Lethal Bulls want more

Mon, 02 Jul 2012 07:21
Large bulls celebrate 630 Large juandre kruger charges 630 Large francois hougaard passes 63

Having displayed their lethal counter-attacking ability against the Cheetahs, the Bulls will look to reproduce those first 60 minutes in the weeks to come.

Displaying their lethal counter-attacking ability, the Bulls will look to reproduce the first 60 minutes they dished up against the Cheetahs at the weekend as they head into the business end of the season.

The three-time Super Rugby champions sounded an ominous warning when they raced out to a 40-0 lead - having already wrapped up the four-try bonus point before the half-time break - and then sent on a rash of replacements.

The departure of key players like captain     Pierre Spies, Dean Greyling, flyhalf Morné Steyn and Francois Hougaard - all in quick succession around the hour mark - handed the momentum to the Cheetahs in the final quarter.

The visitors from Bloemfontein managed four consolation tries for a bonus point in a 40-24 drubbing by the Bulls.

However, it was the clinical display by the Bulls in the first 60 minutes that would have made their rivals sit up and take note.

Bulls coach Frans Ludeke admitted his team would have like to have finished as strongly as they started and played for the first hour, but added that some players needed a break - after a long season, including a three-Test series against England - and the match allowed them to "manage" those players.

The key is that the Bulls ensure they have their destiny in their own hands with just two weeks remaining before the play-offs.

"The most important aspect for us was to get the five points," Ludeke told this website in an interview.

"There are a number of teams still in the running and every week will be vital," he said of their remaining league matches - against the Sharks in Durban this coming Friday and the Lions in Pretoria a week later.

"That is why it is important that every week we do our best and play to our potential - that is all we can ask for [from the players]."

Ludeke said the type of rugby they want to play in the weeks to come is what they produced in that first 60 minutes against the Cheetahs.

"[There was] a good balance between attack and defence," the coach said, adding: "On the counter we were lethal ... those first four tries were all from counter attacks."

The other pleasing aspect is how well the backline is performing - with left wing Bjorn Basson second on the tournament's top try-scorers list (with nine, just one behind leader André Taylor of the Hurricanes), while fullback Zane Kirchner (five) and right wing Akona Ndungane (three) also making major contributions.

Basson scored one of the best individual tries of the season, when he went over just before the hour mark to effectively put the match beyond the reach of the Cheetahs.

"It was an outstanding individual effort to beat two players and was a great try," Ludeke said, when asked about his back three's outstanding form this season.

"We have produced some outstanding backline play, especially from broken play ... great leg speed and hand skills.

"From set pieces the defensive systems are usually well organised, but from broken play is where the players show what they are capable of."

Ludeke admitted that making all those changes on the hour mark cost his team some momentum, but felt it was the right thing to do.

"You do want to finish strongly," Ludeke said, adding: "In that first 60 minutes we were very clinical and our defence was rock solid, while we used the opportunities that came our way."

He felt that, despite the margin of their lead (40-0) it was still a really tough battle.

"In the last 20 minutes they managed to apply some pressure with those chip-kicks and suddenly they finished off their chances.

"There was a huge momentum shift in the game."

The Bulls mentor defended the decision to send on all the replacements.

"However, some of those players who have been with the Boks needed to be managed and the game [40-0 up] allowed us to do that [manage them].

"Some of the players off the bench have not had much game time either, but it [the scoreline in the last 20 minutes] is certainly not a reflection of the guys who came on.

"When the game broke open and we score those two easy tries [early in the second half] it allowed us to make all those changes any players we bring on, we give careful consideration to.

"I the game was closer, we would have taken a very different strategic approach."

By Jan de Koning

There are currently no matches being played
FIXTURE GMT VENUE
Sun, 19 November 2017
Exeter Chiefs v Harlequins 14h00 Sandy Park
London Irish v Bath 14h00 Madejski Stadium
Leicester Tigers v Sale Sharks 14h00 Welford Road
Fri, 24 November 2017
Ospreys v Glasgow Warriors 22h00 Liberty Stadium
Ulster v Treviso 18h05 Kingspan Stadium
Leinster v Dragons 18h35 RDS Stadium
Cardiff Blues v Connacht 18h35 Cardiff Arms Park
Leicester Tigers v Worcester Warriors 18h45 Welford Road
Newcastle Falcons v Gloucester 18h45 Kingston Park
Sale Sharks v Northampton Saints 19h00 AJ Bell Stadium
Sat, 25 November 2017
Bath v Harlequins 11h15 Recreation Ground
Italy v South Africa 13h00 Rome
Scotland v Australia 14h30 Cardiff
England v Samoa 15h00 Twickenham
Wales v New Zealand 17h15 Cardiff
Cheetahs v Edinburgh 17h30 Bloemfontein
Ireland v Argentina 17h30 Aviva Stadium
France v Japan 19h00 Paris
SUPER RUGBY
MORE LOGS
Pool AU
Team P W D L Pts
Brumbies 15 6 0 9 34
Force 15 6 0 9 26
Reds 15 4 0 11 21
Waratahs 15 4 0 11 19
Rebels 15 1 1 13 9
Pool NZ
Team P W D L Pts
Crusaders 15 14 0 1 63
Hurricanes 15 12 0 3 58
Chiefs 15 12 1 2 57
Highlanders 15 11 0 4 51
Blues 15 7 1 7 37
Pool SA1
Team P W D L Pts
Stormers 15 10 0 5 43
Cheetahs 15 4 0 11 21
Bulls 15 4 0 11 20
Sunwolves 15 2 0 13 12
Pool SA2
Team P W D L Pts
Lions 15 14 0 1 65
Sharks 15 9 1 5 42
Jaguares 15 7 0 8 33
Kings 15 6 0 9 28