Pretoria – The captaincy of Victor Matfield was a crucial factor in the Bulls’ Super Rugby victory over the Stormers at Newlands on Saturday, coach Frans Ludeke believes.
The Bulls won 19-16
and had to see off a spirited fight back from the home side in the closing stages. Ludeke said that his team had been focused and knew what was required to get the victory.
“Our tactical decision-makers were very good and here one has to emphasise Victor’s role. His decisions were very good and he provided good leadership on the field. You could see everybody knew the plan throughout. The guys were committed to ensure that it was executed,” said Ludeke.
Matfield captained the team for a 73rd time (a Super Rugby record for a South African captain) and succeeded in keeping his team on the front foot throughout.
“While we conceded more penalties (16 against 8) than them, I believe we were disciplined in our play. We played in the right areas,” said Ludeke.
He added that the Stormers did not produce any surprises.
“Things went pretty much as we expected, though the Stormers carried the ball more than we thought they would. They put a lot of effort into crossing the advantage line and into trying to break the line, but our defence was incredible,” said Ludeke.
The Bulls made 126 successful tackles against the 68 of the Stormers.
Ludeke said he was calm at the end.
“I thought it would be a nerve-wracking few minutes, especially if they could keep the ball. A moment on inspiration could easily have decided the game. That was also the case when (Bjorn Basson) was responsible for that moment with his defence.”
Ludeke was full of praise for his opponents.
“Both teams really wanted to win. They were playing to secure a home semi-final and we were playing to keep our tournament hopes alive.
We finished a little better than them and made better use of one or two opportunities, but other than that it was a very equal match.”
The coach believes it was probably the Bulls’ best win of the year.
“That was probably the case if you look at it in the context of what was at stake.
“We have turned the season. If you look at where we were and where we are now, it has been a great fight back effort. We put in a lot of hard work and are grateful for it.”
Ludeke said that the task had not yet been completed.
“With our fight back effort we have created the opportunity for ourselves to be involved in the playoffs, so we want to capitalise on that.”
Ludeke expects an equally tough match against the Sharks at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.
“It’s still a must-win scenario. We have the same number of points and are in a battle for a playoff spot. Once again it’s like a final. This week we will focus on nothing else than beating the Sharks.”
The Bulls will not train seriously on Monday as a number of their Springboks are involved in a training camp in Durban.
Meanwhile, Fourie du Preez and Bakkies Botha may be involved this weekend.