Vodacom Super Rugby
All not lost for Bulls
The king is dead, long live the king?
The defending champion Bulls may be on a slippery slide in this year's version of Super Rugby, but make no mistake, they are by no means knocked down just yet.
Their 30-39 defeat to the Reds may well have been their second in a row on their Australasian tour, but the Bulls were very competitive right until the end in a thrilling game, in which the Reds will know just how lucky they were to win.
Six tries to three may show that the homeside, who picked up their sixth win on the trot, had to much firepower for the Bulls, but at least two of those tries should never have been.
Firstly, referee Bryce Lawrence robbed the Bulls when he decided a scrum ball from the Reds went out at the mouth, and shortly afterwards Zane Kirchner's defender never let him go after a tackle. Both these circumstances led to tries by the Reds, where the Bulls should have received the put-ins.
However, let bygones be bygones.
Some teams get more luck than others, and these things tend to cancel each other out over a series of 21 weeks.
The Reds are currently getting the luck of the bounce, but the Bulls know that their goddess of fortune should not be far away.
The Bulls are making a lot fewer mistakes, and with a game against a very beatable Force outfit in Perth next week, they could still be very much in the hunt once they return to home soil.
Initially, the game looked like a tight affair, until Quade Cooper's brilliant trickery completely bamboozled Pierre Spies to give the Reds a lead they would never surrender.
A second Reds try just before halftime after a ugly error from Bjorn Basson threatened to derail the Bulls completely, but the winger immediately made amends when he spectacularly leaped to catch the ball from the following kick-off to score in the corner and reduce the deficit to just 13-17 at the break.
But, two refereeing blunders cost the Bulls dearly, and in both instances Luke Morahan scored for the Reds.
Having said that, credit should still be given to the fullback, as in both instances he finished brilliantly to make the Bulls defenders look rather average.
A try by Reds wing Digby Ioane, after the Bulls were solidly on the attack, was a clear reflection of what has been wrong with the Bulls this season.
They were attacking fiercely close to the Reds goalline, when a wayward pass ended up in a Reds hand and enabled Ioane to kick the ball upfield and score 70 metres further.
With the Bulls desperately seeking a bonus point after a Danie Rossouw try got them back in the picture, a James Horwill try after another bit off opportunism finally put paid to the Bulls challenge.
For the Bulls, Basson's finishing was excellent, while Wynand Olivier and Pierre Spies performed much better than the previous week.
However, their best performer was Dean Greyling, and it's no coincidence that he's also the player with the least experience, but with the most passion and heart.