Cape Town — When you look at some of the players that the Blue Bulls fielded against the Griffons on Friday, it is incredible to think that they lost 32-28 in Welkom.
In the backline alone, they had the likes of Wandisile Simelane, Lionel Mapoe, Johan Goosen and Keagan Johannes, and upfront, seasoned campaigners such as Muller Uys, Nizaam Carr, Phumzile Maqondwana, Jacques du Plessis and captain Lizo Gqoboka.
Even the bench had Simphiwe Matanzima and Mihlali Mosi.
Yet it was the unheralded ‘Purple People Eaters’ — led superbly by flyhalf Duan Pretorius — who condemned the Pretoria side to their ninth loss in a row across the Currie Cup, URC and Champions Cup, which started on January 20 against Lyon in France.
And that terrible run is likely to be increased to 10 on Sunday, as French giants Toulouse loom on the horizon.
A frustrated Blue Bulls coach Edgar Marutlulle lamented the numerous unforced errors that bedevilled his team, especially on attack, where they often coughed up possession inside the Griffons 22.
And one comical passage of play came just before halftime, when the Bulls were scrummed backwards on their own put-in, and after the Griffons moved it wide, Goosen was unable to hold onto an intercept, and the home side scored.
“Oh, greatly disappointed. There were a lot of things that we could’ve, would’ve, should’ve done better. But we definitely didn’t do enough of it, and for us to be in this dog-fight here was a making of our own mistakes — the most elementary of mistakes in some of those areas,” Marutlulle told IOL Sport afterwards.
“It was absolutely frustrating, to tell you the least. It’s one of those moments as a coach where you are 21-13 up and it’s two minutes to play (before halftime), and we get a scrum underneath our posts.
“The scrum disintegrates and they get the ball out, and they score, and it’s 21-20 into halftime.
“I was pleased… with some of the transitional moments. Our counter-attack was exceptional at times, in terms of coming back against the wind in the first half. The one try in the corner (by tighthead prop Robert Hunt) was outstanding.
“There were a couple of really good moments from a defensive point of view… But just not consistent enough, not consecutively — you do one or two things well, and then you’re back again making mistakes.
“So, we need to build in terms of doing good things one after the other, and sequences and consecutive positives.”
Marutlulle felt that the youngsters in the side were learning some tough lessons as they make their way into senior rugby.
“That’s the Currie Cup. We are all starting to see the quality, and some of these players have to understand that hard enough,” the former Bulls hooker said.
“Most of them haven’t played on a big enough stage for over a year. A lot of them are guys that are making errors – really poor stuff – and playing at Currie Cup level for the first time.
“Jan-Hendrik (Wessels) is playing Currie Cup for the first time, (Reinhardt) Ludwig playing four games in a senior Currie Cup for the first time, Franco Knoetze, Adriaan Joubert, Kabelo Mokoena…
“I’m proud of them for the fact that they are competing, but we are not really here to compete as the Blue Bulls. We’ve just got to get better: too many errors.”
Griffons 32 – Tries: Soso Xakalashe, JJ Pretorius, Jaco Willemse, Jamba Ulengo. Conversions: Jaywinn Juries (3). Penalties: Juries (2).
Blue Bulls 28 – Tries: Wandisile Simelane, Muller Uys, Jan-Hendrik Wessels, Robert Hunt. Conversions: Johan Goosen (4).