Blitzboks play a massive role in inspiring Specman
PRETORIA – They were a million miles apart and the Bulls looked a million miles from winning a game, but the Blitzboks played a massive hand in inspiring Rosko Specman to his hat-trick heroics that propelled the Bulls to a 38-13 victory against the Highlanders on Saturday.
A young SA Sevens team won the Los Angeles Sevens title last weekend by beating Fiji in a final that was characterised by fighting spirit and a never-say-die attitude.
They came back from a 19-0 deficit to win with a Sako Makata golden try in extra time. Watching everything unfold from Pretoria was Specman, whose Bulls teammates were reeling from four-straight losses since the start of Super Rugby.
Specman, a Sevens Hall of Famer, if there ever was one, brought the house down at Loftus this past weekend with a trio of terrific second-half tries that ended the Bulls’ four-match winless run.
“I must say, they gave me hope,” said Specman.
“I even messaged them to say that. They were out and they came back. I just realised that the Bulls were in the same position and if we just stick to the basics, things would go our way.
“And on Saturday night it went our way. As you could see, their coach Neil (Powell) said they must just be calm. The more you knock, the door is gonna open.
“It just showed that we mustn’t give up, even when the chips are down. For four weeks we didn’t win one game, but the margins were very small.
“It was just one mistake at the end (against the Blues) and they won with a penalty. We have the guys and we have the pack now, and the coach believes in us.”
The Bulls were superior in the set pieces, especially the scrums, but they struggled to bank that advantage in the first half on Saturday.
With a change of attitude and strip, from blue to yellow, they came out with the sole intent of getting their playmakers onto the ball.
The result was some spectacular ball-movement, the architects of which were flyhalf Manie Libbok and fullback Warrick Gelant.
“The forwards put us on the front foot and, every time we got a turnover, the ball came wide and the back three looked dangerous. That’s where the space was,” said Specman, the chief beneficiary of the surge in offensive intensity.
“In the past we would want to put another phase in play, which gave the opposition defence time to set but on Saturday night we made sure that the ball went wide in two passes.
“Even when the ball was in the forwards’ hands, they made sure it went wide. For me, it was just to get the ball and make sure I don’t go out and to score in the corner.
“I was feeding off the guys’ energy: Johnny Kotze’s big plays and the big scrum that Trevor Nyakane and the forwards had.”
The Bulls will today hop on a plane to Australia with some of the weight of their poor opening four-round performances taken off.@sbu_mjikeliso