The hapless Bulls were forced to kneel in submission to the might of the Crusaders as they were thrashed 62-24, suffering their biggest ever defeat at their Loftus Versfeld fortress, in their Super Rugby match on Saturday night.
As brilliant as the Crusaders were, the Bulls were utterly supine, their defence passive and lacking any of the fire they had spoken of in the week leading up to the match.
Their attacks invariably started from so deep that they were seldom any real threat to a Crusaders side that is playing magnificent rugby at present.
Who was the star in this match?
Outside centre Jack Goodhue, a former All Blacks Sevens player and Junior World Cup winner, was the central figure in the Crusaders’ enforcement of their huge dominance of the advantage line. His decision-making was outstanding, knowing exactly when to carry the ball, which he did with pace and great footwork, and when to put through clever grubbers which ripped the Bulls apart.
Key themes and events
- The soft defence of the Bulls was obvious in the opening minutes when flank Pete Samu, bursting from a scrappy lineout, was tackled but then just let go inside the 22, allowing the Australian to regather the ball and storm over the line for the opening try. The heart of the Bulls has to be called into question because everyone expected them to come out breathing fire, playing with great physicality to at least make the Crusaders’ expected win tough to achieve.
- The scrums were a disaster area for the Bulls with the Crusaders employing the tactic of shifting to the left immediately after the hit. Bulls captain Adriaan Strauss admitted after the game that it was a clever strategy and entirely within the law, the home side just not coping with it.
- The Bulls attack is running from deep so often that it is always going to be a huge uphill battle for them to get over the advantage line. The Bulls backline is certainly a threat on turnover ball but the lack of vision and skill is also so apparent. A key moment in the game came in the 19th minute when the Bulls created space out wide for fullback Warrick Gelant, who raced down the touchline and then fed the ball inside to Piet van Zyl. The scrumhalf had a man on his inside and outside, but held on to the ball too long and the move broke down. Tian Schoeman then missed the resulting penalty. It was the sort of chance that is a certain try for every New Zealand team and it would have made the score 10-14 to the Crusaders.
- The bench did at least make some impact for the Bulls, with Jan Serfontein and replacement flyhalf Francois Brummer, in particular, showing that the way forward may well include them in the starting line-up.
Bulls – Tries: Jesse Kriel, Jamba Ulengo, Jan Serfontein. Conversions: Francois Brummer (3). Penalty: Tian Schoeman.
Crusaders – Tries: Pete Samu, Tim Bateman, Scott Barrett, Jack Goodhue (2), Seta Tamanivalu, David Havili, Richie Mo’unga, Andrew Makalio, Mitchell Hunt. Conversions: Mo’unga (5), Hunt.