Cape Town - Despite a much improved performance and a second consecutive bonus-point victory, Bulls coach Gert Smal is not getting carried away by his team’s successful start to the Currie Cup.
The Bulls ran in six tries in a convincing 40-21 win over Western Province at Cape Town Stadium on Wednesday night, where they had run up a 40-0 lead in the second half before WP belatedly got on to the scoreboard in the final quarter.
Even though Smal fielded a much-changed line-up from the one that beat the Pumas 33-19 last Friday, the Bulls played with much greater discipline and focus, and their immense physicality overwhelmed the Province pack in the first half.
Man-of-the-Match, loosehead prop Simphiwe Matanzima set the tone early on with a number of dominant scrums, while it took just three minutes for fullback James Verity-Amm to score the first try.
The Bulls played with impressive continuity and pace with ball-in-hand, with the forwards making easy metres up the middle, while the backs stretched the WP defence out wide.
“I think we had a good first half – I think we played really well in the first half. That’s the kind of tempo that one wants to see. We were good in the set-piece today, and then also in our mauls – things that we are working on quite hard behind the scenes. It’s always one of the things we want to see in South African rugby… those are always some of our strengths,” Smal said in the post-match press conference.
“We always wanted to play a little more expansive, but in the second half, especially that last 20 minutes, we could’ve maybe played a little bit better – and be a little more disciplined – because that took away a little bit of our momentum.
“But overall, I’m quite happy with the five points and the tries. But still a lot of things to work on. We also want to give a couple of youngsters some opportunities at the beginning, and see how they fare in the Currie Cup – we had four guys who got their first caps.”
Two negatives for the Bulls, though, was new flank Cyle Brink, who also scored a try, sustaining a hamstring injury that prevented him from returning after halftime, while replacement prop Jan-Hendrik Wessels received a red card right at the end of the match for a dangerous clean-out at a ruck.
On Brink’s injury, Smal said “we will see how bad it is – it’s still too early to say”.
WP 21 – Tries: Nama Xaba, Tristan Leyds, Marcel Theunissen. Conversions: Tim Swiel (2), Chris Schreuder (1).
Bulls 40 – Tries: James Verity-Amm, Canan Moodie, Simphiwe Matanzima, Cyle Brink, Bismarck du Plessis, Marco Jansen van Vuren. Conversions: Morné Steyn (5).