Jacques-Louis Potgieter kicked 20 points as the Bulls beat the Lions 25-17 in wet conditions at Loftus on Saturday, reports SIMON BORCHARDT.
Heavy rain before and during the match meant this was never going to be a classic contest, but the Bulls won't care. After away losses to the Sharks and Cheetahs, a home win was vital and they achieved it comfortably. For the Lions, it was a first defeat in 2014 after surprise victories against the Cheetahs and Stormers.
Potgieter, given the Bulls No 10 jersey following Louis Fouché's axing, justified his selection with a good goal and tactical-kicking display, while Victor Matfield helped ensure that the Bulls won all 12 of their lineouts. The hosts also showed more on attack than they had in their first two matches, with Jan Serfontein's try coming from good, direct running.
Potgieter almost created an early try for the Bulls when he kicked in behind the defence, but JJ Engelbrecht and Jan Serfontein both attempted to collect the ball and knocked it forward. The flyhalf then slotted two penalties to give his side some reward for their good start.
The Lions struck in the 13th minute when Stefan Watermeyer charged down Jürgen Visser's clearance kick and dived on the loose ball in the in-goal area. But the Bulls responded with a counter-attack that saw Bjorn Basson break away down the left touchline before passing back inside to Serfontein, whose try made it 13-7.
Marnitz Boshoff kicked a penalty but a drop goal and penalty from Potgieter gave the Bulls a nine-point lead at the break. It should have been six, but Boshoff missed his first kick of the season when his penalty hit an upright.
Potgieter missed a couple of penalties in a forgettable second half, but kicked two to make it a 15-point margin with six minutes to go.
The Lions, though, finished with a try when the Bulls stole a lineout inside their 22 only for Francois Hougaard's kick to be charged down by Willie Wepener.
Bulls – Try: Jan Serfontein. Conversion: Jacques-Louis Potgieter. Penalties: Potgieter (5). Drop goal: Potgieter.
Lions – Tries: Stefan Watermeyer, Willie Wepener. Conversions: Marnitz Boshoff (2). Penalty: Boshoff.
Bulls – 15 Jürgen Visser, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Jacques-Louis Potgieter, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Grant Hattingh, 7 Jacques du Plessis, 6 Jono Ross, 5 Victor Matfield, 4 Flip van der Merwe (c), 3 Frik Kirsten, 2 Callie Visagie, 1 Dean Greyling.
Subs: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Werner Kruger, 18 Marcel van der Merwe, 19 Paul Willemse, 20 Jacques Engelbrecht, 21 Piet van Zyl, 22 Handré Pollard, 23 Ulrich Beyers.
Lions – 15 Chrysander Botha, 14 Deon van Rensburg, 13 JW Jonker, 12 Stefan Watermeyer, 11 Ruan Combrinck, 10 Marnitz Boshoff, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Warren Whiteley (c), 7 Warwick Tecklenburg, 6 Jaco Kriel, 5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 Franco Mostert, 3 Julian Redelinghuys, 2 Robbie Coetzee, 1 Schalk van der Merwe.
Subs: 16 Willie Wepener, 17 Jacques van Rooyen, 18 Ruan Dreyer, 19 MB Lusaseni, 20 Willie Britz, 21 Ross Cronjé, 22 Courtnall Skosan, 23 Coenie van Wyk.
Photo: Barry Aldworth/BackpagePix