As far as clichés go they say that a draw is as good as kissing your sister and the Bulls got a big, fat and wet one when they drew against the Chiefs on Saturday.
What was most disheartening about the 34-34 draw against the defending champions was that the Bulls were 10 minutes away from recording their fourth consecutive victory at home.
While the win would have continued their steady rise up the Super Rugby standings, it would have also been a fitting conclusion to their home fixtures so far in the competition as they board a flight to New Zealand tomorrow for their four-match tour of Australasia.
With a commanding 31-15 lead in the last 10 minutes of the game, the Bulls defence failed to keep their structure and was torn to shreds by the elusive running of a desperate Chiefs side. In capitulating, they gave away three tries to hand the Chiefs a deserved draw.
As much as the home side had stood their ground when under attack in the first half, the New Zealanders showed maturity and true grit by fighting back in the second half after being 14-15 down at the half-time interval to scoring 17 unanswered points in 15 minutes.
Captain Victor Matfield was the first to admit that allowing the Chiefs to fight back, earn a draw and walk away with three points, was “worse than kissing your sister”.
“I think anything less than a victory at home feels like a loss. We’ll take the two points, and it is against the champions. But we should have had five and with 25 minutes to go at altitude we should have done better,” Matfield said.
“We gave them too much ball to play from. I think if we held onto the ball a bit more we could have put them under pressure and got the fourth try. With six minutes to go we decided to go for poles which if you think about it we should have probably gone for the corner and kept them in their half. It’s always easy afterwards saying maybe this, maybe that. I just think in that 15 minutes we weren’t accurate enough, on attack we didn’t build more than three phases and we lost the ball and made silly mistakes on defence,” he added.
Coach Frans Ludeke believes his team should have won the game but is hopeful they will improve on their four-match tour of New Zealand and Australia which begins with a fixture against the Hurricanes on Saturday.
“The game was there for the taking. I thought we played well just after half-time and got on top of the Chiefs. We scored some lovely tries and built up a lead. But credit to them for the way they came back, and the way they scored those last two tries,” said Ludeke.
“Obviously it is a long competition and things like this happen. We just have to work through it and put it behind us. We will go and look at where we weren’t accurate. It’s a new game and we will need a new focus and also going on tour will create a new energy, as players enjoy going on tour. It will be a great challenge playing the Hurricanes and the Highlanders there, and also the Waratahs and Force,” Ludeke added. - The Star