JOHANNESBURG – It may not have been polished performances but the Bulls and Lions management got to gauge their depth in their warm-up match at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria on Saturday.
The Bulls won the match 21-17 but the result means little in the greater scheme of things with both sides scoring three tries.
But the match was all about testing combinations and finding the right personnel to complement their first-choice players during the 2019 Super Rugby season.
The Bulls dominated the first half going into the half-time break with a 21-10 lead before a lacklustre second half.
Their tries came courtesy of Rosko Specman, Franco Naudé and JT Jackson, while Stean Pienaar, Morné van der Berg and Tyrone Green crossed the whitewash for the Lions.
Fielding untested fringe players with a sprinkling of first-choice campaigners the teams got to see what they looked like before the start of the season.
Emirates Lions Reserves vs Vodacom Bulls: Pieter Jansen, Danie Minnie, Frans van Wyk, PJ Steenkamp, Roelof Smith, James Venter, Pikkie de Villiers, Dian Schoonees, Bradley Thain, Eddie Fouché, Louritz van der Schyff, Jan-Louis la Grange, Stean Pienaar, Jeanluc Cilliers.— Emirates Lions (@LionsRugbyCo) January 24, 2019
Lions coach Swys de Bruin said the match proved that they had healthy depth in their ranks with a few contenders emerging from the match.
“The last 20 minutes was good for us but it is still early days, we tested combinations and we saw what we wanted to see,” De Bruin said. “We’ve got lovely depth in our team, with 11 of the 15 that played still Under-21, so it is looking promising.
“There were definitely a couple of players that put up their hands today and that is what we were looking for.
“There were 23 guys that didn’t play today which is more or less the same with the Bulls. There are about five or six guys that can make the squad.”
In case you've missed it, here is the team line up for the Vodacom Bulls vs Emirates Lions Warm-Up game Today at Loftus. Kick off 15h00#WU-VBBvLIO #BullsFamily #SuerPowered #RealLiveSuperHeroes pic.twitter.com/ykIrSwGMPd— Official Blue Bulls (@BlueBullsRugby) January 26, 2019
Bulls flank Ruan Steenkamp had a storming game in the No 6 jersey, while the midfield combination of Jackson and Naudé also made an impression.
On the Lions side, Gianni Lombard was in top form at flyhalf, while their centre pairing of Green and Wandisile Simelane also turned in good performances.
Both coaches bemoaned the number of penalties their teams conceded in the match with the players adjusting to law changes.
Bulls coach Pote Human said he was happy with the way his charges started the game but the penalty count was something they needed to remedy.
“It is definitely a concern. In the first 25 minutes, we didn’t get a single penalty, then suddenly eight in a row. And in the second half, we also conceded too many,” Human said.
“But we’ll address it. It is good it happened today so that we can work on it.”@Ockertde