JOHANNESBURG - Sometimes rugby coaches seem to derive the most pleasure from the ugly wins instead of the pretty ones and that was the case when Bulls coach John Mitchell watched his team grind out a 28-10 win against a disruptive Rebels side on Saturday.
While admittedly frustrated at how the game unfolded, Mitchell was happy with the result, which was his team’s third successive victory and another bonus point win.
Mitchell would not have been the only frustrated person at Loftus on Saturday, so too would have been the few thousand of the Loftus faithful that had gathered at their hallowed ground.
But the fans' frustration turned into joy as they too can see that their beloved team is starting to look like a side that can make the play-offs if they continue in this rich vein of form.
While the Rebels were determined to spoil the game from any fluidity, the Bulls showed a great deal of maturity in not allowing themselves to be sucked into the street brawl and must be commended for sticking to the task at hand and toiling to a well-deserved victory.
“We’ll take the five points. We got there in a difficult and challenging way and I commend the guys for the way that they didn’t let the frustration get to them,” Mitchell said afterwards.
"We kept them to 10 points, which is awesome, we put some very good line speed on them and we were terrific in the tackle. Some weeks you just don’t get it right and you’ve got to hang in there right until the end and that’s where the guys need to be given credit."
As complimentary as Mitchell was of his team’s mature performance, he was scathing towards the Australians.
If it was not the constant and deliberate infringements in trying to stop the Bulls from getting the rolling maul going then it was unbecoming off-the-ball incidents, especially at the breakdown, that only served to get the Bulls players hot under the collar.
And when the Rebels did get the ball they didn’t look interested in exerting themselves too much with only the man mountain No 8, Amanaki Mafi, trying to make some running metres.
But the Rebels were not the only ones at fault for how the game panned out with referee Ben O’Keeffe struggling to stamp his authority on proceedings.
“Clearly a strategic move by the opposition to slow the game down. I’m not sure if Sanzaar needs a product like that, it certainly wasn’t our doing. It might have suited the Bulls team of old,” said Mitchell.
“I’m actually not sure to judge Ben at all because I’m not sure what the game constitutes or the protocols that exist. Is there a law or what is it? Certainly not a presentable fabric of this awesome game and the way it can be played.”