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Ken Borland


Impressive 2nd half saves Bulls from another instalment of touring woes

Posted on March 31, 2022 by Ken

It looked like being another instalment in the Bulls’ woes on tour given their messy start, but the Currie Cup champions enjoyed an impressive second half as they hammered Zebre Parma 45-7 in their United Rugby Championship match at the Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi on Friday night.

Where the Bulls put things right

Having wasted half-a-dozen try-scoring chances through over-eagerness and impatience, the Bulls began demolishing their Italian opposition as soon as they turned to a more measured, patient build-up; attack by instalments if you like.

Allowing their massive ball-carriers up front to be more direct, the Zebre defence couldn’t just rush up on to the backline as they were doing before. Suddenly the Bulls were getting behind the gain-line with regularity and opening up the space for flyhalf Chris Smith to pull the strings and allow centre Lionel Mapoe and fullback Kurt-Lee Arendse to fulfil the attacking threat they displayed throughout.

Much to be happy about at flyhalf

Much has been said about the Bulls’ flyhalf crisis with Morne Steyn and Johan Goosen both unavailable at the moment.

So coach Jake White will be delighted by the assured showing of Chris Smith in the No.10 jersey.

Not only did he succeed with all six of his kicks at goal, a couple of them being right from the touchline, but his tactical game was excellent and he had much to do with the Bulls’ attacking flow.

He played a key role in the Bulls’ crucial first try of the second half, as they built on a 17-7 lead, staying on his feet really well under pressure from several tacklers and then freeing Arendse on a strong run that led to Marcell Coetzee’s try from close range.

Smith’s brilliant kick in the 62nd minute gave the Bulls a 50/22 lineout, from which Mapoe burst through to score and make the game safe at 38-7.

Always trust the Bulls forwards to lay the attacking platform

While coach Jake White has ambitions of playing more expansive rugby, and he has exciting backs to do that, the Zebre win showed once again that he should always look to his superb pack to set the platform by dominating the gain-line.

Problems persist in the scrums & lineouts

The Bulls scrum did concede a couple of penalties in that set-piece, but it did not have a major effect on the game.

But the Bulls wasted several promising attacking positions due to their lineout failing, which will no doubt require work in the week ahead.

Scorers

Zebre Parma: Try – Antonio Rizzi. Conversion – Rizzi.

Bulls: Tries – Johan Grobbelaar, Embrose Papier, Marcell Coetzee, Arno Botha, Lionel Mapoe, Kurt-Lee Arendse. Conversions – Smith (6). Penalty – Chris Smith.

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