The Vodacom Bulls expect a tough encounter when they take on Windhoek Draught Griquas in a Carling Currie Cup clash at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday. The side from Kimberley has been one of the strongest competitors in the domestic South African competition and currently occupy a spot in the top four positions on the log, alongside their opponents for the weekend, the Vodacom Bulls, as well as the unbeaten Toyota Cheetahs and Cell C Sharks.
The last time the Vodacom Bulls and Windhoek Draught Griquas squared up, it was the side from Pretoria that claimed the bragging rights with an encouraging 27-53 victory.
The side from the Northern Cape has since registered two back-to-back victories over the Sigma Lions, indicating their intentions of being challengers for the Carling Currie Cup title.
Vodacom Bulls assistant coach, Pine Pienaar, is wary of the threat that their opponents will pose in the return match on Saturday afternoon.
“This weekend we expect a strong onslaught from the Windhoek Draught Griquas,” he said ahead of the match.
“They are currently doing really well, and they had a great win against the Sigma Lions in Kimberley. On that day the Sigma Lions had a couple of their Vodacom URC players in the mix.”
With the Vodacom Bulls on a break in the Vodacom United Rugby Championship before their next fixture against Ospreys in Wales on Friday, May 20, the side is likely to make use of some of the players who have been in action in the cross-hemisphere competition this weekend while also attempting to find a balance in resting a few of their playing personnel.
“There will be guys resting this weekend, but there will also be some guys coming in for the Carling Currie Cup,” said Pienaar.
“For us it is about how well we can plan and how well we can manage our players.”
With the Vodacom Bulls sitting on top of the Carling Currie Cup table at the moment, many will believe that side from Tshwane is well on their way to defend their back-to-back titles in the domestic competition. However, the team is adamant that there is still plenty to play for before the playoff stages.
In addition, the side has also secured a spot in the Vodacom URC playoffs which will run concurrently with the finals stages of the Carling Currie Cup. Squad management will prove crucial as the side vies for success in both competitions.
“We see the Carling Currie Cup as a very important competition to play in. We are not in the semi-finals yet,” said Pienaar.
“We have four games left, starting with a quality challenge against Griquas. When we get closer to the Toyota Cheetahs game (the final round robin fixture) and then the semi-final and final, coach Jake White and coach Gert Smal will plan what to do.
“The challenge then will be the [Vodacom URC] semi-final and final that could potentially be overseas. But currently, we are just looking forward to this coming weekend and our planning.”
Coach Gert Smal will, on Friday, announce his team to take on the Windhoek Draught Griquas in their Carling Currie Cup encounter.
The match will kick off at 17h00 and will be televised on SuperSport.