Bulls scrum Cavaliers into submission
The Bulls' stay at the top was short-lived, as the Free State Cheetahs reclaimed the No.1 position with a 52-10 rimp against the Pumas later on Friday.
However, the Bulls are guaranteed a top two spot going into the final week of league action next week.
The seven-tries-to-four victory over the Cavaliers not only booked the Bulls their place in the play-offs, it also means the Sharks need to beat the defending champion Golden Lions and secure a four-try bonus point next week if the men from Durban are to claim home ground in the play-offs.
It was a victory based on their set-piece dominance, especially the scrums – where the Bulls won numerous penalties and turnovers.
The Bulls dominated the opening exchanges – their set pieces far superior – and after five scrums inside the Cavaliers 22-meytre area (which all resulted in penalties for the Bulls), fullback Ulrich Beyers game on a great angle to sprint over for the opening try. Tian Schoeman added the conversion – 7-0 after 10 minutes.
There was a lot less creativity involved in the Bulls' second try – wing Bjorn Basson intercepting a stray pass and sprinting 60 metres for an easy five-pointer. Schoeman was wide of the mark with the conversion attempt – 12-0 after 23 minutes.
The Cavaliers eventually got themselves settled down enough to get into the game – taking the ball through 20-off phases before flyhalf Theuns Kotze found a gap in the visitors' defensive line and sprinted over. Kotze added the conversion – 7-12 after 27 minutes.
Just on the half-hour mark the Cavaliers threw everything at the Bulls and wing Danwel Demas managed to get a try – which required confirmation of the TMO – after some great interplay between the Boland players. The conversion attempt was wide of the mark – 12-all.
The second-half scoring started with a Schoeman penalty, followed by a Schoeman try – coming off the back of a couple of very powerful and dominant Bulls scrums. Schoeman added the conversion – 22-12 after 50 minutes.
The Cavaliers again hit back with a well-worked try, when No.8 Zandre Jordaan sprinted over.
Kotze then scored an intercept try and, having added both conversion, the flyhalf took the Cavaliers into the lead for the first time – with just a quarter of the match remaining – 26-22.
The Bulls reverted to type – using their powerful scrum to set up a try for flank Roelof Smith, before No.8 Hanro Liebenberg barged his way over after a series of powerful bursts by the forwards. Schoeman converted the first try and missed the second attempt – giving the visitors a 34-26 lead with just over 10 minutes to go.
It was another powerful scrum that saw Liebenberg score his second try, the conversion taking the Bulls into the 40-point range and 15 points clear (41-26).
Prop Lizo Gqoboka then got reward for a very productive match when he scored his team's seventh try, the conversion making it 48-26 – which is how it stayed till full-time.
Man of the match: Theuns Kotze in the backs and Shaun McDonald among the forward epitomised the spirit and determination with which the Cavaliers played. Ulrich Beyers and Burger were the Bulls' best backs, while Hanro Liebenberg, Roelof Smit and Rudolph Snyman all did yeoman work. However, our man of the match is Bulls prop Lizo Gqoboka – not just for his powerful scrumming, but also his energetic performance in general play.
For the Boland Cavaliers:
Tries:Kotze 2, Demas, Kotze
Cons: Kotze 3
For the Blue Bulls:
Tries:Beyers, B Basson, Schoeman, Smit, Liebenberg 2, Gqoboka
Cons: Schoeman 5
Yellow card: Francois Hanekom (Boland Cavaliers, 70 – repeated infringement, collapsed scrums)
Boland Cavaliers: 15 Adriaan Carelse, 14 Logan Basson, 13 Gerrit van Wyk, 12 Christopher Bosch, 11 Danwel Demas, 10 Theuns Kotze, 9. Marnus Hugo, 8 Zandré Jordaan, 7 Jacques Engelbrecht, 6 Keenan Cronje, 5 Joubert Horn, 4 Shaun McDonald, 3 Basil Short, 2 Clemen Lewis (captain), 1 Stephanus Wessels.
Replacements: 16 Francois Esterhuyzen, 17 Enoch Mnyaka, 18 Francois Hanekom, 19 Wayne Wilschut, 20 Hanno Kitshoff, 21 Gerhard Jordaan, 22 Robbie Louw.
Blue Bulls: 15 Ulrich Beyers, 14 Bjorn Basson, 13 Dries Swanepoel, 12 Burger Odendaal, 11 Jamba Ulengo, 10 Tian Schoeman, 9 Piet van Zyl, 8 Hanro Liebenberg (captain), 7 Nic de Jager, 6 Roelof Smit, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Rudolph Snyman, 3 Jacobie Adriaanse, 2 Bandise Maku, 1 Lizo Gqoboka.
Replacements: 16 Jaco Visagie, 17 Martin Dreyer, 18 Jason Jenkins, 19 Jannes Kirsten, 20 Rudy Paige, 21 Joshua Stander, 22 Divan Rossouw.
Referee: Shuhei Kubo (Japan)
Assistant referees: Marius van der Westhuizen, Aimee Barrett
TMO: Joey Klaaste-Salmans