Blue Bulls down in the Currie Cup but not out yet

Blue Bulls coach Pine Pienaar believes his team has not yet reached the point of no return in this year’s Currie Cup and they could still salvage their season.

“It is not nice lying last on the log and it is not acceptable for us, but we are six points behind the third and fourth side currently,” Pienaar said.

The team finds themselves in an unusual position at the bottom of the log with four weeks left before the playoffs.

So far this season they could only manage two victories out of their six matches, but Pienaar believed they were just one victory away from turning the ship around.

The team will get that opportunity this weekend when they host the Free State Cheetahs, who are in an equally desperate position — second to last on the log.

“So we know this weekend is an important one for us, it is the same for the Cheetahs, they are in the same boat as us,” he said.

“We are one win away from getting that momentum back, but we know it is going to be a tough battle against the Cheetahs and we have to be spot-on over the weekend.

“We had soft moments in the last few games and against Griquas it was the first time we scored more than four tries.”

The Bulls fell victim to Griquas in Kimberley last weekend in a match that saw a total of 83 points being scored between the two sides.

Pienaar said his charges’ never-say-die attitude demonstrated that they had not raised the white flag.

“The guys fought back — at one stage we were 26-0 down and fought back to 29-22 with 30 minutes left in the game,” Pienaar said.

“The commitment the guys showed there definitely shows their urgency to do well in the Currie Cup.”

Pienaar made wholesale changes to his side on Wednesday and will be buoyed by the return of scrumhalf Jano Vermaak and flanker Jacques Potgieter from the Springbok squad.

Vermaak replaces Rudy Paige, who moves out of the match 22 altogether, while Potgieter will form part of a new loose trio combination that also includes Arno Botha, who returns from injury.

Potgieter replaces CJ Stander, who moves to the bench while Botha comes in for Warwick Tecklenburg.

The Bulls mentor made two more injury-forced changes to his forward pack, with lock Franco Mostert taking the place of Grant Hattingh and Morne Mellet moving into the starting XV for Dawie Steyn.

Pienaar further tinkered with his backline by shifting JJ Engelbrecht to outside centre in the place of Ulrich Beyers.

Engelbrecht’s vacant position on the wing is filled by Sampie Mastriet.

Blue Bulls

Jurgen Visser, Akona Ndungane, JJ Engelbrecht, Francois Venter, Sampie Mastriet, Louis Fouche, Jano Vermaak, Arno Botha, Jacques Potgieter, Dewald Potgieter (captain), Franco Mostert, Wilhelm Steenkamp, Werner Kruger, Willie Wepener, Morne Mellett.

Replacements: Bongi Mbonambi, Frik Kirsten, Cornell Hess, CJ Stander, Ruan Snyman, Lionel Cronje, Ulrich Beyers.

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