The Bulls moved to the top of the Currie Cup log on Wednesday night after a convincing win over Western Province at Loftus Versfeld.
Cape Town — Once the Bulls brought their backs into play, they were able to outflank Western Province to secure a 45-34 bonus-point victory at Loftus Versfeld on Wednesday night to move to the top of the Currie Cup log.
A motivated Province side had the better of the early exchanges, as they played with visible heart and spirit to try and save their season, having lost five out of six matches in the first round.
The likes of hooker JJ Kotze, lock Ben-Jason Dixon and No 8 Keke Morabe got stuck into the home side’s pack, and managed to dislodge the ball on a few occasions and force knock-ons.
The Bulls were guilty of engaging in close combat by probing the fringes of the breakdowns instead of utilising their backline, where a number of top operators such as Stedman Gans, Stravino Jacobs and David Kriel were waiting for possession.
Veteran Bulls hooker Bismarck du Plessis had an early try disallowed as he played the ball from an offside position at a ruck, and WP hit back at the end of the first quarter, when Kotze rumbled over from a lineout driving maul.
But with a dominant scrum, the Bulls fought their way back into the game, and prop Robert Hunt forced his way across the whitewash to set up a 10-5 lead.
WP centre Cornel Smit was yellow-carded after the team made repeated infringements, and Bulls scrumhalf Keagan Johannes struck off a tap penalty to dot down under the posts.
It looked like the match was over as a contest at 17-5 to the Bulls, but the Capetonians got back into the game through a five-pointer by flank Marcel Theunissen before halftime, and Tim Swiel’s conversion made it 17-15 at the break.
But it appeared as if the Bulls experienced a light-bulb moment in the change-room as they stretched the WP defence out wide in the second half.
Centre Marco Jansen van Vuren showed his skills to step and offload to Kriel to score in the corner.
Province, though, didn’t give up despite the fact that their scrum battled for stability throughout, and Smit made amends for his yellow card with a try to make it 24-22.
It seemed as if WP could pull off a miraculous upset in Pretoria, but soon enough Kriel grabbed his second try of the night to give the Bulls some breathing room at 31-22.
A second Province yellow card, to replacement Jarrod Taylor for using his knee against Kriel in the try-scoring act, set the visitors on the back foot for the final quarter, and reserve prop Lizo Gqoboka’s touchdown ensured victory for the Bulls.
WP fullback Tristan Leyds at least claimed a bonus-point fourth try, but it was not enough to engineer a comeback.
Bulls 45 – Tries: Robert Hunt, Keagan Johannes, David Kriel (2), Lizo Gqoboka, Penalty Try. Conversions: Morné Steyn (5). Penalty: Steyn (1).
WP 34 – Tries: JJ Kotze, Marcel Theunissen, Cornel Smit, Tristan Leyds, Angelo Davids. Conversions: Tim Swiel (2), Kade Wolhuter (1). Penalty: Swiel (1).