an effect on the way they want to play.

Pienaar was especially concerned about the 17 turnovers conceded against the Pumas, which he said the team could not afford against Griquas on Saturday.

“We had a look at it and especially against a side like Griquas you have to keep the ball. If you give them turnover ball they will punish you with the type of players they have,” Pienaar said.

Both teams are still in with a shout to make it to the play-offs and either team will have to take maximum points out of the match.

Fullback Zane Kirchner’s call-up for national duty has forced Pienaar to make positional changes to the team, with wing Gerhard van den Heever slotting in at fullback.

While Kirchner’s absence is seen as a blow to the Bulls, they received good news with the return of two senior players from injury.

Akona Ndungane returns to the run-on side after missing the last two matches with a rib injury.

The Bulls received another boost with the inclusion of Springbok flanker Deon Stegmann after he recovered from a fractured cheekbone, which kept him out of action for seven weeks.

As a result of his inclusion, Warwick Tecklenburg, who has made an impression in Stegmann’s place, moves to the bench.

Pienaar said, that although Tecklenburg had done well over the last few weeks, it was a no-brainer to give Stegmann a starting berth.

Stegmann is seen as one of the country’s top fetchers and his selection could prove vital in reversing the number of turnovers conceded.

Bulls captain Gary Botha said the return of both Stegmann and Ndungane would give the side an extra edge.

“They are world class players, said Botha.

“Akona is in a class of his own. He is a great finisher, good defender, while Steggies [Stegmann] is a good player on the ground and it certainly is good to have them back.”

In the only other change to the side, Dean Greyling is back in the starting front row after he pulled out of the Pumas match due to a freak accident.

Replacement prop Rossouw de Klerk injured his ankle and will miss this encounter, with Frik Kirsten retaining his place on the bench.

Blue Bulls team:

Gerhard van Heever, Akona Ndungane, Wynand Olivier, Francois Venter, Bjorn Basson, Louis Fouché, Jano Vermaak, CJ Stander, Jacques Potgieter, Deon Stegmann, Juandré Kruger, Flip van der Merwe, Werner Kruger, Gary Botha (captain), Dean Greyling.

Replacements: Willie Wepener, Frik Kirsten, Gerrit-Jan van Velze, Arno Botha, Dustin Jinka, Francois Brummer, Warwick Tecklenburg.

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