It’s no use having Morné Steyn’s gun boot at your disposal if it’s only purpose in general play is to give opponents a chance to counter-attack. Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix
It’s no use having Morné Steyn’s gun boot at your disposal if it’s only purpose in general play is to give opponents a chance to counter-attack. Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

How the Bulls can get their campaign back on track against the Blues

By Sibusiso Mjikeliso Time of article published Feb 22, 2020

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The Bulls desperately need a home victory against the Blues at Loftus today to get their Super Rugby campaign into gear. Sibusiso Mjikeliso has three tips for the Bulls.

1. Kick but smartly

It’s no use having Morné Steyn’s gun boot at your disposal if it’s only purpose in general play is to give opponents a chance to counter-attack.

And the Blues, like all New Zealand teams, can hurt you on the counter-attack. If winger Mark Telea or outside centre Joe Marchant get half a gallop with space in front of them, Loftus will be as silent as a morgue. The Blues are tied fifth for the most clean breaks in the competition (32) and Telea has had a good taste of the try line already this season, after scoring a hat-trick against the Waratahs in Newcastle in round two. Telea has Sivu Reece attributes: quick, likes to do work on the inside and not shy to take defenders on. But he’s largely untested under the high ball. A good high kick, pinged with Steyn’s innate accuracy, could bring Bulls wingers Cornal Hendricks and Rosko Specman into play. These two are fierce high ball competitors. Assuming the former has worked on his sweaty palms, he should have the wood on Telea or fullback Stephen Perofeta.

2. Exploit weaknesses

Bulls coach Pote Human would not say it but there are holes all over the Blues defence. He hinted, though, that they were aware of that, saying the visitors do looked vulnerable when put under pressure. Pressure begins with the forward pack and that’s where the Bulls have the slight edge, with two canny Springbok front-rowers in Lizo Gqoboka and Trevor Nyakane.

They need to follow that up by closing down flyhalf Otere Black, who is starting for the first time this season. Springbok Pieter-Steph du Toit on England’s George Ford in the World Cup final was the art of putting a pivot out the game. Du Toit was like a rat up a drainpipe whenever Ford touched the ball. Knowing that a 120kg, 2m red-blooded flanker was after him messed with the flyhalf’s rhythm and it put England on the back foot. Wian Vosloo can steal a page out of that book.

3. Disrupt or be disrupted

Visiting teams usually come to the highveld knowing they will struggle in a lot of areas because of the altitude factor. Most will resort to disruptive tactics to throw their opponents off their game. The Blues will try to make a mess of the breakdown to prevent Ivan van Zyl delivery good, clean ball to Steyn. Instead of waiting and hoping to recycle the ball, the Bulls must clear the ruck quickly and with some meaningful force. They should be prepared to do their own disrupting during the game - nothing illegal or unseemly but little things like applying a two or three-man counter-ruck.

@Sbu_Mjikeliso


Saturday Star

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