Hard work pays off for Bulls

Sun, 09 Mar 2014 13:16
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Bulls captain Flip van der Merwe pointed to his team's high work rate as the key to their turnaround in form.

Bulls captain Flip van der Merwe pointed to his team's high work rate as the key to their turnaround in form.

The Pretoria side notched their second consecutive victory at Loftus Versfeld as they managed to shut the dangerous Blues down on Saturday, scoring a fourth try in the last minute to secure a valuable bonus point.

The win means that they will go into their first bye as the second-placed team on the South African conference log and fourth overall.

This is especially encouraging given their tough start to the season which saw them go down to the Sharks and Cheetahs before bouncing back to beat the Lions and Blues at home.

Van der Merwe said that the commitment his team showed was crucial to being able to keep the Blues quiet.

“We demanded a work rate from everyone, it is the only way that you win against these guys. Once they (the Blues) get the ball in space and they let run with the ball they are dangerous.

“It was a tremendous effort our guys put in, in the first half it was end to end stuff and you can see at the end both teams were off their feet," he said.

The Bulls skipper said that whilst the win was encouraging, they know that there is still much to improve on with composure something they need to work on.

“We are still striving for the perfect game and tonight was by no means perfect, at certain times we maybe got over excited,” Van der Merwe said.

Coach Frans Ludeke sai that the win was just reward after what was a tough start to the season.

“I thought from the beginning (of the season) we were playing well but we never got the reward,” Ludeke said.

“Our season took off even though we didn't get the results and the last two weeks almost proved that to us.

“There are small things that are working for us and the difference is we are converting, so it was a rewarding win for us against a quality side.”

The Blues demonstrated in their match against the Crusaders that they had the ability to come from behind to secure victory.

The Bulls were leading the visitors 25-12 at the half-time break. The visitors launched a promising fight back effort but the home side did well to avert the threat through a gutsy defensive display.

“The last five minutes also said a lot about the team and how desperately they wanted it when it was not over yet and we kept them out, forced a turnover and we scored that last try,” Ludeke said.

“I thought our set pieces were good and they changed direction a lot to our tight forwards and we made our tackles and forced some turnovers.”

It was the Bulls' senior players who showed real grit throughout the match with the likes of veteran lock Victor Matfield, prop Dean Greyling, Van der Merwe and flanker Deon Stegmann leading the charge.

Their efforts ensured front-foot ball for the backline which saw scrumhalf Francois Hougaard returning to form.

Blues coach John Kirwan admitted his side was outplayed by the Bulls but he also bemoaned the mistakes his charges made.

“I thought we played really well in the second half, we clawed our way back into it, we could have finished a bit better,” Kirwan said.

“When you make too many unforced errors and give away easy tries and penalties then you will always be in trouble especially here.”

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Team P W D L Pts
Brumbies 8 3 0 5 17
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Reds 9 2 0 7 11
Force 8 2 0 6 9
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Pool NZ
Team P W D L Pts
Crusaders 9 9 0 0 41
Chiefs 9 8 0 1 37
Hurricanes 8 7 0 1 33
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Blues 8 3 0 5 17
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Team P W D L Pts
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Cheetahs 9 2 0 7 10
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Team P W D L Pts
Lions 9 8 0 1 37
Sharks 9 6 1 2 28
Jaguares 9 4 0 5 20
Kings 9 3 0 6 15