Bulls looking forward to a ‘home’ Final

The Sharks may be hoping to lean on the support of 50,000-odd black-and-white-clad supporters when they face the Bulls in the first ever all-South African Super rugby Final in Durban on Saturday, but the Bulls don’t see it as an away game.

Bulls coach Heyneke Meyer has dismissed the notion that playing in Durban will be a major disadvantage to his team, or the fact that the Sharks beat them (17-3) at the same venue in Week One of this year’s round robin stages will count in the home side’s favour.

“For sure, it will be a huge game,” Meyer said of the fact that the Bulls will return to Durban.

“We are really looking forward to it and we are very excited about it.

“However, we are just happy that the Final is in South Africa and we are proud to be South Africans – we are proud that a South African team will win it this year, for the first time.”

Despite the suggestion that the odds may be stacked against his team – with the Sharks banking on their black-and-white masses to carry them much like the blue, flag-waving supporters in Pretoria do with the Bulls – Meyer said his team simply does not see it as an away game.

“We have been working on this [to reach the Final] for a very long time and I’m very, very excited.

“Also, we have a great away record against SA teams in recent years – we don’t see it as an away game.

“Whatever we need to do to win we’ll do. The Sharks are a very good team and they play great rugby, but we also play great rugby … that is why we [these two teams] are there.

“It is a question of which team will handle the pressure the best – who use their chances the best on the day.

“We are used to semi-finals and finals [having played in the Super rugby semi-finals for the past three years and having reached the Currie Cup Final for the past five years].

“We are looking forward to it and we know it can go in any direction.

“Yes, they will be the favourites because they topped the log and it is on their home ground – but we always do well when we’re the underdog and Saturday won’t be an exception.”

Meyer’s assertion that his team has a good “away record” against South African teams in recent years is back up by statistics.

Having lost their first five away games on SA soil – after changing from a province (Northern Transvaal) into franchise (Northern Bulls/Bulls) in 1998 – they have won seven of their last 11 games and four of their last five.

The only slip was that Round One defeat in February.

Meyer also made it clear that that defeat will have no effect on the players in Durban on Saturday.

“No, it won’t. If you look at how well the Crusaders beat us in Christchurch and that didn’t bother us [in the semi-final last Saturday – a 27-12 win for the Bulls].

“In fact it is very tough to beat a team twice in a year. We beat the Cheetahs twice and lost to them in the Final [in the 2005 Currie Cup competition].

“It does sit at the back of your mind if the guys beat you, but the guys then put in a bigger effort to win the next time …that’s how it was against the Crusaders, so that loss [in Round One] will have no effect.

“That day we had plenty of chances we didn’t use and it was very hot that time of the year.

“We are also a much better team now than what we were back then and we are really looking forward to this game,” Meyer added.

Jan de Koning 365 Digital

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