Pote Human’s men will have to be inventive at Newland, writes Jacques van der Westhuyzen
The Bulls will have to come up with some inventive plans to cross the tryline as they kick off preparations today for this weekend’s round two Super Rugby game against the Stormers in Cape Town.
Pote Human’s team were kept tryless in their 23-15 defeat to the Sharks in Durban last Friday and arguably come up against an even more formidable defence in the Stormers this weekend. The men from the Cape didn’t concede a single point in downing the Hurricanes 27-0 at Newlands on Saturday, and will look to be as stingy against the team from Pretoria.
The key though for the Bulls players is to stay positive, and put the Durban showing behind them. Conditions, which were wet and humid, made life difficult for the Bulls, who battled to get any sort of momentum or rhythm into their game while their handling, too, let them down on a number of occasions. A few good try-scoring chances were missed because of this.
Also, the Bulls, who are still missing the concussed Marco van Staden, struggled to match the Sharks at the breakdowns and Human will no doubt look this week to strengthen his team’s breakdown ability.
“It’s not the way we wanted to start, but it’s also not the end of the road; there’s a long way to go,” said Human after the match on Friday.
There were a good few positives for the Bulls, among them the fact the players kept fighting until the final whistle, while their set-pieces also functioned well at times.
Also, the performance of veteran flyhalf Morné Steyn was hugely encouraging. The 35-year-old, who has joined the Bulls from Stade Francais, varied his game well, while his distribution and kicking were mostly top-notch.
Human, too, was pleased with Steyn’s performance in difficult conditions. “It was a good outing for Morné .. he’d been criticised a bit for being too old,” said Human.
“There was lots of pressure on him, but he showed he still has it. He was good.”
As with all the teams’ coaches today, Human will now have a far greater understanding of where his side are as a unit and which individuals he should back or change.
In a game that never reached any great heights because of the wet conditions, few players stood out, so Bulls fans will hope the early season rust is now finally gone.
“It was the first match and we can’t let our heads hang now,” said Bulls captain Burger Odendaal. “We have to learn out of this and be better moving forward. It doesn’t get easier and we must gel quickly, but we must just stay positive.”