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

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Fri, 28 April 2017
Highlanders v Stormers 07h35 Dunedin
Cardiff Blues v Zebre 18h05 Cardiff
Edinburgh v Dragons 18h35 Myreside
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Sat, 29 April 2017
Chiefs v Sunwolves 07h35 Hamilton
Reds v Waratahs 09h45 Suncorp Stadium
Force v Lions 11h55 Perth
Ospreys v Ulster 14h00 Liberty Stadium
Bath v Gloucester 14h00 Recreation Ground
Exeter Chiefs v Northampton Saints 14h00 Sandy Park
Saracens v Bristol 14h00 Allianz Park
Harlequins v Wasps 14h00 Twickenham Stoop
Leicester Tigers v Sale Sharks 14h00 Welford Road
Cheetahs v Crusaders 15h15 Bloemfontein
Treviso v Munster 17h05 Stadio Monigo
Kings v Rebels 17h30 Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium
Connacht v Scarlets 18h35 Sportsground
Jaguares v Sharks 19h40 Buenos Aires
Sun, 30 April 2017
Brumbies v Blues 06h05 Canberra
RESULT SCORE
Sun, 23 April 2017
Clermont Auvergne v Leinster 27 | 22
Sat, 22 April 2017
Sharks v Rebels 9 | 9
Bulls v Cheetahs 20 | 14
Munster v Saracens 10 | 26
Force v Chiefs 7 | 16
Crusaders v Stormers 57 | 24
Highlanders v Sunwolves 40 | 15
Fri, 21 April 2017
Lions v Jaguares 24 | 21
Waratahs v Kings 24 | 26
Hurricanes v Brumbies 56 | 21
Mon, 17 April 2017
UP-Tuks v Maties 28 | 21
Sun, 16 April 2017
Bristol v Wasps 21 | 36
Northampton Saints v Saracens 25 | 27
Sat, 15 April 2017
Connacht v Leinster 24 | 37
Treviso v Edinburgh 21 | 6
SUPER RUGBY
MORE LOGS
Pool AU
Team P W D L Pts
Brumbies 8 3 0 5 17
Reds 8 2 0 6 10
Force 7 2 0 5 9
Waratahs 8 2 0 6 9
Rebels 7 1 1 5 7
Pool NZ
Team P W D L Pts
Crusaders 8 8 0 0 36
Hurricanes 8 7 0 1 33
Chiefs 8 7 0 1 33
Highlanders 8 5 0 3 23
Blues 8 3 0 5 17
Pool SA1
Team P W D L Pts
Stormers 8 6 0 2 26
Bulls 8 3 0 5 14
Cheetahs 8 2 0 6 10
Sunwolves 8 1 0 7 5
Pool SA2
Team P W D L Pts
Lions 8 7 0 1 32
Sharks 8 5 1 2 24
Jaguares 8 4 0 4 20
Kings 8 2 0 6 10