Home Coaching The Bulls……the good, bad and ugly

The Bulls……the good, bad and ugly



A lacklustre first half from the Blue Bulls has many fans calling them out as frauds already. The Stormers were brilliant, as they were last season in the opening game. However Super Rugby remains a marathon and not a sprint. The champions, the Hurricanes opened the season with a 0-2 record and still managed to recover, tweak their game plan sufficiently to win the title.

Now, the Blue Bulls will be aiming for the play-offs this season and this match could have been more beneficial than harmful. They will be playing in a difficult conference and have received a rude awakening. In their first seven games – they have one home game and they need to learn, step up and move on quickly. The Bulls should be fine.

The Good – Players that showed up

The Bulls can take a lot of positives from their opening game. The performances of Travis Ismaiel, Rudy Paige, RG Snyman, Jacques Potgieter, Hanro Liebenberg and the bench were encouraging. Individually they had some promising and dominant performances. The four tries the Bulls scored had a combination of tackle busts, offloads and interlinking between backs and forwards.

The efforts of Hanro and Potgieter proved to be pivotal in defence and on attack as the pair made dominant hits and Hanro in particular breached the gain-line at will. This bodes well for the season. The impact injected by the entire bench in particular will give Nollis a few reasons to smile about.

Bad –Defensive work

The Blue Bulls have started slowly over the years and this was a resemblance of their match against the Lions a few years ago in the Currie Cup, were they started slowly only to hit back in the second half despite losing. The Loftus outfit need to start matches far better, playing catch-up is never ideal especially with Kiwi opponents around the corner.

Conceding five tries in your first game will be disappointing. The Bulls tackled effectively, but their systematic lapses cost them the game. Their defensive work was affected by an ineffective scrum.

The pressure applied at the breakdown was commendable from the Stormers pack with Pieter Steph du Toit, Siya Kolisi and Etzebeth combining for several counter-rucks which led to one of the tries on the day. The Bulls’ ball retention was not up to standard, with many players standing off to carry before securing possession. The lapse in concentration after getting back into the game every time – costly. A direct result of the poor start the away side had.


In the long run, he will improve. The general has a lot of pressure on him and he has to get on with the job. Playing with limited territory stems from the Bulls’ limited ‘out of hand’ kicking options. The Bulls looked to Rudy Paige and leaned on Handre Pollard a lot more.

Pollard was evidently rusty, off the mark and at some stages seemed as though the pressure of being the ‘Saviour of SA Rugby’ was weighing heavily on his shoulders. Missing kicks at goal and having kicks charged down saw him have a game to forget. The Bulls back line had several glitches that should be easily fixed when you look at alignment, footwork and being a bit deeper. This should improve the handling. The backs battled to get going and the introduction of Warrick Gelant and Tian Schoeman improved the Bulls to an extent. Pollard needs to rediscover form soon, much is expected from him. The return of Jan Serfontein will aid Pollard in the coming week.

Ugly – Set-piece

The strategy to play off quick-taps and avoid line-outs worked for the Stormers, but it was their dominant pack that exposed the poor Bulls scrum which needs to see the doctor this week. Maybe a quick call to Os du Randt could help. Trevor Nyakane struggled and the big man has continued to struggle at tight head like the Sharks’ Coenie Oosthuizen and Thomas du Toit who are part of the failing experimental switch from the left side of the scrum. To add insult to injury, the Bulls hooker didn’t seem to help Trevor much and the scrum was a source of four penalties for the Stormers and two tries. The scrum needs to be stable and is a platform on attack and defence. The Bulls line out will also need to improve with more pressure set to be on Jaco Visagie who had a few bad throws and struggled in the scrum.

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  1. Bulls looked better when ironically three Boks went off… namely LDJ, Trevor and Paige…

    Why is it we have such shite TH’s in RSA… jury is out on Malherbe and Lourens is safe safe… why are they not breeding specialists rather than these poxy experiments. The same could be said at 9… at least when there was a dearth of 10’s they seemed to have solved that (well not on current test performances)…

  2. Nyakane got monstered
    Paige dd a three step slingy pass so Pollard was always getting ball and man
    LDJ was as useless as he has always been
    All the stuff I warned of happened.
    Light Five got killed
    Paige slowed their ball down*

    *How his performance rates as a “showed up” probably means he was on the field with a blue jersey on.

  3. Ugly – Set-piece

    Ja you need to change that to scrum, because their lineouts were pretty damn good. One of the few things that went their way.

    Backline was SLOOOWWWW

  4. Seen the Stormers seemed to to avoid the line outs. Bulls had three bad line out throws in the game. The scrum needs a new hooker & TH. Bulls backs over ran their passes. They have some hope… We will see how the season goes. Think they had more positives than negatives. Scrum the most glaring negative.

  5. Bennie the Bulls lost this game in two parts as I saw it, firstly their forwards was again bullied and their scrums are again crap.

    Against the top teams they will keep on struggling.

    If you cannot get proper ball from forwards you are playing on luck and luck normally does not work for 80 min against top teams.

    The second thing in my view was that they expected as I did the Stormers to kick and not play a fast and expanding game.

    How de moer does a SR team these days take 40 min to get the game the opposition are playing?

    Surely the coach should have gotten the message to his players on teh field in the first 10 min to change their approach.

    At this level they should have adopted quicker. Their defense was useless even in the 70 min.

    The Stormers outsmart your so-called brilliant coach. It just show how much he still has to learn.

    The senior players in the Bulls also faded away when the pressure came, which is a third one I can add.

  6. I think the margins were quite small in this game. Despite the Stormers controlling the scrums, their first 3 tries were all a result of something brilliant that somebody did – which could easily have backfired. Bulls will beat many teams this year.

  7. I was swearing at the tv and very frustrated at the Bulls on Saturday.

    However, the passes will stick going forward and the scrum hopefully will stabilise when Strauss returns. All the problems are things that can be remedied. So hopefully I get it wrong on SUperbru and we beat the Cheetahs.

  8. I think the Cheetahs will again be the milking cows from SA (apart from the obvious impis…). Cheetahs somehow thing helter skelter passing to nobody in full flight, with shaky defense, will win a few games – they have not learned a lot (and more worries for the Proteas as their coach applies this tactics at higher levels).

  9. @Aldo: I have been worried about Bulls scrum for a while now, even with Strauss there last few years they still struggled against the top teams.

    Look I said from the start I am with Bennie and think Bulls will be our top team this year but I start to doubt that now

  10. @Jacques:

    I find it surprising that the Bulls have not invested in getting a decent tighthead to move to Loftus, instead of buying all the young centres in the country every year.

  11. @Craven: That is a bit strange….Someone said this weekend that Trevor is the new Coenie, will get nowhere if he stay at 3.

    The have great locks and “loosies” so just need to proper props. That Hanro Liebenberg is a “Yster”

  12. @Craven:

    Indeed… this is year to shine after so many serious injuries (at least they have not been anything that could slow him down ie ankles/knees etc)…

    And he has finally been added to the extended Bok squad… however I’m extremely disappointed JL Du Preez has not… particularly after his game this weekend, his season last… and his test/Bok A cameo’s last year too… yet the likes of Mahoje is ‘still’ there…

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