These Bulls must rumble to take bite out of the Sharks
By Ashfak Mohamed 4m ago
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CAPE TOWN – Who can forget it: A furious Duane Vermeulen pointing a finger at a laughing Dylan Richardson in the last Bulls-Sharks encounter in Durban on December 12.
It was like an older brother warning a petulant little sibling who was overstepping the mark in his eyes – or playing “too rough in the backyard”, so to speak.
Bulls coach Jake White explained in the aftermath of the 32-29 defeat that the ruckus was caused by Richardson, who “was standing in our lineouts, making the calls”.
But the greater frustration for Vermeulen would’ve been Richardson and the rest of the Sharks also getting stuck in at the breakdowns that day.
White noted that the Durbanites had slowed down the Bulls’ ball by flooding the breakdown with an “all or nothing” approach, and it paid off as referee Marius van der Westhuizen allowed a bit of a free-for-all.
A yellow card to Jacques van Rooyen didn’t help matters, while Morné Steyn missed a last-minute penalty to draw the match.
But that kind of irritation is something Vermeulen cannot allow to affect him in Saturday’s Currie Cup final at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria (3pm kick-off).
The Springbok No 8 will come face-to-face with Richardson once more at the breakdowns, along with openside flank Marco van Staden.
But it is Vermeulen who needs to set the tone for the Bulls – either with a big hit or clean-out on Richardson.
Gqoboka did not feature in the defeat to the Sharks at Jonsson
Kings Park in Durban, so will be keen to make an impression against the massive unit that is Du Toit in order to capture the attention of the Springbok management.
Du Toit comes with a big reputation, but on his first game back in a while against Western Province last week, he battled a bit against a smallish loosehead, Ali Vermaak, in the scrums.
In addition, Ivan van Zyl may have said this week that Sanele Nohamba’s chirping does not make a difference to his game, but that doesn’t mean the Sharks No 9 is going to stop.
Nohamba will be snapping at Van Zyl’s heels throughout, harassing him at the scrums and marking him closely around the rucks.
The Springbok halfback has been in fine form this season, and he will need to keep Nohamba quiet if the Bulls backline are to function smoothly.
And while Stravino Jacobs scored a brace in last week’s semi-final against the Lions, the 20-year-old will face the biggest test of his career against Sbu Nkosi on Saturday.
The Springbok speedster is an expert at chasing up-and-unders, and his athleticism allows him to get up high into the air.
Jacobs is a stocky, powerful figure, and last week’s dropped high ball that led to a Lions try will be at the back of his mind.
But the Bulls must build Jacobs’ confidence quickly by letting him run hard at Nkosi.