The Vodacom Bulls won their first overseas game since 2016 as they downed the Rebels 32-17 in Melbourne on Friday. CRAIG LEWIS reports.
Who is going to finally take control of the South African conference? On Friday, the Jaguares shocked the Hurricanes to move three log points clear, only for the Bulls to move back to the top with an impressive win over the Rebels.
Handré Pollard and Rosko Specman were two of the standouts for the Bulls, but it was also the physicality of their pack and an ability to withstand plenty of punishment on defence that ensured they were able to come away with a rare win abroad.
The first half of this clash was a rather frantic affair, with both teams giving the ball plenty of air in cool and dry conditions in Melbourne that were suited to ambitious rugby. Notably, the Rebels enjoyed as much as 76% of possession and 77% of territory in that opening stanza, and yet they went into the break trailing by five points.
It was testament to a gutsy Bulls side that they managed to convert two of their very few opportunities, with Cornal Hendricks and Pollard both scoring in the opening quarter, while the latter also knocked over a penalty with the final play of the stanza.
The Rebels did draw the scores level with another try to Koroibete soon after the restart, but Specman then produced a moment of magic to set up a try for Burger Odendaal that sent the visitors into a 24-17 lead just before the hour mark.
Specman next went from provider to try-scorer, while Pollard slotted a penalty late in the game to ensure the Bulls would come away with a comfortable victory.
#SuperRugby | RESULT:
Rebels 17 – 32 Bulls
The Bulls scored 4⃣ tries in an impressive away victory to the Rebels 👏 pic.twitter.com/J0d1TLIJP6
— SuperSport (@SuperSportTV) May 17, 2019
Rebels – Tries: Marika Koroibete (2), Will Genia. Conversion: Quade Cooper.
Bulls –Tries: Cornal Hendricks, Handré Pollard, Burger Odendaal, Rosko Specman. Conversions: Handré Pollard (3). Penalties: Pollard (2).
Rebels – 15 Dane Haylett-Petty (c), 14 Jack Maddocks, 13 Reece Hodge, 12 Billy Meakes, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Will Genia, 8 Rob Leota, 7 Richard Hardwick, 6 Angus Cottrell, 5 Matt Philip, 4 Ross Haylett-Petty, 3 Jermaine Ainsley, 2 Anaru Rangi, 1 Tetera Faulkner.
Subs: 16 Hugh Roach, 17 Matt Gibbon, 18 Sam Talakai, 19 Sam Jeffries, 20 Pone Fa’amausili, 21 Michael Ruru, 22 Campbell Magnay, 23 Matt To’omua.
Bulls – 15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 Johnny Kotze, 12 Burger Odendaal, 11 Rosko Specman, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 André Warner, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Hanro Liebenberg, 6 Paul Schoeman, 5 RG Snyman, 4 Jason Jenkins, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Schalk Brits, 1 Lizo Gqoboka.
Subs: 16 Jaco Visagie, 17 Simphiwe Matanzima, 18 Wiehahn Herbst, 19 Jannes Kirsten, 20 Marco van Staden, 21 Embrose Papier, 22 Manie Libbok, Divan Rossouw.
Photo: Kelly Defina/Getty Images