Bulls are sticking to their guns
The Bulls will not deviate from their style of play despite growing criticism about their kicking game, following their defeat to the Sharks in Durban.
The Bulls will not deviate from their tried and tested style of play despite growing criticism about their kicking game, following their defeat to the Sharks in Durban.
Although disappointed with his team's execution of their gameplan in their Super Rugby opener at Kings Park, Bulls coach Frans Ludeke said it would be premature to completely change their approach after one bad performance.
"I know what people are referring to, there are times that it is on when we have the momentum then we kick that good possession away maybe trying to tactically put it into a gap or force a line-out.
"It is about decision making, we will get better in every game, we are working on it but to get out of your area is a principle of the game," he explained.
The Bulls may be known for employing territory-based strategy, however, statistics from Saturday's match suggest the coastal side did most of the tactical kicking.
Statistics from the SANZAR website show that the Sharks kicked 32 times in play, while the Bulls put ball to boot two times less in the clash.
Ludeke said it was only a matter of being more accurate in their execution of the gameplan, while they also had some lapses on defence.
The Sharks found easy passage to the tryline in the first half scoring three five-pointers before adding the fourth in the dying moments of the match.
"Obviously we would like to execute better...we know we can play a lot better than the way we played over the weekend," Ludeke said.
"We had mixed results in that kicking game, we forced some good turnovers there, [but] it is just the conditions. It is tough to carry the ball. They didn't carry the ball either.
"We gave them some soft opportunities. They had four opportunities in the first half, four times they had the ball in that half and two of them were due to our mistakes."
Ludeke made one change ahead of his side's clash against the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein on Friday.
Lock Grant Hattingh will receive a starting berth at the expense of Paul Willemse, who drops out of the match-day 23 altogether, while Springbok veteran Victor Matfield will supply cover off the bench once again.
"We felt these were our best combinations and with the exception of Grant Hattingh coming in it is the same 23 players," Ludeke said.
"It is more horses for course, we feel we need a little more mobility - it is different conditions playing in the Highveld."
The Cheetahs and the Bulls both lost in the first round of the Super Rugby season last week and both teams would be looking to get their campaigns back on track.
The Bloemfontein-based side were left disappointed in their shock 21-20 defeat to the Lions on their home ground thanks to a last-minute drop goal by flyhalf Marnitz Boshoff.
Bulls captain Pierre Spies said while the team was unhappy with their performance against the Sharks they could make up for it on Friday.
"You've got to put the game behind you as quickly as possible, and the vibe within the team is very good and positive," Spies said.
"Everyone was disappointed with the result and the execution of what we wanted to achieve. We see it as a new opportunity against the Cheetahs on Friday."