Bulls alive despite brave loss

2012-05-25 12:45

Cape Town – The Bulls may have a recent reputation as a strong second-half team, but tour fatigue may finally have got to their legs to some extent as a reverse phenomenon came to haunt them on Friday.

Playing the last of their four Super Rugby matches abroad against the Chiefs in Hamilton, the men from Pretoria seemed menacingly on course for a third Australasian victory as they held sway 16-8 at halftime after 40 minutes of high-calibre physicality and mauling zest.

But the Chiefs are certainly made of increasingly stern stuff these days, and instead were the ones to produce a second wind in an enthralling contest to power their way over the line 28-22 at Waikato Stadium.

Gracious losing captain Pierre Spies was quick to commend the hosts for their three-tries-to-one triumph, marked by the Chiefs pack standing toe to toe with their traditionally brawny opponents all night and backline maestros like Sonny Bill Williams becoming ever more influential as the second half progressed.

“They put us under pressure at the breakdown and deserved to win,” said Spies, summing up an unflappable showing by the New Zealanders, who produced crucial spells of fierce counter-rucking when it was particularly needed.

The Bulls never surrendered their spirit, but perhaps tiring bodies were simply not able to match seemingly willing minds as thoughts involuntarily drifted toward getting a foot on the plane for the long haul back to face main SA conference rivals the Stormers at Loftus next weekend.

All is not lost for the Bulls, that’s for sure, as they return to more familiar soil: they did bag a losing bonus point and also denied the Chiefs a four-try extra log point themselves, even if the outcome meant the Mooloo Men return to the top of the overall table with four-point superiority over the second-placed Stormers.

Jean de Villiers and company will nevertheless seize back supremacy rapidly if they beat the Sharks at Mr Price Kings Park.

Frans Ludeke’s charges could still sport a respectable tour harvest of 11 points from a possible 20, despite losing both fixtures on the New Zealand leg.

Great foes the Stormers currently have a one-point edge over the Bulls with Saturday’s Durban game in hand – win that one and they can ensure some useful “daylight” between them ahead of the humungous Highveld battle on June 2.

Whilst the Bulls may be curtailed to fourth (though only behind the Brumbies because of the table rules) they are still only five points behind the pace-setting Chiefs.

So both they and the Stormers retain decent enough chances of ending ordinary season as the best-placed side, even if their own clash could be a make-or-breaker in that regard.

A glance at the fixture list tells you that the Chiefs must play three of their four remaining games away, and all of them are NZ derbies.

In addition, their only home match is against those cunning Crusaders, whom few would bet against still sneaking into the playoffs despite a strange inconsistency this season.

The Bulls’ quartet of games still to play are also derbies, but three of them will be at Loftus – against the Stormers, Cheetahs and Lions. Their only trip will be the short flight to Durban to meet the Sharks on the Friday night of July 6.

That is not to say that the Chiefs don’t have a tantalising chance now to set up a first-time home final.

Their healthy situation on the overall table is helped by a hugely successful mini-tour of South Africa in mid-April, where they earned nine out of 10 points by beating the Cheetahs and Sharks.

Perhaps the Bulls not quite managing, by contrast, to get past the post in either of their matches in the Land of the Long White Cloud will be a decisive factor in the race for that home showpiece?

That said, all sorts of permutations and twists and turns in both overall and conference terms still lie ahead ...

*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing


  • dawiej - 2012-05-25 13:01

    I would rather win with no tries and get 4 points for a win, than loose and get 1 point for loosing within seven points. Only one try from the so called try scoring champs? For the decent bull supporters, hard luck guys, better luck next time, For the arrogant pink cow fanatics, go cry a river..... Stormers groete

      Pierre - 2012-05-25 13:03

      Dawie, sometime I wish I could be gracious like you unfortunately the arrogant pink cow fanatics outnumber the decent supporters!!!

      Melinda - 2012-05-25 13:22

      these pink cows support cancer you idot, what are you going to do if your wife gets beast cancer,, now you go and CRY a River..

      Stirrer - 2012-05-25 13:27

      Beast cancer? Do you get that from playing against the Sharks?

      dawiej - 2012-05-25 13:43

      Melinda, i think you are the idiot. You can still support the cancer campaign without making yourself look like an idiot, or a fairy.

      Jono - 2012-05-25 13:48

      Dit maak nie saak of hulle nog moet speel of nie. Vat jou verloor! as ons more verloor dan bring ons nie julle span in die gesprek nie! en wat het Cancer met dit te doen? elke keer wanneer julle verloor gaan jy daai lyn in bring? diffirence between a Man P00 supporter and a Blue COW

      Stirrer - 2012-05-25 13:51

      I know Raven, I know. It's just that sometimes someone like Melinda crops up that just CRYing to be made an idot (sic) of. We ALL know that the pink is Puma's corporate colours, and the "cancer campaign" is just a publicity stunt. If it had been real then Vodacom would not have promised R20000 for each try scored against the team with the best defensive record in the competition. They are not expecting to pay out anything.

      Deon - 2012-05-25 14:00

      The Sharks might surprise the Stormers at home then the 2nd of June might decide the winner of the group.

      Acta - 2012-05-25 14:18

      Hoop darem nie die beast kanker gee die Stormers te veel moeilikheid in Drn teen die Sharks more nie. Die sharks girls as ek reg onthou ondersteun ook beast kanker ?

      Jason - 2012-05-25 14:38

      Actually the cancer support was an after thought, the original idea behind the kit was to represent the Jacaranda trees of PTA!

      Jason - 2012-05-25 14:55

      Raven its not the fact that the BBRU has gotten behind the CANSA issue, I think its great! Its the "supporters" that im coming across who get all upset when you mention the Pink strip because its for Cancer and dont talk about my Bulls like that! When in fact they dont even know where the Strip for their beloved Bulls comes from! Im not talking about BB supporters im talking about "Supporters" who are Bulls supporters because its a lifestyle "brannas and Coke, Kurt Darren etc etc but they have never even been to Pretoria! we have lots of them in the Cape ;)

      Acta - 2012-05-25 14:57

      @Raven, 'you people' give credit when it is due, Its just the colour of the kit is a little extreme and i think everybody saw it coming that 'the kit' was going to be teased, think that is pretty harmless. Credit Due: Good game Bulls, good luck with next week.

      Schalk - 2012-05-25 15:04

      Bluerave - i personally think that the "cupless" jokes are starting to get old now - even for Bulls supporters you guys should have a high enough IQ to think about the next thing?

      hugo.naude - 2012-05-25 15:17

      Stirrer en Stommekinners ... the champions of winning the HIC-CUP ... but no real cup ... just when they seem so sure of winning or running away with the conference --- ooops ... another hiccup ...Well -- another chance to win the HIC-CUP TOMORROW ... the Stommekinners - STILL the ONLY S15 team to lose 2 semi's AT HOME and cupless for another yr ... makes it 12 yrs ??

      Melt - 2012-05-25 21:15

      @Milinda en Kie, Dit is goed en wel as die Bulls of enige groep of span kanker ondersteun dit is nie te se ander spanne ondersteun nie kanker of ander projekte nie. Soos in vroeer skrywe genoem J. de Villiers is jare al betrokke en waar dink jy het die Chris Burger fonds sy ontstaan gehad? Ek onthou toe ek so n jong laaitie was het my pa altyd sy kerkbydrae voor of na kerk in die kassie gaan plaas. Daar was egter n ander oompie wat gewag het tot die hele gemeente hul sitplekke ingeneem het voor hy opstaan en daar waar almal hom kon sien staan hy op en gaan plaas hy sy bydrae in die kissie. Almal hang nie alles wat hulle doen om ander te help aan die groot klok nie. Ek glo nie Matfield gaan jou se wat hy waar bydra nie, hy doen ons weet maar hy beskou dit privaat en dit is reg so.

  • michael.kleber.376 - 2012-05-25 13:02

    You can't afford to make mistakes against these new zealand teams , Ndungane missing the kickoff and a try is scored , they prey on mistakes

  • pierre.calitz - 2012-05-25 13:03

    Pierre Maak die bulle almal bokke LMFGA! Hulle kan nie eers n Chiefs span wen nie,wat nog van n All Black span.

      dawiej - 2012-05-25 13:18

      They will moooooooooo them into submission

  • Provence - 2012-05-25 13:06

    The Bulls forwards were great in fact were outstanding but unfortunately not only the Bulls but all South African rugby lacks back line skilled players. South Africa will always play 2nd and 3rd best to NZ and Australia unless they start realizing that forward power alone does not win games any more. Our back line players are so stereo type, big, fast and straight bang into the opponents??? Please some one arise and help every coach and players to develop skills Or maybe SA just doesn't produce these kind of players, until then SA will continue to breed BIG, STRONG and FAST players with little skill.

      Sulaiman - 2012-05-25 13:36

      You speak the Providence(gospel)

      Danie - 2012-05-25 13:43

      Maestro.... Well said....and I also like that backline you talking one that can run any international team to pieces... I'm a Cheetah,and say it was agood performance,but chances were given away... Bulls are going to make the play-offs,and the other teams must watch out,they are very very dangerous if things work out for them on the day...

      Jason - 2012-05-25 15:35

      OMG Raven, who pissed in your porridge?? Have you been on here at night when the BB trolls are out and about Bashing Stormers and their fans till all hours! Telling people to get off their sisters etc. It comes from both sides, all we can hope for is that in between all the BS sprouted here there are a couple of valid rugby chats and debates! I used to get really upset with the Trolls until i realized that its done to create a response!

      Jason - 2012-05-25 16:00

      No not upset...............................maybe a little tired....................but definitely not upset!

  • Paul Botha - 2012-05-25 13:41

    Didn't win but not a bad performance we are still in the hunt !!

      johan.fortuin1 - 2012-05-25 15:19

      Paul,i only watch the last 20min of the game.There is no oemff or the x-factor in the Bulls backline.[or maybe they need to get their mindset right]Cant understand the thinking of most of the SA-teams approach in the last 10 min or so.If you behind with 7points or more,surely you got to run with every damm ball.My team deserves to loose,but i am still proudly Bulls Forever.Sharks vs Stormers.....Go Sharks

  • Provence - 2012-05-25 13:44

    The Bulls will definitely win the SA conference. The Sharks have the potential but have left it too late. The Sharks are probably playing the riskier more attractive rugby of the 3 sides because they have to, they need all the wins and bonus points they can get at this stage. The Bulls and Stormers game plans are very much the same, forwards dominance. Let's face it can anyone truly speaking see the Stormers win at Loftus? No, for sure not! The Bulls will then walk over the Lions and the Cheetahs and then have the fire power to finish off a Sharks side who will be completely fatigued trying to play catch up by the end of the tournament.

  • Frans - 2012-05-25 13:52

    Af kom die wiele, ek dink nog die pienk het iets daarmee te doen, sal nie weet nie want die fans se monde is nou gesnoer, jy hoor hulle mos net as die pienkes wen, of hoe julle?

      Bossie - 2012-05-25 14:26

      @blueraven- komaan,kom ons wees nou eerlik met mekaar.. "Die Bulle het baie goed gespeel" I dont think so!! Die chiefs was maar bra power vandag, en om nogsteeds te wen se dit eintlik waar die bulls was vandag..Met sulke boring 1 dimensional spel gaan die bulle nerens hierdie jaar!!

      Schalk - 2012-05-25 15:08

      Blueraven - ek sien al die Bulls bly verwys na 2 Junie (net soos hulle almal ook verwys het na die eerste game teen die Stormers op Nuweland - wat julle natuurlik verloor het) - wat gebeur as julle daai een ook verloor - verwys julle dan na die toetswedstryde aangesien 1/3 van die span bulle is?

      johan.fortuin1 - 2012-05-25 15:27

      Tiepiese Choker-mentaliteit:Die anti-Bulls-fans/doemprofete het eindlik gewens vir n Bulls-verloor en moet lekker bek-uitspoel tot en met Sharks-game.As julle nog nie gesien het hoe die Stormpies choke nie wag net tot more.Kry sommer genoeg met eish

  • Frans - 2012-05-25 13:57

    news 24, where's my comment?

      Lance - 2012-05-26 09:29

      I replied to somebody bashing Habana..didnt make the cut either :-)

  • Trevor Versfeld - 2012-05-25 14:08

    Interesting that other than the Stormers the Bulls only other losses have been to NZ sides ! Maybe they know how to counter the predictable (admittedly efficient) game plan.

  • Provence - 2012-05-25 14:12

    South African rugby players have guts, huge hearts, testosterone in abundance and will play till the death but this does not allow them to win consistently like NZ and Aust. SA rugby is very much like the French, except SA lacks the flair. SA and French play with big hearts and guts but are capable of losing to anyone as well as beating anyone. That is why we are consistently the 3rd bets rugby team in the world on AVG. NZ are consistently the best. Rugby is a game of a lot more than just guts, big hearts and lots of testosterone. It's a game of power, speed and tons of skill. Go figure what SA is consistently falling short of? It's not difficult to figure out or is it?

  • Bossie - 2012-05-25 14:13

    Tokolos- waar kruip jy weg- is jy dalk bangelangelang..?

      Bossie - 2012-05-25 17:04

      Ai Toklos- sien jy is ook een van die knape wat nie verstaan deur vir die Sharks te cheer, se jy indirek jy wil nie he jou span moet by die playoggs kom nie.. Een vragie aan jou- Watter tokolos is jy nou.. Is blou Tokolos die original tokolos en jy die wannabe..?

      Tokolos - 2012-05-25 18:01

      Bossie... Ek maak geen geheim daarvan dat ek nie van die Stormers / WP hou nie en ek het baie baie redes daarvoor glo my. Ek sê al vir die laaste 2 weke "GO SHARKS". En ja... jy praat nou met die original, genuine Tokolos!!!

      Tokolos - 2012-05-26 00:59

      Want julle het die grootste bekke ou Jan en julle is maar presies dieselfde. Jy is maar leker blind vir jou Stompie maatjies se kommentaar ne. Julle gee voor om die engeltjies hier te wees en julle gaan aan of julle "die verlore seuns van rugby" is wat huistoe kom. Julle is nie so special as wat Stormers24 julle uitmaak om te wees nie. Ons sal na die Sharks game weer gesels. Maak seker jy is hier.

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