Bulls coach a relieved man
Pine Pienaar (Gallo Images)
Pretoria - Blue Bulls coach Pine Pienaar was a relieved man after his side broke a losing spell against the Free State Cheetahs in Pretoria on Saturday.
Pressure was building as Pienaar’s team lost three consecutive matches before the Bulls beat the Bloemfontein side 34-30.
“I didn’t sleep much the whole week and I’m just glad I could get past tonight and I am happy for the players,” Pienaar said after the match.
“The last few weeks was hectic, especially off the field and obviously it is a bit of an emotional rollercoaster.”
The Bulls had to overcome a fight-back by the Cheetahs towards the end of the match to bring some relief to the Pretoria-based side.
“The first half we really played well and our defence was really outstanding in the first half,” he said.
“In the second half, you can’t take anything away from the Cheetahs they came out and got a few opportunities and they used that and put us under immense pressure up until 81 minutes.”
The side’s defence has been a source of concern for the Bulls as their opposition easily found gaps in their defensive lines.
The Bulls have in the process dug themselves out of the last place on the Currie Cup log to give themselves a chance at reaching the playoffs.
Pienaar was, however, under no illusions that the team was still far from dishing up a spotless performance.
“I am relieved by the win, I am happy by the way we pitched up defence wise and I know next week will be even tougher,” Pienaar said.
“There are a lot of things we could have done better and that’s what we will have to look for.”
While Pienaar could breathe a sigh of relief, the pressure was building for Cheetahs coach Naka Drotské after the side suffered their fourth consecutive loss.
The team - known for their expansive style of play - looked flatfooted in the first half with flyhalf Tewis de Bruyn struggling to get his backline firing.
The introduction of Sias Ebersohn in De Bruyn’s place saw the visitors attacking the line with greater fervour.
“On the positive side we had intensity on attack in the second half which we struggled with over the last two or three games,” Drotské said.
“On the negative side the three penalties in the first half was unacceptable which was bad discipline.”
Drotské admitted that the inconsistency in his selection at flyhalf played a leading role in the Cheetahs’ struggles this season.
“We have a problem on flyhalf there is no doubt about that,” he said.
“Sias lost form earlier in the season, credit to Tewis, it is always easier to come on when you are down 27-9 to try everything out and to try to get the game back.
“So there is no pressure when you come on at that stage.”
The Cheetahs coach acknowledged his team was in an unfavourable position but he felt his side could still make the playoffs.
"There is a huge race for that fourth place in the playoffs between Griquas, the Bulls and ourselves," Drotské said.
"Griquas are on 15 points, the Bulls are on 13 and we are on 12 - we are playing the Griquas next week in Bloemfontein and the Bulls are playing the Sharks in Durban.
"So it is a must win for us and there are three games to go and luckily we've got two in Bloemfontein."