It was far from classic but the Bulls did what needed to be done in beating the Jaguares 26-13 at Loftus on Saturday evening.
Given their lack of confidence, the men from Pretoria hardly tried to be too fancy and even had some awkward moments still.
But to still win against a Test-quality side will be a confidence booster.
Who was the star in this match?
It was good to see some national players delivering encouraging performances. But the man that stood out was Jesse Kriel. He enjoyed the extra space at fullback and ran 113m, which included 3 clean breaks. Vitally, the 23-year-old also defended well. Prop Trevor Nyakane was also powerful and versatile.
Key themes and events
- While the Bulls didn’t necessarily achieve much rhythm in other aspects, they defended quite well. The Jaguares like speeding up the game from turnover possession but the hosts never allowed them much freedom. Tight defence is a good platform to work from.
- Several under-pressure Springboks seemed to awake from their slumber in this game. As mentioned before, Jesse Kriel was dynamic as a runner from fullback. Yet the most promising performance came from flyhalf Handre Pollard. He’s still a bit uncertain as a playmaker but his kicking was excellent in this game. He didn’t miss a shot at goal and his little dab forward set up Lood de Jager’s try.
- Bulls coach Nollis Marais said during the build-up his troops need to be better at the set-pieces. They did particularly well at the scrums and that will please him.
- The Jaguares were once again their own worst enemies. They hardly made any play in the first 20 minutes, struggled to make their impressive passing count and – AGAIN – conceded a yellow card. It’s a mystery why they’re so poor away from home.
Bulls – Tries: Travis Ismaiel, Lood de Jager. Conversions: Handre Pollard (2). Penalties: Pollard (4).
Jaguares – Try: Gonzalo Betranou. Conversion: Santiago Gonzalez Iglesias. Penalties: Gonzalez Iglesias (2).