VIDEO: Mitchell: Lions exposed Bulls' ‘system’
The Bulls produced a good game, with a lot of pundits expecting John Mitchell's new-look Bulls ending the Lions' dominance in South Africa rugby.
However, despite the spirited and entertaining efforts of the Bulls, the Lions scored seven tries to four for the bonus-point victory that puts them back at the top of the standings.
One area where the Lions took control was in the forward's department. The Johannesburg-based scored five of their seven tries from the back of the maul and set-pieces.
Furthermore, Bulls went down to 13-man after Conraad van Vuuren and Nic de Jager, were yellow-carded within a minute of each other – the score was 28-21 to the Lions. When they returned the score was 42-21.
Mitchell explained that the Lions' pressure and accuracy in general play especially amongst the forwards forced the Bulls to play unstructured rugby.
"It was a disappointing performance. Firstly, the Lions deserved their win. I thought their forwards were outstanding and they got us in one area.
"They exposed one system that we’ve been developing and doing pretty good at but that one system conceded four opportunities and led to two yellow cards which influence the rest of the game," Mitchell said.
"It was an amazing game, you only have to get one area going wrong, from a forward aspect, and it can feed into so many other aspects of the game.
"But ultimately the result of their pressure in that one system and us not paying attention to that detail and getting it right forced us to not to stick to the structures,"
Handre Pollard – originally named to start at flyhalf – ran out at inside-centre for the Bulls after captain Burger Odendaal was forced to withdraw from the matchday squad.
The captain was unable to recover from a rib injury which he suffered during the win over the Hurricanes last weekend.
However, Pollard looked comfortable in number 12 jersey – he scored a try and assisted in Johnny Kotze’s try with an accurate kick – a phenomenon which Mithcell will be keen to test again.
"He will play at 12 again, he was good there but a lot of his work was from fractured play. We were in good structure and he saw the space for Johnny Kotze which was outstanding. But that was probably more of a flyhalf decision,"
The Bulls next match is against Reds in Brisbane which is followed by clashes with Chiefs and Crusaders, respectively.
By Josh Isaacson