Marcell Coetzee scored one of four second-half tries to help the Vodacom Bulls come from behind to beat his former side Ulster in front of a packed Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.
After trailing 9-3 at half time the Bulls, playing in front of close to 25,000 fans, scored four tries in the second half to earn a vital bonus-point win over the Irish side and boost their playoff hopes in the Vodacom United Rugby Championship.
It was a memorable day for Bulls captain Coetzee, who got the comeback started when he dived over the tryline from short range just two minutes into the second half. While he was yellow-carded in the 73rd minute for a dangerous tackle, it mattered little as Kurt-Lee Arendse scored a brilliant intercept try to cap a 34-16 win.
The result has the Bulls, for the time being, leapfrogging the Sharks into sixth place on the table, with the Stormers still to play Ospreys on Saturday night. Next weekend the Bulls will face the Stormers in what will be a massive game for deciding who tops the South African Shield.
As cliche as it sounds, the game was very much one of two halves. Ulster’s slow poison paid off for the visitors in the first half as they pinned the Bulls in their own territory. The home side did not help themselves with some poor discipline allowing scrumhalf Nathan Doak to slot three penalties, one of which was from behind the halfway line.
The Bulls came out firing in the second half and Smith’s conversion of Coetzee’s try gave them the lead for the first time in the match, which they never surrendered. An Ulster error was then pounced on by Harold Voster, who offloaded to Madosh Tambwe and the wing did excellently to finish in the corner under pressure.
Ulster’s half got worse as Kieran Treadwell was sent to sin bin in the 65th minute for a dangerous tackle and the Bulls immediately capitalised, as hooker Johann Grobbelaar scored from a maul. While Ulster struck back through Luke Marshall, that would prove to be a consolation as Arendse intercepted and ran from inside his own half to seal the win and bonus point.
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