Bulls have to back up form against English log leaders

rugby08 April 2024 13:30
By:Brenden Nel
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Akker van der Merwe of the Bulls in action © Gallo Images

It may have been enough that they are the only South African side in the quarterfinals of the Investec Champions’ Cup left but the Vodacom Bulls have to challenge themselves to now back up their superb performance against French side Lyon when they travel to Northampton Saints for Saturday’s playoff game.

The Bulls were rampant in their 59-19 victory, but now have the knowledge that however far they will go in the competition, they will have to face every opponent from now on away from home, especially as the current competition rules are that all semifinals and finals have to be played in Europe.

So even if they do get the better of Northampton, they will have to play away, with the daunting prospect of either La Rochelle or Leinster as their next opponent.

After they were mauled in the second half by Leinster last time out the Bulls Director of Rugby Jake White wanted a response and the one he got was simply excellent.

White could have asked for no better, as the 59 points, and nine tries they scored against the French side was the most scored by any side in a Champions Cup knockout stage since 1998.

Their 774 metres gained was also the highest by any South African side in a Champions or Challenge Cup game.

But now they have to face a Northampton side that dismantled Munster in a pulsating game on Sunday and showed why they are top of the English Premiership.


Their attacking game, if the conditions allow, will be one that will test the Bulls as much as any top team in the competition.

Despite the travel and the disadvantages that it brings, the Bulls know they will need to be at their best if they are to become the first South African team to make a Champions Cup semifinal.

White was understandably over the moon at the victory.

“We wanted a rebound and good teams are teams that after they get a performance like we did last week you make sure you back it up with a proper performance,” he said.

“Some of those tries were outstanding and over the years people have gone from seeing the Bulls being able to scrum and maul into the kind of rugby we saw.

“It’s obviously very pleasing to get a reaction like that, and pleasing that we can interchange the way that we play. We used the Highveld, we used the altitude and the surface we practice on as a bonus. I am very happy to pull that win off.”

White’s Bulls will complete their preparations at Loftus by Tuesday morning before boarding their flight, but now that they have gone this far, they have every right to fire some shots up north, even though the odds may be against them.