JOHANNESBURG – The Bulls have every reason to have their tails up after beating the Lions 30-12 at Ellis Park on Saturday, with one match left before they get to take a week’s break.
The Pretoria side set themselves the target of winning their opening four Super Rugby matches before their first bye next weekend.
They started with a bang with a convincing win over the Stormers at Loftus Versfeld, but blew it with their loss against the Jaguares in Buenos Aires thanks to some questionable tactics.
On Saturday they got it spot on once again, with the pack of forwards laying the foundation with captain Handré Pollard producing a masterful tactical display.
He contributed 20 of his side’s points, converting a try and landing six of his penalty attempts and missing only one conversion kick.
Pollard said the win was the perfect shot in the arm, but warned against complacency ahead of next week’s tough assignment against a quality Sharks side in Pretoria on Saturday.
“It is massive, we spoke about it before the season started. Lately we’ve been battling to get a good start in the competition and not just talking about the first game,” Pollard said.
“This is great for us, but we need to back it up next week. If we can go three out of four games up and rest up, we should be in a good spot.”
The Bulls pack punched the stuffing out of the Lions on Saturday laying the foundation for Pollard and halfback partner Embrose Papier to dictate the rest of the game.
The Bulls’ tyranny upfront was led by stalwarts of the game with Duane Vermeulen and Schalk Brits producing performances that belied their years.
Brits, at the tender age of 37, stole the show with a display of passion and youthful exuberance against counterparts nearly half his age.
The duo’s arrival at Loftus Versfeld has given the team both the experience and the composure they so desperately needed to elevate a quality side to potential play-off candidates.
Bulls coach Pote Human praised his charges for the way they bounced back from their defeat to the Jaguares a week ago, but believed they were far from a polished product.
“It feels awesome, but I must compliment my players and the entire management team. We worked very hard for this one after the loss in Buenos Aires last week and I am very proud of the guys,” he said.
“The Lions will never lie down, they will come back over the 80 minutes and we expected that.
“Especially the first half, we left a few points out there in the first half, but the way the guys fought in the second half – the defence was awesome.”
The Bulls did not only end the Lions’ 14-match unbeaten run, but also claimed their first win over their Gauteng neighbours at Ellis Park since April, 2012.