Joey Mongalo: Bulls’ attack and defence feed off each other
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CAPE TOWN - While the plaudits have been streaming in for the Bulls’ progress on attack this season, their defence is another reason why they are leading the Super Rugby Unlocked standings.
The Bulls’ backs have, rightly, been praised for their creativity and strike-running with ball-in-hand, where the likes of Stedman Gans and Kurt-Lee Arendse have been deadly.
Jake White’s team have scored the most tries (18) and also the most points with 157.
But they say defence wins you titles – to go along with the thought that the forwards win you games and the backs decide by how much.
Now the Bulls have basically won the Super Rugby Unlocked title going into their match against the Pumas at Loftus Versfeld on Sarturday. The Bulls, though, are still awaiting confirmation from SA Rugby on whether the match will take place due to the Pumas’ Covid19 issues.
Defence coach Joey Mongalo said yesterday that he was positive that the match would be played.
“We have all the faith in the world that it’s going to happen, and we prep as if it’s going to happen. So, all we can do is get bad news – but for us, we really believe that it will happen,” he said.
“And I don’t think it will be great for the Pumas if they don’t play this weekend, because then, they wouldn’t have played for about four weekends before they play again. We really believe that everything is going to work out, and we are planning as if we are definitely going to play.”
But back to Mongalo’s line of work in Pretoria – defence. The Bulls have conceded the fewest tries, eight, and also gave away the least points with 87.
That has played a major role in their resurgence under White over the last few weeks, but the former Lions assistant coach was quick to laud his fellow staff members for the success on attack and defence.
“It’s satisfying, and probably speaks to the unity that there is in the coaching staff, and also the clarity that there is in our separate roles, and how those link together. I think it’s just attack feeds off defence, and defence feeds off attack as well. I think it’s the complement of that, the unity and the clarity,” Mongalo said.
“One thing I must clarify from the beginning is that it’s never my stats defensively. It’s only ever my fault when we go badly! When it’s going well, it’s the whole department, so I have to give credit where credit is due.
“If you’ve got a head coach in charge who the guys want to play for and defend more, that makes a massive difference. If you’ve got a forward pack that Russell’s (Winter) busy with that refuses to let anybody score maul tries or scrum them for penalties, that makes a massive difference.
“If you have a guy like Nollis (Marais, breakdown coach), who works hard with the guys at the defensive breakdown, which makes it impossible for teams to play – and then you’ve got two or three players who lead the defensive system, then you are actually looking at a whole department whose getting the rewards of all their hard work.”
Mongalo feels that defence is perhaps more challenging in some ways to attack, where technique is complemented by a player’s attitude. “You put your body on the line. Attack is nice – Chris (Rossouw, attack coach) and them have a great job because you pass the ball around and you grew up with a rugby ball,” he said.
“Defence is a bit different in that you have to put your body on the line, and I think if your heart and emotions are not in it – you don’t believe in the plan or the place you are at – then it will show in the manner in which you tackle.
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