JOHANNESBURG - The Bulls may have lost the first game on tour against the Reds but the lessons learnt will stand them in good stead to earn their first victory in New Zealand in five years when they play against the Chiefs in Hamilton on Friday, according to coach John Mitchell.
For the second time this season, the Bulls will look to themselves in finding the solutions to how they let go of a 14-10 half-time lead to eventually go down 20-14 to a Reds side that capitalised on their impatience and lack of accuracy on attack.
But beyond his team’s inability to put through enough phases to break down the opposition, Mitchell conceded that they have to show a great deal of improvement in all areas of their game if they are to deliver the kind of performance that will see them overcome the Chiefs.
The jury is still out on what exactly is happening in the scrums with the Bulls being penalised more often than they should be while their apprehension to contest the breakdown with the ferocity it deserves leaves them having to defend for a longer time than they should.
“At the moment we are just not consistently accurate across the board. So that means at some point if we can put it all together then we are going to present ourselves with an opportunity of finishing off a match like that,” said Mitchell.
“First half we scored two good turnover tries and then we let in one just before the half-time having sustained a lot of defence. What concerned me was the lack of shape in attack just after half-time when we were building pressure with the ball. We have to learn to become more patient.”
Two consecutive loses, against the Lions and Reds, may have negated the Bulls morale boosting start to the competition when they beat title contenders the Hurricanes, but there are enough good things that they are doing with ball in hand to suggest that victory is not too far away.
If the little moments of weakness that are proving to be costly can be eliminated, especially the time spent with ball in hand and finishing off opportunities, there is no reason the Bulls won’t be able to push the Chiefs to the limit and walk away with the win.
“We are experiencing situations all the time. I felt that we were far too impatient on attack and we must learn that team work comes from working together rather than trying to do it on our own," Mitchell said.
"Maybe having to spend so much time on defence took a fair bit out of us. But I need to commend the fight of the guys, some of the scramble defence was exceptional, they stayed committed to each other and clearly presented themselves at the end an opportunity to win a tight match.”
The men from the capital suffered an injury setback with co-captain Nic de Jager sent back home because of a rib injury and will be replaced by Springbok Sevens hard man Tim Agaba.