The Reds ran in six unanswered tries to claim a 41-17 bonus-point win over the Vodacom Bulls in Brisbane on Saturday. CRAIG LEWIS reports.
On Saturday, the continuation of Vodacom Super Rugby was thrown into real doubt due to the coronavirus pandemic. The New Zealand government has issued a directive that any travellers returning to the country need to self-isolate for 14 days, and it appears increasingly unlikely that the competition will be able to continue as scheduled.
The Bulls have only just headed on tour, and after this game were set to travel to face the Waratahs before then heading to New Zealand for two games against the Hurricanes and Chiefs. Yet, it now seems highly improbable that those fixtures will go ahead.
For now, though, the teams will be looking to try to retain focus on what they can control, and in that regard the Bulls will be mightily disappointed to have a let a 17-0 lead slip.
After last weekend’s morale-boosting win over the Highlanders, the Bulls had picked up where they left off and ran in three scintillating tries within the opening quarter – with star wing Rosko Specman featuring prominently once again.
— SA Rugby magazine (@SARugbymag) March 14, 2020
Despite roaring into a commanding lead, though, the Bulls then lost their way and appeared to be tiring as the home side finally began to find some rhythm in their offloading game, scoring two tries to reduce the deficit to just three points at the break despite having very limited territory and possession.
It only got worse for the visitors when Reds flank Lukhan Salakaia-Loto scored straight after the restart to give his side the lead for the first time in the game, and it signaled a complete momentum shift.
In a complete reversal of fortunes, it was the Bulls who were just unable to enjoy any meaningful possession in the second stanza, and the Reds made them pay as they scored 41 unanswered points on the way to a comfortable 24-point victory.
Reds – Tries: Liam Wright, Isaac Lucas, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, Alex Mafi, Harry Hoopert, Taniela Tupou. Conversions: Bryce Hegarty (4). Penalty: Hegarty.
Bulls – Tries: Embrose Papier, Rosko Specman, Warrick Gelant. Conversions: Manie Libbok.
Reds – 15 Jock Campbell, 14 Bryce Hegarty, 13 Chris Feauai-Sautia, 12 Hamish Stewart, 11 Henry Speight, 10 James O’Connor 9 Scott Malolua, 8 Harry Wilson, 7 Liam Wright (c), 6 Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, 5 Harry Hockings, 4 Angus Blyth, 3 Taniela Tupou, 2 Alex Mafi, 1 Dane Zander.
Subs: 16 Ed Craig, 17 Harry Hoopert, 18 Josh Nasser, 19 Angus Scott-Young, 20 Fraser McReight, 21 Tate McDermott, 22 Isaac Lucas, 23 Filipo Daugunu.
Bulls – 15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 Johnny Kotze, 12 Burger Odendaal (c), 11 Rosko Specman, 10 Manie Libbok, 9 Embrose Papier, 8 Muller Uys, 7 Josh Strauss, 6 Marco van Staden, 5 Ruan Nortje, 4 Ian Groenewald , 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Jaco Visagie, 1 Lizo Gqoboka.
Subs: 16 Corniel Els, 17 Gerhard Steenekamp, 18 Wiehahn Herbst, 19 Ryno Pieterse, 20 Ruan Steenkamp, 21 Ivan van Zyl, 22 Morne Steyn, 23 Divan Rossouw.
Photo: Getty Images