Rob Houwing, Sport24 chief writer
Cape Town - The Bulls may have a bit of a try-leakage problem in Super Rugby at present but the team they face next, the Waratahs in Sydney, have been branded as unimaginative plodders.
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That might come as some reassurance to the touring men from Pretoria, considering that they conceded five tries each to prior Australian opponents the Brumbies (at Loftus) and Rebels despite impressively doing enough on attack to win each time.
The Bulls stay high-fliers on both the overall and SA conference tables, and no doubt target another victory against the currently wobbly ‘Tahs at Sydney Football Stadium before stiffer challenges loom in New Zealand against fellow playoffs contenders the Highlanders and Chiefs.
In his regular “Monday Maul” column in the Sydney Morning Herald, seasoned scribe Greg Growden said of the Waratahs: “Until they get some of their X-factor players back, a team short of class and on-field nous will remain among the Super Rugby also-rans.”
His thoughts follow the ‘Tahs surprisingly comprehensive 23-6 defeat to the Brumbies in Canberra.
“That the Waratahs ran 848 metres with the ball during the game to the Brumbies’ 431m and still couldn’t score a try shows something is amiss.
“The injury toll at the Waratahs has hit them badly, as they are without so many big-time performers, such as Test wings Drew Mitchell and Lachie Turner, and it’s clear several of their back-ups are not up to the required standard.”
Growden said that after the departure of Kurtley Beale to the Rebels - he was a troublesome factor against the Bulls in Melbourne - the Waratahs “now lack any real vibrancy or unpredictability to their attack”.
“Beale was a game-breaker. Now the Waratahs have none, relying on predictable plodders.”
The Bulls have some injury or absenteeism problems of their own for Friday’s match (11:40 SA time), with customary starters Dean Greyling, Jacques Potgieter and probably Wynand Olivier unavailable.*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing