super
 

Bulls defend their breakdown tactics

Wed, 16 Apr 2014 14:52
Large jono ross bulls2

The Bulls stood firm in the face of criticism over their persistence with the tactics of playing Jono Ross as the team's openside flank.

The Bulls stood firm in the face of criticism over their persistence with the questionable tactics of playing Jono Ross as the team's openside flank.

Ross, who has been far more effective at No.8 than on the flank, fulfilled the openside role in the 20-27 loss to the Highlanders last week - a move that came in the wake of the tour-ending groin injury suffered by specialist openside Deon Stegmann

The statistics from the game suggest that the move was not a success - with Ross involved five carries, from which he made just nine metres; he conceded one turnover and two penalties, while he made nine tackles and missed four.

However, both Bulls coach Frans Ludeke and captain Flip van der Merwe felt that the breakdown issues should not be laid at Ross' door.

Despite the unbalance appearance of the loose forward combination - Grant Hattingh (more of a lock) playing at No.8, Jacques du Plessis as blindside flank and Ross, a specialist No.8 playing at openside - Ludeke is adamant that it is working for the Bulls.

"There is the bigger picture," Ludeke said in a teleconference call from the team's base in Sydney - where they are preparing for their Round 10 encounter with the Waratahs on Saturday.

He admitted that people would "zoom in" on the loose forwards with good reason.

"You have to ask what: 'What can your loose forwards bring for you?'

"Obviously you need a ball carrier and you need a guy who can be effective when the team plays forward and when the team goes backwards, given that a No.8 has a specific function in our side.

"We are confident Grant [Hattingh] can do that. He has been there, he is good under the high ball and he links well between the forwards and the backs.

"On the blindside Jacques du Plessis has been effective. He has had the most ball carries, he is effective on defence and in how he applies himself.

"I know there are a lot of questions about our openside [selection of Jono Ross].

"If you look at Jono Ross' workrate, one area we are looking at is how he can have a bigger effect on the breakdown, especially on defence at the breakdown. In changing that, it is just small details - it is a matter of time then he will have a bigger effect.

"It is [about making] smart decisions and not giving away silly penalties. It is more important than chasing something [a turnover], while trying to make an impact. However, his allround game, his workrate in terms of cleaning, applying himself and knowing the system there is certainly nothing wrong with that.

"We are backing him there."

Ludeke admitted that Wimpie van der Walt, who joined the team last week as a replacement for Stegmann, would come into consideration next week.

"He [Van der Walt] is now in his first week of full training," the Bulls mentor said, adding: "Last week he was so jet-lagged, so hopefully next week he can be an option as well for us.

"However, we are happy with Jono Ross and we are chasing the breakdown to make sure we have a bigger impact there."

The skipper, Van der Merwe, also defended Ross and said there are other players in the team that can also make an impact at the breakdown.

"That [the breakdown] is one area where you can train [to be more effective]," Can der Merwe said in a teleconference call from Sydney.

"It is an area we concentrated on this week as well. We wanted to get our body positions lower at the breakdown and get everyone involved at the breakdown."

He said the breakdown is not just one player's responsibility, it is an aspect for all 15 players to focus on.

"You have guys like Werner Kruger and Callie Visagie who are very good at competing at the breakdown as well," the captain said.

"You want to give them the opportunities to get turnovers at the breakdown.

"You need double-hit tackles that drive the opposition backwards and let the other guys get stuck in there. It has been good all year, but it is an area where we need to step up this weekend."

By Jan de Koning

There are currently no matches being played
FIXTURE GMT VENUE
Fri, 04 September 2015
Blue Bulls v Free State Cheetahs 17h10 Loftus Versfeld
Connacht v Dragons 18h30 Sportsground
Ulster v Ospreys 18h35 Kingspan Stadium
Edinburgh v Leinster 18h35 Edinburgh
Sat, 05 September 2015
Sharks v Pumas 13h00 Kings Park, Durban
England v Ireland 13h30 London
Western Province v Griquas 15h05 Newlands
Wales v Italy 16h00 Cardiff
Glasgow Warriors v Scarlets 16h15 Scotstoun
Golden Lions v EP Kings 17h10 Ellis Park
Munster v Treviso 18h45 Musgrave Park
France v Scotland 19h00 Paris
Sun, 06 September 2015
United States v Australia 00h30 Chicago
Cardiff Blues v Zebre 13h30 Cardiff
SUPER RUGBY
MORE LOGS
Team P W D L Pts
Hurricanes 16 14 0 2 66
Waratahs 16 11 0 5 52
Stormers 16 10 1 5 45
Highlanders 16 11 0 5 53
Chiefs 16 10 0 6 48
Brumbies 16 9 0 7 47
Crusaders 16 9 0 7 46
Lions 16 9 1 6 42
Bulls 16 7 0 9 38
Rebels 16 7 0 9 36
Sharks 16 7 0 9 34
Cheetahs 16 5 0 11 26
Reds 16 4 0 12 22
Blues 16 3 0 13 20
Force 16 3 0 13 19