Duane Vermeulen says that a consistent run on tour will strengthen the Vodacom Bulls’ chances of topping the South African conference. JON CARDINELLI reports.
The Bulls claimed a big win in Melbourne on Friday. The result brought an end to the franchise’s three-year losing streak overseas. It also ensured that they finished round 14 at the top of the South African conference.
The Bulls currently lead the local division, thanks to a superior points-difference. The second-placed Jaguares have the same number of log points (32), while the Lions (30) and Sharks (29) are not far behind the leaders.
No team in this conference can afford to lose a game over the remaining four rounds. Some might say that the Bulls face the toughest road to the playoffs, given that they have three more overseas tour matches to complete before returning to South Africa to face the Lions.
The Pretoria-based franchise has blown hot and cold this season. While they have ended their losing streak at Ellis Park, as well as the aforementioned drought in Australasia, they have suffered some big defeats at the hands of the Chiefs and Crusaders.
Vermeulen, one of the senior players, hopes that the win against the Rebels will signal a change in fortunes. The Bulls will face the Brumbies in Canberra this Friday, and the Blues and Highlanders in New Zealand thereafter.
‘It was a great win for us in Melbourne. The challenge for us now is to keep the momentum going,’ Springbok No 8 said.
The Bulls have won seven and lost five in 2019. They haven’t managed to win two games in a row since going back to back against the Lions and Sharks in rounds three and four.
‘It’s been a roller-coaster ride,’ admitted Vermeulen. ‘We win, then we lose, then we win again. It’s been difficult to build any rhythm and confidence on the back of those results.
‘We need to take a look at ourselves and ask why we lost some games that we really should have won. Perhaps it’s a bit of inexperience at crucial stages of the game. In any case, we need to work towards addressing the issues.’
The Bulls were hammered 45-13 by the Crusaders at Loftus Versfeld in round 13. Nobody gave them much of a chance against the Rebels last week, and Vermeulen feels that the team showed some character.
‘There’s always going to be negativity in the wake of a big loss like that. Some people say you are picking the wrong individuals or combinations. Others blame the game plan, and say you are kicking too much possession away.
‘We were pretty pumped up for that game against the Rebels. We got the win, and now we need to keep going.’
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