The Bulls ended a three-match losing streak as they secured a much-needed 26-13 win over the Jaguares in Pretoria on Saturday. CRAIG LEWIS reports.
At last, there is some relief for the Bulls. It may not have been pretty, but they will quite happily take this victory any which way it came.
The Bulls returned home after three losses on the road, with last weekend’s defeat to the Sunwolves having left the Pretoria-based side and coach Nollis Marais under intense pressure.
As if expressing their displeasure in terms of their turnout, a measly crowd fronted up at a subdued Loftus Versfeld as the Bulls went in search of some form of redemption.
Those who had stayed away would have had few regrets during an error-strewn opening half where both sides made a host of errors in what was a decidedly unappealing affair.
As it was, the only try of the half originated from scrappy possession, with Bulls winger Travis Ismaiel finishing well to send the hosts into a 10-3 lead after half an hour of play.
Nevertheless, the half-time stats certainly illustrated the ascendancy the Bulls had generally enjoyed, with the home team making 334 running metres to 179, while beating 12 defenders to seven and executing six clean breaks to two.
On that balance of play, the Bulls were deserving of a 10-point lead at the break, with Handré Pollard slotting a second penalty before half-time.
The Jaguares’ ill-discipline had come back to haunt them once again when Santiago González Iglesias was sent to the sin bin just before the break, and in his absence, Pollard added a third penalty in the 44th minute.
That penalty enabled the Bulls to open up a handy 13-point buffer, but just as the Jaguares were restored to a full complement of players, scrumhalf Gonzalo Bertranou went over to score from one of the visitors’ few attacking opportunities.
It was a try that appeared to signal a momentum shift as the Jaguares began to enjoy the majority of possession, while a second penalty to González Iglesias suddenly cut the deficit to just three points heading into the final quarter.
Yet the Bulls settled the nerves when a neat grubber from Pollard effectively set up a try that was finished off by Lood de Jager, and which helped re-establish a 10-point advantage.
Pollard then struck his fourth penalty to edge the hosts further ahead, and from there they held on for a valuable result.
Bulls – Tries: Travis Ismaiel, Lood de Jager. Conversions: Handré Pollard (2). Penalties: Pollard (4).
Jaguares – Try: Gonzalo Bertranou. Conversion: Santiago González Iglesias. Penalties: González Iglesias (2).
Bulls – 15 Jesse Kriel, 14 Travis Ismaiel, 13 Jan Serfontein, 12 Burger Odendaal, 11 Jamba Ulengo, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Piet van Zyl, 8 Hanro Liebenberg, 7 Jannes Kirsten, 6 Nick de Jager, 5 Lood de Jager, 4 RG Snyman , 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Adriaan Strauss (c), 1 Pierre Schoeman.
Subs: 16 Jaco Visagie, 17 Lizo Gqoboka, 18 Martin Dreyer, 19 Jason Jenkins, 20 Marnus Schoeman, 21 Rudy Paige, 22 Tian Schoeman, 23 Warrick Gelant.
Jaguares – 15 Joaquín Tuculet, 14 Santiago Cordero, 13 Matías Orlando, 12 Jerónimo de la Fuente, 11 Emiliano Boffelli, 10 Santiago González Iglesias, 9 Gonzalo Bertranou, 8 Leonardo Senatore, 7 Rodrigo Baez, 6 Pablo Matera, 5 Marcos Kremer, 4 Guido Petti, 3 Ramiro Herrera, 2 Agustín Creevy (c), 1 Lucas Noguera Paz.
Subs: 16 Roberto Tejerizo, 17 Santiago García Botta, 18 Enrique Pieretto, 19 Benjamin Macome, 20 Tomás Lezana, 21 Felipe Ezcurra, 22 Nicolás Sánchez, 23 Ramiro Moyano.
Photo: Anne Laing/HM Images