In spite of easing ahead in the final quarter, the Bulls were made to work hard for their win against a stubborn Force side who led 12-10 at halftime.
Ludeke described the win as a tale of two halves, saying: “In the first half we got into all the right areas, maybe didn’t use all of our opportunities, but in the second half we were very clinical, got the points and that was a very good half.
“We just keep chipping away and applying pressure. It was all about using opportunities and as soon as we got over the line in the second half things started working for us.
“Our slogan is just to take it week for week. To keep doing that means it’s back to the drawing board on Monday to see where you can make improvements.
“It’s still a tough week ahead, next week it’s the Blues (in Auckland) so there is still a lot to play for. We are definitely in a great situation, but its’s still a long competition,” said Ludeke.
Uncharacteristically, Springbok Morne Steyn missed three penalties and a conversion he would normally have kicked with his eyes closed.
But he scored the Bulls’ second try midway through the second half that put daylight between the South Africans and their hosts.
“The vital ones he nailed tonight and that built a score even more and gave us freedom to play, especially in the last 10 minutes. For his first kick the wind was blowing. So he had some tough kicks, especially close to the touchline,” said Ludeke.
Matfield said the team were still operating in a South African time zone, but next week the jet lag would catch up with them in Auckland.
“We didn’t really adapt this week because we stayed in SA time the way we slept and trained. This is the tough week now and we need to adjust to the jet lag and get ourselves ready for a very tough game (against the Blues).”
One feather in the Force’s cap was a clean sheet in the lineouts, while poaching one from the Bulls – a rare achievement.
Matfield was gracious, saying of that mini-battle: “They’ve got a great player in Nathan Sharpe at lineout time, but one game out of 14 or so we will take. I think with Sharpie there they will always be very competitive at lineout time. I’ve played against him since I was 20 so we know each other pretty well so I knew it would be tough.”
Force 15 – Penalties: James O’Connor (5).
Bulls 28 – Tries: Zane Kirchner, Pierre Spies, Morne Steyn. Conversions: Steyn (2). Penalties: Steyn (3).
[Info from story by Dale Granger appeared in TimesLive]