The Bulls swept to a 48-7 victory in a scrappy match against the Valke.
The scoreline looks emphatic, but there was certainly nothing convincing about this Bulls performance against the worst side in the tournament.
They played a brand of rugby that may have reaped rewards against the Brakpan minnows but would bomb against the tournament’s big hitters.
Perhaps there was a misinterpretation of coach Pote Human’s call for them to be more positive after last week’s loss to the Cheetahs, because the manner in which the Bulls went about what should have been a simple mission was perplexing.
The percentage, territory-based rugby that has brought them success was non-existent, as was their usually effective phase play. The tight forwards ran like outside backs and the backs like tight forwards.
The win can in a large part be attributed to the Valke’s struggles in the lineout, poor tactical kicking, inability to dominate collisions and woeful fundamental skills, rather than a ruthless Bulls unit.
But judging by how they shaped early on there were no signs that they would turn in the poor performance they did.
Their opening try came in a manner that has become synonymous with the Bulls, driving over from close range with Derick Kuun emerging from the mound of bodies.
Their second was a throwback to their memorable Super 14 game against the Reds. They ran a turnonver from inside their 22m with JP Joubert selling a dummy before finding John Mametsa who raced home from 35m.
The bonus point looked to be a mere formality at that stage, but what was to follow was the Bulls’ worst period of Currie Cup rugby in many years.
Their attacking structure was poor, defensively they were slipping tackles they would usually nail and their fundamental skills were poor. From an attacking perspective they either went too lateral, or tried to compensate for their conservative approach last week by striving to keep the ball alive instead of setting up the phase.
That has never been a style that suited the Bulls, and they would be well advised to revert to the forward orientated approach, given the lack of penetration in the back division.
Their third try looked like one that could have been constructed by an U14 E side, such was the lack of purpose which preceded Pedrie Wannenburg crossing the chalk.
The looseness of the Bulls approach meant the Valke were always in the game and they scored shortly before the break.
The ball spat out from a Bulls scrum in the 22m and rolled into the in-goal area. Bertus Swanepoel beat JP Nel to the loose ball.
At 19-7 the Valke would have fancied their chances had the Bulls produced the same performance after the break. But the visitors eliminated that hope with a three-try blitz in the 10 minutes after the restart.
The Valke’s Fijian winger Akuila Nawerecagi will do well to avoid being deported after a dreadful handling error five metres from his goal line gifted Marius Delport a try. Derick Hougaard then danced through the Valke’s defence before Johan Roets, playing his 100th Currie Cup match for the Bulls, started and finished a move he had initiated in his 22m.
The Valke had shot their bolt defensively, and the Bulls were breaching them with even the most elementary moves. John Mametsa profited, bagging two tries in quick succession to complete his hattrick.
The five points means it’s mission completed for the Bulls. But they look a side in need of the break they’ll get in the week ahead, before launching an assault on a home semi-final spot.
Valke – Try: Bertus Swanepoel. Conversion: Riaan Viljoen
Bulls – Try: Derick Kuun, John Mametsa (3), Pedrie Wannenburg, Marius Delport, Derick Hougaard, Johan Roets. Conversion: Derick Hougaard (4)
Valke - 15 Riaan Viljoen, 14 Akuila Nawerecagi, 13 Bertus Swanepoel, 12 Hanno Coetzee, 11 Mpho Matsaung, 10 Albert Keuris, 9 Charl McLeod, 8 Sean Plaatjies, 7 Schalk van der Merwe, 6 Piet Krause, 5 Nico Luus, 4 Hein Potgieter, 3 GÃ¼nder Williamson, 2 David Britz, 1 Gavin Whittingham.
Replacements: 16 Ryno Barnes, 17 CJ du Toit, 18 Marius Coetzer, 19 Wium Arlow, 20 MornÃ© Adams, 21 Len Olivier, 22 Rouan Cloete.
Blue Bulls - 15 Johan Roets, 14 John Mametsa, 13 JP Nel, 12 Wayne Julies, 11 Marius Delport, 10 Derick Hougaard, 9 JP Joubert, 8 Pedrie Wannenburg, 7 Deon Stegmann, 6 Hottie Louw, 5 Francois van Schouwenburg, 4 Cliff Milton, 3 Rayno Gerber, 2 Derick KuÃ¼n (captain), 1 Jaco Engels.
Replacements: 16 Bandise Maku, 17 Werner Kruger, 18 Ruan Vermeulen, 19 Gerhard Human, 20 Neil Powell, 21 MornÃ© Steyn, 22 Danwel Demas.