The last leg of a tour is often the hardest, especially when the losses and the injuries mount.
With two consecutive losses for the Bulls, this rings true and it won’t get easier in Canberra when they face the Brumbies on Saturday.
The Cheetahs have shown how touring can be made easy, earning tempered praise from Bulls coach Frans Ludeke.
“We are running our own race but well done to the Cheetahs. We have one game left this weekend and we are determined to make it count,” Ludeke said.
The Bulls have not been able to field a consistent starting 15 because of injury and loss of form respectively.
Saturday’s game against the Brumbies will see four changes from the team that lost 23-18 to the Reds in Brisbane.
The biggest surprise was that of Jan Serfontein usurping his former school mate, Francois Venter, at inside.
The other changes – at lock and wing, with Juandre Kruger and Jurgens Visser replacing Grant Hattingh and Bjorn Basson – were injury enforced.
Morne Steyn gets his number-10 jumper back from the underwhelming Louis Fouche.
Ludeke said only an 80-minute effort will suffice against the Brumbies. “We were there near the end but we were not good enough. We should have created more opportunities.
“We can’t talk about the Brumbies, though, as we have our own plans and the way we’ll go about it this weekend. We’d like to step up from last week but we cannot control our position.”
The Brumbies, coming off a bruising 35-22 loss to the Stormers, have excelled at not being easy beats.
One facet of their game that has caught sides by surprise is their offloading, which has not been reliant on an individual.
Ball retention is something the Bulls have worked on diligently throughout the season and captain Pierre Spies said it would be imperative for them to hold on to the ball to keep the Brumbies quiet.
“We cannot play without the ball and we need to build momentum and pressure,” Spies said.
“It was something we struggled with against the Reds and it will be one of our focus points this weekend.”
Brumbies: to be announced
15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Lionel Mapoe, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Jürgen Visser, 10 Morne Steyn, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Pierre Spies (captain), 7 Dewald Potgieter, 6 Deon Stegmann, 5 Juandré Kruger, 4 Paul Willemse, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 1 Morne Mellett
Substitutes: 16 Willie Wepener, 17 Frik Kirsten, 18 Wilhelm Steenkamp, 19 Arno Botha, 20 Ruan Snyman, 21 Louis Fouche, 22 Francois Venter