PRETORIA – The nightmare that came to life for the Stormers in Christchurch could easily haunt the Bulls when they play against the Crusaders at Loftus Versfeld in two weeks time.
The record championship holders the Crusaders were ruthless in how they tore through the Stormers to win convincingly 57-24 and this was the very same Stormers team that put the Bulls to the sword much earlier in the season.
Imagine what the Crusaders will do to the Bulls?
But a defiant Bulls captain Adriaan Strauss doesn’t want to think that far and would rather have his team enjoy their return to winning after their come-from-behind 20-14 win against the Cheetahs.
For this week, Strauss and his teammates will rest as they have a bye but it won’t take away the impending danger in the Crusaders.
So Strauss and his men will have to quickly man up to the reality that their joy of winning two matches on the trot could very much be short-lived when they come up against an unbeaten Crusaders side who are leading the overall log at 36 points.
Those 36 points are 22 points clear of the Bulls who are languishing in fifth place on the combined African conference and with a mere 14 points after enduring a horrid start to the season where they managed to win one of their six games.
Strauss says his team must focus on themselves and not just on improving their error ridden game but to take a lot of heart and confidence from the defensive effort they were able to put up against the Cheetahs on Saturday.
While waxing lyrically about how his men fronted in the face of an unrelenting onslaught from the Cheetahs, Strauss was subtle in his admission of how the countless errors have become a greater threat to the team’s performance than the opposition.
And as good as the Bulls have been on defence, they will have to improve tenfold against a side that has scored the second most points in the competition, behind the Hurricanes, and conceded the least number of points as well.
“Focusing on ourselves. Firstly we put ourselves under a lot of pressure by making a lot of mistakes and execution not clinical at all. Playing against the Cheetahs and giving them that amount of ball, putting ourselves under that amount of pressure and not conceding a try apart from the maul try says a lot about the work rate of the guys on defence. I think Saturday was a very good test and the guys showed a lot of character not conceding any other tries was quite good,” Strauss said.
However focusing on what it is they will need to do doesn’t mean that they must continue to stick their heads in the sand because they could easily find themselves on the end of a similar or even greater defeat than the record 54-19 thrashing they received at the hands of the Crusaders at Loftus in 2008.
Springbok and Bulls flyhalf Handre Pollard underwent an operation yesterday to fix the injury to his syndesmosis joint which he damaged last week during training and will be on the sidelines for at least two months.
There was some relief on the injury front with news that prop Jacobie Adriaanse’s injury (twisted knee) from Saturday’s match was not serious and Adriaanse will rejoin his teammates at training today while the Coenraad van Vuuren and John Roy Jenkinson have made full recoveries and should be fit for selection next week.