Bulls stay grounded after runaway win over Stormers
Super Rugby / 18 February 2019, 09:45am / Ockert de Villiers
JOHANNESBURG – A wave of optimism flooded Loftus Versfeld on Saturday as the Bulls romped to a 40-3 victory over the Stormers but the Pretoria side has called for caution with a tough season still ahead.
The four-try victory was as polished as Bulls coach Pote Human could have hoped for in his first game in charge.
Human refused to be swept away by the euphoria of the win over their old foes with the tournament still in its baby shoes.
“We worked hard for this one, and we knew it was going to be tough but all credit to the team and the management team,” Human said. “We got it spot on and the players produced on the field but as I told the players, Super Rugby is not won in the first week.
“It is a tough road ahead but it is a good start, I think this is great for the confidence of the guys and I am really looking forward to the season.”
The Bulls seems to be striking the right balance with the new recruits led by veteran Springboks Duane Vermeulen, Schalk Brits and Sevens flyer Rosko Specman injecting new life into the Pretoria franchise.
Vermeulen beefed up an already imposing pack while Brits played like an eighth backline player without reneging on his core duties.
But their performances paled in comparison to that Specman, who had a dream debut in which he ran circles around the opposition for two spectacular five-pointers.
Bulls captain Lood de Jager and second-row partner Jason Jenkins were equally imposing both in the loose and during line-out time.
The Stormers will have recurring nightmares of De Jager’s reign of terror in the line-outs where he robbed them of valuable possession.
“It is really a pack effort, everybody just knowing their detail and running out on the field executing, we put in a lot of work behind the scenes at line-out time,” De Jager said.
“We will enjoy tonight’s victory, it was a good performance but on Monday we start from scratch.
“Our focus then shifts to the Jaguares, who are not an easy team to beat there (Argentina) and everyone knows we will have to be at our best. So hopefully we can produce another good performance next week.”
While the Bulls turned in a near-perfect showing in Pretoria, Human was still concerned about the number of penalties and unforced errors.
“The players produced what we expected of them and I knew all along we had a squad to do really well this year but we just need to remain humble then we can surprise a few teams this year,” Human said.
“The set-piece, especially the line-outs were awesome, we took the ball away from them then the defence was great. I mean not to give away a try against the Stormers is a great achievement.”
Human said he was concerned about Brits’ availability for next week’s clash against the Jaguares with his first-choice hooker leaving the field shortly before the half-time break.
Brits was battling with a niggling calf strain he sustained in the team’s warm-up match against the Sharks a week ago.