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By Athenkosi Tsotsi

Sports Reporter

Bulls’ Jake White highlights defence as key area for improvement against Cardiff

The Bulls have been in good form, scoring plenty of tries and points this season, but they've also conceded a fair number of points.

Bulls director of rugby Jake White has called on his side to be ruthless and accurate in defence when they clash with Cardiff in the United Rugby Championship (URC) on Friday at the Cardiff Arms Park (9.35pm).

Ruthlessness in sport is often associated with the offensive part of the game, however, White is flipping the script and wants to see his side become more aggressive when they are under the pump.

The Bulls are in third place on the URC log, winning two out of the three games in the season so far. They have scored 136 points, the most in the competition, and conceded 76 points.

Leaky defence

The conceding of points that allow teams to get back into games is something the Bulls want to eradicate, according to White.

“That is something we talk about regularly,” said White when asked about his side’s leaky defence.

“We seem to be not as ruthless in some moments. We can defend 14 phases and some sets and look like we are never going to let a team through, and 15 minutes later there’s a slip of a tackle or a bad read, and then they’re jogging over and scoring.

“We want the players to work on that. I think we have scored the most points in the competition, and last year we were on top of the log in terms of points scored; a work-on for us is to make it tougher for other teams,” he said.

Weather conditions

Touring has been tough for the South African franchises this term. On their travels, the Bulls have lost 26-19 to Ulster and won 54-29 against Zebre last weekend. The weather conditions make it difficult for the SA sides, and when they don’t read them well, they struggle in games.

White commented on how vital the weather conditions on tour are and how they need to assess them on Friday so they know how to play the field.

“We chose to play with the wind in the first half against Ulster, we thought it would die but it didn’t, it got stronger and the rain came down, we probably shot ourselves in the foot.

“Then the next week (against Zebre) we decided to play with the wind in the second half, and it worked in our favour because it was difficult for Zebre to get up the field with the wind in their faces. So it’ll be the same (against Cardiff), we’ll have a look and see which way the wind is blowing, and then we can make a decision,” he said.

White has made six changes to his starting XV from last week, with Reinhardt Ludwig, Nizaam Carr, Cyle Brink, Mpilo Gumede, Embrose Papier, and Chris Smith coming into the team. White has also opted for a six-two split on his replacements bench.

Bulls team: Devon Williams, Sebastian de Klerk, Stedman Gans, David Kriel, Sergeal Petersen, Chris Smith, Embrose Papier, Mpilo Gumede, Cyle Brink, Nizaam Carr (capt), Janko Swanepoel, Reinhardt Ludwig, Wilco Louw, Akker van der Merwe, Simphiwe Matanzima. Bench: Johan Grobbelaar, Gerhard Steenekamp, Mornay Smith, Ruan Nortje, Elrigh Louw, Keagan Johannes, Johan Goosen, Cameron Hanekom.

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