Bulls flying high once more

    2016-04-18 11:28

    Lloyd Burnard - Sport24

    Cape Town - The Bulls have quietly gone about their business and are now just a point behind the Stormers at the top of the first African conference in Super Rugby. 

    Saturday's 41-22 win over the Reds at Loftus means that the Bulls have now gone six matches without a loss, and despite being heavily criticized throughout the season for sometimes winning in unconvincing fashion, the Bulls are now looking good for the play-offs. 

    There is obviously still a long way to go, but Adriaan Strauss and his men go into their second bye week knowing that a good showing on their upcoming Australian tour will go a long way towards securing a play-off berth. 

    The Bulls face the Force, Brumbies and Waratahs away on tour. 

    Much of the criticism this season has come from the Bulls' inability to string two convincing halves of rugby together and their struggles to close out matches. 

    They inexplicably let a bonus point slip at home against the Rebels in week 2 before only just edging the Sunwolves and Kings in successive weeks. 

    But against the Reds on Saturday the Bulls showed that they are continuing to improve - good news as the group stages approach their business end. 

    "We’re process-driven. We know we’re not yet where we want to be as a team but a win is a win in Super Rugby and we’ll take that any day," captain Strauss said after the match on Saturday.

    "We wanted a bonus point there at the end (against the Reds) so we’ll always chase those standards and always try and get better. We’ll always try and play the perfect game.

    “We need to play for 80 minutes and I think we’re getting closer to that every week. We’ll take it game by game. We’re very happy with the win but not getting ahead of ourselves."

    Coach Nollis Marais shrugged off suggestions that his side would now be eyeing top spot in the conference ahead of the Stormers. 

    "Everybody wants to make qualifying," he said.

    "The Stormers are a bit ahead of us … they’ve already played the Brumbies and the Jaguares so it’s something that we’re also looking at.

    "For us we’re more focused on getting things right … whatever happens to them will happen."

    The fact that the Bulls are having their second bye week this early in the competition also poses a challenge, says Marais. 

    "I would have liked a bye after the tour," the coach said.

    "We get back on Sunday night and the next weekend is the Stormers here (Loftus).

    "We know our fans and when we play here we have to beat the Stormers … that’s going to be a challenge.

    "At certain stages on tour we’ll have to see who is going to play what games and make sure that we get guys rested enough for the home games."

    The Bulls currently occupy the wildcard play-off position allocated to the third-best placed side in the South African group. 

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    • Chiefs v Highlanders, FMG Stadium Waikato 08:35
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    Saturday, 16 February 2019
    • Blues v Crusaders, Eden Park 08:35
    • Waratahs v Hurricanes, Allianz Stadium 10:45
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    • Bulls v Stormers, Loftus Versfeld 17:15
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