The Sharks and Stormers failed to win convincingly on Saturday against weaker opponents while the Bulls absolutely smashed a woeful Blues team. The Bulls were simply unmerciful and taught the other South African teams a lesson in how to hammer that final nail in (which they did several times!) It’s not often I flatter the Bulls, but, boy, they had the right attitude and it was great to watch.
Coaches Rassie Erasmus and John Plumtree will no doubt be very frustrated at the manner their teams respectively failed to find that fourth try bonus point. The Stormers let the Reds sneak in the back door while the Sharks floundered in the final twenty minutes and looked out of attacking ideas at the final bell..
The Bulls in contrast took full advantage of a Blues team that looked ravaged by both jetlag and altitude sickness. I was quite flabbergasted at how lazy and non-committed the Blues defence seemed to be. It’s all very well being renowned for your attacking game but attack alone will not win you games. The work rate of the Blues backline in particular was appalling, with only Rene Ranger hungry for work. If they weren’t loping back leisurely to collect kicks downfield, then they were giving away diabolical intercepts, the equivalent of kicking across your goals in soccer!
I’m not taking anything away from a spirited Bulls display, but other teams will not be so charitable in defence and when you’ve got Zane Kirchner breaking tackles then you know something’s wrong.
Once again Pierre Spies outlined his value; his bulk and pace was a major contributor to the scoreline. It was also good to see Morne Steyn flourishing. I always thought he was a better option than Hougaard through the years, and his running game is just what a backline with Habana and Jaco Pretorius needs.
The last game of the weekend was perhaps the most frustrating to watch. The weather conditions were probably more suitable for Bikram yoga than rugby; and it wasn’t pretty to watch the players fumbling around in a hot soup of humidity for 80 minutes. The Sharks seemed to once again employ their cat-and-mouse approach of easing themselves into the game and then pulling away at the end. However when the fourth try beckoned they seemed to revert to playing as individuals rather than a team. Kockett and Kankowski in particular were perhaps a little guilty of trying to beat defenders rather than letting the ball do the work. The Sharks had several chances in the last fifteen minutes to collect the bonus point but cynical play at the breakdowns from the Lions together with some loose attacking play from the home team saw each attempt come to naught.
Lastly, I’d like to make a little appeal to the SuperSport TV department. I don’t mind the odd ‘cut-away’ to the crowd, but having to constantly watch Bulls supporters liquored up their eyeballs and making complete tools of themselves on international television makes me a little embarrassed to be South African at times. We already know Pretoria has a famous zoo, do we really need evidence of another?Tweet