Piet van Zyl scored two tries as the Blue Bulls romped to a 57-20 bonus-point win against Griquas in Pretoria on Friday. JON CARDINELLI reports.
The Bulls were full of running in this must-win Currie Cup fixture at Loftus Versfeld. From the outset, they sought to play the game at pace and utilise the offload at every opportunity.
Initially, the hosts battled to gel. In fact, their poor handling and discipline handed Griquas a couple of early scoring chances. After 10 minutes, Griquas led 10-0.
But the Bulls maintained their composure. They began to settle at the set pieces. Their box kicks began to find the mark. And from that platform, they began to trouble Griquas with their running and offloading game.
The Bulls hit back with three converted tries in the space of 16 minutes. The best of the three was the try scored by winger Jamba Ulengo. Hooker Callie Visagie peeled from a lineout, and the ball was sent wide to flyhalf Tian Schoeman. A perfectly timed inside pass allowed Ulengo to fly through unopposed.
Piet van Zyl was heavily involved during the first stanza. Van Zyl's tactical kicking was of a high standard, and a scything break eventually led to the hosts' third try by RG Snyman.
Van Zyl scored the Bulls' bonus-point try shortly after half-time. Flanker Roelof Smith forced the turnover, and the scrumhalf then showed exceptional pace to beat the cover defence.
Snyman was yellow-carded for a dangerous tackle in the 47th minute. However, the Bulls proceeded to add seven further points in the lock's absence.
Van Zyl scored his second of the evening in the 59th minute. The Griquas defence was caught unawares as the determined scrumhalf powered over the tryline from close range.
The Bulls scrum pressured Griquas into conceding a penalty try in the 73rd minute. Schoeman added the extras to take the Bulls beyond the 50-mark. The Bulls flyhalf finished the match with a haul of 17 points.
The Bulls will feel confident about securing a semi-final berth from here. Griquas, however, may need a couple of other results to go their way in order to qualify for the final four.
Blue Bulls – Tries: Nic de Jager, Jamba Ulengo, RG Snyman, Piet van Zyl (2), Ulrich Beyers, Bjorn Basson, Penalty try. Conversions: Tian Schoeman (7). Penalty: Schoeman.
Griquas – Tries: Alshaun Bock, Wandile Putuma. Conversions: Clinton Swart (2). Penalties: Swart (2).
Blue Bulls – 15 Ulrich Beyers, 14 Travis Ismaiel, 13 Dries Swanepoel, 12 Burger Odendaal, 11 Jamba Ulengo, 10 Tian Schoeman, 9 Piet van Zyl, 8 Hanro Liebenberg (c), 7 Nic de Jager, 6 Roelof Smit, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 RG Snyman, 3 Jacobie Adriaanse, 2 Jaco Visagie, 1 Pierre Schoeman.
Subs: 16 Bandise Maku, 17 Martin Dreyer, 18 Jason Jenkins, 19 Jannes Kirsten, 20 Andre Warner, 21 Joshua Stander, 22 Bjorn Basson.
Griquas – 15 AJ Coertzen (c), 14 Ederies Arendse, 13 Jonathan Francke, 12 Clinton Swart, 11 Alshaun Bock, 10 Elgar Watts, 9 Poerie van Rooyen, 8 Jason Fraser, 7 Sias Koen, 6 Wendal Wehr, 5 Jono Janse van Rensburg, 4 Mzwanele Zito, 3 Vlooi Kotzé, 2 AJ le Roux, 1 Steph Roberts.
Subs: 16 Marius Fourie, 17 Devon Martinus, 18 Wandile Putuma, 19 Jonathan Adendorf, 20 Renier Botha, 21 André Swarts, 22 Eric Zana.
Photo: Anne Laing/HSM Images