The emotions were running high at Loftus Versfeld after the Bulls were mauled by the Lions last weekend, so much so that coach Nollis Marais could not see the silver lining which their conquerors’ own recent experiences provides them.
The Lions suffered a similarly dispiriting defeat at home a month ago when they were hammered 50-17 by the Hurricanes; they rebounded spectacularly though and now top the South Africa Conference and are second on the overall log.
All is not lost either for the Bulls, who are four points behind the faltering Stormers and three behind the Sharks in the hunt for the other two local qualification places.
“It’s best not to say anything to the players straight after the game because emotions are still running high and there’s no silver lining. There was a good crowd behind us but we did not put in a good performance, so now we have to bounce back.
“We’re now working on permutations, which is always bad, but we have to get back on the right track. There’s still a lot to play for, we are down but not out … The Hurricanes also gave the Lions a beating a few weeks ago,” the dejected Marais said.
In a way, the fortnight’s break that the Bulls will now have has come at a good time, preventing them from harping on about one of their worst displays of the season and a humiliating defeat at their home fortress.
The Bulls have to hop on a plane to Argentina when the competition resumes at the beginning of July to take on the Jaguares, before hosting the Sunwolves and then finishing their campaign with a potentially tricky visit to the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein.
“We were short against the Lions, but sometimes it’s good to have setbacks, you learn from them. Not getting it too easy maybe makes the players work harder,” Marais said.