Bulls win breaks psychological barrier
Vodacom Bulls coach Frans Ludeke has hailed his team’s win over the Sharks as a “blessing” and while he admits they were lucky, believes that the significance of winning such a match will outweigh any negatives for the path ahead in their Vodacom Super Rugby campaign.
The Bulls face the DHL Stormers in their final match at Newlands on Saturday knowing a victory will keep them top of the log and see them score their 10th consecutive win in the competition, while also completing a clean sweep of all South African sides in the process.
But they know it won’t be easy. The Stormers will also be desperate for some pride at the end of the season and will want to get one over the old enemy, so much so that the Bulls know exactly what they are walking into.
Still, Ludeke believes the hurdle of beating the Sharks – something they couldn’t do in the last two years at this stage of the competition (they lost narrowly at Loftus in 2011 to miss out and then heavily in Durban, forcing them to travel to Christchurch) will be hugely beneficial to the side as they head into the playoffs.
While this is still a young side, their ability to win a game while being on the wrong side of the referee and the stats shows just how much character there is, and how significant it is for the young team to win games they should have lost.
“In the last few years they have tipped us when we were on a roll. That is why it is such a rewarding result for us. We got the result, and we had luck going our way. I thought we played well at times but didn’t always finish off. It was a tough contest between two good sides and it was good to win this one,” Ludeke admitted, adding that “things like this are a blessing.”
While the Sharks could have stolen the game at the end, Ludeke said he had “peace in my heart” when Riaan Viljoen lined up the crucial kick, as he felt the Bulls had had enough opportunities to steal the game.
“It’s a blessing, that’s why you walk by faith not by sight. We played and we did a lot of things and we deserved a result. In the end though, they missed the result. To get points out of this game is crucial. It was a big call and he missed. We need this result a lot, it is at home and we need to keep momentum. It is in the final stages of the competition and it is a crucial time for us. We have one game left, so these points are vital.
“I had peace in my heart because I know we had our opportunities and we missed them. We were playing well, and were controlling the game in the last 10 minutes. It was an incident that changed the game. You sit there and you can’t do anything, that’s why I feel for him as well. We missed a result against the Brumbies in the same way – a last-minute penalty. That’s why you need to just keep on working. Things will turn around.”
The Bulls will know if they aren’t more accurate against the Stormers it could tumble them to third place, but considering the massive boost in confidence they received on Saturday, they are likely to be ready for the challenge that Cape Town offers them.