The Bulls will not deviate from their tried and tested style of play despite growing criticism about their kicking game, following their 31-16 defeat to the Sharks in Durban at the weekend, coach Frans Ludeke said on Tuesday.
“I know what people are referring to, there are times that it is on when we have the momentum then we kick that good possession away maybe trying to tactically put it into a gap or force a lineout,” Ludeke said at the team announcement for Friday’s clash against the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein.
“It is about decision making, we will get better in every game, we are working on it but to get out of your area is a principle of the game.”
The Bulls may be known for employing a kick-and-chase strategy, however, statistics from Saturday’s match suggest the coastal side did most of the tactical kicking.
Stats from the Sanzarrugby.com show that the Sharks kicked 32 times in play, while the Bulls put ball to boot two times less in the clash.
Ludeke said it was only a matter of being more accurate in their execution of the game plan, while they also had some lapses on defence.
The Sharks found easy passage to the tryline in the first half scoring three five-pointers before adding the fourth in the dying moments of the match.
“Obviously we would like to execute better…we know we can play a lot better than the way we played over the weekend,” Ludeke said.
“We had mixed results in that kicking game, we forced some good turnovers there, [but] it is just the conditions. It is tough to carry the ball. They didn’t carry the ball either.
“We gave them some soft opportunities. They had four opportunities in the first half, four times they had the ball in that half and two of them were due to our mistakes.”
Ludeke made one change ahead of his side’s Super Rugby clash against the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein on Friday.
Lock Grant Hattingh will receive a starting berth at the expense of Paul Willemse, who drops out of the match-day 23 altogether, while Springbok veteran Victor Matfield will supply cover off the bench.
“We felt these were our best combinations and with the exception of Grant Hattingh coming in it is the same 23 players,” Ludeke said.
“It is more horses for course, we feel we need a little more mobility – it is different conditions playing in the Highveld.”
The Cheetahs and the Bulls are losing sides from the first round of the Super Rugby season and both teams would be looking to get their campaigns back on track.
The Bloemfontein-based side were left disappointed in their shock 21-20 defeat to the Lions on their home ground thanks to a last-minute drop goal by flyhalf Marnitz Boshoff.
Bulls captain Pierre Spies said while the team was unhappy with their performance against the Sharks they could make up for it on Friday.
“You’ve got to put the game behind you as quickly as possible, and the vibe within the team is very good and positive,” Spies said.
“Everyone was disappointed with the result and the execution of what we wanted to achieve. We see it as a new opportunity against the Cheetahs on Friday.”
15 Willie le Roux, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 Johan Sadie, 12 Francois Venter, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Johan Goosen, 9 Shaun Venter 8 Phillip van der Walt, 7 Lappies Labuschagné, 6 Boom Prinsloo, 5 Francois Uys, 4 Lodewyk de Jager, 3 Coenie Oosthuizen, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1 Caylib Oosthuisen
Substitutes:16 Ryno Barnes, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Maks van Dyk, 19 Rynard Landman, 20 Jean Cook, 21 Sarel Pretorius, 22 Elgar Watts, 23 Rayno Benjamin
15 Jurgen Visser, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 JJ Engelbrecht , 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Louis Fouché, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Pierre Spies (captain), 7 Jacques du Plessis, 6 Jono Ross, 5 Grant Hattingh, 4 Flip van der Merwe, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Callie Visagie, 1 Dean Greyling
Substitutes: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Frik Kirsten, 18 Marcel van der Merwe ,19 Victor Matfield,20 Jacques Engelbrecht, 21 Piet van Zyl, 22 Handré Pollard, 23 Ulrich Beyers