Their latest victory was so unconvincing in its immediate aftermath that the Bulls could not help but pause and survey the challenge they are likely to face against the Crusaders at Loftus on Friday.
Their win over the Waratahs was hard-earned as mistakes on attack and defence undermined their effort.
It left coach Pote Human and captain Handre Pollard in agreement that they need to be a lot better when the defending champions come calling.
Though possession and territory clearly favoured them‚ the Bulls made heavy weather of beating the Waratahs 28-21. At half-time, though‚ Human admitted he had visions of his team running away with it.
“Especially after the first half I thought we threw away a couple of chances. We put pressure on ourselves and in the second we really didn’t play well.
“We take the win‚ we take the four points because there was huge pressure on the guys to win this one and stay in the competition. I’m happy with that‚” said the coach.
Defensive lapses cost the Bulls and served to throw the gutsy Waratahs a lifeline at various stages.
The Waratahs scored two tries off first-phase balls‚ which leads to obvious questions around the capability of the Bulls’ defence.
“That is something we need to work on‚” Human acknowledged.
The coach also pleaded for patience in attack after the Bulls squandered several opportunities to put the game beyond the Waratahs’ reach.
“When you play against the Crusaders next week and you don’t take those opportunities we can have a long‚ long evening here at Loftus‚” he said. “We know we can be better than this.”
Pollard kept nodding his head as Human spoke.
“We were not accurate enough‚” the flyhalf concurred. “We created opportunities, but then you’ve got to capitalise.
“We were lucky to get away with it tonight, but next week it won’t be the same story. We will focus on that this week and make small adjustments where necessary.
“We have to be more accurate if we want to be contenders in this competition.”
In the end, though‚ it was the toil of the forwards that helped win the day for the Bulls.
They had some gain-line advantage but it was in the scrums where the Bulls set themselves apart. Pollard paid tribute to the effort of their pack.
“We had a big ask of the forwards this week‚” he said. “We told them you’ve got to pitch otherwise we can write this one off.
“And they clearly did‚ not just in physical hits but on other things like the scrum, which was truly unbelievable. That basically won us the game.”
Having watched the Sharks run the Crusaders close in Christchurch last week‚ Human has mixed feelings about what that drawn match really means in a wider context.
“I think the Crusaders have been woken up‚” he said. “They’ll come to Loftus and they’ll be on a mission.
“The Sharks showed they are not invincible. The Waratahs have also beaten them. It is going to require a huge effort from everyone.”