United Rugby Championship: Werner Kruger praises the Bulls adaptability in Dragons win

Bulls star Kurt-Lee Arendse on the charge. Credit: Alamy
Bulls star Kurt-Lee Arendse on the charge. Credit: Alamy

Bulls scrum coach Werner Kruger credited his team for getting back to winning ways against the Dragons, despite illness to director of rugby Jake White and fly-half Chris Smith.

The 29-14 United Rugby Championship victory ended a three-match losing streak for the Bulls in all competitions and is a much-needed momentum change in the camp.

Late change

Smith was due to start the game at pivot but was forced to withdraw with an illness, and Johan Goosen was elevated to the starting line-up.

The experienced playmaker rose to the occasion very well and put in one of the performances of the match, with Kruger pleased by how the team handled the late changes to claim the win.

“It’s a bit of a disruption, and we planned the whole week with Chris, and Jake was obviously involved,” Kruger said.

“All credit to the team and everyone who stepped up, filling little roles and coming together to make it work on game-day.

“Credit to Johan too, for stepping into fly-half. It took a bit of a reshuffle, but the boys switched on and stayed focused on the task at hand.”

The Bulls came out of the blocks and led 17-0 before the Dragons grabbed a foothold in the game, scoring twice to tighten up the game.

Control the game in the second period

Kruger said the Bulls’ inability to exit in the first half opened the door for the hosts, and the emphasis was on controlling the game in the second 40.

“We had a good start, and all of a sudden, they came back – it was due to our lack of exiting our half,” he said.

“We didn’t kick the ball out, and they ended up scoring that try around the front of the lineout. We just said we need to manage that territory battle a little bit better and get out of our half.

“We said beforehand – myself and Russell, it takes a special performance away from home [to win]. It starts upfront, and it was good to see the boys fronting up, especially away from home, where it’s not always easy to get your mauls and scrums going.

“It was a great evening for the boys, and it’s always good to see them going forward. May it continue, and it is a crucial week for us now to back up what we did on the weekend.”

The victory takes the Bulls back into the third spot on the United Rugby Championship table, leapfrogging Ulster, who dramatically lost to Benetton in Treviso.

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