To be honest with you my expectations for this match was not high but it was a very entertaining match to watch and the rugby that was played by both teams far surpassed my expectations. The Bulls definitely deserved to win and the final I feel will be contested by the two best teams in the competition.
The bulls attacking structure and endeavour was greater than that of Western Province and just when you thought the Bulls were about to crack the Province defence an intercept and before they knew it the Bulls were standing behind their own poles as Robert du Preez kicked a conversion.
In the past this would have tested a team’s commitment to the running game, Domkrag teams would under these circumstances revert back to their default game. Nollis Marais, Bulls coach, said this regarding the Bulls after the Province intercept try ““We made two critical mistakes last year that they scored from. But we then stopped playing and went back to the old kicking game but this time we continued and kept on attack.”
The Bulls game has yet to make a complete evolution from masters of Domkrag to a newbie Modern Rugby team. At one stage Tian Schoeman attempted a drop goal even though his team were making progress with ball in hand and space seemed to be opening up. The decision to go for the drop goal was one of the only bad marks I would make against Schoeman’s name but it was an inexplicable decision that reeks of a Domkrag origin.
With the prolonged attacks the Bulls had assaulting the Province defence the Bulls are going to have to try and create more of a cutting edge to their attack. One step at a time the Bulls structure on attack looked good and the longer they stick with these structures the more they will grow accustomed to these structures and then they can find a way to express themselves within those structures.
Standout players in this game to me were Roelof Smit for the Bulls. Not only does he play to the ball and looks like many good fetchers over the ball but I was impressed by his foot work and he is a sturdy looking guy. Keep your eye on him.
Huw Jones for Province looks dangerous everytime he gets the ball he is constantly looking to make a break, he definitely understands the concept of aim for the branches rather than the tree. In a team loaded with players that have the ability to be great attacking players, Jones seems to be the only one endeavouring to do so.
The rugby played was positive rugby by both teams and as most good coaches would be it was good to see that it wasn’t at the expense of the defence.