Bulls flyhalf and man of the match, Chris Smith, says it was important they were able to pin Griquas into a corner during the second half of their Currie Cup clash.
Cape Town – Being able to pin Griquas into a corner in the second half was a crucial part of the Bulls’ 53-27 Currie Cup victory over Griquas in Kimberley on Saturday.
That was the view of Bulls flyhalf Chris Smith, who was chosen as the Man of the Match following a solid display in which he was able to drill the home side back with his tactical kicks, as well as contributing 18 points off the tee.
Griquas actually led 10-7 at one stage in the first half, but after the Bulls edged ahead with touchdowns from Simphiwe Matanzima, Cornal Hendricks and Walt Steenkamp, they took full control early in the second half.
And it was Smith who sparked a strike after the break with a superb kick from inside his own half into Griquas’ 22-metre area, which saw the Bulls getting the lineout feed with the new 50-22 law.
The visitors scored from the subsequent set-piece, with Hendricks bashing it up the middle before Arno Botha dived over.
Smith produced another 50-22 a few minutes later, but the Bulls pack lost the ball forward from a driving maul.
“We always know that up here in Kimberley, it was going to be a tough first 40, and also a tough 80. But luckily we had the wind with us in the second half, and we were able to capitalise, pin them in that right corner. Luckily the forwards pitched, and we were able to convert,” the Bulls No 10 told SuperSport in a post-match TV interview.
“With that 50-22 coming into play, you do practice it on the training park, and when you see that space, you just want to execute the kick, and hopefully it rolls out on the five.
“With the 50-22, the wings in the back field are often covering that space, which often opens up that long midfield grass kick. I was able to execute that and bring them a bit tighter, which opens up the 50-22 later on.”
Bulls captain Marcell Coetzee was prominent as a ball-carrier and in defence, and he praised his team for staying cool under the pressure exerted by Griquas in the first half.
“We got the result, and we couldn’t ask for more – gutsy performance from the boys. But credit where credit is due … Don’t let the score flous (fool) you: they played flippen great rugby. They were physical, they took their chances at times, and it was just a hard-fought game,” the openside flank told SuperSport.
“You have to take the wind into account. They won the toss and elected to play with the wind, and I thought we adjusted a bit better in the second half by using the corners well – Chris Smith Man of the Match… Calm head, put us in the right areas, and force the pressure ultimately in the second half.”
Coach Gert Smal felt that Griquas came out firing, but he was happy with how the Bulls responded.
“I think Griquas played extremely well. They are very well coached. In the first half, there were a couple of things we didn’t do well. Our defence wasn’t good enough, and our breakdown wasn’t good enough, so those are things we need to work on,” Smal said during the post-match press conference.
“At halftime, we had some good messages coming through… to get territory. It helped us a little bit with the 50-22s that we got, and then we built momentum from there.”
Griquas 27 – Tries: Zander du Plessis (2), Hanru Sirgel, Michael Amiras. Conversions: Du Plessis (2). Drop goal: Theo Boshoff (1).
Bulls 53 – Tries: Simphiwe Matanzima, Cornal Hendricks, Walt Steenkamp, Arno Botha, Canan Moodie, Bismarck du Plessis, Keagan Johannes. Conversions: Chris Smith (6). Penalties: Smith (2).