JOHANNESBURG - Blue Bulls coach Pote Human could not be a happier man going into a month-long break in the Currie Cup. Human’s team have been successful in digging themselves out of a hole, having lost two games in a row against the Sharks and Golden Lions, and now after successive bonus point wins over Griquas and the Pumas, the Bulls have all but guaranteed their place in the semi-finals with a game outstanding.
The often poker-faced Human even managed a smile after his team’s six-try blitz against the Pumas on Friday at Loftus Versfeld to earn themselves a 39-29 win that will go a long way in relieving the pressure on their quest to win their first domestic title in nine years.
At the heart of the Bulls’ performance was their ability to withstand and nullify the Pumas’ pack, especially in stopping their driving mauls earlier in the game. The Bulls’ defence showed some improvement and even though they leaked unnecessary tries at times, they were able to repel the persistent attacks of an equally desperate Pumas side.
“I think the guys worked really hard,” said Human. “We did our homework on our discipline and our defence especially, it was very good on the day. I’m very happy to get the five points against the Pumas, who are a very good side and they are very physical. I think the young pack of forwards stood up and showed what they can do."
However, the Bulls still showed some immaturity in their defence, particularly from individuals, which resulted in centre Johnny Kotze conceding a yellow card - the Bulls’ third in two games - for a clumsy tackle on a Pumas player without the ball.
Ill-discipline has been a major headache for Human and his team as they have conceded a plethora of penalties in their last three games, with a late surge of penalties costing them dearly against the Lions and placing them under undue pressure in the games against Griquas and the Pumas. Human says they need to have a look at their discipline issues, more so the yellow cards that have left them thin in numbers on defence.
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“We’ll still work on our discipline because it is something that has crept into our game - especially the yellow card for Johnny Kotze, which was just silly. He apologised to the whole team for it, but that is stuff we are going to work on,” Human said.
While far from the complete product, the Bulls have shown plenty of hunger for winning and continue to be lethal with ball in hand as has been evident with the 13 tries they have scored in two games, seven against Griquas and six against the Pumas.
“The character is there, we experienced it last week against Griquas. The guys showed that they are really hungry and against the Pumas I thought it was our best performance of the season,” added Human.
The Bulls have one more home game remaining, against Western Province, which will determine where they actually finish in the fight for home semi-final berths.