PRETORIA - The Blue Bulls will have no time to ponder what went wrong in their loss against the Sharks before facing another demanding encounter against Western Province at Newlands on Saturday.
Fortunately for the men in blue, their flaws and woes were rather obvious and the majority of them stemmed from their inability to stick to their plan while still giving away points cheaply to the opposition according to coach Nollis Marais.
With time against them from Wednesday night’s defeat at Loftus Versfeld, Marais is hopeful that the two days preparation will be enough to get their Currie Cup campaign back on track but remains wary of a Western Province side that is struggling after their loss to Griquas in Kimberley on Wednesday as well.
“We were on the back foot from the beginning and when we were on the attack we lost the ball trying to force a fifty-fifty offloads. The Sharks are a very good side and when you give them an opportunity they are a very dangerous side,” Marais said.
“But we were just not good enough on the night. We just have to get back. Western Province suffered a defeat as well so Saturday they are going to be up for it. We’ve lost a home game now which is not acceptable, not that any loss is acceptable, so we need to make it right on Saturday.”
At the heart of the Bulls problems so early in the season has been their frailties on defence while they have also failed to get any sort of dominance in the scrums and line-outs.
What they have excelled in so far has been the speed with which they play with ball in hand and that too seemed to elude them against the Sharks.
For Marais these are minor issues that should be turned around in a game as long as his side learns to stick to their plan and processes. More importantly though, they will need to redefine their attitude on defence which has seen them give away easy tries against Griquas, the Golden Lions and the Sharks.
“We had opportunities but we just didn’t use them. Our reaction speed was not good unlike in previous games. Our set-piece wasn’t good and yet again we gave away tries easily. They scored easy tries and we had to fight for each and every one so that is something we need to fix,” said Marais.
“Defence, exits, we lost ball at kick-off, lost it forward and they scored seven points. We slipped tackles and gave them momentum and we had to catch up all game. We didn’t stick to the process and plan we need to get the guys back on track."
The Bulls are unlikely to make significant changes to their team even though the physical toll of playing two games in five days will begin to take effect.
Sensational wing Duncan Matthews is fit and available for selection while Junior Springbok fullback Manie Libbok suffered an ankle injury late in the game against the Sharks.