Bulls defence coach Joey Mongalo addresses his troops
- The Bulls’ steady improvement on defence suggests the methods of new specialist coach Joey Mongalo is taking root.
- Influential scrumhalf Ivan van Zyl notes that the former Lions assistant has brought “energy” and “passion” to his portfolio.
- The six-cap Springbok also points out that defence will need to be the side’s cornerstone if they are to challenge for a trophy.
It’s early days yet Jake White will be encouraged by the signs that his Bulls charges are steadily embracing the methods of defence coach, Joey Mongalo.
Last weekend’s fine 41-14 victory over the Sharks not only signalled an improvement in the side’s finishing ability but also some aggressive and, at times, clinical tackling.
It’s a trend that will need to continue in Saturday’s traditional North-South derby against the Stormers at Loftus if White’s charges are to continue their quest of ending a trophy drought.
According to stats provided by Opta, the Bulls rank third in completed tackles at 85.2%, merely 1.4% behind trend-setters the Sharks.
That’s hardly a statistic to scoff at given that local rugby’s resumption is only five weeks old and that Mongalo, like White and co, are new to the Loftus setup.
“Coach Joey has been great for us,” Bulls scrumhalf Ivan van Zyl said of the former Lions guru.
“He brings great energy. He loves what he does and that passion comes through in his guidance. That obviously rubs off on us. You need coaches like that.
“To be honest, the basics haven’t necessarily changed but it’s just been great that he’s brought a fresh perspective and that’s exciting. He wants to learn and get better and so do we.”
The Bulls’ marking has improved to such an extent that they’ve only conceded two tries in the last two weeks against accomplished attacking units in the Cheetahs and Sharks.
As Van Zyl notes, that’s those are the type of numbers that can win a team a tournament.
“We’re very happy. Last week we scored six tries and only conceded one. It’s the ‘ideal’ combination of stats for any team after a game,” said the six-cap Springbok.
“In the end, defence is the thing that makes you more consistent overall and grants you more opportunities to win. As a team that’s something we’ll continue to pride ourselves on and work hard on.
“The Stormers will definitely bring a different challenge in this regard, so we’ll need to be accurate. But we’re taking confidence into match given how well we defended against the Sharks. It’s a nice platform to work from.”
Kick-off in Pretoria is at 19:00.