Bulls do some soul searching

Blue Bulls head coach Pine Pienaar called in his players for a special team meeting on Monday after a disappointing start to the Currie Cup campaign.

The Bulls find themselves at the bottom of the log after the first round, having lost three of their five games to date. They have only won against the Sharks (41-31) and Griquas (35-20) at home so far.

Their latest 32-23 defeat to the Golden Lions at Loftus Versfeld saw Pienaar call in his troops at their Pretoria headquarters.

‘I wouldn’t call it a crisis meeting. It was a get together to reflect on the last two weeks,’ Pienaar told keo.co.za ‘I didn’t want the scenario where my players were losing confidence. I didn’t want them to doubt themselves.

‘Things have been difficult for us as we have lost 22 players after Super Rugby to Springbok duty and injuries, but that’s no excuse. We might lack depth, but we have quality players in our current squad.

‘There’s no need to panic. We just need to focus on the issues at hand and stick to the rugby we play.’

According to the current Currie Cup stats, the Bulls have conceded the most points (157) and tries (17), and have scored the least amount of tries (10).

Pienaar admitted that his team has performed poorly in certain departments, but was confident the situation would improve as they aim qualify for the play-offs.

‘In all the defeats, our defence, discipline and conceding too many turnovers were the main concerns. We can’t afford to miss tackles and give away too many penalties.

‘We then find ourselves conceding soft scores and chasing the game. That puts more pressure on us and more errors creep in.

‘After the heavy loss to WP, we did improve against the Lions. People will say that we let in four tries, but two of them came after an unfortunate spilled ball from our own scrum and a favourable bounce that went their way from a chip.

‘Things will improve. We just need to keep backing ourselves.’

While the Bulls still have a realistic chance of qualifying for the semi-finals, they will have a tough finish to the league phase as three of their final five fixtures are away.

Their first clash of the second round will be against Griquas in Kimberley on Saturday. The Northern Cape minnows have impressed in recent weeks, beating the Lions 42-32 in Johannesburg and the Sharks 22-15 at GWK Park for back-to-back wins.

‘This will be a very tough game for us. Griquas are clear favourites,’ said Pienaar. ‘But if we want to make the top four, we have to win these tough matches. We’ll take things week by week from now on. If we can improve on our problem areas, things will get better for us.’

By Gareth Duncan