Waikato side ready for Bulls

THE battling Bulls rugby team have a rejuvenated Chiefs team lying in wait for them when they resume their Super 15 rugby campaign on home soil this weekend.
 The Bulls managed only one win in their four outings on their overseas tour, with their shock 26-21 defeat to the Western Force highlighting that they are a far cry from the team which dominated the Super Rugby scene over the past two years.
And the Chiefs will be eager to turn the tables with memories still lingering of the 2009 final when they lost at Loftus to the Bulls in a match that delivered a record 78 points.
 The Chiefs arrived in Centurion on Sunday after spending their first week in South Africa at Fourways.
 So the visitors are expected to be the fresher of the two teams, seeing as the defending champions the Bulls only touched down in South Africa the same day from their overseas leg.
 Chiefs coach Ian Foster would, however, not be told that the travel fatigue the Bulls were sure to suffer from would count in their favour.
 “They are a very experienced unit and they have proved year-in, year-out that they can travel well and come home well, so I don’t think that is going to be an advantage or disadvantage,” Foster said after his side’s 34-30 victory over the Lions.
 “Clearly, it is a big game for both of us as we want to build some momentum and they are desperate to come home and get their programme under way.”
 Saturday’s match at Loftus Versfeld will be the first time the Waikato side returns to the ground where they suffered a traumatising 61-17 defeat in the 2009 final.
 Foster said: “What happened two years ago was a final. It was the end of a competition and we had to do some massive travelling.
 “In the round-robin last year we had a good battle with them and we will be looking to duplicate that,” Foster added.
 A positive mood should also prevail in the Chiefs camp this week after picking up five log points – and their third win this season – at Ellis Park on Saturday.
 The Chiefs mentor said his men did well to keep the Lions out towards the end of the match, but said they should be less exposed to the effects of playing at altitude this week.
 “I think this [the Lions match] was a big challenge for us. We didn’t come over here thinking the Lions are easy and the Bulls are going to be hard.
 “It is not easy winning here – particularly your first week in – and our lungs were burning towards the end, so I think we will be better fitness-wise next week.
 “Credit to the Lions, they are playing with a lot of heart and we were very keen for that final whistle to go,” Foster said.
 The Chiefs reported no serious injury concerns after the Lions clash and will be making a late call on the availability of winger Sitiveni Sivivatu and prop Nathan White, who was withdrawn from the match in the final hour. – Sapa

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