The Sunwolves scored four second-half tries to beat the Bulls 42-37 in Singapore on Saturday. MARIETTE ADAMS reports.
It is the Sunwolves’ second consecutive win against the Bulls, who they beat in Tokyo last year, and extends their winning streak at home to three games. The defeat keeps the Bulls rooted to the bottom of the South African conference.
For large parts of this contest, the visitors were lacklustre and uninspiring compared to the energetic showing of the Sunwolves. The Bulls bossed the possession stakes, but that was about all. The Sunwolves dominated the breakdown and contact area, while the Bulls’ defensive work left much to be desired.
In fact, after the Sunwolves went 14-0 up, courtesy of two brilliantly constructed tries by flyhalf Hayden Parker and scrumhalf Keisuke Uchida, the Bulls looked shell-shocked.
But they were let back into the game when Jesse Kriel exploited two errors from Gerhard van den Heever to level the scores. First, the Bulls centre charged down a clearance kick from the Sunwolves fullback to score, and then he collected a quick throw-in that went horribly wrong.
Jaco Visagie thought he had scored late in the first half only for the TMO to rule that he had lost control of the ball, but the Bulls did cross the line soon after through Handré Pollard, who threw a dummy and cut back inside into acres of space to dot down.
Pollard extended the Bulls’ lead after the break with a penalty and continued to keep their tally ticking over, but every time they scored, the Sunwolves replied. In the end, the hosts outscored the Bulls by four tries to one in the second half.
When Conraad van Vuuren crashed over for a well-worked team effort, after Van den Heever had dotted down for the Sunwolves, the Bulls led 31-21 after 50 minutes.
The Sunwolves’ ill-discipline looked set to be their undoing as Pollard slotted two more penalties, but they continued to attack with careless abandon.
And that approach paid off, with tries by influential centre Michael Little and flank Willie Britz getting them to within two points of the Bulls, before Rahboni Warren-Vosayaco scored with four minutes remaining to clinch a memorable win.
Sunwolves – Tries: Hayden Parker, Keisuke Uchida, Gerhard van den Heever, Willie Britz, Michael Little, Rahboni Warren-Vosayaco. Conversions: Parker (6).
Bulls – Tries: Jesse Kriel (2), Handré Pollard, Conraad van Vuuren. Conversions: Pollard (4). Penalties: Pollard (3).
Sunwolves – 15 Gerhard van den Heever, 14 Semisi Masirewa, 13 Jason Emery, 12 Michael Little, 11 Akihito Yamada, 10 Hayden Parker, 9 Keisuke Uchida, 8 Yoshitaka Tokunaga, 7 Shunsuke Nunomaki, 6 Willie Britz, 5 Uwe Helu, 4 James Moore, 3 Takuma Asahara, 2 Jaba Bregvadze, 1 Craig Millar (c).
Subs: 16 Yusuke Niwai, 17 Shintaro Ishihara, 18 Hencus van Wyk, 19 Grant Hattingh, 20 Rahboni Warren-Vosayaco, 21 Fumiaki Tanaka, 22 Rikiya Matsuda, 23 Ryoto Nakamura.
Bulls – 15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Jamba Ulengo, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Johnny Kotze, 11 Divan Rossouw, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Embrose Papier, 8 Hanro Liebenberg, 7 Jannes Kirsten, 6 Marco van Staden, 5 RG Snyman, 4 Jason Jenkins, 3 Conraad van Vuuren, 2 Jaco Visagie, 1 Pierre Schoeman.
Subs: 16 Edgar Marutlulle, 17 Simphiwe Matanzima, 18 Morné Smith, 19 Thembelani Bholi, 20 Nic de Jager, 21 André Warner, 22 Manie Libbok, 23 Dries Swanepoel.
Photo: Lionel Ng/Getty Images