Frans Ludeke pointed to the Bulls’ poor defence and failure to dominate the breakdown as the primary reasons for defeat to the Blues.
The Bulls had their unbeaten run snapped by the Blues on Saturday, going down 32-17 in Auckland.
It was a disappointing all-round performance, but Ludeke was in no doubt about the facets of play that contributed most significantly to defeat.
‘There were just too many missed tackles for us to be competitive against a side as good as the Blues,’ Ludeke told keo.co.za.
‘Even when we didn’t miss tackles, they still got across the advantage line and that made it very difficult for us to contest the ball on the ground and control the tempo of the game.
‘They did that when they were defending [dominated the collisions], and the number of turnovers they were able to make shows just how important it is to be strong in the collisions under the new breakdown law interpretations.’
The Bulls conceded numerous penalties at ruck time and found Blues goal kicker Stephen Brett in no mood for charity. Brett kicked six penalties, and Ludeke stressed that they would have to be more disciplined in the coming weeks.
‘The penalties came as a result of pressure and we’ll have to address our reaction in those pressure situations because there are good kickers in this competition who’ll punish you if you give them the opportunity to.’
One of those penalties earned Pedrie Wannenberg a yellow card. The Bulls were trailing 16-14 at the time, but conceded 13 points in the flanker’s absence.
Gerhard van den Heever’s youthful impetuosity showed in that period as well, as he took a quick lineout feed to Zane Kirchner, who was quickly swamped by Blues players. They turned over possession and shifted the ball wide to Joe Rokocoko to score.
Brett’s conversion made the score 29-17, but the Bulls responded well, driving into the Blues’ territory and threatening to score.
However, Flip van der Merwe was binned for a shoulder charge just 13 minutes after Wannenberg’s return, significantly undermining the Bulls’ ambitions of a comeback.
Ludeke said no blame could be attributed to the trio. ‘We win together and we lose together. I’m not going to pick out individuals for blame and I don’t think those mistakes had a significant impact on the result.’
Ludeke’s disappointment was compounded with news that centre Jaco Pretorius is being treated for a serious facial injury, the exact nature of which is not clear at the moment.
Pretorius is likely to be replaced by Stefan Dippenaar for their clash against the Chiefs on Friday if he fails to recover.
By Ryan Vrede