Home Sport Bulls’ defence and discipline pay off in massive win over Griquas

Bulls’ defence and discipline pay off in massive win over Griquas

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The Pretoria side were desperate to be on the right side of the scoreboard after losing two Champions Cup and four each in the United Rugby Championship and Currie Cup games over the last few months.

Ruan Nortjé’s Bulls team scored six tries in a convincing triumph over Griquas at Loftus Versfeld on Friday to end a nightmare run. Picture: Steve Haag Sports, INPHO, Shutterstock, BackpagePix

Cape Town – Blue Bulls forwards coach Russell Winter felt that better defence and much-improved discipline were the main factors in his team ending a 10-match losing streak with a 40-3 Currie Cup victory over Griquas on Friday night.

The Pretoria side were desperate to be on the right side of the scoreboard after losing two Champions Cup and four each in the United Rugby Championship and Currie Cup games over the last few months.

It led to a dramatic decision by director of rugby Jake White to relieve Currie Cup head coach Edgar Marutlulle of his duties midweek and taking over the position himself, while the gauntlet was laid down to the players as well to turn things around.

Captain Ruan Nortjé responded with six tries in a convincing triumph at Loftus Versfeld to end a nightmare run.

The result will give them some confidence heading into next Saturday’s must-win URC encounter against Zebre at Ellis Park.

“We are blessed. We are going to take the win and we are going to enjoy it. It’s just a step in the right direction. We’ve got to keep working and make sure we build on the momentum of this game,” Winter – who stood in for White at the post-match press conference – said on Friday night.

“Two things stand out: the one was our defence – our defence was really good tonight, far better than what it’s been over the last couple of weeks.

“The other was the penalty count against us. Our discipline was massive for us. We’ve allowed so many entries into our 22 over the last two to three weeks, because of ill-discipline, and it’s really hurt us.

“So, discipline was massive for us tonight, even though we did give away one or two that were still unnecessary – we are still going to work on it. But I think it helped us.”

The forwards got stuck into the Griquas pack throughout by applying serious heat in the scrums, while their physicality on attack and in defence was noticeably better.

That saw scrumhalf Embrose Papier almost toying with the Griquas tacklers around the fringes with his pace and quick service, while the backs were more incisive with ball-in-hand – with Springbok stars Kurt-Lee Arendse and Canan Moodie prominent once more.

“I must say, to be fair to them (forwards), they’ve been working so hard in the last couple of weeks and have been really climbing in. If you look at the international competitions we’ve been playing in, it’s been just as physical – just as tough,” White said.

“We’ve just been making some mistakes the last couple of weeks that have really cost us, but the physicality… we could never question the effort or how hard the guys are working on the field.

“It was more of the same. Rugby is a game of contact, and if you are not going to win the collisions and contact, you are not going to win the game. It’s something we want to continue working on and make sure we don’t slip in that area specifically.

“I think the backline got a nice bit of rhythm going, and that was really pleasing for us. That’s important for us, because I feel we have been breaking down too easily over the last couple of weeks.

“But tonight, we seemed to be getting a bit of rhythm, and obviously Kurt-Lee and Canan are outstanding when they get the ball in hand. Trying to get them the ball is what we are aiming to do, and when they do have it, everybody expects magic and they’re really good players and mean a lot to us.”

Points-Scorers

Blue Bulls 40 – Tries: Ruan Vermaak, Mornay Smith, Cyle Brink, Embrose Papier, David Kriel, Gerhard Steenekamp. Conversions: Chris Smith (5).

Griquas 3 – Penalty: George Whitehead (1).

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