Cheetahs coach Naka Drotske expects the Bulls to be strong contenders in the Super 14, despite losing two pre-season friendlies.
Simnikiwe Xabanisa writes for the Times Online that a second-string Bulls side lost heavily to the Lions last weekend, and their strongest starting line-up — which featured eight Springboks — suffered at the hands of a youthful Cheetahs side on Friday.
Because the management has decided to keep their Boks in cotton wool, the senior Bulls won’t have an opportunity to make amends before the season starts because Frans Ludeke will call on his dirt-trackers for the final warm-up against the Sharks on Thursday.
Drotske said he expected them to shape up in the competition proper. “They’re a quality team,” he said. “Any side with names such as Victor Matfield, Bakkies Botha, Bryan Habana and Fourie du Preez is always going to be good.
“With those names, you can build a team around them anywhere in the world. They’re definitely going to be one of the teams to beat in the competition.”
Drotske did not read too much into the 20-16 win, secured by two second-half tries by former Bulls winger Danwel Demas and Griquas flyer Bjorn Basson.
“Points-wise it means nothing, the guys know it was only a warm-up game,” Drotske said.
“But to beat a team of the Bulls’ quality was good for the confidence of the young players.”
He said defence, usually the Cheetahs’ Achilles heel, saved them in Polokwane: “We were not happy with our attacking or our work at the breakdown in the first half, so I think the defence pulled it off for us.
“We turned over ball once every two rucks, but scored two great tries in the second half.”
Drotske was also happy with the way his creative backs, Meyer Bosman and Jacques- Louis Potgieter, were combining in midfield.
“The decision to move Jacques-Louis to inside centre was the best we could have made. He’s playing great rugby at 12 because he is not weighed down by the responsibilities of playing at flyhalf.”
The greatest concern for the Bulls was Du Preez having to withdraw after appearing to have again injured the hand he broke last season.
Ludeke said they would only know how serious the injury was when they received the X-rays tomorrow.
On the game itself, he said they were testing out their patterns in defence and attack and, as they were not outplayed or outsmarted, they carried no mental knocks from the game.Tweet