Bulls win scrappy Highveld affair

2013-03-03 10:00

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Domination everywhere except on the scoreboard is an anomaly the Bulls seem to excel at – and yet they never seem to learn.

Michael Foley’s side have always been a thorn in the Bulls’ flesh and, with minimal resources, they did what they do best in giving the Bulls as good as they got.

The Bulls have never been able to gore the Force, as their past four encounters have never had a deficit of more than five points.

Werner Kruger’s bonus-point try made the score more flattering than it really was.

There was a noticeable drop in the Bulls’ intensity and it showed.

It seemed the Bulls had training-ground mentality and expected things to play out according to their wishes.

It is an attitude they will need to drop, and fast.

The Force was a different side mentally to the one that was frazzled by the Kings.

It took the Bulls all of 70 minutes to realise that.

The Blues, whom the Bulls face next on Sunday in Auckland, will not be so kind.

They were macho and aggressive in the way only the Bulls can play, but there was an absence of panache in how they approached their task.

Again, they were not good on the ground and Nathan Charles and Matt Hodgson effected excellent turnovers, which were converted into points by the calm Sias Ebersohn.

His paddock hot flushes are the stuff of legend in the Free State, where he played his rugby before his move across the ocean.

He was unflustered as he outshone Morné Steyn even though he played behind a struggling pack.

The visitors never looked like scoring in the first stanza while, quite ironically, the Bulls were a dangerous proposition with the ball in hand and played with far more adventure.

Pity there was too much aerial ping pong and too little actual keeping of the ball – and there was a general passiveness to the game.

It played into the Force’s hands.

When the Bulls did run they scored through Steyn in what was the first backline movement of the game.

Lionel Mapoe was a victim of a rather unfortunate slow delivery from Wynand Olivier but he was beastly every time he hit the line.

It was unfortunate a pass was marginally forward enough to deny Bjorn Basson a try.

Sampie Mastriet’s 42nd-minute try again showed up the Bulls’ folly of not taking the ball wide enough.

For a change, the Bulls had a backline that has the potential to outrun the opposition.

The crucial weak link was Olivier, who seemed to hold on to the ball for too long.

He had no say in the Force’s first try, scored by the hard-working Angus Cottrell via a telegraphed interception.

The Bulls were showed up for a lack of urgency and wastefulness with the ball.

The Force punished them with a Toby Lynn try as they made an excursion to the 22m-area count.

It took the Bulls 13 minutes to respond to the impending crisis but a Steyn penalty and a try by debutant Jean Cook gave the Bulls breathing space.

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