The Bulls mixed power with varying degrees of precision in booking their place in the Super Rugby playoffs with a rousing 48-27 win over the Lions at Loftus.
While they lacked discipline in the second and third quarters of the game, which allowed their game opponents to launch a fightback, they showed much class in turning on the heat almost at will just when they seemed to be in a bit of discomfort.
It means Pote Human’s troops will travel to Wellington to face the Hurricanes, a tough assignment but hardly an impossible given the skill and variety they showed in this game.
Who was the star in this match?
Marco van Staden might not be the most disciplined flanker around – he conceded three penalties – but his influence on this game simply couldn’t be denied. The bustling opensider was everywhere. He was a bulldozer in broken play, completed 12 tackles in a game where defence was neglected and made three turnovers. He’s most definitely back on the Springbok radar.
Key moments and themes
- The Bulls’ newfound determination shone early in this game. After some shocking defence allowed the Lions to score within 15 seconds of the kickoff, the hosts decided to run the ball back at their opponents, who aren’t exactly known as masters of slowing things down. Their attack was varied as they scored four tries in the first half. A highlight was a brilliantly planned maul AFTER a carry from a lineout, which caught the Lions totally off-guard.
- While both sides bared their teeth when they had ball in hand, the Bulls once again showed the value of having bigger ball-carriers. They dominated the collisions, which allowed them to not only gain momentum on attack, but also the luxury of varying their play. It’s a big weapon. They don’t just rely on quick backs, for example.
- The Lions can rightly be accused of some poor defence and game management, but they certainly weren’t outplayed the whole time. They took the penalties on offer after the Bulls’ discipline started to wane and at one stage used a maul for a try that brought them to within four points of the home side. However, they weren’t able uphold that pressure.
- The Bulls won’t have it easy going to New Zealand next week, but they certainly showed in this game that they have an all-round game to trouble every side in this tournament.
Bulls – Tries: Hanro Liebenberg (2), Lizo Gqoboka, Burger Odendaal, Cornal Hendricks, Handre Pollard, Manie Libbok. Conversions: Pollard (5). Penalty: Pollard.
Lions – Tries: Hacjivah Dayimani, Cyle Brink. Conversion: Elton Jantjies. Penalties: Jantjies (4). Drop goal: Andries Coetzee.