CHRISTCHURCH – The Bulls produced a tactically inept performance as they succumbed to a disappointing 33-14 defeat against the Crusaders in Christchurch on Friday.
At the start of the 2018 season, there have been some encouraging signs of the Bulls’ progression under new coach John Mitchell, but the Pretoria-based team took a big step backwards on Friday.
Despite the inclement conditions in Christchurch, the Bulls attempted to stick to a loose, attack-minded approach that backfired horribly, while they also failed to protect possession as basic errors repeatedly blighted their play.
The Bulls had dominated the early exchanges in rain-soaked Christchurch, but made the cardinal mistake of failing to take potential points on offer. On three occasions, the visitors turned down a shot at goal in order to rather set-up an attacking lineout, but failed to score any points.
Instead, the Crusaders scored with virtually their first meaningful attack in the red zone, with lock Scott Barrett barreling over from the back of a driving lineout.
The Bulls did receive an opening when Crusaders prop Tim Perry was yellow-carded for a high tackle in the 26th minute, but even in his absence, the home side would be the next to score as Codie Taylor barged over from close range.
Just as the frustration would undoubtedly have been starting to build for the Bulls, winger Travis Ismaiel created a try from nothing that cut the deficit to seven points.
However, the Crusaders continued to play high-percentage rugby in the conditions and set up one final attacking opportunity of the half, with centre Jack Goodhue duly powering his way past two attempted tacklers to score a crucial try before the break.
The result was then effectively sealed when Goodhue once again showed impressive strength to pinball off defenders as he dotted down for his second try soon after the restart, with the simple conversion extending the Saders’ lead to an unassailable 28-7.
Bulls replacement Marco van Staden did score a late opportunistic try, but this was effectively cancelled out when the Crusaders' George Bridge dotted down for his team's fifth try, which also restored their bonus point.
After a forgettable overseas tour, the Bulls will now return home to face the Stormers in what has effectively become a must-win match if they hope to somehow keep their playoff hopes alive.
Crusaders 33 (21): Tries: Scott Barrett, Codie Taylor, Jack Goodhue (2), George Bridge. Conversions: Mitchell Hunt (4).
Bulls 14 (7): Tries: Travis Ismaiel, Marco van Staden. Conversions: Handré Pollard (2).
African News Agency (ANA)