Bulls avoid another Benetton ambush
MATCH REPORT: The Bulls kept alive their play-off dream with a commanding second-half performance at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.
Overcoming a fast start by Benetton and avoiding another ambush by the Italian outfit, the Bulls outscored the visitors by six tries to two, for a 46-29 win.
The game started with a minute’s silence – in memory of the tragic death of Bulls legend and Springbok Pedrie Wannenburg, who died in a motor vehicle accident in America at the weekend. (Read the article here!)
The Bulls dominated possession (67 percent) and territory (71 percent) in the first half, but were not clinical enough for a Benetton team high on energy and ready to pounce on any errors and winning a handful of turnovers for good measure.
After the break, while not flawless, the Bulls started to get the upper hand in the contact and breakdown exchanges.
The possession and territory stats also continued to favour the Bulls heavily.
* To recap all the drama, CLICK HERE!
Benetton raced into a 13-0 lead inside the first quarter, as the Bulls seemed to struggle with the visitors’ harassing style of play. Two Rhyno Smith penalties were split by a Tommaso Menoncello try – who hacked ahead a stray ball for the opening five-pointer.
Cyle Brink eventually opened the Bulls’ account with a try after some great interplay between the forwards, before another Rhyno Smith penalty pegged the Bulls back again.
However, on the stroke of half-time Kurt-Lee Arendse went over in the left corner after a series of close-range raids by the forwards – the Bulls closing the gap to 12-16 at the break.
The Bulls continued to make mistakes at the start of the second half, allowing Rhyno Smith to make it a seven-point game – 19-12.
Chris Smith pulled the three points back almost immediately, before Arendse collected a bouncing ball inside his half to put the Bulls into the lead for the first time – 22-19 after 50 minutes.
On the hour mark captain Marcell Coetzee barged his way over for the bonus-point try.
Rhyno Smith pulled another three points back, but Chris Smith made it a 10-point game with just over 10 minutes remaining.
Benetton, already down to 14 players after having run out of replacements, lost replacement Niccolò Cannone to a red card – after he was caught striking opponent Arno Botha with his elbow in the face.
Canan Moodie put the result beyond doubt with a try that had its origin inside the Bulls’ 22-metre area and involved forwards and backs.
Menoncello finally got a second try for the visitors, as the gap closed to 10 points again with four minutes remaining, but replacement Simphiwe Matanzima restored order with a sixth try for the hosts.
For the Bulls
Tries: Brink, Arendse 2, Coetzee, Moodie, Matanzima
Cons: C Smith 3, Steyn
Pens: C Smith 2
Tries: Menoncello 2
Cons: R Smith 2
Pens: R Smith 5
Red card: Niccolò Cannone (Benetton, 72 – foul play, elbow to the face of an opponent)
Bulls: 15 Kurt-Lee Arendse, 14 Canan Moodie, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Cornal Hendricks, 11 Madosh Tambwe, 10 Chris Smith, 9 Embrose Papier, 8 Elrigh Louw, 7 Cyle Brink, 6 Marcell Coetzee (captain), 5 Ruan Nortje, 4 Walt Steenkamp, 3 Mornay Smith, 2 Johan Grobbelaar, 1 Gerhard Steenekamp.
Replacements: 16 Jan-Hendrik Wessels, 17 Simphiwe Matanzima, 18 Dylan Smith, 19 Janko Swanepoel, 20 Arno Botha, 21 Zak Burger, 22 Morne Steyn, 23 Stedman Gans.
Benetton: 15 Rhyno Smith, 14 Mattia Bellini, 13 Ignacio Brex, 12 Tommaso Menoncello, 11 Monty Ioane, 10 Tomas Albornoz, 9 Dewaldt Duvenage (captain), 8 Lorenzo Cannone, 7 Manuel Zuliani, 6 Giovanni Pettinelli, 5 Carl Wegner, 4 Irné Herbst, 3 Simone Ferrari, 2 Corniel Els, 1 Ivan Neme.
Replacements: 16 Giacomo Nicotera, 17 Federico Zani, 18 Tiziano Pasquali, 19 Niccolò Cannone, 20 Michele Lamaro, 21 Alessandro Garbisi, 22 Filippo Drago, 23 Edoardo Padovani.
Referee: Mike Adamson (Scotland)
Assistant referees: Griffin Colby (South Africa), Christopher Allison (South Africa)
TMO: Quinton Immelman (South Africa)