Bulls must turn rickety rickshaw into a Rolls-Royce
Three weeks ago they were shooting blanks but now, with their attack starting to show signs of life, their defence resembles a train wreck.
Against the Jaguares at home on Saturday, the Bulls’ pistons were firing when they had the ball. The change from Ivan van Zyl to Embrose Papier at scrumhalf gave them impetus, while Springbok Marco van Staden gave them much-needed thrust in the forwards.
The Bulls were probably surprised by their own attacking ingenuity in the early exchanges, especially when their first attacking lineout produced Van Staden’s score. Jaco Visagie went short at the lineout, caught the visitors napping and the Bok openside flank crashed over the line for their first score.
Warrick Gelant’s tasty handling opened the Jaguares up for the Bulls’ second try, with the World Cup-winning fullback putting Johnny Kotze through, twice, with intricate inside passes, adding an on-the-floor offload in the same move before swan diving into the corner.
It was the kind of stuff you would leave your Hartbeespoort farm to come watch, especially when Rosko Specman joined the act and set up the opening that created Cornal Hendricks’ try.
Conversely, though, at the rearguard end of the field it was mayhem. The Jaguares mauled lumps out of the Bulls, whose defensive gear was stuck in reverse. Penalties rained in against the home team as a result, which brought the problem of discipline to the surface.
The makeshift backrow, featuring two players playing out of position - Jeandre Rudolph at No 8 and Josh Strauss at No 7 - was no match for Rodrigo Bruni and Tomas Lezana’s brutality. The latter pair also cleaned up on the floor, getting steals and turnovers at will.
For every piece of magic they produced going forward, they had an equally bewildering defensive lapse in concentration. Maybe four years ago they would have gotten away with it, but the Jaguares have matured in Super Rugby and they don’t waste chances.
Emiliano Bofelli punished the Bulls with a double, Bruni powered over the line, Guido Petti scored untouched and Santiago Socino added gloss to the 39-24 win. What will concern Bulls coach Pote Human was the ease with which Joaquin Diaz Bonilla found space with his boot behind the defence. It was like the Jaguares pivot had the ball on a string and midfielder Mattias Moroni profited from one such piece of inventiveness.
The Bulls finished the game with their heads in their hands again, wondering what they must do to win a game. There are no simple answers but they must find them soon, as they only have the match this weekend against the Highlanders before they go on a gruelling four-week tour of Australasia.
The Highlanders are also coming into this Saturday’s game on the back of s shocking display against the Rebels at home last Friday. But it’s the win-less Bulls that need to dig deep to turn their rickety rickshaw moving like a Rolls-Royce.@Sbu_Mjikeliso