Bulls piece together edgy win against demonically destructive Griquas
Jake White's Bulls were trapped in the starting gates which to them must have felt like an eternity in their opening Super Rugby Unlocked (SRU) clash at Loftus on Saturday.
In the end however they prevailed 30-23 over a plucky Griquas on an opening weekend that also yielded wins for the Sharks and Cheetahs.
It wasn't the restart to competition the Bulls had hoped for, or many had expected from the Pretoria side.
The Bulls, who looked so slick and incisive two weeks earlier against the Sharks, could barely string together a cohesive passage of play against opponents who, to be fair, were demonically disruptive.
Griquas managed to stunt the Bulls at the breakdown, thus denying the home team the quick ruck ball with which their heavy carriers were supposed to wreak havoc.
Denying the hosts gainline momentum was one part of the Griquas master plan but it also required their main decision-makers to be on point.
Scrumhalf Zak Burger, who sported one of several luxurious mullets on the opening weekend of SRU, brought the nuisance factor, while flyhalf George Whitehead was predictably consistent until he was yellow-carded.
In the end, however, the Bulls called on their experience to get the job done but earlier it took them all of 36 minutes to get moving on the scoreboard. They found further reward on the cusp of the break when their locks Jason Jenkins and Ruan Nortje combined splendidly in a try for the latter.
The converted try levelled the score, which seemed appropriate as there wasn't much to separate the teams from what they wore.
Perhaps on instruction of their coach, the Bulls, thankfully, re-emerged in predominantly white jerseys but the half time pep talk had not sunk in.
Losing No.8 Tim Agaba to a yellow card straight after the break wasn't part of the hosts' blueprint and when Griquas fullback Anthony Volmink showed great explosiveness in his jump and dexterity in collecting a stray pass before running clear, the Bulls looked up against it.
They dug deep, however, with captain Arno Botha firmly in the vanguard as they came from behind.