Frans Ludeke’s men were required to make a massive 175 tackles against the Hurricanes in an exhibition that’s becoming far too regular among this country’s sides.
Not only is the physical burden of being on the back foot going to weigh one down eventually, it also reinforces a popular view that South African sides are either reluctant or lack confidence.
Granted, front-foot ball is earned, but it’s disconcerting when teams admit they’re expecting to be on the defensive side of the match equation.
Bulls skipper Flip van der Merwe, whose 22 tackles last week illustrated the exhaustive effect of not being in the ascendancy, holds that view.
“When you tour, you’re going to make more tackles,” said the Bok second-rower.
“Whether it’s at Super Rugby or international level, that’s the way it goes. New Zealand sides like to keep the ball a lot more and don’t kick the ball away, meaning the chance is bigger that you’ll make 200 tackles.”
There’s irony in that statement, because the Bulls were essentially kicked to defeat by the composed Beauden Barrett in Napier last week.
It shows again that kicking isn’t outdated.
Veteran wing Akona Ndungane is out with a hamstring strain, necessitating Francois Hougaard’s shift to wing.
That would actually seem to give the Bulls’ attacking potential a boost.
Talk of focus on more efficient set-pieces during the week should be welcomed, hopefully with the broader aim of dominating.