Bulls’ skipper Spies slated
Rob Houwing, Sport24 chief writer
Town - Bulls captain Pierre Spies found himself under a critical microscope
from television pundits as his charges stumbled to a third successive Super
Rugby overseas tour defeat this season on Friday, and embarrassing 10th abroad
on the trot.
As it happened: Brumbies v Bulls
Pretoria-based side did bank a losing bonus point from their 22-16 reverse to
the Brumbies in Canberra, but the result was another heavy blow both to their
conference-winning and playoffs-qualifying aspirations.
have now managed a mere two points from a possible 15 in Australasia, and will
be trying to stave off a whitewash when they round off the venture against the
Rebels in Melbourne next Saturday.
latest setback, which sees the Bulls slip to ninth overall, only enhances the
likelihood that the Stormers will advance to the conference spoils, as they
stayed two points clear of the Bulls with this Saturday’s home clash against
the Cheetahs - which they are strongly tipped to win - still in hand.
going well for them over the next two weekends, the Capetonians may just go
into the final round, when they face the taxing derby hurdle of the Sharks
away, already assured of the domestic spoils.
Bulls are currently level on points (36) with compatriots the Lions after 14
fixtures each, but having won one less game - seven to the eight of Warren
Whiteley’s outfit, who are about to face the Waratahs.
consolation for the tourists is that they when they tackle the Rebels, the
Australian side will just have returned through time zones from their own SA
the Bulls still have plenty of soul-searching to do - and you wonder whether
they ever genuinely get down to that? - if they wish to return pretty swiftly
to winning form.
defence continues to be a confusing mix of admirably tenacious and rank poor
(they were outdone 3-1 in the tries column by the Brumbies) but their tactical
approach came under special fire from SuperSport’s studio analysts afterwards.
was a central theme on that score. Former All Blacks coach John Mitchell,
clearly pointing to the leadership as much as anything, said: “I just don’t get
their (tactical) logic.”
was especially referring to their bewildering decision in the last quarter,
soon after registering their lone try through a thunderous rolling maul, not to
rumble up a lineout ball that way after winning one off their own throw deep in
it was quickly spun to the backline and the home team’s open-side flank David
Pocock, a constant nuisance at the breakdown, gleefully turned it over before
you could even ask yourself: “just why did they do that?”
as the seconds ticked away to the final whistle, and the Bulls desperately
needed to keep the ball infield in their quest to snatch a match-turning
seven-pointer, they worked a very cramped blindside and Bjorn Basson was all
too tamely bundled into touch.
accused the Bulls’ pack of “not working hard enough off the ball” and he also
contended that Springbok flyhalf Handre Pollard, whose form in general play has
slipped a little in recent weeks, needed to be given “more scope for the
decision-making (rather than Spies) on attack”.
wing icon David Campese, meanwhile, was even more blunt about the Loftus-based
8 was non-existent today ... you don’t see him. He is not dominant.”
also said too much of the Bulls’ play on their own ball was predictable:
“Everything’s slow; they just set up a pod and then bash it up.”
our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing