The Bulls put in a composed and dominant performance to come away with a bonus-point victory over arch-rivals Western Province at Newlands.
The men from Pretoria proved to be too strong for a 14-man Western Province and came away 34-13 victors to go top of the Currie Cup log.
On a wet and windy evening in the Mother City, both teams came out all guns blazing. The traditional Currie Cup rivals were intent on playing a high-tempo game in spite of the conditions. It was the home side that struck within the opening minutes of the game through a try by scrumhalf Paul de Wet.
Flyhalf Tim Swiel added the conversion to give Province an early lead that was short-lived as the Bulls struck back not a minute later through wing Richard Kriel, flyhalf Johan Goosen levelling the scoreboard with his conversion.
As the first half progressed, the Bulls began to find their groove. They crossed again through hooker Johan Grobbelaar who profited from a Province mistake at the lineout to poach a try from nowhere.
The level of physicality in the match was as high as one would expect of this derby with both No 8s, Evan Roos and Elrigh Louw, coming to the fore for their respective sides. Matters boiled over, however, when WP rake Scarra Ntubeni was red carded in the 36th minute for a dangerous high-tackle on scrumhalf Zak Burger.
Western Province managed to cling on for the rest of the half and retreated to the tunnel trailing by just four points at 17-13.
The red card had tipped the balance in favour of the Bulls, however, and the visitors came out in the second half motivated to lift the intensity against their 14-man hosts. Sustained pressure on the try-line eventually resulted in Burger dotting down for the Bulls’ third try after Province were caught buying a rather elaborate dummy.
The second half continued as one-way traffic with WP not able to trouble the scorers. They defended admirably, however, and it took until the 74th minute for the Bulls to finally claim their bonus-point try courtesy of the prolific Cornal Hendricks, finding the try-line from the right wing.
The Bulls now move to the top of the Currie Cup standings as they look to defend their title. Meanwhile, Province will be disheartened by the loss but will feel the scoreboard is not an accurate reflection of their performance.
Farewell to Newlands
The end of the match was tinted with a sense of sadness and sentimentality as this clash could well mark the end of the 83-year-old north-south derby at The Grand Old Lady.
Newlands still holds a special place in the hearts of South African rugby fans across the country and it is a shame that it was not packed with loyal supporters. The passion shown by both sides, however, will be some consolation as they endeavoured to give her a fitting send off.