KSA Shark ©

Bulls reign in the rain

Written by Andre Bosch (KSA Shark ©)

Posted in :Bulls, In the news, Lions, Super 14 on 1 Mar 2009 at 08:21
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The threat of rain mercifully halted the Aussies pummelling the Proteas at the Wanderers yesterday.

How the Lions might have hoped for a similar dispensation at Ellis Park.

Simnikiwe Xabanisa writes for the Sunday Times that Eugene Eloff’s men were so inept in dealing with the conditions last night that one might have sworn rugby was not a game played in the rain — at least not in Johannesburg.

It was a period of play that cost the Lions dearly as it allowed the Bulls to score 16 unanswered points in the first half, which meant by the time the Lions gained the upper hand, when it was dry, their attacks were frenzied because of the deficit.

By contrast, the visitors from across the Jukskei played the conditions to a T.

They hoofed the ball up in the air and let the fact that it was slippery do the rest, making sure they were there to pick up the pieces when the Lions inevitably spilt it.

And despite protestations to the contrary in the build-up to the game, the result was all too familiar.

The Bulls again escaped with the Super 14 points, while the Lions were left to explain what could and should have been.

To suggest that the Bulls won it on adaptability would be misrepresenting the facts. This is because the emphasis on the game under the ELVs is on doing well at the breakdown and kicking well.

The conditions here demanded exactly those tactics, which means the hosts failed to execute what they should have been doing anyway.

They tried to run the ball when the rain was at its driving worst.

With the Bulls defence in particularly abrasive mode, they ended up playing behind the advantage line.

When they were afforded a bit of space, their handling let them down. It’s no coincidence that their best periods were when the rain had abated, which was for the last 10 minutes of the first half and the rest of the game.

This created a situation where each team dominated a half, with the Bulls winning by virtue of having bested the worst of the conditions.

As one would expect from a derby, both sets of forwards tore clumps out of the other.

The Lions had the hit on the visitors at scrum time; and while both sides had their moments stealing the opposition ball in the lineout, one got the impression the Bulls could do it when it mattered most.

Big Bakkies Botha was in his element in such a physical game, harassing the Lions’ lineout, taking the ball over the advantage line, and literally taking the fight to the hosts.

Ernst Joubert, Anton van Zyl and Ashwin Willemse all took turns taking punishment from the big man.

The breakdown was ultimately evenly contested, with the Bulls dominant in the rain and the Lions taking charge once things dried up.

As one would expect in a match like this, there were few standout players other than those buried under rucks. Most of them spent half the time scratching their heads after some daft handling mistake or other.

But the upshot was that due to their handling the big points better, if you will, the Bulls look like title contenders again. The hosts, on the other hand, continued to look hopeful of avoiding the wooden spoon.

Given that they could well have lost in a second half they failed to control, the Bulls will be happy to take their win without a bonus point, as was the case in the first two matches.

But the win came at a cost as Bryan Habana, who was a constant threat, cried off not long after halftime with what could be a serious hand injury.

The Lions, whose stadium was bedecked with “Vote for COPE” advertisements, will have found it ironic that failure to cope when the rain was lashing down cost them the game.

Lions 9 – Penalties: Andre Pretorius (2), Earl Rose

Bulls 16 – Try: Pierre Spies Conversion: Morné Steyn Penalties: Steyn (3)


  • Bulls sweating on Habana injury

    The suspected fractured hand of Springbok wing Bryan Habana is threatening to take the shine off the Bulls’ unbeaten run in the Super 14 competition, following their third successive win at the weekend.

    The Bulls are topping the standings after their 16-9 victory over the Lions in a soaking wet Johannesburg on Saturday.

    However, Bulls team doctor Org Strauss confirmed that there is concern over Habana, who left the field in the 55th minute.

    “We won’t have clarity until after he has gone for scans,” Strauss told rugby365.com.

    “Yes, it may be a fracture, but we will only know later,” he said, adding that flank Dewald Potgieter also injured his chest.

    However, unlike Habana, Potgieter is expected to recover in time for next week’s crucial derby against the Stormers.

    Habana was replaced by Springbok utility back Jaco Pretorius, who moved from centre to left wing – with JP Nel coming on in the midfield.

    * Meanwhile Bulls forwards coach Johan van Graan said he has heard nothing about a possible citing.

    According to some reports there were two “serious incidents”, involving the same player, which were looked at by the citing commissioner after the match.

    “I have heard nothing,” Van Graan told this website.

    “It was a typical derby and there were a few incident, but we have not heard about any citings,” he added.

    The Bulls play the Stormers at Loftus next weekend and then leave on their Australasian tour – where they face the Hurricanes, Highlanders, Crusaders, Waratahs and Brumbies in a gruelling five-match trip.

    By Jan de Koning

  • Comment 1, posted at 01.03.09 08:56:56 by KSA Shark © Reply
    KSA Shark ©
  • After the Bulls won last night I thought they would be beaten by the Stormers in round 4.

    Then I saw the Stormers play. 😕 Seems we will have to wait for round 6 or 8 for the Bulls to lose and even then the Crusaders better improve if they want to beat the Bulls.

    We could very well have a 2007 repeat final this year.

  • Comment 2, posted at 01.03.09 10:03:27 by KSA Shark © Reply
    KSA Shark ©
  • Lions are useless…what a frustrating match to watch…it has to eventually lead to changes by the end of the season cause frankly Iv had enough of it and may switch my support to Mamelodi Sundowns.

  • Comment 3, posted at 01.03.09 11:02:53 by CoffeeShopBok;-) Reply
  • @CoffeeShopBok;-) (Comment 3) :

    That was two frustrating matches in a row!??!
    The LIONS are going to give me a heart attack r something…and I am usually the most tolerant person around…need to be as a LION…

  • Comment 4, posted at 01.03.09 14:45:53 by Hmmm Reply
  • There are rumors that the LIONS are gonna change their name from:
    Auto and General LIONS
    Knock and On LIONS

  • Comment 5, posted at 01.03.09 14:49:54 by Hmmm Reply
  • Would be very fitting….

  • Comment 6, posted at 01.03.09 14:50:32 by Hmmm Reply

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