Ken Borland
Sports Journalist
2 minute read
10 Apr 2018
11:50 am

A win in Durban isn’t everything, says John Mitchell

Ken Borland

Yet the Bulls are in a position where they can't really afford to lose their derby against the Sharks if they want to make the playoffs.

Coach John Mitchell during a Bulls training session. (Photo by Johan Rynners/Gallo Images)

Bulls coach John Mitchell is not assigning any special importance to winning their Super Rugby derby against what he rates as a very dangerous Sharks side in Durban this weekend.

But he warned that there is plenty of fight left in his ever-improving side.

The Bulls and the Sharks are in a similar position, both having won just twice this season despite playing some highly impressive rugby.

It has allowed the Lions, with five wins already, to open up a daunting lead in the South African Conference.

Whoever loses on Saturday will face a massive uphill battle to make the playoffs.

But Mitchell was optimistic when asked about the mounting pressure a defeat would bring.

“We’re not letting the outcome of games destroy our motivation, we have a lot to learn still and we’re still well short of where we need to be. But we’re on the way, the focus is on where we need more growth, that’s where we need to get better. In this competition, you have to look after your home games and pick up what you can away, so we need to balance that sheet and we’ll keep fighting for that.

“The Sharks are a very good side, they probably deserved two wins in New Zealand but were very unfortunate to be at the wrong end of the field at the wrong time. They’ll learn from it, but they throw the ball around, they’re the best offloading team in the competition, they score more than 30 points per game and their line-breaks figure shows how much they enjoy attacking,” Mitchell said.

Scrumhalf Ivan van Zyl warned, however, that the players were definitely targeting a win.

“Ultimately we play to win, we don’t just go out there and think about producing a better performance than last week. Results have not gone our way, but we haven’t lost confidence from that, we know we’re heading in the right direction. We go out to win every game and soon it will all come together,” Van Zyl said.

Wing Travis Ismaiel has a back strain and eighthman Tim Agaba is away with the Springbok Sevens team at the Commonwealth Games, so therefore Mitchell will have to make at least two changes to the side that beat the Stormers in their last game at the end of March.

The back-of-the-scrum issue is easily settled because, with both Lood de Jager and RG Snyman fit again, Hanro Liebenberg can move from lock back to his preferred position.


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