at the Union Buildings in Pretoria
Johannesburg – Bulls coach Frans Ludeke was careful not to attach much significance to his team’s 38-32 victory against the Lions at Orlando Stadium on Saturday in the Gauteng Rugby Cup and said their focus was on starting the Super Rugby series strongly in three weeks.
The young Bulls side registered a hard-fought win after a fantastic start to the clash in which they scored two tries in the first 20 minutes.
But this dominance was short-lived as the Lions attacked the advantage line and tightened their defence, which resulted in the team bouncing back strongly to match the Bulls’ four tries.
While the most encouraging aspect for Bulls coach Frans Ludeke was the tremendous talent showed by some of his young players, particularly centre Jan Serfontein and wing Sampie Mastriet, Lions assistant coach Swys de Bruin singled out his team’s fighting spirit and attack as the main positives in the clash.
“We had a very good preseason so the expectations on the players this weekend were big,” said Ludeke.
“It was encouraging to see them implement what we have been doing at training.”
“Obviously there are things we can work on, so we got what we wanted from the clash.”
Zoning in on the areas of the Bulls' game that needed attention Ludeke said: “We could do better at retaining the ball in contact situations because there were a few chances we wasted and we would like to be more accurate in our execution in general. But it was the first game of the year so one expects that. The competition starts in three weeks and that is when we want to be at our best.”
The Bulls will line up against the Cheetahs in Polokwane next Saturday in their second and final warm-up game, and although the team is expected to be vastly different with the return of their Springboks, Ludeke was confident that the team would be ready for the demands of Super Rugby.
In the Lions camp captain and prop JC Janse van Rensburg was disappointed about suffering their first defeat of the season, although he recognised the positives.
“There was some good running rugby, but unfortunately we made too many mistakes, many of which were on the Bulls’ 22. I also felt that we were hungrier to win last week (against the Cheetahs) and as a result we used our chances better. But I am glad that the team played until the end and it was a good experience for many of our players because it was the biggest game they have played up to now.”
With the Lions set to face the Southern Kings at Ellis Park next week, Janse van Rensburg said although the match was important, their main objective was to be in top form for the Super Rugby promotion-relegation clashes against SA’s last placed team later in the season. – Sapa