Bulls finish on a high

The Bulls smashed the Rebels 40-7 at Loftus on Friday night to finish the Super Rugby season with an unbeaten home record. SIMON BORCHARDT reports.

This was an entertaining, if error-ridden, match between two teams who were out of play-off contention and therefore had nothing to lose.

The Bulls showed great enterprise on attack with Piet van Zyl looking sharp at scrumhalf and Francois Hougaard comfortable on the wing. Jacques Engelbrecht was a highly effective ball-carrier in what was his best performance of the season, while Roelof Smit showed the value of a fetcher.

This was a far from perfect Bulls performance against weak opposition, but coach Frans Ludeke will believe there's a lot to build on for their 2015 campaign, which should be more successful than this one.

Four Handré Pollard penalties gave the Bulls a 12-7 half-time lead, but they would have been disappointed not to have crossed the line, especially when Scott Fuglistaller was in the sin bin for yet another cynical Rebels infringement. On several occasions the hosts got into the opposition 22 only to knock on or turn over possession.

The Rebels' try came while Paul Willemse was in the bin for a dangerous tackle on Hugh Pyle at a ruck when the Bulls had already been awarded a penalty. Jack Debreczeni ran a great angle and beat two defenders to score under the posts. The flyhalf added the simple conversion but missed three first-half penalties, including one just before the break.

The Bulls made a perfect start to the second half when, with Fuglistaller still off the field, Jürgen Visser beat half a dozen defenders to take play into the Rebels' 22. Engelbrecht was tackled just short of the line after another strong run, before Willemse crashed over. The lock got another in the 53rd minute, after the Bulls won a lineout from which Dean Greyling broke away.

Hougaard scored the Bulls' third try when he stepped off his left foot to beat Telusa Veainu. Greyling then secured the bonus point in the 76th minute when he again came charging around the back of a lineout.

The five log points takes the Bulls past the Blues into ninth position on the combined log, while the Rebels finish with the wooden spoon.

Bulls – Tries: Paul Willemse (2), Francois Hougaard, Dean Greyling. Conversions: Handré Pollard (3), Jacques-Louis Potgieter. Penalties: Pollard (4).
Rebels – Try: Jack Debreczeni. Conversion: Debreczeni.

Bulls – 15 Jürgen Visser, 14 Bjorn Basson, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Francois Hougaard, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Piet van Zyl, 8 Jacques Engelbrecht, 7 Jono Ross, 6 Roelof Smit, 5 Victor Matfield (c), 4 Paul Willemse, 3 Marcel van der Merwe, 2 Bandise Maku, 1 Morné Mellet.
Subs: 16 Callie Visagie, 17 Werner Kruger, 18 Dean Greyling, 19 Nicolaas Janse van Rensburg, 20 Marvin Orie, 21 Jesse Kriel, 22 Jacques-Louis Potgieter, 23 William Small-Smith.

Rebels – 15 Telusa Veainu, 14 Alexander Rokobaro, 13 Tamati Ellison, 12 Mitch Inman, 11 Tom English, 10 Jack Debreczeni, 9 Luke Burgess, 8 Colby Fainga'a, 7 Scott Fuglistaller (c), 6 Luke Jones, 5 Cadeyrn Neville, 4 Hugh Pyle, 3 Laurie Weeks, 2 Shota Horie, 1 Toby Smith.
Subs: 16 Pat Leafa, 17 Cruze Ah-Nau, 18 Paul Alo-Emile, 19 Lopeti Timani, 20 Jordy Reid, 21 Nic Stirzaker, 22 Lalakai Foketi, 23 Lalakai Foketi.

Jacques Engelbrecht has had a disappointing first season with the Bulls, but he saved his best for last against the Rebels, making 36m from six carries, and 11 tackles. The challenge for him in the Currie Cup, and next year's Super Rugby tournament, will be to perform at a high level week in, week out.

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Photo: Anne Laing/HSM Images

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Simon Borchardt