Pretoria – Bulls coach Frans Ludeke believes his side's labours against the Lions in the final match of the regular Super Rugby season was a good curtain raiser ahead of next week’s quarterfinal clash against the Crusaders in Christchurch.
While the Bulls won comfortably in the end, the Lions did not allow the home-side to run-away with the match as the teams were deadlocked at 20-all going into the half-time break.
“The second half was good to end like that, not letting the Lions in, as they play a similar style wide and more into space,” Ludeke said.
“So it was almost like a good curtain raiser if you can call it that.”
The Bulls’ 37-20 victory secured them a spot in the play-offs after they failed to progress to the next stage of last year’s competition.
The Pretoria-based side, however, need to work on their scrums ahead of next week’s match after they came undone in this area of play against the Lions.
“I think in the scrums they really came at us and I think we weren’t good enough and accurate enough there,” Ludeke said.
“There were some unforced errors that broke our rhythm a bit, but the second half was much more clinical.
“We didn’t allow the Lions to really get going especially from drives and penalties.
“We cleaned up our act discipline-wise as well.”
Ludeke said while his side struggled in the scrums, he felt the Lions deserved credit for a dominant performance in the set-piece.
In taking full points from the match, the Bulls moved past the Sharks on the log, leaving the coastal side with a playoff-match against the Reds in Brisbane.
A match against the Reds was regarded as a slightly easier prospect and a victory without the bonus-point try would have seen the Bulls travel to Australia, rather than having to face the Crusaders in New Zealand.
Ludeke, however, said they had no intention of manipulating the victory as they only had the playoff in mind.
“We knew before the game that we need to be our best and it was a must win for us,” Ludeke said.
“There was never talk in the side about permutations.
“We said that we needed to win and if we got a lead, we needed to build on that and make sure we made the playoffs.”
The Bulls' mentor said the playoffs would pose a different challenge to his side.
“All that happened through the season is now irrelevant,” Ludeke said.
“It is about teams that can handle the pressure – it doesn’t matter if you play home or away.
“We’ve shown that we can travel and we need to focus on our own game plan and we need to be accurate.” – Sapa