Bulls find their feet after Super Rugby break
Bulls captain Pierre Spies said it was important for his side to get back on the winning trail after their 40-26 victory over the Cheetahs in Pretoria on Saturday.
“I think the biggest challenge was just to get past this weekend to see what the three weeks [break from Super Rugby] really meant for every team,” Spies said.
“It was good for us to get a win tonight. It was very important to play well, and also for us, we lost three games in a row, so we needed to get back on the horse.”
The Bulls were in fine form on Saturday as they ran in six tries to the four the Cheetahs scored in the last 20 minutes of the match.
While the visitors looked out of sorts for most of the match, they seemed to kick on in the final quarter.
Bulls coach Frans Ludeke opted to give Springbok players Spies, Morne Steyn and Francois Hougaard a well deserved rest as he sent his bench on early in the second half.
“I think we did well tonight and in that last 20 minutes I think we took our foot off the peddle,” Spies said.
“We lost concentration and the Cheetahs came back with some tries.”
While the Cheetahs stormed back into the match to secure a bonus point, Ludeke believed it was an opportune time to give his replacement players a run.
“There are many players like Louis Fouche and Jano Vermaak who don’t get a lot of game time and I think it was definitely the right thing to do,” Ludeke said.
“Then there were guys like Pierre, Morne and Hougie [Hougaard] that played in all of the Springbok Tests [against England last month].”
Ludeke felt his side’s strong defensive display was crucial in their victory over the Cheetahs.
“I thought our defence was good,” he said.
“In the first half we squeezed a few turnovers and we were accurate from there and actually all our tries from the first half came from turnover ball.
“I thought we had a lot of trouble covering the chip kicks and suddenly they got three tries on us.
“They got some belief and they started to enjoy it and they kept coming, so we had our hands full in the second half.”
Cheetahs coach Naka Drotske said the Bulls suffocated his team of quick ball, which proved to be their downfall.
“We didn’t get intensity or momentum and they managed to slow our ball down at breakdown time,” Drotske said.
“We are a team that need quick ball from breakdowns to play our normal pattern and that didn’t happen in the first half.”
Drotske admitted they had not played well in the first period of the game.
“We were under pressure — 26-0 half-time — and against any team, especially the Bulls at Loftus, you’re not going to come back from that.”