Ludeke heaps praise on Steyn
Durban - Bulls coach Frans Ludeke hailed the influence of Morne Steyn following their narrow 18-16 Vodacom Super Rugby victory over the Sharks in Durban on Saturday night.
The veteran Springbok flyhalf kicked all the points, including the decisive penalty five minutes from time, as the visitors maintained their grip on the South African Conference standings and effectively knocked the hosts out of the competition.
“He’s been brilliant this season,” Ludeke said after the win.
“He’s definitely a game breaker, which is what you need…at the end of a game, pressure kick, the guy’s got the mental ability to slot it over."
The form of Steyn, 28, has widely been seen as a key reason for the Bulls’ upturn in fortune this season, following a difficult 2012 when he lost his place in the Springbok side to Saturday’s opposing number 10, Patrick Lambie.
Asked what had been different this season, Ludeke said: “It’s hard to say, he’s always worked hard, it’s never been a lack of effort or commitment.
“He’s technically very sound. Sometimes I suppose you need to go through a patch to come back to your best.
“We’re all glad for him. It’s amazing to see him work, he’s got an amazing work ethic.”
In a tight affair at Kings Park, the Bulls had lead narrowly for most of the way, but appeared to have thrown it away eight minutes from the end when Charl McLeod scored the only try of the game.
Lambie, who landed 11 points in total, added the conversion to give the home side a one-point lead, before the Pretoria side immediately won back the penalty which sealed the win.
“That’s the funny thing about the game, you can be in control and it can slip away in one moment,” Ludeke said.
“They played well, they kept us under pressure, didn’t allow us to get out of our half, especially from the scrum.
“But our maul worked for us and Morne, under pressure, kicked that kick.
“So it was three big moments -- they scored to go ahead, we forced that attacking line-out, our maul worked for us and Morne slotted the kick for us. Those of the type of things you need to win, the big moments.”
Victory moved the Bulls level on 50 points with the second-placed Brumbies at the summit and top of the domestic standings, while the loss meant the Sharks’ slim hopes of making the play-offs were now over.
It was the Sharks' sixth loss in seven games and coach John Plumtree lamented the missed opportunities after they had threatened on several occasions to come out with a win.
“We had plenty of opportunities to win that game, but we just didn’t take them,” he said. “We coughed up ball at important times, which has happened far too many times this season, so it was disappointing.
“We could have won that game which would have put us in the reckoning for the play-offs, but it wasn’t meant to be.”