The loss has left the Bulls still in third spot on the South African group behind the Stormers and Lions and in second place behind the Stormers in the Africa Conference 1.
While the 23-6 loss exposed the much talked about inexperience within the Bulls ranks, it also brought the curtain down on a five-match winning streak that will sow the seed of doubt in the Bulls’ ability to stay with the leading pack in the competition.
It was a performance worth forgetting for the visitors as they struggled to string together any meaningful phases of play with the meagre possession they had in the game.
What would have been very frustrating for Bulls coach Nollis Marais was the numerous handling errors his side committed, especially the loss of possession in the tackle.
The Bulls easily conceded possession at the breakdown as well with Wallaby flank David Pocock leading the turnover of the ball at the point of breakdown.
While the Bulls were their own worst enemies by not playing any rugby and cheaply ceding possession to the Brumbies, it was the hosts who showed purpose when they had ball in hand and they dismantled the Bulls by playing a structured and composed game.
The Brumbies subdued the Bulls by first taking control of the set-piece and then starved them off the ball and it was then that the South Africans’ lack of experience came to the fore.
In the face of unrelenting pressure from the Brumbies and them struggling to find their feet, the Bulls opted for damage limitation and survival instead of taking their fate into their own hands.
A disappointed Marais admitted that his side were found wanting and that a lack of experience got the better of them.
“It was not a good performance for us and the pressure got to them. You could actually see it before the game with the guys playing against a more experienced side.
“I think we just didn’t play rugby,” Marais said afterwards.
Marais also lamented the handling errors and astronomical turnover count against his side and believes it was only a matter of time that his team’s frailty of not being accurate would come back to bite them.
“There were too many turnovers - the count was 21 against 10 - and every time we went on attack we lost the ball because we weren’t accurate. I’ve said this previously that we have to be more accurate otherwise this (loss) will happen against us. Every time we got momentum we lost the ball and made it easy for them to defend.”
The Bulls’ woes were further compounded by their frail defence in broken play as the Brumbies scored two tries - the first from broken play by wing Nigel Ah Wong and the second from first phase ball from the lineout by in-form scrumhalf Tomas Cubelli.
With one more game remaining against the Waratahs on their tour of Australia, the Bulls will need to regroup and revert back to the basics that had carried them so well before capitulating against the Brumbies.
“We knew this was a young side and the guys have to build and this loss will do them a world of good and they will be better prepared to play next time.
“The Waratahs won’t be easy and there won’t be any easy games for the remainder of the competition,” said Marais. - Saturday Star
Original source: Bulls only have themselves to blame