The Blue Bulls scored six tries in their 45-26 hammering of Western Province in Pretoria. JON CARDINELLI reports.
The hosts struck a terrific balance between defence and attack to destroy their arch-rivals at Loftus Versfeld on Friday. The Bulls' tactical kicking was also of a high standard, and the halfbacks Piet van Zyl and Tian Schoeman controlled the game well.
Despite having all the territory and possession in the first quarter, Western Province failed to register a single point. The Bulls showed remarkable discipline and accuracy on defence during this period. Their forwards made some important turnovers, one that led to a brilliant try at the other end of the field.
Loosehead prop Pierre Schoeman won the ball for the Bulls on the deck. Van Zyl then threw a long pass to his captain, Arno Botha, who ran all of 50m before looking for support. Van Zyl arrived at the right moment, took the pass, and scored the hosts' first try. After 19 minutes, the game had sparked to life.
WP impressed at the scrum but struggled to win ball at the lineout. Their work at the breakdown and their defence in midfield also left a lot to be desired.
The Bulls won more possession as the half progressed, and proceeded to play the game at a quick pace. By the end of the first half, they had scored three tries and 24 points.
WP had one scoring chance in the first stanza. That penalty attempt was missed by flyhalf Rob du Preez.
Du Preez and his teammates had a forgettable evening with the tactical boot. The WP flyhalf failed to find touch on several occasions. Fullback Scott van Breda also battled to make an impact in this area.
Jade Stighling scored in the 47th minute to secure the bonus point for the hosts. The Bulls added their fifth try through Jamba Ulengo in the 54th minute to all but seal the result.
The Bulls continued to defend with purpose, but were eventually breached in the 61st minute. They stopped the WP maul three times and competed well at the rucks during this period, but the pressure told and Johnny Kotze went through for Province's first try of the 2016 Currie Cup campaign.
The game opened up thereafter. Leolin Zas raced through to collect a grubber by Van Breda and score. Huw Jones ran a great line to penetrate the Bulls defence and further reduce the deficit.
The Bulls continued to back off in the dying stages, and WP took advantage. After a sustained attack, Van Breda crossed the line to ensure the visitors claimed a fourth try and a bonus point.
The hosts, however, had the final say, with Bjorn Basson scoring a try in the 79th minute and Schoeman nailing yet another conversion. The Bulls flyhalf finished the match with a flawless seven from seven record and a personal points tally of 15 points.
Blue Bulls – Tries: Piet van Zyl, Jason Jenkins, Marvin Orie, Jade Stighling, Jamba Ulengo, Bjorn Basson. Conversions: Tian Schoeman (6). Penalty: Schoeman.
Western Province – Tries: Johnny Kotze, Leolin Zas, Huw Jones, Scott van Breda. Conversions: Brandon Thomson (3).
Blue Bulls – 15 Bjorn Basson, 14 Jade Stighling, 13 Dries Swanepoel, 12 Burger Odendaal, 11 Jamba Ulengo, 10 Tian Schoeman, 9 Piet van Zyl, 8 Arno Botha (c), 7 Jannes Kirsten, 6 Ruan Steenkamp, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Jason Jenkins, 3 Entienne Swanepoel, 2 Jaco Visagie, 1 Pierre Schoeman.
Subs: 16 Bandise Maku, 17 Nqoba Mxoli, 18 Eli Snyman, 19 Hanro Liebenberg, 20 Andre Warner, 21 Tony Jantjies, 22 Dan Kriel.
Western Province – 15 Scott van Breda, 14 Khanyo Ngcukana, 13 Huw Jones, 12 Daniel du Plessis, 11 Leolin Zas, 10 Robert du Preez, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Jacques Vermeulen, 7 Jurie van Vuuren, 6 Rynhardt Elstadt, 5 Chris van Zyl (c), 4 JD Schickerling, 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Scarra Ntubeni, 1 Alistair Vermaak.
Subs: 16 Chad Solomon, 17 Oli Kebble, 18 JP Smith, 19 Kobus van Dyk, 20 Godlen Masimla, 21 Brandon Thomson, 22 Johnny Kotze.
Photo: Johan Rynners/Gallo Images