When their plans fail, they fail miserably, but when those plans work as it did in Friday’s 44-20 victory over the Griquas, the Blue Bulls will remain one of the top contenders in Currie Cup rugby.
The Bulls’ victory marked the first occasion that the men from Pretoria managed to assert their authority without a full complement of Springboks in their ranks.
Although the team, coached by Pine Pienaar, did not opt to kick as much as they usually do, they dominated up front in a brutal display of forwards-based rugby.
“Decision-making is a big thing and I don’t think it was a case of us changing what we do, so a lot of credit needs to go to the decision makers that stepped up,” Bulls skipper Gary Botha said after the match.
“That was the difference, we know that our playing pattern works when we make the right calls and that leads to more momentum and once we have that momentum we can play Bulls rugby.”
Asked why his men were in such an unforgiving mood, Pienaar said their loss to the Lions at Loftus Versfeld had a lot to do with it and that the players were eager to regain the faith of their loyal supporters.
“A big compliment must go to our forwards who gave the backs great momentum in the first half,” said Pienaar.
“Our goal was to pull off a win and we knew Griquas is a difficult team to beat.
“We had a good first half and although there were still a lot of errors we are happy with the win.”
The Blue Bulls sealed the match in the first 40 minutes where they raced to a 32-3 half-time lead.
The win, however, came at a price as lock Juandré Kruger picked up an ankle injury that will be assessed on Monday.
Back on the winning track
In Cape Town, Western Province also managed to get back on the winning track by securing a confidence boosting 28-26 victory over the then unbeaten Lions.
Another flawless day with the boot by flyhalf Demetri Catrakilis can be given as the main reason for the win, he was successful in all seven of his kicks at goal while also slotting a drop-goal.
It would not have been possible without the entire team’s contribution.
“We lost a number of key players through the game which was a huge blow, but pulling this one off is a huge win for us and a step in the right direction,” Province coach Allister Coetzee said after the match.
Coetzee was relieved that his team did not repeat last year’s three match losing streak at the same stage of the competition.
He viewed it as his men making a mental step-up at exactly the right time.
“We hurt in the last couple of weeks after losing two close games, but this match showed the real character of the team,” said Coetzee.
“From our starting XV to our bench, everyone made an impact on the field. Even Quinn Roux in his first Currie Cup match played a fantastic game.”
In the third match on Friday, the Sharks were involved in a scrappy contest against the Leopards, who made them work hard for their 23-3 victory in Durban.
The fact that John Plumtree’s men failed to secure the four try bonus point is bound to be of great concern, considering their next match will be against the only side on the log that has accumulated more points in the competition.
Plumtree will not be as disappointed as Pumas coach Jimmy Stonehouse who watched his men concede 80 points in Bloemfontein on Saturday.
The Cheetahs bounced back from their loss to the Lions the previous week by banking a sublime 80-16 win, that included 11 tries and a long range drop-goal by rookie flyhalf Johan Goosen.
The result of a few months in the capable hands of Springbok Sevens coach Paul Treu again became evident as eighth man Boom Prinsloo crossed the try line on three occasions for the Free State squad. — Sapa