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Super Rugby | Loftus Versfeld
17:10 (GMT) | 20-02-2015
  • 81
Join us tomorrow when we bring you lost more Super Rugby!!! It starts withthe Highlanders and Crusaders in Dunedin!
  • 80
FULL-TIME. The Hurricanes run down the clock succesfully and the hooter for full-time goes. The Hurricanes take hme a 17-13 win and a rare clean sweep on SA soil. They will celebrate, the Bulls will be bitterly disappointed.
  • 79
Hurricanes running down the clock with slow phase play
  • 78
Bulls are furious, as the scrumhalf was pulled into the ruck. That is disgraveful by the referee
  • 77
Grant Hatting is over the line, but the TMO ruules that his left hand went into touch at the same time as he grounded the ball - no try
  • 76
Bulls working it through the phases and getting into the Hurricanes 22. This is their best passage of the game
  • 74
Referee rules another knock-on, but that came off a Hurricanes boot
  • 73
Bulls again cough up the ball near the Hurricanes 22 - accuracy remains an issue for the Bulls
  • 72
Brad Shields now puts th ball down cold on his 10m line - again no mpressure
  • 71
Scrum reset - it is beginning to look like the referee is trying to eliminate the Bulls' scrum strength by re-ordering the scrums when they get the upperhand
  • 70
Bulls cough up another ball at a line-out, Page knock on a pass from Spies off the top
  • 68
Beauden barrett, from near the touchline, just pushes it wide
  • 67
TRY -Hurricanes get a penalty, Julian Savea taps and go quickly and the Bulls can't stop him
  • 65
Hurricanes working their way towards the Bulls' line and win a scrum feed 5m out
  • 64
TJ Perenara drives the Bulls back into their 22 with a great kick
  • 63
Bulls ademolish the Hurricanes scrum again, but the referee gestures something about an angle - that was only because the Hurricanes disappeared out of sight
  • 62
Bulls looking to pick up the pase, but two turnovers cost them - the second Dean Greyling knocks on in a tackle just inside the Hurricanes 22
  • 60
Powerful Bulls scrum win a penalty - Hurricanes monstered that time. Pollard sets up a line-out just inside the Hurricanes 22
  • 59
Hurricanes beginning to make more mistakes now - pressure and altitude beginning to take their toll. Bulls have a scrum on halfway after a knock-on
  • 57
Hurricanes cough up another line-out near the Bulls 22
  • 56
Hurricanes concede a free kick at the scrum, but after a few quick phases the Bulls are penalised at a tackle
  • 55
Scrum reset - that looked like the Hurricanes retreating and then collapsing
  • 54
Now the Hurricanes'line-out throw is not straight - that was a bit obvious
  • 52
Handre Pollard, from 45m on the angle, slots the PENALTYand the Bulls reclaim the lead - 13-12
  • 51
Penalty against James Broadhurst for playing Matfield in the air at the line-out
  • 50
Hanro Liebenberg now wins a penaty for the Bulls as the Hurricanes'ball-carrier is isolated
  • 48
Marfield steals a line-out, but Piet van Zyl is held up and the Hurricanes win a turnover
  • 47
Beauden Barrett, from 20m out, slots the PENALTY as the Hurricanes regain the lead - 12-10
  • 46
Hurricanes run it out from their 22 and take it through multiple phases - winning a penalty near the Bulls 22
  • 44
Handre Pollard, from 55m out, down the centre, hits the upribght
  • 43
Hurricanes looking to play the phases, but Trevor Nyakane wins a penalty at the tackle - great turnover penalty by the prop
  • 41
Beauden Barrett gets the second half underway. Pollard comfortasbly clears his lines to halfway

Half Time

  • 40
This is rediculous - the Bulls scrum again penalised. Replays showed that Frans broke his bind first. Beauden Barrett, from 25m out, slots the PENALTY and the Bulls take a one-point (10-9) lead into the half-time break. See you in 10 minutes.
  • 39
Now the referee sees an extra scrumhalf on the Bulls side at a line-out ... not sure who it was, cause there was onyl one
  • 38
Hurricanes scrum wins a penalty - that was a powerplay
  • 37
Beauden Barrett puts the ball down cold on his own 10m line - no pressure there, that was shocking
  • 36
Great chase by Bjorn Basson, but the referee rules that he knocked it on during the mid-air collission
  • 34
Beauden Barrett, from 45m out on the angle, hooks it past the left upright
  • 33
Deon Stegmann penalised for an offence at the tackle
  • 32
Handre Pollard adds the CONVERSION and the Bulls lead 10-6
  • 31
TRY - Handre Pollard gets the five-pointer, coming after he ran a great angle from close range. However, the try had its origens ina sublie break by Jesse Kriel near halfway - which exposed the Hurricanes defence
  • 29
Handre Pollard, from 55m out, slots the PENALTY and the gap closes to 3-6
  • 28
Hurricanes cough the ball up in midfield and then Maá Nonu goes offside just inside the Bulls half
  • 26
Bulls again penalised at the tackle - very lopsided penalty count
  • 25
Again the Bulls cough up a ball inside the Hurricanes 22 - not clinical enough at cleaning out and Piet van Zyl is caught in possession
  • 24
Powerful maul from the Bulls win them 30m and another penalty
  • 22
Penalty to the Bulls for obstruction - that maul was reformed illegally
  • 21
Penalty against the Bulls fior collapsing a maul
  • 20
Referee Andrew Lees making anothyer shocking mistake - that was NOT a knock-on.
  • 19
Beauden Barrett, from 25m out, slots the PENALTY for a 6-0 lead.
  • 18
Another penalty against the Bulls, this time Pierre Spies not rolling away at the tackle. Hurricanes showing some sublime handling skills
  • 16
Beauden Barrett, from 43m out on the angle, just push it wide to the right
  • 15
Jacques du Plessis penalised for playing a man in the air at the line-out
  • 14
Hurricanes taking it through the phases and working their way from their own half, deep into the Bulls half, before being pushed into touch near the Bulls 22
  • 12
Beauden Barritt, from 40m on the angle, slots the PENALTY -3-0
  • 11
Deon Stegamnn penalised for 'rejoining' a ruck - replays showed he never left the tackle area, as his leg was held by a Hurricanes player
  • 9
That is now the third time in a row the Bulls got turned over deep inside the Hurricanes 22 - there is energy and intend, but execution from the Bulls is lacking
  • 8
Bulls win a couple of turnover,s but cough the ball up - not once, but twice, first a knockon and then when they got it mback stepped into touch
  • 6
Brilliant kick by Pollard, who drives the Hurricanes back to 5m from their line
  • 5
Scrum reset
  • 4
Hurricanes look to attack inside the Bulls half, but this time it is their turn to cough up possession through poor handling
  • 3
Another line-out win by the Bulls, but this time JJ Engelbrecht knocks on and the ball is hacked downfield
  • 2
Jesse Kriel gets isolated inside the Hurricanes 22 and the visitirs win a crucial turnover
  • 1
Early mistake by the Hurricanes, ball kicked directly into touch and the Bulls have an attacking line-out on the Canes 22
  • 0
Handre Pollard gets the game underway
  • -3
Most important team news - the start of Jesse Kriel for the Bulls and Ma;a Nonu's return for the Hurricanes
  • -4
Stadium is very -VERY - empty ... fans speaking with their feet?
  • -5
The teams are going through their final pre-match routines and will take to the field soon.
  • -10
The conditions are perfect if either team wishes to employ an expansive game
  • -15
The Bulls' set pieces were very poor last week, especially the scrums. The Hurricanes will know there's a chance of dominating the home team if they can overpower them up front like the Stormers did last week.
  • -20
The Bulls are coming off a disappointing loss, while the Hurricanes will be looking for a rare clean sweep in their South African tour
  • -25
Nice balmy evening here in Pretoria - still feels like it is in the mid to high 20s °C
  • -30
Welcome to Loftus versfeld in Pretoria, where we are gearing up for the Round Two Super Rugby encounter between the Bulls and Hurricanes!
Mc bulls logo 80x50
Mc hurricanes logo 80x50
  • 15 Warrick Gelant
  • 14 Johnny Kotze
  • 13 Jesse Kriel
  • 12 Burger Odendaal
  • 11 Divan Rossouw
  • 10 Handre Pollard
  • 9 Ivan van Zyl
  • 8 Marco Van Staden
  • 7 Thembelani Bholi
  • 6 Roelof Smit
  • 5 Lodewyk de Jager
  • 4 Rudolf Snyman
  • 3 Trevor Nyakane
  • 2 Adriaan Strauss
  • 1 Pierre Schoeman
  • 23 Duncan Matthews
  • 22 Manie Libbok
  • 21 Andre Warner
  • 20 Shaun Adendorff
  • 19 Jason Jenkins
  • 18 Frans van Wyk
  • 17 Lizo Gqoboka
  • 16 Jaco Visagie
  • 15 Jordie Barrett
  • 14 Vince Tavae –Aso
  • 13 Matt Proctor
  • 12 Ngani Laumape
  • 11 Ben Lam
  • 10 Beauden Barrett
  • 9 Jamie Booth
  • 8 Gareth Evans
  • 7 Sam Henwood
  • 6 Brad Shields
  • 5 Michael Fatialofa
  • 4 Vaea Fifita
  • 3 Jeffery Toomaga-Allen
  • 2 Ricky Riccitelli
  • 1 Toby Smith
  • 23 Wes Goosen
  • 22 Ihaia West
  • 21 Richard Judd
  • 20 Reed Prinsep
  • 19 Murray Douglas
  • 18 Ben May
  • 17 Chris Eves
  • 16 James O’Reilly
Mc article sonny bi   williams chiefs2

Preview: S15 Round Two, Part One

Thu, 19 Feb 2015 00:11

Will the madness continue or will we have some semblance of normality when Super Rugby's Round Two gets underway on Friday?

Will the madness continue or will we have some semblance of normality when Super Rugby's Round Two gets underway on Friday?

The Round One mayhem saw just one home team win, while tournament favourites like the defending-champion Waratahs and seven-time champion Crusaders got upstaged by supposed minnows.

This Friday's Round Two action start with two of the most impressive teams from Round One, the Chiefs and Brumbies, going head-to in New Plymouth.

The setting may have a rural feel about it, given the dairy farming community that supports the Taranaki region, but the on-field action will be colossal.

Then we will make a quick hop across the Tasman Sea to Melbourne for an all-Australian derby - one of last week's giant killing acts, the Rebels, hosting on the opening round's big losers, the Waratahs.

The final match of the day takes us another 14,000-odd kilometres across the Indian Ocean to Pretoria, where the Bulls, losers last week, meet the Hurricanes, who won their opening match.

We look at Friday's games!

Friday, February 20

Chiefs v Brumbies
(Yarrow Stadium, New Plymouth - Kick-off: 19.35; 17.35 AEDT; 06.35 GMT)

The Chiefs will host the Brumbies in New Plymouth in what is set to be an exciting battle.

The Chiefs, already loaded with superstar players, welcome back several All Blacks to the fold - including the likes of Aaron Cruden, Liam Messam and Jamie Mackintosh in the starting XV - with players like Ben Tameifuna and Brodie Retallick on the bench.

However, their real star value is at flyhalf and in the midfield - where Charlie Ngatai, Sonny Bill Williams Aaron Cruden will combine.

Brumbies flyhalf Matt Toomua, who has faced his share of midfield bruisers, regards Cruden (at flyhalf) and Williams (inside centre) as one of the most skilful combinations he has come up against.

"Cruden probably offers a bit more of that offload game, he's probably one of silkiest No.10s in the competition," Toomua told the Canberra Times.

"I've played against him a lot, played in the Under- 20s against each other and played against each other a few times last year.

"Sonny outside him offers a huge threat as well. There's no bigger name in Australian or New Zealand sport than Sonny Bill, so that'll be a huge challenge for us.

"Getting them down is one thing, stopping them offload is another, so we'll look do that in pods of threes - trying to get guys around the ball there.

"Those two individually are very dangerous and when you've got the combination you've got to be wary about it ... we've come up against similar combinations but to be fair I think this is one of the most skilful ones."

Recent results:
2014: Brumbies won 32-30, Canberra (preliminary play-off match)
2014: Brumbies won 41-23, Canberra
2013: Chiefs won 27-22, Hamilton (Final)
2012: Chiefs won 29-22, Hamilton
2011: Brumbies won 28-20, Canberra
2010: Brumbies won 30-23, Canberra

Prediction: The last 10 games between these sides have seen the Chiefs follow two defeats with two victories, with the Brumbies triumphant in six of these matches. If that run were to continue, the New Zealanders would win the next two contests against the Canberra-based outfit. The last seven games between the sides have been won by the home team. The Brumbies' 47-3 victory over the Reds in round one was their largest win since a 61-15 success against the Cheetahs in April 2010. The Chiefs managed the most metres (597), breaks (12) and off-loads (19) in round one, while the Brumbies topped the charts for carries (126), time in possession (19 minutes 52 seconds) and tries (six). They also missed the fewest tackles last weekend (eight). The Brumbies have won four of their last five regular season games on New Zealand soil after previously losing seven in a row on their trips across the Tasman. The Reds were rabble last week, which makes it difficult to gauge the real strength of the Brumbies. The Chiefs, who overcame a slow start, showed enough last week to suggest they could sneak a win - by less than 10 points.


Chiefs: 15 James Lowe, 14 Bryce Heem, 13 Charlie Ngatai, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Hosea Gear, 10 Aaron Cruden, 9 Brad Weber, 8 Maama Vaipulu, 7 Sam Cane, 6 Liam Messam (captain), 5 Michael Fitzgerald, 4 Matt Symons, 3 Siate Tokolahi, 2 Hika Elliot, 1 Jamie Mackintosh.
Replacments: 16 Quentin MacDonald, 17 Pauliasi Manu, 18 Ben Tameifuna, 19 Brodie Retallick, 20 Tevita Koloamatangi, 21 Augustine Pulu, 22 Damian McKenzie, 23 Seta Tamanivalu.

Brumbies: 15 Robbie Coleman, 14 Joe Tomane, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Christian Lealiifano, 11 Henry Speight, 10 Matt Toomua, 9 Nic White (captain), 8 Ita Vaea, 7 Jarrad Butler, 6 Scott Fardy , 5 Sam Carter, 4 Rory Arnold, 3 Ben Alexander, 2 Josh Mann-Rea, 1 Scott Sio.
Replacements: 16 Stephen Moore, 17 JP Smith, 18 Ruan Smith, 19 Jordan Smiler , 20 Sean Doyle, 21 Michael Dowsett, 22 James Dargaville, 23 Lausii Taliauli.

Referee: Steve Walsh (Australia)
Assistant referees: Shane McDermott (New Zealand), Paul Williams (New Zealand)
TMO: Glen Newman (New Zealand)

Rebels v Waratahs
(AMI Park, Melbourne - Kick-off: 19.40; 08.40 GMT)

The Rebels will be buoyed by their victory over the Crusaders in Christchurch in Round One.

However, they know they can't afford to ease off even the slightest, given the quality of the opposition.

The Waratahs won the 2014 Super Rugby championship and whilst they suffered defeat at the hands of the Western Force in Sydney last week, they remain a world class outfit.

The Waratahs and Rebels have developed a healthy rivalry, while both possess plenty of individuals with history at both franchises.

For the Waratahs there is certainly a lot more riding on this game, which is important if they are to reach their stated goal of becoming the first Australian side to win back-to-back titles.

And history points to this being more likely than first thought - with four of the seven Super Rugby teams to have lifted the Super Rugby title in the 19 year history of the competition - Blues, Crusaders (twice), Bulls and Chiefs - having done just that.

"Off the back of knowing that we're the defending champions and we can be the first Australian Super Rugby team to do it twice in a row, there's a lot of motivation and a lot of excitement around that," veteran Wallaby Adam Ashley-Cooper said in an interview on the Waratahs website.

Driving the excitement and motivation around the current group of Waratahs is the culture that has been built over the past couple of seasons.

"About the 80 minutes on the weekend it's about going the distance and we're certainly reminded day in and day out here by the coaching staff that games are won in that last couple of metres of a drill or that last minute of an exercise or that last rep in the gym. It's about doing that yard extra and it certainly transfers onto the field.

"Once your goal and your ambitions are clear it gives the team purpose and we're certainly all on board and buying into the culture and working hard to give ourselves and the club purpose to reach that end goal.

"Culture I guess is the glue to any winning formula; it binds everyone together and allows teams to enjoy their hard work and enjoy their success," said Ashley-Cooper.

Recent results:
2014: Waratahs won 41-19, Melbourne
2014: Waratahs won 32-8, Sydney
2013: Rebels won 24-22, Melbourne
2013: Waratahs won 31-26, Sydney
2012: Waratahs won 30-21, Sydney
2012: Waratahs won 35-19, Melbourne

Prediction: Against the Force, the 2014 champions conceded four tries in a home match for the first time since June 2012 (against Hurricanes). The Tahs have won seven of eight games against the Melbourne side, denying the Rebels a bonus point in all but one of those seven victories. The Waratahs have never lost their opening two matches of a Super Rugby season. The Waratahs managed the best tackling success rate (92 percent) in the opening round, but won just one turnover, a weekend low. They also won all 10 of their line-outs and stole ball from the Force on four occasions. In contrast, no side lost more line-outs on their own throw than the Rebels in round one (four). The wake-up call has been received and the Waratahs should start showing some of their 2014 - to record a 10-point win.


Rebels:  15 Mike Harris, 14 Dom Shipperley, 13 Tamati Ellison, 12 Mitch Inman, 11 Tom English, 10 Jack Debreczeni, 9 Luke Burgess, 8 Scott Higginbotham, 7 Colby Fainga’a, 6 Sean McMahon, 5 Lopeti Timani, 4 Luke Jones, 3 Laurie Weeks, 2 Pat Leafa, 1 Toby Smith.Replacments: 16 Ben Whittaker, 17 Cruze Ah-Nau, 18 Paul Alo-Emile, 19 Sam Jeffries, 20 Scott Fuglistaller, 21 Ben Meehan, 22 Bryce Hegarty, 23 Sefanaia Naivalu.

Waratahs: 15 Israel Folau, 14 Taqele Naiyaravoro, 13 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 12 Kurtley Beale, 11 Rob Horne, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Wycliff Palu, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Jacques Potgieter, 5 Will Skelton, 4 David Dennis (captain), 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 Benn Robinson.
Replacements - from: Tolu Latu, Jeremy Tilse, Paddy Ryan, Sam Lousi, Mitchell Chapman, Stephen Hoiles, Brendan McKibbin, Matt Carraro, Pat McCutcheon, Peter Betham.
Referee: Angus Gardner (Australia)
Assistant referees: James Leckie (Australia), Michael Hogan (Australia)
TMO: Peter Marshall (Australia)

Bulls v Hurricanes
(Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria - Kick-off: 19.19; 17.10 GMT; 06.10, Saturday, February 21 NZ time)

The Hurricanes are chasing a rare double on South African soil and more valuable competition points on the road.

Their 22-8 win over the Lions last week was their first win to start the season since 2010, while the last time the Hurricanes won two consecutive matches in South Africa was in 2006 - the year they reached the Final.

Victory over the Lions was built on patience and resilient defence, the Hurricanes surviving on a minority of possession to outscore their opposition two tries to one.

In contrast, the Bulls failed to fire in their opening 17-29 loss to the Stormers last week, which was their first Super Rugby defeat at home since dipping out to the Brumbies in their 2013 home semifinal.

The Bulls were mistake-ridden against the Stormers.

Super Rugby champions in 2007, 2009 and 2010, the Bulls will be eager to get on the front foot and beat the Hurricanes to register their first win of the season.

On his return as captain of the Bulls, Pierre Spies says they will be looking to make amends for last week's defeat on Friday.

"We had a hard look at ourselves, and the guys are really working hard to get the result and produce a more consistent performance," Spies told a media briefing in Pretoria.

"We've got to take care of our ball, be disciplined in our approach and be clinical as we made way too many mistakes against the Stormers."

Coach Frans Ludeke also expressed his disappointment in last week's showing, especially in the scrums - where they were schooled by the Stormers' pack of forwards.

"It wasn't good enough, and there was a lot pressure from that battle where we were on the back foot," he said.

"We gave away penalties that gave them field position and easy exits and we lost two vital turnovers at the base of the scrum in the right areas.

"That wasn't up to our standards, and we would like to improve this weekend."

Recent results:
2014: Hurricanes won 25-20, Wellington
2013: Bulls won 48-14, Pretoria
2011: Bulls won 26-14, Napier
2010: Bulls won 19-18, Pretoria
2009: Bulls won 19-14, Wellington
2008: Hurricanes won 50-22, Pretoria

Prediction: The Bulls have won four of the last five clashes between the sides, limiting the 'Canes to fewer than 20 points in each of those matches. The Bulls won all nine of their line-outs last weekend, but had the lowest tackling success (80 percent) having missed 26 of 129 attempted hits. The Canes meanwhile won five of seven line-out throws, a weekend - low success rate of 71 percent. The Hurricanes managed the most turnovers won (10) last weekend and conceded fewer turnovers (seven) than any other side. The Canes were the only side to manage less than 10 minutes in possession of the ball last week (nine minutes and 23 seconds). It is a tough call to make, as it is uncertain which Bulls team will turn up. However, we are going for a narrow home win - the Bulls by five.


Bulls: 15 Jesse Kriel, 14 Bjorn Basson, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Francois Hougaard, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Piet van Zyl, 8 Pierre Spies (captain), 7 Pieter Labuschagne, 6 Deon Stegmann, 5 Victor Matfield, 4 Jacques du Plessis, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1 Morné Mellett.
Replacements: 16 Callie Visagie), 17 Dean Greyling, 18 Dayan van der Westhuizen, 19 Grant Hattingh, 20 Hanro Liebenberg, 21 Rudy Paige, 22 Jacques-Louis Potgieter, 23 Jurgen Visser.

Hurricanes: 15 Jason Woodward, 14 Cory Jane, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Ma'a Nonu, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Blade Thomson, 7 Callum Gibbins, 6 Brad Shields, 5 James Broadhurst, 4 Mark Abbott, 3 Ben Franks, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Reggie Goodes.
Replacements: 16 Brayden Mitchell, 17 Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, 18 Chris Eves, 19 Ardie Savea, 20 Victor Vito, 21 Chris Smylie, 22 James Marshall, 23 Matt Proctor.

Referee: Andrew Lees (Australia)
Assistant referees: Rohan Hoffmann (Australia), Jaco van Heerden (South Africa)
TMO: Johan Greeff (South Africa)

By Jan de Koning

* Stats provided by @OptaJason

Mc article bulls v hurricanes

Hurricanes edge Bulls in arm-wrestle

Fri, 20 Feb 2015 19:07

REPORT: The Hurricanes hung tough in a gruelling final 10 minutes to edge the Bulls 17-13 at Loftus Versfeld, in Pretoria, on Friday.

The Hurricanes hung tough in a gruelling final 10 minutes to edge the Bulls 17-13 at Loftus Versfeld, in Pretoria, on Friday.

Of course, the Bulls could have won this match, but to do that they needed to score more points than the Hurricanes. To score more points they needed  to do certain things better - like handling, scrumming, line-outing, tackling and their post-tackle activities. This team does not look like being the lineal descendants of Northern Transvaal, certainly not the victorious Bulls of earlier this century, not even the Bulls of 2013 and, as it seems quite possible, the ordinary Bulls of 2014. In fact these Bulls could emulate the feeble performances of the Bulls of 1998-2002. It is not a pleasing situation for a union proud of its rugby and it is no wonder that there are so many empty seats at Loftus Versfeld.

That they ended in contact as close as they did suggests that the Hurricanes, despite two victories in South Africa, may be in for a tough time. Their handling was poor at times and they created little on attack except for the period immediately before Julian Savea's try.

The Hurricanes handled better than the Bulls did and won turnovers that the Bulls didn't. They also had the better of the scrum count (11-5), the penalty count (13-7) and the line-out count (15-10). But they relied on Beauden Barrett's boot and a bit of Savea power to win. That and the way Grant Hattingh tried to score a try - ball in the wrong arm and unable to get the ball down in the allotted space even though the only desperate defender was Beauden Barrett who is not a great defender.

There were good Bulls performances from Jesse Kriel and Handré Pollard amongst the backs and Trevor Nyakane and Adrian Strauss amongst the forwards. But it's hard to play with slow scrumhalves who cannibalise space. The Bulls' brilliant try and near-score by Hattingh happened when the Bulls were able to play quickly.

Pollard kicked off on a pleasant Pretoria evening on the edge of autumn and the Bulls went through phases till the Hurricanes won a turnover. Kriel counterattacked, Pollard broke and again the Hurricanes won a turnover. Then the Hurricanes got more and more into the game, able to forge ahead in the gentle Bulls' tackling. Too often the Bulls stood upright in the tackle, not able to drive the ball-carrier back.

Deon Stegmann was penalised at a tackle and then Pierre Spies was penalised at a tackle and on each occasion Barrett goaled to give the Hurricanes a 6-0 lead after 18 minutes.

When Ma'a Nonu and Blade Thomson went off side just inside the Bulls half, Pollard goaled the long kick. 6-3 after 28 minutes.

Then came the best moment of the dull match. Barrett kicked off deep towards his left. Jesse Kriel caught the ball not far from his line and started running with all the energy and confidence of youth. He bumped off Ben Franks and beat Barrett till nearly 40 metres later TJ Perenara hauled him down. But the Bulls kept the ball going, bashing from right to left and back again till they were on the line when Piet van Zyl passed to Pollard who forced his way between Callum Gibbons and Conrad Smith to score near the posts. He converted and the Bulls led 10-6.

The Hurricanes scrum was putting pressure on the Bulls and when Morné Mellett was penalised just before half-time, Barrett made it 10-9 at the break.

Pollard kicked a penalty at goal from 58 metres out and hit the upright high up but when Nyakane was penalised at a tackle, Barrett goaled and the Hurricanes led 12-10, but their lead lasted only five minutes for James Broadhurst was penalised for playing Victor Matfield in the air at a line-out and Pollard put his side ahead 13-12 after 51 minutes.

Perenara kicked a long crossfield touch well into Bulls' territory and the Hurricanes won the  Bulls' line-out, as they did three times in the match. The Hurricanes bashed and went wide left where Bjorn Basson stopped Savea and play went right as the referee played advantage because Basson had been offside. The referee went back to the penalty and the Hurricanes hastily got the ball to Savea who bent, tapped and charged forward low to stretch and score despite the efforts of Matfield, Basson and Van Zyl to stop him. 17-13 to the Hurricanes with 13 minutes left.

With four minutes to play the Bulls attacked, advancing with quick ball before going wide left with replacement lock Grant Hattingh on the overlap. The big man went for the left corner with the ball under his right arm and his left hand put in front of him close to touch-in-goal. The referee consulted the TMO whose advice was that the fingers of Hattingh' left hand had touched touch-in-goal at the same time as he grounded the ball - which led to a drop-out instead of the winning try.

The Hurricanes played out time with a series of one-pass phases and Perenara kicked out to end the match.

Man of the Match: There was the ardent work of Julian Savea who scored the important try and the zealous work of Brad Shields and James Broadhurst but our choice is young Jesse Kriel, a pupil at Maritzburg College a short while ago, who made his starting debut in Super Rugby in this match, and we chose him for his adventure, speed and vision. He was the brightest spark on the field.

The scorers:

For the Bulls:
Con: Pollard
Pens:  Pollard 2

For the Hurricanes:
J Savea
Pens: Barrett 4


Bulls: 15 Jesse Kriel, 14 Bjorn Basson, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Francois Hougaard, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Piet van Zyl, 8 Pierre Spies (captain), 7 Pieter Labuschagne, 6 Deon Stegmann, 5 Victor Matfield, 4 Jacques du Plessis, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1 Morné Mellett.
Replacements: 16 Callie Visagie, 17 Dean Greyling, 18 Dayan van der Westhuizen, 19 Grant Hattingh, 20 Hanro Liebenberg, 21 Rudy Paige, 22 Jacques-Louis Potgieter, 23 Jurgen Visser.

Hurricanes: 15 Jason Woodward, 14 Cory Jane, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Ma'a Nonu, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Blade Thomson, 7 Callum Gibbins, 6 Brad Shields, 5 James Broadhurst, 4 Mark Abbott, 3 Ben Franks, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Reggie Goodes.
Replacements: 16 Brayden Mitchell, 17 Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, 18 Chris Eves, 19 Ardie Savea, 20 Victor Vito, 21 Chris Smylie, 22 James Marshall, 23 Matt Proctor.

Referee: Andrew Lees (Australia)
Assistant referees: Rohan Hoffmann (Australia), Jaco van Heerden (South Africa)
TMO: Johan Greeff (South Africa)


Handre Pollard (31min)
Handre Pollard (32min)
Handre Pollard (29min) and Handre Pollard (52min)
Beauden Barrett (12min), Beauden Barrett (19min), Beauden Barrett (40min), and Beauden Barrett (47min)
VENUE Loftus Versfeld
REFEREE Andrew Lees (Australia)