These Bulls are not a 'soft touch'
These Bulls are not a 'soft touch'SHARE
The Blue Bulls may be stuck at the bottom of the Currie Cup standings, but they should not be dismissed as 'no-hopers'.
Bulls coach Pine Pienaar admitted this week that his team was having too many "soft moments", but felt it was just a matter of time before they put together 80 minutes of quality rugby together and get their campaign back on track.
He pointed out that the Bulls have been forced into a rebuilding phase as a result of the departure of 21 senior players this year.
However, the long-term goals will be shifted into the background for now – with a very critical Currie Cup Round Five encounter against the Free State Cheetahs, at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday, their most pressing brief.
"When you lose three games in succession you are at a major disadvantage," Pienaar told this website, when asked about his team's challenging assignment with the competition already at the halfway mark.
"Should we lose this weekend it will mean that we have to win all five our remaining games [to stay in the play-off hunt].
"This game is of critical importance. To make matters worse, we are up against a much-improved Cheetahs team."
Pienaar said that as long as there is even just a "remote" chance that they can reach the play-offs the Bulls will keep on fighting.
"Our problem at the moment is that we do well for 50 or 60 minutes of the game and then we make silly mistakes," the coach told this website.
"That is when you require experience. The [young] guys are learning from those errors and I'm sure we'll start seeing the result this weekend."
He admitted that "lack of experience" is a contributing factor to his team's second-half collapses this season.
"In the last 20 minutes the pressure pile up, as the opposition turn up the heat," Pienaar said, adding: "At the moment it appears some of the players are not handling the pressure well and we are not absorbing it [pressure].
"It is certainly not a lack of commitment, as the guys are giving it a full go. It is more a case of forcing passes [under pressure], or making the wrong calls.
"The opposition usually exploit those errors.
"We must put 80 minutes of quality rugby together and cut out those soft moments in the game."
The Bulls mentor said he did not want to add even more pressure on the players, given their precarious position.
"We are in trouble on the log, but we have a number of players in their first season of Currie Cup rugby.
"They must learn from those errors.
"You can't recreate those pressure situations in training – they have to experience it in match situations and the more they experience it in matches the better they will get.
"It has to be remembered that we [the Bulls] have lost 21 senior players since the beginning of the year."
Pienaar said he was "very excited" about the talent in the team, because there are some young guys beginning to come through and some of the more senior players are also improving their form.
"We are still believing in our ability to make it [to the play-offs," he added.
By Jan de Koning