Brumbies ask hard questions of Bulls’ defence

2012-04-21 21:47

Bulls (19) 36
Brumbies (13) 34

Loftus Versfeld was one ground Jake White did not endear himself to during his tenure as Springbok coach.

Indeed, the ground has not been friendly to Australian sides this season, with the defending champions the Reds copping a 61-8 thrashing at the hands of the home side.

However, the Brumbies are an entirely different team compared with last year’s motley crew that blundered through the competition.

The Canberra side were never going to beat the physically superior Bulls outfit, but as they are coached by a shrewd tactician they were always going to make any chance count.

As a result, the Bulls’ defence will have to ask itself some hard questions.

The Bulls have been slow out of the blocks in most of their games but their start today aimed to shrug off that reputation.

They stole a kickoff, which lead to a penalty that was easily converted by Morne Steyn and Christian Lealiifano committed a schoolboy error as his restart
failed to cross the 10-metre line.

For all their pressure, the Bulls just could not seem to convert it into five or seven points and had to be content with Steyn’s accurate boot.

Running straight is something the Bulls did not execute to good effect against the Crusaders in their last home game and the Brumbies showed them how
it’s done through Henry Speight and Jesse Mogg. Speight’s try was the result of quick ball and direct running, with the winger crashing through limp
tackles from Akona Ndungane and Pierre Spies. Mogg’s touchdown was the result of a well-worked move that would have sliced open any defence.

Spies’s night hardly got better, as he could not break tackles, dropping a simple Garryowen and resembling a revolving door at the fringes.

Spies is an excellent number eight when the game is open, but his tight-loose exchanges leave more questions than answers.

The Bulls kept a tight leash on possession. It was straight running that gave them their try, with Bjorn Basson the recipient of quick ball movement.

Steyn was on hand to punish any Brumbies transgression and he ticked the score over assiduously as forays into the Brumbies red zone were few and far between.

Refereeing has been a bone of contention throughout the tournament with dodgy calls littering matches week in week out. South African referees have been in a class of their own, but Marius Jonker’s PSL-class blunder, missing Steyn’s knock-on which led to a try by CJ Stander, will have Australian tongues wagging.

Stander’s selfishness nearly botched the already flawed forward movement but his strength saw him past Mogg’s weak attempt.

To their credit, the Brumbies never gave up and after multiple phases Andrew Smith dotted under the posts.

Steyn might have found his kicking radar, but his suspect defence was exposed as replacement Ita Vaea was given an open channel to run through.

The Brumbies could have added another try in the 72nd minute, as their offloading in the tackle created gaps in the Bulls defence. Speight was honing in on a second try, but Zane Kirchner’s desperate tackle was enough to prevent the flyer from dotting down cleanly.

They were not to be denied though as Ian Prior found a way through four minutes later.

Anthony Hegarty crossed for the Brumbies’ fifth try, which in the context of Stander’s illegitimate score, could have been the killer blow.

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