The Bulls learnt once again that you can play anyway you want to, but if your finishing is not accurate then even the best game plans will come to nought.
And that was one of the main reasons why the Hurricanes beat them 34-20 in their Super Rugby match at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria on Saturday.
It was an improved display by the Bulls as they played with admirable endeavour and better intensity but they could make little of their dominace in terms of territory and possession.
Sadly, the mistakes they made with ball in hand were also evident in some poor defensive lapses and the Hurricanes were absolutely clinical in turning their opportunities into points.
They turned their 43% possession and 44% territory, including just 4% of the match with the ball in the Bulls’ 22, into five tries.
The intent showed by the Bulls will please incoming Executive of Rugby John Mitchell, but the manner in which the Hurricanes were able to run in tries willy-nilly will definitely spark his wrath.
Who was the star in this match?
It was not the greatest performance by the Hurricanes, but scrumhalf and captain TJ Perenara was a deserved man of the match, constantly driving his team forwards and slickly probing the gaps in the Bulls defence with clever running, passing and kicking.
Key themes and events
- The Bulls were well in the game in the first half, trailing by just one point (13-14) heading into the last five minutes. But referee Egon Seconds then saw fit to penalise them for offside, replays suggesting it was a harsh call, especially since the Hurricanes defensive line had camped offside for most of the game. The visitors kicked to touch and, after the lineout, Perenara stabbed a kick through, flank Callum Gibbins won the turnover and the ball was quickly thrown wide to wing Wes Goosen, who had acres of space in which to score.
- The halftime hooter saw Seconds penalise the Bulls again and the Hurricanes kept the ball through numerous phases, despite handling errors, with the Bulls just unable to turn the ball over. Eventually lock Mark Abbott was able to stroll over the line, giving the defending champions a vital 24-13 cushion at the break.
- The Hurricanes then added 10 more points in the third quarter, through a penalty by flyhald Otere Black after the Bulls lost their own lineout just outside their 22, and a pacy finish by replacement hooker Leni Apisai after centre Burger Odendaal had gone for the intercept but just missed, allowing Vince Aso to put replacement wing Ben Lam away on the outside.
- The Bulls spent most of the final quarter hard on attack, but the only reward was a try to Nic de Jager, who wrong footed the defence with a fine dummy and inside break.
Hurricanes – Tries: Jordie Barrett, Ngani Laumape, Wes Goosen, Mark Abbott, Leni Apisai. Conversions: Otere Black (3). Penalty: Black.
Bulls – Tries: Duncan Matthews, Nic de Jager. Conversions: Tian Schoeman (2). Penalties: Schoeman (2).