Mitchell criticises Rebels' 'negative' tactics

    2018-04-22 18:37

    Cape Town - Bulls director of rugby John Mitchell has criticised the Rebels for the tactics they employed in Saturday's clash between the sides in Pretoria.

    The home side secured a 28-10 bonus-point victory over Melbourne-based outfit but Mitchell was unhappy with his opponents' decision to slow the game down and described their tactics as "totally negative".

    "You have to win ugly in this competition as well," he told

    "But (our) performance wasn’t superb on attack. We presented ourselves enough opportunities especially in the first half. But the guys need to be commended with their composure and clearly a strategic move by the opposition to slow the game down,” Mitchell added.

    "I’m not sure SANZAAR needs a product like that. It certainly wasn’t our doing and it is amazing, it might have suited a Bulls team of old, but 48 minutes running time first half, and 52 minutes second half. If the game is going to head in that direction, then it’s totally negative."

    Mitchell refused to blame referee Ben O’Keeffe but praised his players for not falling into the Rebels' trap which was often off the ball and prevented the Bulls from employing their fast-paced style of play.

    "I’m actually not sure whether to judge Ben at all because I’m not sure what the game constitutes or the protocols that exist," he added.

    "Is that law? It is certainly not a presentable fabric of this awesome game in a way that it can be played.

    "Yeah I think the whole panel will take a good look at it. Like with us, there is a lot of emotion after a performance. But we will take the five points. We got there in a difficult way, in a very challenging way and like I said, I commend the guys for the way they didn’t let their frustration get to them. And we kept them to 10, which is awesome.

    “We put some very good line speed on them. I don’t think we were terrific in the tackle, but some weeks you don’t get it right and you’ve just got to hang in there right to the end and that is where the guys need to be given credit."

    Rebels coach Dave Wessels revealed that it was part of his team's strategy to slow the game down in a bid to keep the Bulls at bay.

    “Yeah, we purposely slowed down the first part of the game to, I guess, take away some of the energy from the early part of the contest and try and finish on top of the game strong," he said.

    "I thought we finished the game, I was really proud of the guys the way they came out after half time, and upped the tempo and started to really play well.

    "At one point it was 21-10 and we hustled them in their 22 and if we scored there it would be 21-17. It would have been a tight game. But it is a real credit to the Bulls. 

    "I think they are an excellent side, they are well coached and they deserved the win."

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