A bit like the band that kept on playing when the Titanic sank, the stadium announcer kept playing Steve Hofmeyr’s song Die Blou Bul while the Hurricanes smashed away at the Bulls last night.
“Die blou bul eet nie van die vloer af nie”, Hofmeyr kept singing. But it’s clear that not only do they eat from the floor, but they now do it at the place once known as Fortress Loftus.
Has a Vodacom Super 14 title ever been so badly defended?
Simnikiwe Xabanisa writes in The Sunday Times that the Bulls’ loss last night means the defending champions remain 13th on the log with just 10 points after nine games.
With 12 players in their line- up having started last year’s final, all that remains for the Bulls’ administration is to decide whether the coach or the players are responsible.
Something has to give, because this was pathetic to watch. The Bulls were lethargic and slipped first-time tackles with alarming regularity against one of the more skilful teams in the tournament.
Just how dire the Bulls were could be gleaned from the fact that the visitors, who kept their play-off hopes alive with the win, scored their bonus points try in the 21st minute.
It was a clear sign of who came to play and who came hoping for the best.
The Hurricanes’ preferred route to the tryline was clever interpassing between their backs and forwards, while the Bulls’ was by sticking the ball under Derick Kuun’s jersey at the back of a rolling maul.
When the hosts tried to give the ball a bit of air, running and catching took on the proportions of a multitasking minefield. The Bulls’ impotence was such that the only time they looked like scoring was when the ’Canes simultaneously had centre Conrad Smith and flanker Jerry Collins in the sin bin. Even then, the best they could manage was a try by No8 Pierre Spies, who predictably scored by barging over from the base of a five-metre scrum.
The Bulls’ cluelessness aside, credit must go to the Hurricanes for coming with a plan to exploit it. Colin Cooper’s charges were better at the scrums; harassed Bakkies Botha at the lineouts to nullify the Bulls there; and had the upper hand in the loose.
Among the backs, the simple plan was to run at the Bulls’ defensively brittle midfield.
This was a ploy which yielded their first try, through inside centre Ma’a Nonu, and frequently laid the platform for the rest of their seven tries.
Nonu was the chief destroyer there as he basically made a beeline for Derick Hougaard every time he got the ball, which invariably introduced the line- break they needed to have the Bulls defence at odds.
As a result, all they had to do in the second half was to keep ticking over, which they did by adding three more tries whenever the Bulls made mistakes trying to play catch-up.
What would have worried the Bulls more than the fact that they play what looks like outdated rugby in the ELV era was how little control they had up front.
Coughing up tightheads, gifting lineout ball and coming off second best in the physical exchanges has never been a hallmark of this team.
It’s amazing what a difference a year makes in rugby.
Bulls 22 – Tries: Pierre Spies, Wikus van Heerden, Jaco Engels. Conversions: Derick Hougaard, Morne Steyn. Penalty: Hougaard.
Hurricanes 50 – Tries: Ma’a Nonu (2), Chris Masoe, Conrad Smith, Hikawera Elliot, Shannon Paku, Cory Jane. Conversions: Jimmy Gopperth (5), Piri Weepu. Penalty: Gopperth.Tweet