No side can afford 30 missed tackles against quality opposition. Add to that poor handling, option-taking and discipline and you have the recipe for the Bulls defeat against the Brumbies in Canberra on Friday.
The score was 22-10, and the Brumbies added a bonus point with their four tries, three by centre Tevita Kuridrani, against one try to put them healthily in command in the Australian Conference.
The winning score would have been much more imposing had the Brumbies captain Christian Lealiifano not missed three conversions and a penalty.
It was the Brumbies sixth straight win at their Gio Stadium.
The Bulls, on the other hand, targeted a win in this match after last week’s win against the Rebels in Melbourne but were never really in contention, despite leading until shortly before halftime, when they trailed 10-12.
Even then the writing was on the wall after a first half where they spent 86% of the time in their own half and had only about 25% possession.
The Bulls were denied the services of their captain and kingpin playmaker Handré Pollard because of injury – he is already back in South Africa with a calf niggle – and now face the two tour matches against New Zealand opposition where they come up against the much-improved Blues and the Highlanders on the next two Fridays.
In addition, they also lost their stand-in captain Duane Vermeulen after 60 minutes with what looked like a shoulder injury.
On this showing and with the opposition ahead, it will take a shambolic performance by the other sides in the SA Conference to give the Bulls the breaks they need to head the SA Conference and even to be in the top eight teams for the quarterfinal play-offs.
In the second half some glaringly poor tackles and sometimes near-comical handling errors put the home side in control in a 40-minute period where the Bulls never looked like scoring a try.
Brumbies (12) 22: Tries: Tevita Kuridrani (3), Henry Speight. Conversion: Christian Lealiifano.
Bulls (10) 19: Try: Hanro Liebenberg. Conversion: Manie Libbok. Penalty: Libbok.