Ludeke: We know there are no safety nets
Ockert de Villiers - Sport24
Johannesburg - Bulls coach Frans Ludeke may disagree, but the Pretoria side hasn't had such an unsettled look to them since their dour start to this year's Super Rugby when they suffered two consecutive defeats.
This weekend’s clash against the Brumbies in Canberra is not only one of their toughest challenges on tour, but in the competition as a whole, with the Australian side boasting a fine repertoire of skills.
The Bulls’ second defeat on tour last weekend to the Chiefs was a massive blow to their campaign and saw them lose their top spot in the South African Conference to the Stormers with the Lions also moving past them on the standings.
However, Ludeke believes his side was in a different mind-set compared to the opening two rounds of the competition and he was hopeful they would come out on top.
“We turned it around at the beginning of the season, but you can just see the focus and concentration of the players,” Ludeke said.
“We know there are no safety nets anymore, we need to be spot on with our executions and I think the team is responding well.
“You can never say what is going to happen, but we know we need a special performance over the weekend and we need to do the basics right.”
The Brumbies have shown on their recent tour of South Africa that they were equally adept in the set-pieces as they were with the ball in hand.
Instead of keeping disruptions to a minimum, Ludeke made six changes to his run-on side with the influence of talismanic lineout operator Victor Matfield to be missed against the Brumbies.
Matfield will be given rest as per the SARU agreement, but it could not have come at a worse time for the Light Blues as they go up against the best lineout side this season.
The Brumbies boast a lineout success rate of 91 percent while the Bulls are ranked sixth-best at 88 percent.
The travelling Bulls will have a mountain to climb to ensure they do not plunge to their 10th consecutive defeat abroad.
Going up against a well-balanced side, Bulls captain Pierre Spies said the encounter could be likened to the intensity of a Test.
“They are a quality side from start to finish. If you look at their set-pieces, they are very strong there, they’ve got a solid lineout drive then they have world-class players all over the park,” he said.
“They execute their basics very well, they have a strong kicking game and a rushing defence.
“It makes it difficult to play against them and it is going to be like a Test and it is going to come down to the execution on the day and discipline.”