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Pretoria – The Bulls will go into their first Super Rugby bye as the second-placed team on the South African conference log following their convincing 38-22 victory over the Blues in Pretoria on Saturday.
The side took the full complement of points out of the match to go to fourth place on the overall log and are four points behind the log-leading Sharks team.
The Light Blues were especially impressive on attack in the first half when they scored three tries, while they showed great character on defence in the dying moments of the match.
“I thought from the beginning (of the season) we were playing well but we never got the reward,” coach Frans Ludeke said on Saturday.
“Our season took off even though we didn't get the results and the last two weeks almost proved that to us.
“There are small things that are working for us and the difference is we are converting, so it was a rewarding win for us against a quality side.” Before the match Bulls captain Flip van der Merwe said a victory over the dangerous Blues' team would requires a great deal of commitment from the players.
The Blues demonstrated in their match against the Crusaders that they had the ability to come from behind to secure victory.
The Bulls were leading the visitors 25-12 at the half-time break. The visitors launched a promising fight back effort but the home side did well to avert the threat through a gutsy defensive display.
“The last five minutes also said a lot about the team and how desperately they wanted it when it was not over yet and we kept them out, forced a turnover and we scored that last try,” Ludeke said.
“I thought our set pieces were good and they changed direction a lot to our tight forwards and we made our tackles and forced some turnovers.”
It was the Bulls' senior players who showed real grit throughout the match with the likes of veteran lock Victor Matfield, prop Dean Greyling, Van der Merwe and flanker Deon Stegmann leading the charge.
Their efforts ensured front-foot ball for the backline which saw scrumhalf Francois Hougaard returning to form.
“We are still striving for the perfect game and tonight was by no means perfect, at certain times we maybe got over excited,” Van der Merwe said.
“We demanded a work rate from everyone, it is the only way that you win against these guys. Once they (the Blues) get the ball in space and they let run with the ball they are dangerous.
“It was a tremendous effort our guys put in, in the first half it was end to end stuff and you can see at the end both teams were off their feet.” Blues coach John Kirwan admitted his side was outplayed by the Bulls but he also bemoaned the mistakes his charges made.
“I thought we played really well in the second half, we clawed our way back into it, we could have finished a bit better,” Kirwan said.
“When you make too many unforced errors and give away easy tries and penalties then you will always be in trouble especially here.” – Sapa