Pretoria – Following two weeks of near misses in inclement weather, Bulls flyhalf Jacques-Louis Potgieter's performance made all the difference in their 25-17 victory over the Lions at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.
Bulls coach Frans Ludeke heaped praise on the 29-year-old pivot that contributed 20 of his side's points with a drop goal, five penalty goals and a conversion.
“Jacques-Louis made a big difference tonight (Saturday), he converted the pressure and penalties we worked hard for into points,” Ludeke said.
“He was accurate and clinical, hats off to him we really needed someone in that position to take control of the game, get us in good positions and converting the pressure.”
Bulls captain Flip van der Merwe observed that the inclement weather seemed to have been following their team, but it was the hosts that adapted better to the constant downpour.
It was nevertheless a typical Bulls performance where their constant pressure on the opposition translated into penalties.
The pack of forwards set the foundation for Potgieter to go for the points when they were on offer while this gave the Bulls a comfortable cushion over the Lions.
“We started controlling the game again like the Bulls of old, we put ourselves in certain positions to score points and we converted,” Van der Merwe said.
“He handled the game well, our set-pieces worked well and we scored points at the right times to maintain the pressure.”
Lions captain Warren Whiteley admitted his side was tactically outsmarted by the Bulls, while they did not react to the wet weather as well as the Pretoria franchise.
“The rain will have an impact on any game, tactically they were just superior to us, they put us under pressure and we didn't have answers to good kicking,” Whiteley said.
“They played out of their half, putting us under pressure and we made mistakes at crucial times.
“It was difficult for us but we showed heart with a lot of character on defence.”
The Lions nevertheless scored two tries from charge downs to the Bulls' try in the first half of the match.
Lions coach Johan Ackermann said while the weather had an influence on his side's game plan, it would hold them in good stead going forward in the competition.
“We were taught a lesson on how to play in wet weather, and we will have to take those lessons to heart if we encounter another game in wet weather,” he said.
“It is still an away game, so we will not put added pressure on ourselves, it is still early in the competition to worry about the log.”
The Bulls next face the Blues, who are fresh off an impressive 35-24 victory over the Crusaders, while the Lions will travel to Durban where they take on the Sharks. – Sapa