Bulls finish on a winning note
Bulls finish on a winning noteSHARE
The Bulls finished a disappointing season on a winning note when they easily beat the Rebels 40-7 at Loftus Versfeld on Friday.
Outscoring the visitors by four tries to one in a cold Pretoria, it allowed the home team to move up one position on the standings – but their ninth place still well outside the play-off places.
As for the Rebels, they remain rooted at the foot of the table.
In the end the scoreline somewhat flattered a Rebels team that received a lot of licence from the referee – who only saw fit to issue a yellow card in the 30th minute, despite numerous penalties for cynical infringements at the tackle and breakdown area.
Not that the Bulls were flawless. Their first half was iffish at best, but after the break they not only put 28 points – four converted tries – on the Rebels, but also kept the visitors scoreless.
The Bulls' new Springbok Handré Pollard opened the scoring with a penalty in the sixth minute.
The referee Paul Hoffman showed why he is not rated outside of the small inner circle in the Australasian refereeing clan, when he issued Bulls lock Paul Willemse with a yellow card for a 'lifting tackle'. While he lifted the player's leg, it was questionable that took it beyond the horizontal and the card also came in the wake of a number of deliberate and at times cynical offences from the Rebels.
Despite being a man down the Bulls took a 6-0 lead with a second Pollard penalty.
The Rebels' rookie flyhalf Jack Debreczeni then exploited some shockingly poor defence to sprint over for the game's first try in the 25th minute – his conversion giving the visitors a 7-6 lead.
Pollard kicked two more penalties, in the 27th and 32nd minutes, before Rebels captain Scott Fuglistaller was sent to the sin bin for repeated and cynical infringements at the breakdown/tackle area.
The Bulls held their five-point (12-7) lead to the break.
It was the perfect start to the second half as Paul Willemse went over from close range, a try set up by some strong forward surges. Pollard's conversion gave the home team a 19-7 lead.
The Bulls' forwards continued to pile on the pressure, with Dean Greyling making good ground before Willemse went over with a pick-'n-go from close range again. Pollard added the conversion – 26-7.
The next try was even more clinical and enjoyable in its execution, Francois Hougaard going over in the left corner after the Bulls took the ball through a period of sustained phase play, till the Rebels were exposed out wide.
The bonus-point try, which came in the 77th minute, was a show of brute force by the forwards – with prop Dean Greyling working his way over the line. Jacques-Louis Potgieter added the extras – 40-7.
That's how it stayed to the end, despite a late rally by the Rebels for a consolation score.
Man of the match: Tamati Ellison was impressive in midfield, Jack Debreczeni had a great game in his first start at flyhalf and Colby Fainga'a was a handful at the breakdown, while producing a monumental tackle count. Piet van Zyl enjoyed having the additional game time afforded to him as the starting scrumhalf and rookie flank Roelof Smith looked full of promise. However, there was no doubting the influence lock Paul Willemse had on the game and he gets our award.
For the Bulls:
Tries: Willemse 2, Hougaard, Greyling
Cons: Pollard 3, Potgieter
Pens: Pollard 4
For the Rebels:
Yellow cards: Paul Willemse (Bulls, 16 – foul play, tip tackle), Scott Fuglistaller (Rebels, 34 – repeated offences at the breakdown/tackle)
Bulls: 15 Jurgen Visser, 14 Bjorn Basson, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Francois Hougaard, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Piet van Zyl, 8 Jacques Engelbrecht, 7 Jono Ross, 6 Roelof Smit, 5 Victor Matfield, 4 Paul Willemse, 3 Marcel van der Merwe, 2 Bandise Maku, 1 Morné Mellett.
Replacements: 16 Callie Visagie, 17 Werner Kruger, 18 Dean Greyling, 19 Nicolaas Janse van Rensburg, 20 Marvin Orie, 21 Jesse Kriel, 22 Jacques-Louis Potgieter, 23 William-Small Smith.
Rebels: 15 Telusa Veainu, 14 Alex Rokobaro, 13 Tamati Ellison, 12 Mitch Inman, 11 Tom English, 10 Jack Debreczeni, 9 Luke Burgess, 8 Colby Fainga'a, 7 Scott Fuglistaller (captain), 6 Luke Jones, 5 Cadeyrn Neville, 4 Hugh Pyle, 3 Laurie Weeks, 2 Shota Horie, 1 Toby Smith.
Replacements: 16 Pat Leafa, 17 Cruze Ah-Nau, 18 Paul Alo-Emile, 19 Sam Jeffries, 20 Lopeti Timani, 21 Jordy Reid, 22 Nic Stirzaker, 23 Lalakai Foketi.
Referee: Rohan Hoffmann
Assistant referee: Stuart Berry, Sieg van Staden
TMO: Johan Greeff