Bulls get revenge against Exeter in Champions Cup
CHAMPIONS CUP REPORT: The Bulls have bounced back in the Champions Cup with a 39-28 win over Exeter Chiefs in a Round Three encounter in Pretoria.
It was a much-needed win for the home side after they lost to the same opponents 14-44 at Sandy Park in Round Two.
For the Bulls, it was also a major step towards qualifying for the knockout stages of the Champions Cup.
Wandisile Simelane (2) Elrigh Louw, David Kriel, Ruan Vermaak, and Johan Grobbelaar all crossed for the South African hosts at Loftus Versfeld.
Exeter got over through Josh Hodge and Solomone Kata before Henry Slade’s red card, but managed further scores from Jannes Kirsten and Dafydd Jenkins to take a bonus point from the contest.
In an enthralling, physical first half, Bulls drew first blood as No.8 Louw hammered his way over with a quarter of an hour played.
Exeter found a response three minutes later as fullback Hodge ran onto a brilliant pass from centre Henry Slade and scythed through the Vodacom Bulls defence to dive over.
The Bulls were back in front on 22 minutes as flyhalf Chris Smith slotted a penalty, and they extended their advantage moments later with a second try, fullback Kurt-Lee Arendse breaking from deep before teeing up wing Kriel.
However, Exeter hit back again, centre Kata the man to dot down after he joined a rumbling lineout maul, flyhalf Joe Simmonds’ second conversion of the game moving the visitors to within a point.
But Bulls would go into the break 20-14 up as their forwards proved unstoppable from close range again, lock Vermaak powering his way through the Exeter rearguard and over.
And the hosts secured the bonus point early in the second half as a magnificent piece of skill from centre Simelane saw him dissect the Exeter defence and dot down.
Hooker Grobbelaar then trundled over amid a powerful maul as the Bulls wrestled further control, with Exeter’s hopes of a turnaround then taking a huge hit as centre Slade was dismissed for a high tackle on Arendse.
Exeter stuck to their task, though, and after a spell of pressure on the Bulls line, replacement lock Kirsten picked his way over for their third try.
There would be no miracle turnaround for Chiefs, though, with Simelane’s second score on 70 minutes sealing the Bulls’ win as he intercepted and ran in from halfway.
But there was time for the 2020 champions to clinch a commendable bonus-point score as lock Jenkins forced his way over in the last play of the game.
Man of the match: Wandisile Simelane had an eventful game on attack and he scored two tries as well. Kurt-Lee Arendse was dangerous whenever he ran with the ball. In the pack, Elrigh Louw brought the physicality. However, the award goes to lock Ruan Vermaak, who was a bruiser in the physical exchanges. He also scored one of his team’s six tries.
Tries: Louw, Kriel, Vermaak, Simelane 2, Grobbelaar
Cons: Smith 2, Goosen
For Exeter Chiefs:
Tries: Hodge, Kata, Kirsten, Jenkins
Cons: J Simmonds 2, Skinner 2
Red card: Henry Slade (Exeter, 55′ – foul player, high tackle)
Bulls: 15 Kurt-Lee Arendse, 14 Canan Moodie, 13 Wandisile Simelane, 12 Harold Vorster, 11 David Kriel, 10 Chris Smith, 9 Zak Burger, 8 Elrigh Louw, 7 Nizaam Carr, 6 Marco van Staden, 5 Ruan Nortje (captain), 4 Ruan Vermaak, 3 Mornay Smith, 2 Johann Grobbelaar, 1 Gerard Steenekamp.
Replacements: 16 Bismarck Du Plessis, 17 Dylan Smith, 18 Francois Klopper, 19 Janko Swanepoel, 20 WJ Steenkamp, 21 Embrose Papier, 22 Johan Goosen, 23 Lionel Mapoe.
Exeter Chiefs: 15 Josh Hodge, 14 Jack Nowell, 13 Henry Slade (captain), 12 Solomone Kata, 11 Olly Woodburn, 10 Joe Simmonds, 9 Sam Maunder, 8 Sam Simmonds, 7 Christ Tshiunza, 6 Dave Ewers, 5 Dafydd Jenkins, 4 Jack Dunne, 3 Harry Williams, 2 Jack Innard, 1 Scott Sio.
Replacements: 16 Jack Yeandle, 17 James Kenny, 18 Josh Iosefa-Scott, 19 Jannes Kirsten, 20 Greg Fisilau, 21 Jack Maunder, 22 Harvey Skinner, 23 Rory O’Loughlin.
Referee: Mathieu Raynal (France)
Assistant Referees: Thomas Charabas (France) & Jonathan Gasnier (France)
TMO: Philippe Bonhoure (France)
Additional source: @ChampionsCup