Hurricanes wing Wes Goosen dives over for a try against the Bulls. Photo: Anton Geyser, EPA

PRETORIA – The Bulls did their best to try and impress new boss John Mitchell, but they would have needed more than just mongrel to pull off an ambush against the Hurricanes here on Saturday.

It was that fight in them, when the result was probably in the bag for the defending champions long before this encounter began, that kept them within arm’s reach of the Hurricanes until the hour mark when replacement hooker Leni Apisai put the 34-20 result beyond dispute.

It has been the absence of the killer instinct in the Bulls’ play that has contributed towards their downward spiral this season.

And again it came back to haunt them as they just could not convert the countless opportunities they had with ball-in-hand deep in the Hurricanes half.

For a moment the Bulls had planted the seed of doubt into the New Zealanders as they dominated possession and territory for huge chunks of the game, but they failed to make it count.

The Hurricanes, on the other hand, made good of the scraps they rummaged for, and fullback Jordie Barrett sliced through the Bulls defence to score in the second minute.

The visitors were just as ruthless halfway through the opening 40 minutes when centre Ngani Laumape was given the freedom of Loftus by yet another lapse of concentration in the Bulls defence.

The next two occasions when the Hurricanes visited the Bulls’ red zone, they came back with at least five points from their tireless toil, and that handed them a comfortable 11-point cushion by the halftime interval.

Unlike in previous encounters home and away, the Bulls remained in the fight and showed some resilience that had been missing for most parts of their disastrous campaign.

However, the lack of confidence with ball-in-hand and the unfamiliarity of playing at such a high intensity saw the Bulls run aimlessly at times, and struggle to generate enough quick ball to catch the Hurricanes napping.

Bulls captain Adriaan Strauss runs down a dead end against the Hurricanes. Photo: Anton Geyser, EPA

The Hurricanes have mastered the art of stealing a yard or two in defence, and at times it was their quick off-the-mark rush defence that stopped the Bulls dead in their tracks.

Beyond just bending the rules in their favour on defence, the Hurricanes overpowered the Bulls at the breakdown and easily stole valuable possession which helped them relieve a lot of the pressure that the home side had courageously built up.

That unrelenting spirit that the Bulls had played with did pay dividends in the end, when Nic de Jager ran in a consolation try to bring some respectability to yet another losing score-line.

There would have been a few nods of approval from Mitchell as he sat high up in the terraces at Loftus, looking down on the talented but disheartened team that he will have to turn from chumps to champs.


Bulls 20 – Tries: Duncan Matthews, Nic de Jager. Conversions: Tian Schoeman (1), Tony Jantjies (1). Penalties: Tian Schoeman (2).

Hurricanes 34 – Tries: Jordie Barrett, Ngani Laumape, Wes Goosen, Mark Abbott, Leni Apisai. Conversions: Jordie Barrett (1), Otere Black (2). Penalty: Black (1).


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