Herman Mostert - Sport24
Cape Town - The Vodacom Bulls lost 27-20 to the Highlanders in their Vodacom Super Rugby match in Dunedin on Friday.As it happened: Highlanders v Bulls
The men from Pretoria started strong and seemed in control of proceedings, leading 13-3 after 30 minutes. With lock Victor Matfield leading from the front, they were comfortably winning their lineouts and also won key scrum battles more often than not.
However, a strong final 10 minutes in the first half sparked the home side into life and the teams went into the shed level at 13-all.
Those 10 minutes gave the hosts all the momentum they needed and they came out stronger in the second period.
The Bulls had ample chances to wrestle back momentum, but made numerous errors at crucial stages to lose their second match on tour.
Their loss was the 10th in a row by a South African team in Australasia in 2014.Sport24 outlines three key areas in which we felt cost the Bulls:1. Handling errors
It was without doubt the worst handling display by any side in a Super Rugby match in living memory.
The Bulls knocked the ball on no less than 14
times in a pretty forgettable second half. They had ample chances to get points, but knock-on after knock-on cost them dearly.
A lot of those knocks were also made inside the strike zone, which made it all the more disappointing.
The skill-set displayed by the Bulls was poor for the image of South African rugby!2. Defence
The Bulls were seemingly in control after 30 minutes, but slipped crucial tackles at key moments, with the hosts often counter-attacking from deep inside their own territory.
In all, the Bulls missed 19 tackles - a statistic which proved too costly in the end as the hosts ran in three tries.3. Lack of composure on attack
The Bulls showed plenty of willingness to attack and force the play. They also had numerous chances to stamp their authority for the full 80 minutes - as reflected in the 130 tackles the Highlanders had to make.
The Bulls won 18 lineouts which gave them the perfect opportunity to attack with their most potent weapon - the driving maul.
However, they struggled to finish off numerous promising mauls and also did not make use of all 14 penalties awarded to them.
An inability to round off so many chances points to a lack of composure and patience at crucial stages in the game.
The Bulls now travel to Sydney where they will face the Waratahs next Saturday.KEY STATS:Metres run:
Highlanders 347-336 BullsCarries:
Highlanders 72-123 BullsDefenders beaten:
Highlanders 19-15 BullsClean breaks:
Highlanders 6-5 BullsTackles made:
Highlanders 130-63Tackles missed:
Highlanders 15-19 BullsTurnovers won:
Highlanders 14-4 BullsKicks in play:
Highlanders 30-33 BullsLineouts won:
Highlanders 8-18 BullsLineouts lost:
Highlanders 2-1 BullsScrums won:
Highlanders 8-6 BullsScrums lost:
Highlanders 5-1 BullsPenalties conceded:
Highlanders 14-7 Bulls
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