Bulls have a mountain to climb to make the Super Rugby playoffs
The Bulls have left themselves with the mammoth task of registering at least one win on the New Zealand leg of their Australasian tour to have any realistic chance of reaching the Super Rugby playoffs.
The deflating 22-10 defeat to the Brumbies in Canberra on Friday and a win by the Jaguares over the Waratahs yesterday has seen them relinquish top spot on the South African conference.
Their next match is against the Blues at Eden Park on Friday before they travel to the Highlanders in Dunedin, where they will be looking for at least one win to remain relevant in the race for the knockout stages.
If they lose to the Blues and the Highlanders, they run a serious risk of rendering their last match of the round-robin stages against the Lions at Loftus on June 15 a dead rubber.
In their loss to the Brumbies at the Gio Stadium in Canberra on Friday, outside centre Tevita Kuridrani scored a hat-trick of tries as their hosts climbed to the top of the Australian conference.
Kuridrani touched down twice in the first half and Irae Simone completed what turned out to be a good day for the Australians with the third try in the second half.The home side could have won by a bigger margin but they were let down by normally reliable flyhalf Christian Lealiifano, who missed a penalty and three conversions to end the match with two points.The try for the Bulls was scored by eighth-man Handro Liebenberg.The Bulls went into this match with confidence after last weekend's win over the Rebels in Melbourne but they were outmuscled by the determined Brumbies.Coach Pote Human will be concerned by the fact that his team failed to put any points on the board in the second half.The Bulls opened the scoring through a penalty from Manie Libbok, who was deputising at No 10 for the ijnured Handre Pollard, early in the match but the home side responded quickly with a try by Kuridrani.Not long after that the Bulls received a huge boost when Tom Cusack was sent to the sin bin after a string of unsuccessful mauls. They exploited their numerical advantage with what turned out to be their only try, by Liebenberg.Kuridrani registered his second of the match shortly before the break to leave the score tied at 10-10, and Lealiifano managed his only successful kick of the day to give the home side a slender two-point lead at the break.The Brumbies further increased their lead to seven points four minutes after the break through a try by Simone, and Kuridrani registered his hat-trick just before the hour mark.