Rugby

What a time for the Bulls to find their mojo

19 May 2019 - 00:03 By KHANYISO TSHWAKU


A win doesn't a tour make, but the significance of Friday's 32-17 win against the Rebels won't be lost on the Bulls.
In a campaign where the Bulls have routinely and unexpectedly gained and lost momentum, they picked the best time to break a three-year Australasian tour hoodoo.
Before their surprisingly exciting and efficient win at AAMI Park, April 29 2016 was the last time they won on Australian soil. They beat the Force 42-20 in Perth, which snapped a four-year losing streak at the time, but since then the pickings have been slim.
There have been defeats in New Zealand (where they haven't won since March 10 2013 when they beat the Blues 28-21 in Auckland), Japan and Singapore that have not only been deflating, but also showed up the lackadaisical nature the Bulls tend to adopt when they travel.
In that 2013 overseas tour, the win in Auckland was the first of a four-game trip, but the Bulls went on to lose the other three.
With them being the last SA team to make the trans-Indian Ocean trip before the tournament's conclusion, the Bulls have to make it count against the Australian sides considering how terrible they've been against the New Zealand franchises.
The heavy home defeats against the Chiefs and the Crusaders showed up the Bulls offensively and defensively.
While the New Zealand part of the tour that'll make or break their playoff hopes is still two weeks away, the focus has to be on the forward threat the Brumbies will pose.
The Bulls cannot afford to worry about what the Sharks get up to in their home games, but the Brumbies, like the Bulls, have the added concern of keeping their top conference spot.
Unlike the Rebels, the Brumbies have a pack that can keep the Bulls on their toes.
Also, the Bulls have inexplicable concentration lapses that an ill-equipped team like the Rebels can't exploit, but could be dealt with by the Brumbies.
The Chiefs and the Crusaders showed what could be done to the Bulls if they're starved of the ball.However, the New Zealand sides are far more resourceful with ball in hand compared to the direct Australian side.Again, what the New Zealand outfits do until the Bulls go to Auckland to meet the Blues on May 31 is the least of their concerns. The Jaguares have a week's break after their ground-breaking 28-20 win against the Hurricanes in Wellington.With the sides tied on 32 points, and the Bulls topping the conference on points difference, there's nothing the Lions (26) and the Stormers (24) can do to dislodge them.If the Sharks (29) were on duty, they would have been well-primed to go to the top. However, they fluffed their lines for two consecutive weeks.The Bulls and the Jaguares find themselves in the enviable position of having to just win all their games to secure their play-off spots.In the consistent SA conference and how these teams have played this season, that's easier said than done.

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