- Bulls mentor Jake White admits his side's tough going against the Lions is a reminder that they are now wanted men.
- Recent successes mean the men from Loftus are considered a precious scalp by opposition and will have to contend with more pronounced onslaughts.
- White is particularly wary of the potential backlash from the Stormers this weekend, who are "hurting" from their defeat to the Sharks.
It was far more comfortable that the eventual scoreline suggested and yet there was enough evidence in the Lions' gutsy if flawed resistance to show that the Bulls are now walking with targets on their back.
Jake White's troops threatened to overwhelm their opponents early on after an opening period of sustained pressure and superb ball retention saw them score an early try through flyhalf Chris Smith before it took them another 64 minutes to belatedly make their opening Rainbow Cup SA encounter safe.
"I told the players now, every team will come for us," said the Bulls' director of rugby.
"If you won trophies, then everybody wants to beat you. We really had to persevere to pull that game through."
Inherent class eventually proved a defining factor as the Bulls dominated large swathes of the second half, only to be let down by their own indifferent finishing and three tries being nullified by TMO interventions.
White, however, was also full of praise for the Lions forwards, particularly the highly effective, young loose trio of MJ Pelser, Vince Tshituka and Francke Horn.
"Sometimes you’ve got to win those sorts of games. Credit to the Lions, I thought that they played with a lot of emotion. They were really good at the breakdown, and obviously they were trying really hard to slow the ball down," he said.
"When you play at this level, you’ve got to find ways to win, and I’m proud that at least we found a way to win the game."
In all honesty though, the Lions also didn't provide the most compelling opposition, which is why the Bulls will be far more wary when they make the trek down to Cape Town to face the Stormers.
John Dobson's charges interspersed some sumptuous attacking play with poor discipline to narrowly fall short against the Sharks.
"I think now that they’ve lost, I think they are going to be fired up. North-South derbies are always tough anyway. Can you imagine on the rebound of what they’ve gone through: a couple of red cards, and an opportunity to win the game at the death," said White.
"They scored three tries against the Sharks, and could have scored at the death there as well. Having played 40 minutes with 14 men, it’s not a bad return based on the fact that they, you know, as I said they had to play with less numbers for a long period of that game."
The Bulls' cause though should be bolstered by the availability of the Springbok duo of Duane Vermeulen and Trevor Nyakane.