Bulls are eager to rectify their mistakes
It's 2020, but you could never tell that if you were watching the way the Bulls approached their clash against the Sharks in Durban last weekend.
For large chunks of the 23-15 defeat, the Bulls were a throwback to 2010, when flyhalf Morne Steyn’s boot was king. Steyn scored all 15 Bulls points from his boot, including a sweet drop-goal that was only good enough to remind fans that, even at 35, he can kick the pants off anything on the rugby field.
The Bulls scarcely created try-scoring chances and the one guilt-edged chance fell to Cornal Hendricks, whose hands have somehow melted during the off season. The Sharks, although they also got sucked into a kicking trance, hypnotised by Steyn’s goal-kicking threat, eventually snapped back into the kind of game plan many expect will see them flourish this season.
They took more chances with the ball and with that came two tries by wing Sbu Nkosi and sensational substitute scrumhalf Sanele Nohamba that decided the contest.
The World Cup in Japan last year, more notably the final that the Springboks won, was any indication of where South Africa’s game needed to be in order to bring the best results. Director of rugby Rassie Erasmus gave the world a blueprint but for those at Loftus, old habits die hard.
For the north-south Derby against the Stormers in Cape Town tomorrow, head coach Pote Human doubled down on the Bulls famed traditional game plan by sticking with the same backline from last week and adding Trevor Nyakane’s beef to the pack.
Manie Libbok, who has been bright in his time at the Bulls in Handre Pollard’s shadow, is the kind of player who could have given the Stormers defence plenty to ponder - much like Stormers hot-stepping flyhalf Damien Willemse will do to the men from Pretoria.
“I think I want to give the backline guys another shot,” said Human.
“I honestly believe it’s not one or two players’ fault that we lost there. It was a team effort. I want to give the guys an opportunity and I know everybody is hungry to rectify what happened last week.”
To be fair, though, the Stormers bring lethal weapons into tomorrow’s encounter - Steven Kitshoff, Frans Malherbe, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Jamie Roberts, Salmaan Moerat and Juarno Augustus.
“We must front up; we must be physically there,” Human said.
“They are a very good pack, they are very physical and if we are going to stand back we’re going to take shots on Saturday.”
Last year, with the Stormers primed for a physical battle in their opening game of the season, the Bulls came at them with good ball movement and plenty of feed for the wings.
The Bulls team:
Warrick Gelant, Cornal Hendricks, Johnny Kotze, Burger Odendaal(C), Rosko Specman, Morne Steyn, Ivan van Zyl, Josh Strauss, Abongile Nonkontwana, Jeandre Rudolph, Juandre Kruger, Andries, Ferreira, Trevor Nyakane, Jaco Visagie, Lizo Gqoboka.
Replacements: Johan Grobbelaar, Gerhard Steenekamp, Wiehahn Herbst, Ruan Nortje, Wian Vosloo, Embrose Papier, Manie Libbok, Divan Rossouw.@Sbu_Mjikeliso