Tahs punish battling Bulls

Nick Phipps scored a brace of tries as the Waratahs clinched a comfortable 31-8 bonus-point win over the Bulls in Sydney on Saturday. CRAIG LEWIS reports.

What a disappointing finish to the Bulls’ Australian tour this was. After starting their trip Down Under with an impressive win over the Force, the Bulls succumbed to a Brumbies beating last weekend, while they were comprehensively outplayed by the Waratahs at the Allianz Stadium.

The Bulls showed glimpses of positive intent in the first half, but failed to make the most of their opportunities, while they completely ran out of steam in the second stanza as the Waratahs took control of proceedings and cruised to a comfortable victory.

During a pedestrian opening quarter, neither side was able to find any rhythm to their play, with basic errors and discipline letting them down. The stop-start affair was reflected in the penalty count, with each team giving away five penalties in a scoreless first 20 minutes of action.

With meaningful attacking opportunities few and far between, the Bulls would have rued a real missed chance in the 15th minute, with SP Marais producing a break that brought the visitors to within 5m of the Waratahs' tryline. However, they then conceded a soft penalty at the breakdown.

The Bulls were also guilty of another soft moment before half-time when Phipps was not held in a tackle, with the Waratahs scrumhalf managing to wriggle away and score the first points of the match with a 35th-minute try.

The one area where the Bulls did enjoy at least some ascendancy in the first period was at scrum time, and a third penalty won at this set piece enabled Tian Schoeman to open his team’s account with a three-pointer on the stroke of half-time.

However, the Bulls would have been extremely frustrated with their first-half performance, which was marred by ill-discipline and poor execution, as illustrated by the fact that despite beating 10 defenders and making four clean breaks, they only had three measly points to show for their efforts.

The Waratahs struck a decisive blow just after the restart as flanker Dean Mumm was put away for a simple try, which prompted a period of complete control as the hosts camped in Bulls territory and enjoyed plenty of possession.

Foley slotted a 56th-minute penalty to edge the Tahs into a 17-3 lead, and from there it was always going to be a long way back for the battling Bulls. So it proved as Phipps went over under the posts for his second try in the 70th minute and effectively sealed the result.

Dries Swanepoel managed to hit back for the Bulls with a try soon after, but replacement Angus Ta'avao secured the Waratahs' bonus point with one final try just before full-time.

Waratahs – Tries: Nick Phipps (2), Dean Mumm, Angus Ta'avao. Conversions: Bernard Foley (4). Penalty: Foley.
Bulls – Try: Dries Swanepoel. Penalty: Tian Schoeman.

Waratahs – 15 Andrew Kellaway, 14 Reece Robinson, 13 Israel Folau, 12 Kurtley Beale, 11 Rob Horne, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Wycliff Palu, 7 Michael Hooper (c), 6 Dean Mumm, 5 Will Skelton, 4 Dave Dennis, 3 Tom Robertson, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 Paddy Ryan.
Subs: 16 Hugh Roach, 17 Jeremy Tilse, 18 Angus Ta'avao, 19 Sam Lousi, 20 Ned Hanigan/Jack Dempsey, 21 Matt Lucas, 22 David Horwitz, 23 Matt Carraro.

Bulls – 15 SP Marais, 14 Jamba Ulengo, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Tian Schoeman, 9 Rudy Paige, 8 Hanro Liebenberg, 7 Jannes Kirsten, 6 Lappies Labuschagne, 5 RG Snyman, 4 Jason Jenkins, 3 Marcel van der Merwe, 2 Adriaan Strauss (c), 1 Lizo Gqoboka.
Subs: 16 Jaco Visagie, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Pierre Schoeman, 19 Marvin Orie, 20 Roelof Smit, 21 Piet van Zyl, 22 Francois Brummer, 23 Dries Swanepoel.

Photo: Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

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Craig Lewis