While the disappointment of losing the tribute game to Springbok stalwarts Morne Steyn Bismarck du Plessis still sits with him, Vodacom Bulls fullback Johan Goosen believes his team can make it right by winning Saturday’s Currie Cup semifinal against the Toyota Cheetahs.
The Bulls lost the game 31-27 but took a lot of confidence out of the fact they played for 55 minutes with 14 men after Elrigh Louw was red carded and had a chance to win the game as they camped on the Cheetahs line at the end of the match.
Goosen believes that while the disappointment is still there, the Bulls took a lot out of that game and will be ready when the teams meet again in Bloemfontein on Saturday.
“It was bad to lose, especially when we were playing for Morne and Bismarck. We fought to try and win. The game changed when Elrigh got the red, we tried to stay in the game and a lot of teams would have simply given up,” he explained.
“We can take confidence out of that. At the end if we scored we would have won. The other way to look at it is that we have played them now, we know what they want to do and what their strengths are. It is bad to lose, but I’d rather lose that game than the one this weekend that is ahead of us. “
Winning the Currie Cup would be massive after a disappointing season in Pretoria but the fact the Bulls still are in with a chance after a horror start in losing their first four games shows that a lot can change in a season and it matters to be there at the end.
“It will be massive for us as a group. I think we have been through a tough times and we’re still alive and can still win something this season. I think it will be good for the union. We are a proud union so it will be good for us to win the Currie Cup,” Goosen said.
“It’s not how you start but how you finish that is the difference. When I played for Racing, we barely made it to the top eight and at the end of the season we had won the Top 14 league. You just need that ticket to get you into the semifinals and then anything can happen. The vibe is good in the team and we’re all positive. We’re all working hard for some silverware.”
The Bulls know what to expect and know they need to protect their ball better at the breakdown if they are going to have a chance in Bloemfontein, and they know what to watch out for in terms of the Cheetahs’ kicking game.
“The Cheetahs disrupted our quick ball at the breakdown. We need to look at that. There were a couple of things we needed to do right which we didn’t do right that we need to give some attention to.
“They are a team that uses a lot of front foot kicks. They want to 15 to come up and to kick from 13. They didn’t kick a lot last weekend but in the semifinal we’re expecting a lot more kicks to 15. I try and analyse through the week - who kicks and who enjoys kicking. You do the preparation through the week and hopefully on the day you get it right.”
Saturday may be a knockout game, but the Bulls have faced plenty of obstacles to get here and it would be foolish to write them off.
And given their season so far, they will have a crack this weekend at getting to a final that never looked possible a few weeks ago.