Bulls coach a relieved man
Pretoria - After watching his side narrow the gap on the leading teams in the South African conference standings, Bulls coach Frans Ludeke
said he was relieved to get back to winnings ways on Saturday.
The Bulls suffered three successive defeats on tour in Australia and New Zealand, before returning to Loftus Versfeld, where the Pretoria side edged the Cheetahs 26-20 to record their first Super Rugby victory since they beat the Blues in their first week on tour.
"For tonight, we'll just take the win," Ludeke said after the game.
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"We've been chasing a win for the last three weeks. It was so close and tonight we did what we had to do.
"But credit to the Cheetahs. They are a good team, and it was a very important win for us.
"This was a big result and I think my players knew there was a lot at stake."
Prop Callie Visagie scored a late try to lift the Bulls to a nervy victory, ending a superb five-match winning streak for the Cheetahs.
Tries from Visagie and scrumhalf Jano Vermaak cancelled the Cheetahs' only try from prop Trevor Nyakane, guiding the hosts to their fourth win of the Super Rugby campaign, which Ludeke believed boded well for the rest of the competition.
"It's a good platform for the rest of the season," he said.
"Nine matches remain, so a whole season still lies ahead and that's why it was important just to get the wheels moving again.
"We saw good signs and we put plenty of pressure on them. They held us off but we threatened a few times to score."
Ludeke was pleased with his side's set-piece play, particularly their scrums, which was pointed out ahead of the game as a vital aspect for the Bulls against a strong Cheetahs pack.
"We're happy with our scrums. It was a big focal point for us the whole week. We worked hard on our scrums and tonight they really worked."
Cheetahs coach Naka Drotské admitted the visitors had not stuck to their game plan in the second period.
"I think we had the opportunity to win, but I think we made wrong decisions after half-time," said Drotské.
"Just after half-time we deviated from what we decided we wanted to do against the Bulls.
"At the end, we got a bonus point back which could help us a lot at the end of the competition."
While the Cheetahs remained second in the SA conference, the Bulls drew level on points, and Drotské believed his side had thrown the game away.
"I definitely thought we lost the game as opposed to the Bulls winning it," he said.
"I thought in defence we handed them the advantage line in the first half, and in the second half we were better but we made too many handling errors which led directly to their two tries
"I though the game was there to win and we let it slip, but it's still a long season."