The Bulls suffered an astonishing collapse to slump to a 17-41 loss to the Reds in Brisbane on Saturday.
The result will be disconcerting for coach Pote Human, who saw his side race into a 17-0 lead, before the conceding all their points unanswered as the youthful hosts came roaring back.
While the Bulls’ fundamentals, such as their defence, handling and discipline waned badly, they lacked leadership to simply keep their composure once the pressure was on.
Who was the star in this match?
Giant Reds flanker Lukhan Salakaia-Loto was simply superb in the hosts’ sterling comeback effort. Big enough to be a lock, the 23-year-old was menacing as ball-carrier, continually winning his collisions and showing great athleticism to round off his own try early in the second half. His tackling was also robust.
Key moments and themes
- The Bulls were simply thrilling in the first 30 minutes of the contest, carrying on from last weekend’s fine attacking performance against the Highlanders. They pounced on the counter by keeping build-up phases to a minimum and going wide to their dangerous back tree as quickly as possible. That helped them raced into a 17-0 lead.
- Hindsight is an exact science, but the loss of Springbok prop Lizo Gqoboka and Scottish flanker Josh Strauss to shoulder and neck problems respectively seemed to disrupt the Bulls’ rhythm, but also robbed them of wise heads on the field. This is a green Bulls combination that needs its infusion of experience. They way they collapsed was indicative of a lack of composure and leadership.
- Emboldened after belatedly getting on the scoresheet in the 28th minute, the Reds used their youthful zest and exploited the Bulls’ increasingly panicky execution to run wild. The Bulls’ scramble defence in particular wasn’t very effective, while the home side also enjoyed the majority possession simply because their opponents could hold on to the ball or recycle effectively.
- Coach Pote Human will be very disappointed with the penalty count, which eventually ended on an unforgivable 14. It’s been a major problem for the Bulls in 2020. Their vaunted scrum also didn’t provide much of a platform.
Reds – Tries: Liam Wright, Isaac Lucas, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto. Conversions: Bryce Hegarty (2). Penalty: Hegarty.
Bulls – Tries: Embrose Papier, Rosko Specman, Warrick Gelant. Conversion: Manie Libbok.