The Blue Bulls revived their flagging Currie Cup campaign with a 36-26 victory over the Golden Lions at Loftus on Saturday. BRENTON CHELIN reports.
The Bulls headed into the match in an unprecedented seventh position on the log following Francois Brummer's heroics at Kings Park earlier in the day. Frans Ludeke was looking for a reaction from his charges and he got it, as they turned in their most complete performance of the season to see off their rivals.
It was vintage Bulls at times, with their lineout maul causing the Lions all sorts of problems. They even matched the visitors at scrum time, while their defence kept the Lions attack at bay for much of the evening.
They might've found themselves seven points down with less than a minute on the clock after the returning Jacques-Louis Potgieter saw his kick charged down by Jaco Kriel, only for the Lions flanker to knock the ball on over the line.
It was a stop-start first half, with referee Marius van der Westhuizen opting for the whistle when perhaps a word would've sufficed. It turned the match into something of a battle of the boot with Ruan Combrinck and Potgieter trading blows.
The difference between the sides at half-time was an Ulrich Beyers try that came courtesy of strong phase-play from the Bulls, with Grant Hattingh and debutant Jamba Ulengo each having a hand in the buildup.
Another Potgieter penalty moved the lead into double figures at the start of the second half, before Burger Odendaal latched onto a deflected Potgieter grubber to dive over.
The Lions were struggling to contain the Bulls maul and, when Ruan Dreyer saw yellow for another maul infringement, the writing looked on the wall.
Credit to the Lions for showing some fight, with a Kwagga Smith try bringing the Lions back into it with 10 minutes to go. Martin Muller then went over to set up a nervy finish for the Loftus faithful.
It would be the side from Pretoria that would have the final say, though, as Grant Hattingh rumbled over on the back of another rolling maul to cap off a solid performance from the second rower.
Blue Bulls – Tries: Ulrich Beyers, Burger Odendaal, Grant Hattingh. Conversions: Jacques-Louis Potgieter (3). Penalties: Potgieter (5).
Golden Lions – Tries: Kwagga Smith, Martin Muller. Conversions: Ruan Combrinck (2). Penalties: Combrinck (4).
Blue Bulls – 15 Ulrich Beyers, 14 Sampie Mastriet, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Burger Odendaal, 11 Jamba Ulengo, 10 Jacques-Louis Potgieter, 9 Rudy Paige, 8 Jono Ross, 7 Jacques du Plessis, 6 Deon Stegmann (c), 5 Grant Hattingh, 4 Paul Willemse, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Dean Greyling.
Subs: 16 Callie Visagie, 17 Basil Short, 18 Nicolaas Janse van Rensburg, 19 Jacques Engelbrecht, 20 Piet van Zyl, 21 Tony Jantjies, 22 Ryan Nell.
Golden Lions – 15. Andries Coetzee, 14 Lionel Mapoe, 13 Stokkies Hanekom, 12 Alwyn Hollenbach, 11 Ruan Combrinck, 10 Jaco van der Walt, 9 Ross Cronjé, 8 Derick Minnie (c), 7 Warwick Tecklenburg, 6 Jaco Kriel, 5 Franco Mostert, 4 MB Lusaseni, 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Willie Wepener, 1 Schalk van der Merwe.
Subs: 16 Armand van der Merwe, 17 Jacques van Rooyen, 18 Martin Muller, 19 Willie Britz, 20 Kwagga Smith, 21 Mark Richards, 22 Howard Mnisi.
Photo: Anne Laing/HSM Images