Aplon's injury concern overshadows Bulls' win
MATCH REPORT: The Bulls bounced back with a hard-fought 32-27 win over the Pumas on Friday at Loftus Versfeld.
Fresh from a defeat to the Western Province last week, the Bulls scored four tries to secure a much-need win over the Pumas.
*As it happened: Bulls v Pumas
The result is a big blow for the men from Nelspruit, who recorded an emphatic win over the Lions last week.
Marcell Coetzee and his men will gladly take the bonus point though, while the visitors at least have a losing bonus point to show for their efforts.
The opening minutes saw the Bulls on the attack, but a spilt pass helped the visitors to get good field position and a penalty within range of Fouche. The flyhalf’s 53-meter effort went right of the uprights though.
The Pumas kept up the pressure though and after a strong scrum saw the home side dropping the bind, Fouche had a second, easier kick to the poles. He made no mistake, and his side was in the lead 12 minutes in.
That was short-lived, however.
A line break saw the home side get momentum and after a couple of phases, Harold Vorster, on debut for the Bulls, celebrated his move to Pretoria with a delightful chip effort and dotted down 15 minutes into his debut. Chris Smith converted to put his side 7-3 up.
The Bulls took a massive blow as Gio Aplon hobbled off the field with a serious-looking ankle injury after 25 minutes.
The side desperately needed a boost.
And that came via Smith, who kicked a penalty goal. The 10-3 scoreline after 30 minutes seemed fair reward, as they used their field possession better.
The Bulls bagged their second try short of the halftime break. They counter-attacked from inside their half and Madosh Tambwe ran strongly down the right-hand touchline. The wing broke two tackles and dotted down near enough to the posts to hand Smith a comfortable conversion.
A good break by Matt Moore almost got the Pumas a try on the buzzer, but the midfielder’s pass was not of the same standard and the home side went into the changeroom with a comfortable 17-3 lead.
In the second stanza, Pumas draw first blood, with wing Tapiwa Mafura setting off on a determined run. He was stopped short of the line, but the Lowvelders recycled well, before Etienne Taljaard rounded off a stunning try.
Fouche converted and the visitor were back in it, trailing by a converted try with 47 minutes gone.
However, every Pumas’ positive was accompanied by a penalty and Smith took full advantage as he added another three points to his team’s tally 20-10.
The men from Nelspruit thought they closed that to three when Taljaard dotted down again, but the final pass to him was ruled forward and a fluent backline move came to nothing.
Instead, it was the Bulls who would score next
Cornal Hendricks sneaked down the blindside to dive over for a well-taken try, handing the Bulls a 15 point lead.
The Pumas managed to pull one back as a Fouche kick pounced on a loose ball and scored under the sticks. He converted to cut the lead to 25-17 with 20 minutes left.
The Pumas refused to lay down. After great interplay between Fouche and Devon Williams, Tapiwa Mafura dived over the line to narrow the deficit to just two points.
However, despite their valiant effort, it was the Bulls who put the final nail in the coffin. Marcell Coetzee ran strongly and created a perfect platform for David Kriel to score. Smith added the conversion.
The Pumas had the last say of the encounter as a Fouche penalty salvaged a losing bonus point.
Man of the match: It was far from exciting and the magic moments were scarce. For the Bulls Marcell Coetzee and Nizaam Carr were in fine form. While Willie Engelbreght also deserves a mention. However, our nod goes Pumas fullback Devon Williams was in fine form and instigated a Pumas fightback.
Tries: Voster, Tambwe, Hendricks, Kriel
Cons: Smith 2
Pen: Smith 2
Tries: Taljaard, Fouche, Mafura
Cons: Fouche 3
Pens: Fouche 2
Bulls: 15 Gio Aplon, 14 Madosh Tambwe, 13 Harold Vorster, 12 Cornal Hendricks, 11 Stravino Jacobs, 10 Chris Smith, 9 Ivan van Zyl, 8 Marcell Coetzee (captain), 7 Ruan Nortje, 6 Nizaam Carr, 5 Janko Swanepoel, 4 Walt Steenkamp, 3 Mornay Smith, 2 Schalk Erasmus, 1 Lizo Gqoboka.
Replacements: 16 Sidney Tobias, 17 Simphiwe Matanzima, 18 Jacques van Rooyen, 19 Muller Uys, 20 WJ Steenkamp, 21 Zak Burger, 22 FC du Plessis, 23 David Kriel.
On standby: 24 Robert Hunt, 25 Ruan Delport, 26 Jaco Labuschagne, 27 Keagan Johannes, 28 Marco Jansen van Vuren.
Pumas: 15 Devon Williams, 14 Tapiwa Mafura, 13 Erich Cronje, 12 Matt Moore, 11 Etienne Taljaard, 10 Eddie Fouché, 9 Chriswil September, 8 Willie Engelbrecht, 7 Phumzile Maqondwana, 6 Francois Kleinhans, 5 Pieter Jansen van Vuren (captain), 4 Darrien Landsberg, 3 Marné Coetzee, 2 Simon Westraadt, 1 Dewald Maritz.
Replacements: 16 Ruan Kramer, 17 Eduan Swart, 18 Ignatius Prinsloo, 19 Brandon Valentine, 20 Kwanda Dimaza, 21 Ginter Smuts, 22 Wayne van der Bank, 23 Jade Stighling.
Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen
Assistant referees: Local
TMO: Cwengile Jadezweni