The Vodacom Bulls began their pre-season preparations with a 87-10 victory against the Eastern Province Elephants in Pretoria on Sunday.
Once the Bulls got going, their opponents were always going to struggle, especially when it came to match fitness. After a couple of tries from mauls, the Bulls really hit their stride between the last 10 minutes of the first half and the first 10 minutes of the second half.
Bulls coach Jake White would have been pleased with the continuity that his youthful side showed in these periods as their forwards and backs combined for a couple of excellent tries.
In total, the Bulls were able to cross the whitewash 12 times, with captain Nizaam Carr, wing Stravino Jacobs and 21-year-old scrumhalf Keagan Johannes scoring a brace of tries each.
To the EP Elephants’ credit, they fielded a team chock full of players who had last played top flight rugby in February 2020, who have had very little time together to work on their structures. Despite this, there were still a few pleasing individual performances.
Captain and flyhalf Inny Radebe made a solid return to the field, kicking accurately out of hand and getting his side into good attacking positions. Loose forward CJ Velleman, who spent the Currie Cup on loan at Griquas, appeared to be getting back to full fitness as he threw himself into breakdowns and tackles to good effect.
EP certainly did not let the Bulls have it all their own way throughout the full 80 minutes and as both sides rang the changes in the second half, the game became extremely loose.
Ultimately, this was a match that will serve as a steep learning curve for EP and coach Peter de Villiers.
Bulls – Tries: Joe van Zyl, Nizaam Carr (2), Marco Jansen van Vuren, David Kriel, Stravino Jacobs (2), Tim Agaba, Marnus Potgieter, Keagan Johannes (2), Jandre Burger. Conversions: Chris Smith (8), Burger (3). Penalty: Smith.
EP Elephants – Try: Sithembiso Befile. Conversion: Inny Radebe. Penalty: Radebe.
Bulls – 15 Richard Kriel, 14 Madosh Tambwe, 13 Marnus Potgieter, 12 Marco Jansen van Vuren, 11 Stravino Jacobs, 10 Chris Smith, 9 Embrose Papier, 8 WJ Steenkamp, 7 Tim Agaba, 6 Nizaam Carr (c), 5 Janko Swanepoel, 4 Jan Uys, 3 Mornay Smith, 2 Joe van Zyl, 1 Gerhard Steenekamp.
Subs: 16 Janco Uys, 17 Jan-Hendrik Wessels, 18 Gerhard van der Merwe, 19 Raynard Roets, 20 Uzile Tele, 21 Keagan Johannes, 22 Jandre Burger, 23 Diego Appollis, 24 Reinhardt Ludwig, 25 Werner Gouws, 26 Dawid Kellerman.
EP Elephants – 15 Riaan Arendse, 14 Josiah Twum-Boafo, 13 Christopher Hollis, 12 Sherwin Slater, 11 Qeutyne Oerson, 10 Inny Radebe (c), 9 Luvo Claasen, 8 Luigi van Jaarsveld, 7 Anele Lungisa, 6 Cyril-John Velleman, 5 Mncedisi Diwengu,4 Athenkosi Manenze, 3 Lupumlo Mguca, 2 Robin Stevens, 1 Lyle Lombard.
Subs: 16 Sithembiso Befile, 17 Siyakubonga Nzuzo, 18Emile Klassen, 19 Ronald Sheckle, 20 Arnold Kleyne, 21 Diego Williams, 22 Josh Allderman, 23 Keanu Vers.
Photo: Gordon Arons/Gallo Images