Ludeke praises Boks
Pretoria - “It is exactly what we needed.”
That was the reaction by Blue Bulls coach Frans Ludeke after his team beat the Griquas 48-36 with a polished performance in Kimberley on Saturday. The Bulls also managed to emerge from the match without injuries.
However, the most pleasing aspect was the performances by Victor Matfield, Bakkies Botha, Danie Rossouw, Morné Steyn and Wynand Olivier, which shows they have not lost any of their sharpness in the weeks that they could not play because of the compulsory conditioning programme.
“Yes, the returning Boks settled in well and it was noticeable after half an hour that they were settling into a rhythm and pattern. Some of them started cramping near the end, but that was because of the severe heat,” said Ludeke.
“Their performances were very good because we had a short week to prepare for the game. The knowledge that we now have a full week’s training session to prepare for the Sharks really excites me.”
Ludeke said that the experience and leadership of the five returning players made an immediate impression on him.
“There was a sense of calm on the field throughout, even if Griquas started well. You have to give Griquas credit for the good rugby that they played.
“This was an honest and tough encounter in which we had to fight for the points and no favours came our way. That is exactly what we wanted from the game.”
He said that the Bulls did not care about who their semi-final opponents would be.
“There is opponent-specific preparation that we will follow this week, but that was not part of our focus for this game. We want to run our own race. For us it was very important to finish the league phase with a win. It was not an easy tournament, but I think our curve is moving in the right direction.”
The Blue Bulls varied their game and score a few constructive tries. It was noticeable that Olivier and Rossouw looked too strong for their opponents with some powerful runs.
Rossouw’s performance will mean that Ludeke is not too concerned about the calf injury that sidelined Pierre Spies. The versatile veteran again proved his value as a No 8.
Spies and fellow loose forward Deon Stegmann should train with the side on Monday as they prepare for the semi-final against the Sharks in Durban.
There will be concern about the five tries that the Bulls conceded and the issue is sure to be addressed this week.
It is seldom that a coach is happy when a player scores two tries against his team, but Ludeke’s smile after Bjorn Basson managed that is understandable.
“It is always good when a player reaches milestones and Bjorn showed the qualities again that prompted us to sign him,” Ludeke said of Basson’s two tries.
Basson, who will play for the Bulls next year, is now the alone record-holder for most tries (21) in a Currie Cup season.