The Blue Bulls had a hard practice on Wednesday and seem to have ironed out most of the problems from the WP game.
The players were spent following an intense session that saw much more go right than not. Keo.co.za brings you the key moments of the Blue Bulls practice from Loftus Versfeld:
1. Bulls kickers, Derick Hougaard, Morne Steyn and Jacques-Louis Potgieter are hard at work honing their skills. Steyn has missed just twice in about 20 kicks, while Hougaard is one worse. Potgieter has not been as accurate, but has kicked over more than he has missed.
2. Steyn has just landed two monster 55m kicks, while Potgieter has slotted a tough angled kick from touch on the left. Hougaard maintains a 100% (8/8) record from about 35m out, admittedly bang in front. The poor ball boy though seems to be doing more work trying to get the balls back to the players!
3. Hougaard definitely still struggling with his ankle. Not affecting his accuracy, but certainly he shows discomfort after every third kick or so. He is expected to be out for another two to three weeks.
4. Liefling is playing in the background. I think it helps the players concentrate. They have not missed a kick since the audio team have been testing the system.
5. Hougaard’s line kicking is immense, even with the injured ankle. He’s knocking them a good 70m and pretty accurately too.
6. Fullback Stefan Basson has joined them on the field and shows he also has a big boot on him… not as big as Hougaard though, about 50m.
7. Steyn has taken a break – he has full field practice at 3pm on the Loftus B field, but Hougaard is still at it. And still smashing them nearly 70m. And with a sore ankle.
8. And that’s it for kicking practice from the main field. Full Bulls practice to start after 3pm on the B field. Keo.co.za will bring you more live updates.
9. Bulls players emerge from the change room. Derick Hougaard and Richard Bands are already running seperately under the watchful eye of team doctor Tommie Smook on the far side of the field.
10. Bulls players doing stretching exercises and jogging. Bulls Babes have also just arrived for practice and are doing some stretching of their own…
11. Players having a game of six down touch to get warmed up. Stefan Basson is a difficult man to stop it seems. The Bulls Babes are also warming things up with some audacious dance moves on the side.
12. Starting XV are now running against the rest with protection bags. From a lineout, hooker Gary Botha feeds the line and they punch through and set up the ruck. Steyn kicks to gain ground and they repeat the dose. Very few mistakes with this lot.
13. They have got that move right everytime. Now they try a few other planned moves and coach Pote Human seems pleased. The intensity is good.
14. The team are training counter-attacks from high kicks and it’s working well. Also several player have tried drop kicks to good effect. Maybe a ploy for the weekend?
15. Now the session has moved to running drills, with planned drills being tried, but not always successfully. However they are running at full speed through them.
16. Coach Pote Human stops proceedings to get the players to listen to his ideas. This time they get it right. Time for a break…
17. More lineout practice and Gary Botha is finding his jumers – Francois van Schouwenberg and Adriaan Fondse well. It was an area that needed work, but is working well now.
18. Time for a bit of full contact to end the session as the starting team takes on the reserves and extras.
19. Both teams are kicking a lot tactically. Human seems happy with the effort put in and all the players gather into a huddle.
20. And that’s practice over for the day. They come from the field and head for the change room.
By Andrew Hollely, at Loftus Versfeld