Get Newsletter

Another Bulls Bok injured as they escape Benetton scare

MATCH REPORT: The Bulls will play in the United Rugby Championship semifinals, but they had to survive a massive scare against a determined Benetton team on Saturday.


The winning score of 30-23 – at Loftus Versfeld, in Pretoria – tells only part of the story.

There is massive concern over the cheekbone injury of World Cup-winning Springbok Kurt-Lee Arendse, who left the field on the half-hour mark.

He has been rushed to hospital and may be undergoing surgery.

He could miss the mid-year internationals – like his fellow Bok Canan Moodie, who underwent finger surgery this past Friday.

The Bulls are also without a third World Cup winner, loose forward Marco van Staden.

Then there was the game.


By their admission, it wasn’t a good performance by the Bulls.

Captain Ruan Nortje admitted they will have plenty of ‘work-ons’ ahead of next week’s semifinal.

“We went out of our structure,” he said in his post-match reaction, adding: “We made far too many mistakes.”

The Bulls’ porous defence also needs attention, as the 32 missed tackles (85 percent completion rate) are unacceptable at this level.

* To recap all the drama, CLICK HERE!

(Article continues below …)


The Bulls got off to the perfect start – Johan Goosen running against the grain to the blindside and offloaded to Willie le Roux, who put in the perfect chip-kick for Kurt-Lee Arendse to collect and sprint over. Goosen added the conversion – 7-0 and barely a minute on the clock.

They kept piling on the pressure and even won a penalty in the first scrum, but appeared to be seduced by their easy opening score and became sloppy.

One of those errors – an offside penalty – afforded Benetton their first opportunity. Their South African fullback Rhyno Smith narrowed the gap to 3-7 after 10 minutes.

The Bulls continued to play an expansive game, but their execution and hands let them down.

They were made to pay for their sloppy play, as an attempted clearance by Embrose Papier was charged down by Federico Ruzza – with quick hands sending Onisi Ratave over on the left wing. However, the TMO spotted that Ruzza was offside.

The Bulls ensured their good fortune was used well, with a good burst by the forwards creating space out wide, where Arendse burst over for his second try. Goosen made it 14-3 with the conversion at the end of the first quarter.

On the half-hour mark, the Bulls lost Arendse, after a collision with Malakai Fekitoa.

A quick-tap penalty and some sublime handling allowed Ratave to go over on the left wing. This time there was nothing wrong with the try, but Smith hooked his conversion attempt past the left upright – 8-14.

A no-arms followed that tackle penalty against hooker Bautista Bernasconi, which Goosen slotted from halfway for a 17-8 lead.

Ratave continued to cause havoc in the Bulls’ defensive lines, but his teammates let him down with sloppy handling – leaving the Bulls to take that nine-point lead into the half-time break.

A scrum penalty early in the second half allowed Smith to narrow the gap to 11-17.

Flyhalf Tomas Albornoz attempted a long-range drop-goal, but pushed it wide, but the Bulls were now looking very jittery.

Cameron Hanekom won his team a penalty with a dominant tackle, followed by a breakdown penalty – Goosen slotting the first, but missing the second, making it a nine-point lead at 20-11.

Ratave still caused issues for the Bulls, but again the move broke down.

It did not matter much, as Tomas Albornoz closed the gap with a crucial try after a maul and several forward charges exposed the Bulls’ defence. Smith made it a two-point game with the conversion – 18-20.

Again the Bulls hit back with a try – David Kriel finishing off a try that was started by Goosen, with Willie le Roux delivering the crucial pass. Goosen added the conversion – 27-18.

Benetton refused to concede and Malakai Fekitoa scored a try that again came from a flawed Bulls defensive system. Smith could not add the extras – 23-27 with just over 10 minutes remaining.

It was now a territory game and it was Benetton who conceded a penalty for an illegal tackle, allowing Goosen to make it a seven-point game – 30-23.

A knock-on from the restart gifted Benetton the valuable territory they needed. However, Ignacio Brex and Jacob Umaga made crucial handling errors – allowing the Bulls the escape the pressure and hold on for the win, 30-23.

The scorers

For the Bulls
Tries: Arendse 2, Kriel
Cons: Goosen 3
Pens: Goosen 3

For Benetton
Tries: Ratave, Albornoz, Fekitoa
Con: Smith
Pens: Smith 2


Bulls: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Sebastian de Klerk, 13 David Kriel, 12 Harold Vorster, 11 Kurt-Lee Arendse, 10 Johan Goosen, 9 Embrose Papier, 8 Cameron Hanekom, 7 Elrigh Louw, 6 Nizaam Carr, 5 Ruan Nortje (captain), 4 Ruan Vermaak, 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Johan Grobbelaar, 1 Gerhard Steenekamp.
Replacements: 16 Akker van der Merwe, 17 Simphiwe Matanzima, 18 Francois Klopper, 19 Reinhardt Ludwig, 20 Jannes Kirsten, 21 Keagan Johannes, 22 Chris Smith, 23 Sergeal Petersen.

Benetton: 15 Rhyno Smith, 14 Tommaso Menoncello, 13 Ignacio Brex, 12 Malakai Fekitoa, 11 Onisi Ratave, 10 Tomas Albornoz, 9 Andy Uren, 8 Toa Halafihi, 7 Michele Lamaro (captain), 6 Alessandro Izekor, 5 Federico Ruzza, 4 Edoardo Iachizzi, 3 Simone Ferrari, 2 Bautista Bernasconi, 1 Thomas Gallo.
Replacements: 16 Gianmarco Lucchesi, 17 Mirco Spagnolo, 18 Giosué Zilocchi, 19 Eli Snyman, 20 Niccolò Cannone, 21 Lorenzo Cannone, 22 Alessandro Garbisi, 23 Jacob Umaga.

Referee: Mike Adamson (Scotland)
Assistant referees: Sam Grove-White (Scotland) and Adam Jones (Wales)
TMO: Ben Whitehouse (Wales)



In this episode of Walk the Talk, Jim Hamilton chats with double World Cup winner Damian de Allende about all things Springbok rugby, including RWC2023 and the upcoming Ireland series. Watch now for free on RugbyPass TV

Join free

England vs France | World Rugby U20 Championship Final | Full Match Replay

Scotland vs USA | U20 Trophy Final | Full Match Replay

Boks Office | Episode 15 | Extreme Golf Special

Embedded 2024 | England | Episode 4

Before They Make It | South Africa

Before They Make It | England

Aotearoa Rugby Podcast | Episode 22

Women's Six Nations winner to Paris Olympic sevens for Team GB | Ellie Kildunne | Stronger Than You Think | S3 Ep 2

Write A Comment