The Vodacom Bulls produced a rousing attacking performance to beat the Waratahs 28-21 in Pretoria on Saturday. JON CARDINELLI reports.
The Bulls lacked urgency when they visited Newlands last week. They were bossed at the collisions and breakdowns, and showed little innovation on attack.
They bounced back in style on Saturday. The scrum fired, with Lizo Gqoboka producing another eye-catching performance. They competed fiercely at the breakdowns, with Marco van Staden winning some key turnovers.
The highlight of the performance, however, was the showing with ball in hand. RG Snyman was in sublime form, running into space and completing several outrageous offloads to keep the movement flowing. Perhaps the Springbok lock had watched the attacking masterclass in Dunedin several hours earlier.
Duane Vermeulen lent the Bulls plenty of grunt at the gainline. More will be said, though, of his effort to break away from the defence and then hand off Curtis Rona en route to the tryline.
The Bulls scored two tries in the first half. When they had the opportunity to shoot for goal, however, they took it. By the end of the stanza, they had amassed an 18-7 lead.
Kurtley Beale scored a try early in the second half to bring the Waratahs back into the contest. The Bulls had several opportunities to score and take the game away from the Australians, but failed to convert. Pollard missed two penalty attempts, while a couple of promising attacking movements came to nought.
Their ambition on attack often left them susceptible on defence. After losing the ball deep in Waratahs territory, they were forced to chase the visitors all the way to their own tryline. Only a heroic tackle by Cornal Hendricks denied Curtis Rona a try.
However, Rona would not be denied when he found himself in space a few moments later. Bernard Foley kicked the conversion from the touchline and – with 13 minutes remaining – the scores were level.
The Bulls’ response was emphatic. A sustained assault brought the hosts within sight of the Waratahs tryline. The ball flew out of the ruck to Simphiwe Mantazima, and the reserve prop broke the line to score.
The Waratahs had several chances to equalise in the dying moments. Determined defence by the Bulls, however, ensured that the hosts claimed an important win.
Bulls – Tries: Warrick Gelant, Duane Vermeulen, Simphiwe Mantazima. Conversions: Handré Pollard (2). Penalty: Pollard (3).
Waratahs – Tries: Nick Phipps, Kurtley Beale, Curtis Rona. Conversions: Bernard Foley (3).
Bulls – 15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 Dylan Sage, 12 Johnny Kotze, 11 Rosko Specman, 10 Handré Pollard (c), 9 Ivan van Zyl, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Hanro Liebenberg, 6 Marco van Staden, 5 RG Snyman, 4 Jannes Kirsten, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Jaco Visagie, 1 Lizo Gqoboka.
Subs: 16 Johan Grobbelaar, 17 Simphiwe Matanzima, 18 Wiehahn Herbst, 19 Thembelani Bholi, 20 Paul Schoeman, 21 Andre Warner, 22 Manie Libbok, 23 Divan Rossouw.
Waratahs – 15 Kurtley Beale, 14 Cam Clark, 13 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 12 Karmichael Hunt, 11 Curtis Rona, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Ned Hanigan, 7 Michael Hooper (c), 6 Lachlan Swinton, 5 Rob Simmons, 4 Tom Staniforth, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Damien Fitzpatrick, 1 Harry Johnson-Holmes.
Subs: 16 Andrew Tuala, 17 Tom Robertson, 18 Chris Talakai, 19 Hugh Sinclair, 20 Will Miller, 21 Jake Gordon, 22 Lalakai Foketi, 23 Alex Newsome.
Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix