The Blue Bulls held on at the end of the day to beat Griquas 45-40 in their Currie Cup match in Kimberley on Saturday, but it was another rollercoaster ride for the Pretoria side.
After a hard-fought opening quarter which ended 7-7, the Blue Bulls scored three tries in seven minutes to open up a commanding 28-7 lead. But, with halftime rapidly approaching, the visitors lost focus, and errors and ill-discipline crept into their game, with Griquas scoring twice just before the break to keep themselves in the game at 21-28 at halftime.
The Blue Bulls started the second half poorly as well, being reduced to 13 men at one stage as Griquas scored two more tries and took a 35-28 lead.
A thrilling finale saw the Blue Bulls fight back and then hold on grimly in the closing stages as Griquas scored a sixth try but were unable to snatch the spoils at the end despite spending the final minutes inside the opposition 22.
Who was the star in this match?
Given the fiasco in Brisbane, and a clear scrumhalf crisis with Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus seemingly not trusting anyone but an error-prone Faf de Klerk, Ivan van Zyl should come into the picture again for the home leg of the Rugby Championship against Australia and New Zealand. Blue Bulls coach Pote Human certainly believes Van Zyl could be involved then, which is why he plays him off the bench. The move paid off superbly on Saturday as Van Zyl provided the spark for the Blue Bulls when he came on.
Key moments and themes
- With the Blue Bulls 45-35 up and six minutes remaining, Griquas gave themselves a chance as fullback AJ Coertzen slipped through a gap to score. It ended a period of tremendous defence by the Bulls as Griquas attacked for 15 phases, Springbok Sevens star Dylan Sage, another replacement, using his pace to pull off a brilliant corner-flag tackle on Christopher Bosch, but the visitors eventually ran out of defenders. Coach Human will, however, be delighted with the character his team showed in defence, especially when scrambling.
- Blue Bulls centres JT Jackson and Franco Naude dominated the opening quarter as they provided the impetus for scrumhalf Andre Warner’s sixth-minute try and then both produced strong, angled runs for the visitors’ second try, which Naude scored. Griquas restricted their influence thereafter, however.
- The Blue Bulls used their lineout drive to good effect, with hooker Jaco Visagie scoring from the rolling maul in the 23rd minute and then his replacement, Edgar Marutlulle, doing the same in the 55th minute, while Visagie had been sent to the cooler for an early tackle.
- The try of the game came in the 66th minute, soon after Venter, the forward of the game, had stormed over after Van Zyl’s great pass to him followed another fine driving maul. Van Zyl launched the counter-attack from the restart and it was the hard-working Venter, who made an impact in most facets of the game, who made the initial yards out of the Blue Bulls half before linking with his fellow tough loose-forward Ruan Steenkamp. The ball then went inside to wing Duncan Matthews, who found Van Zyl for the replacement scrumhalf to go over for what proved to be the matchwinning try.
Griquas: Tries – Nicolaas Oosthuizen, Andre Swarts (2), penalty try, Eital Bredenkamp, AJ Coertzen. Conversions – George Whitehead (4).
Blue Bulls: Tries – Andre Warner, Franco Naude, Jaco Visagie, JT Jackson, Edgar Marutlulle, Jano Venter, Ivan van Zyl. Conversions – Manie Libbok (5).