After the Loftus Versfeld scoreboard had clocked 50 points for the opposition for the second time in a season, a man with disproportionately long horns on his hard hat,and his young son railed against the dying of the might.
Kevin McCallum writes in the Pretoria News that the Bulls had long departed the field for the safety of the dressing-room, but father and son let loose with a long stream of invective and scorn into the brisk night air.
From Vodacom Super 14 champions to second from last on the log they’ve slid. Only the Lions are beneath them.
“Victor, Heyneke, why did you leave us?” they asked. They were not the only ones. With a quarter of the match still to be played, large chunks of the crowd voted with their feet after the Hurricanes had scored their fifth try.
Others began cheering for the Hurricanes.
One lonely soul began singing and praying for divine intervention from above.
The Bulls – so strong, so dominant at Loftus Versfeld in the past three years – were outmuscled by the Hurricanes, comfortably losing the breakdown competition and also conceding, horror upon horror, two tightheads.
It was their seventh loss in nine matches for the Bulls this year.
More significantly, it was the fastest any team have had four tries scored against them this season with Ma’a Nonu scoring the fourth after just 21 minutes.
“There were some very soft tries,” said Bulls coach Frans Ludeke. “Yet we were out of it by then. It ballooned there in the beginning and we chased for the rest of the night. They got the ball and they kept it. They kept us pinned back.
“Their retention was good. We had our first scrum and lineout in their half in the 25th minute of the game.
“They dominated the contact situation and were better there than us. I thought there was good commitment, but that’s not good enough.
“We started coming back in the second half, but when we got close to the tryline, we couldn’t keep it going.”
Fourie du Preez admitted that he had been finding it hard going this year as the new Bulls captain, which is the understatement of the year. “We lost two main players in the team in Victor (Matfield) and Gary (Botha), who were two players who always kept the guys going forward. We’re in a a transitional phase, but that’s no excuse for the way we are playing.”
Ian Schwartz, the Bulls team spokesperson, did have a form of an excuse, noting that the depth of the Bulls had been eroded from 2007.
“The bench is not making the same impact as it did.
“We had Bakkies and Danie Rossouw playing off the bench, and they made a big impact when they came on. If you look at where we won a lot of games last year it was when the bench made an impact. We’ve lost 17 players from last year.”
Hurricanes coach Colin Cooper put things in perspective for the Bulls, noting that while they had lost Meyer and Matfield, the structures the Hurricanes had been building over the past few years were beginning to pay dividends.
“We’ve got a lot of leaders in the team that we put in the team in 2004, like Piri (Weepu).
“He made his debut here and then played his 50th Super 14 match here (on Saturday night),” said Cooper.
“If you make changes (like the Bulls have done) it takes a while for things to come right. It happened to us last year when they took the All Blacks out. They were hard to replace. I think they showed in the last few minutes what the Bulls can do. It’s going to take patience.”
Unfortunately, there’s not a lot of patience around Loftus these days.Tweet