Bulls brace for 'crucial' month after morale-boosting win
REACTION: Bulls scrum coach Werner Kruger has praised the team after their win over the Dragons amid a very unbecoming period for the franchise.
The Bulls were disrupted by the illness of Director of Rugby Jake White and flyhalf Chris Smith ahead of their match against the Dragons on Friday.
However, despite the off-field challenges the team managed to rally together and secure a bonus-point 29-14 victory over the Dragons at Rodney Parade.
The Bulls outscored the hosts four tries to two and move into the top four of the United Rugby Championship table.
The South African side made an explosive start to take a 17-0 lead, but the Dragons dragged it back to a deficit of only three points before the visitors emphasised their superiority in the final quarter.
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“It is a great result on the road,” Kruger told reporters after the match.
“Newport is always a tough place to come and play, they have kept all their opponents close and not a lot of them have come here and got all five points.
“So this is a very positive result for us, especially after the couple of weeks we just had with the Christmas games. Great start to the new year for us.”
The mental switch
The scrum coach was especially chuffed with the performance of the tight five.
The pack showed a vast improvement following their defeats to the Stormers and Sharks.
“The scrums we have been building, from the start of the season, the boys are progressing well,” Kruger said.
“I think in the derbies there is a different factor to it but I do think we scrummed well in Cape Town and definitely let ourselves down in Durban. We are a far better scrumming unit and forwards outlet than we put on display out there.
“This week with the travel, there wasn’t a lot of time to train, so it was more of a mental switch, taking us back to what makes us good.
“So, we just spoke about that. We obviously did not have enough time to train but we did what was necessary for us to turn the scrumming around and I am proud of the boys.”
Looking ahead, Kruger revealed the Bulls management will try to rotate the team as much as possible for the challenging fixtures ahead.
“It is a tough month, being on the road and on planes for most of the time, so we are going to have to rotate the boys and try to keep everyone fresh,” Kruger said.
“We are going to try and play as many of our players as possible throughout this coming block.
“There is a guy like Lionel [Mapoe] still at home, so there are one or two guys that can still come in but as I said, we need to rotate everyone and get everyone fresh because four weeks on the road is not ideal.”