We have already covered the brilliant tries from Rosco Specman in Round 1 of Super Rugby, and now it’s now time to get into the truth behind why the Bulls dominated the Stormers around the park. In this article, we will compare the Bulls to the Springboks and uncover some remarkable tactics that flew under the radar. We start our analysis with the skill and awareness of Handre Pollard. This is Super Rugby explained.
Super Rugby Explained | why Pollard is world class
Watch here as Springboks 10 Handre Pollard waits until the final moment to make the kick. The aim is to keep defenders guessing at all times.
This is very similar to the way Finn Russell has been playing for Scotland. Making decisions at the final moment like this is not easy, but an international 10 like Pollard makes it look effortless.
Here’s another Pollard kick. This one lands right on the 5m line, trapping Marais by the sideline.
With little support, all he can really do is kick. And because the angle is so bad – it goes out on the full.
This is a net gain to the Bulls thanks to this pinpoint kicking from Pollard. After England have been using these trap-kicks this season, the New Zealand teams also attempted some in Super Rugby Round 1. You can read about more tactics the Kiwi teams are using in the below article.
The next tactic was pulled straight out of the Springboks playbook for beating the All Blacks.
Super Rugby Explained | how the Bulls used ‘long body’ positioning
Last year, the Springboks shocked the world by beating the All Blacks at home. A large part of that historic win was slowing down the All Blacks legendary quick ball. One of the ways this was accomplished was through blocking Aaron Smith’s path to the ruck.
Watch below and take note of the tackler’s body position.
Vermaak has to literally stand over him to pass the ball. Two phases later the same scenario unfolds.
In the very next phase, it happens yet again. This is now 3/4 phases in a row where the Bulls players have ‘accidentally’ found themselves lying the Stormers side of the ruck, hampering the ability of Vermaak to provide quick ball.
The Stormers could have a chat to the ref about this, but their captain Kolisi is off the field at this point and they have more pressing issues to worry about.
The last piece of play we will look at is a set-piece that wouldn’t be out of place at test match level.
Super Rugby Explained | a strike move worth watching
This move hinges on the defenders buying into the idea that the Bulls are going to the blind-side. Watch as two players run around to the blind, and the Stormers prop and hooker instinctively move with them. This only works because the dummy runners are so convincing.
The Stormers defensive line is confused and flat-footed. A lovely chip from Pollard opens them up, and Kriel doesn’t even need to use his passing option to score.
There is also one more aspect to this move that we can’t see from these camera angles. If we watch it from the angle below we find out why Leyds was late to get across as a cover defender.
We can see the Bulls outside backs (circled) way out on the left-hand touch-line faking a run like they are expecting a cross field kick. This Keeps the Stormers backfield defenders spread out and further adds to the deception. If the Bulls can keep pulling out moves like this, they could over-achieve in this season of Super Rugby.
Can the Bulls beat their 12th placed finish on the overall standings from last season? Let us know your thoughts down below.
Author: The 1014 Rugby and Henry Stokes