Bulls chasing perfect game - FlipComment on this story
While defence is often said to win trophies, it is meaningless without attack.
Last week against the Hurricanes, the Bulls defended well but still lost.
They lost primarily because of their failure to attack accurately and compete at the breakdown.
Tomorrow morning against the Highlanders in Dunedin, the Bulls will hope to continue defending well but this time around they will be desperate to attack as well.
Bulls captain Flip van der Merwe is not surprised that his team had to make over 200 tackles in their game against the Hurricanes but believes the secret to getting that elusive victory on tour will come when they mix resolute defence with some enterprising moves with ball in hand.
”We are still chasing the perfect game,” Van der Merwe said. “When you are away from home you will make more tackles because the home team keep the ball more. It is not a mental thing but we have worked really hard on both our defence and attack this week,” Van der Merwe said.
In their pursuit of this perfect game, the Bulls will further be encouraged by the fact that their loss against the Hurricanes didn’t affect their standings on the combined Super Rugby log.
The men in camouflage are fully aware that they will need to work extremely hard on their set-pieces as well with the Highlanders known for their scrumming prowess.
At the same time, the Highlanders will be no slouches in the line-outs as they have also called on an old hand in former All Blacks World Cup winning veteran lock Brad Thorn to counter the Bulls’ selection of Victor Matfield.
The Highlanders will also have their tails up after their narrow win over the Melbourne Rebels last weekend although they are still in the bottom half of the table.
“They never stop scrumming and their line-outs are very good,” said Bulls coach Frans Ludeke about their opposition.
“Just like all the other New Zealand teams, they enjoy broken play and open field rugby with those grubbers and chip kicks behind your line.
“They keep the ball and work at tiring your defence,” Ludeke said.
Highlanders: Ben Smith (capt), Richard Buckman, Malakai Fekitoa, Shaun Treeby, Patrick Osborne, Lima Sopoaga, Aaron Smith, Elliot Dixon, Shane Christie, Gareth Evans, Joe Wheeler, Brad Thorn, Chris King, Liam Coltman, Kane Hames. Replacements: Ged Robinson , Craig Millar , Ma’afu Fia, Jarrad Hoeata , John Hardie , Fumiaki Tanaka, Trent Renata , Nasi Manu
Bulls: Jürgen Visser, Akona Ndungane, JJ Engelbrecht, Jan Serfontein, Bjorn Basson, Jacques-Louis Potgieter, Francois Hougaard, Grant Hattingh, Jacques du Plessis, Jono Ross, Victor Matfield, Flip van der Merwe (capt), Werner Kruger, Callie Visagie, Dean Greyling. Replacements: Bongo Mbonambi, Marcel van der Merwe, Morné Mellett, Paul Willemse, Jacques Engelbrecht, Piet van Zyl, Handré Pollard, William Small-Smith. - The Star