'We've demonstrated we can perform in this competition‚' says Bulls coach Mitchell

08 July 2018 - 15:51 By Khanyiso Tshwaku
The Vodacom Bulls head coach John Mitchell says his team has been hampered by injuries to key players and positions during the 2017/18 Super Rugby season.
The Vodacom Bulls head coach John Mitchell says his team has been hampered by injuries to key players and positions during the 2017/18 Super Rugby season.
Image: Gavin Barker/BackpagePix

The Bulls may be out of the play-off running but their pride didn't allow them to slip to a third consecutive home defeat at Loftus on Saturday.

Their overturning of a 19-point deficit into a 43-34 win against the Jaguares made up for their disappointment of losing to the Sunwolves in Singapore last week and was a triumph of sticking to their processes.

Coach John Mitchell was forced into making an early substitution when loose-forward Thembelani Bholi came on for lock Ruben van Heerden but that helped the Bulls tighten up their fringe defence.

With Jannes Kirsten moving from flank to lock‚ the defensive profligacy that plagued the Bulls early in the first half gradually stopped and they were able to convert defensive pressure into attacking points.

This aspect and their resilience impressed Mitchell even though he said consistency has been a problem this season.

“We just stuck to our processes and that's what I'm pleased about‚" Mitchell said.

"At times we've shown immaturity when it comes to decision-making.

"At times we've shown impatience when things haven't worked in our way but we just stuck at it and the boys emptied the tank and you can't ask for more.

"The whole week was designed around our defensive plans feeding our attack. It wasn't perfect but our defence helped set up some tries.

“As I said the other day‚ I was asked as to what happened between now and the Hurricanes game. We've lost six close games and it's small margins in this competition.

"We've demonstrated that we can perform in this competition‚ we've just go to become consistent.”

The Bulls did the Lions a massive favour by beating the Jaguares but they could still be the proverbial fly in the Lions' play-off ointment.

The Jukskei Derby is the 3pm kick-off on Saturday‚ which leaves the Jaguares‚ who have the later kick-off against the Sharks in Durban‚ knowing exactly what to do to earn a home play-off if the Bulls beat the Lions.

Mitchell said the Lions' potent rolling maul will pose a massive threat but they also want to finish the season on a high note.

“They're the best team in the conference and as a former Lions coach‚ I may have done them a favour with the last conversion hitting the post.

"We've taken a look at them as a coaching staff and they're very good but we've got a very good chance of going to Ellis Park to finish the season with the same team we started with‚” Mitchell said.

“The maul is going to count next week. Once that's stopped‚ there's going to be some plays out of the back from fake drives.

"Their forwards are also outstanding in the last 30 metres and that's going to ask questions of us from a mental capacity and resilience perspective.”

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