Bulls edge 13-man Pumas in Loftus arm-wrestle
MATCH REPORT: The Bulls cemented their place at the top of the Currie Cup standings with a bonus-point, 31-26, win over a gutsy Pumas team in Pretoria on Friday.
Trailing by 14 points (12-26) at half-time, the Bulls scored three unanswered tries in an eventful second half of a match that saw four cards dished out by referee Marius van der Westhuizen – including a first-half red card to Pumas flyhalf Tinus de Beer (for a spear tackle).
There was also a first-half yellow card to the Pumas’ hat-trick hero Sebastián de Klerk (for repeated infringements) to go with one for fellow wing Tapiwa Mafura (colliding with an opponent in the air) – the latter resulted in the Pumas playing almost the entire last 10 minutes with 13 men.
Bulls replacement Juan Mostert was also yellow carded in the 78th minute for cynically killing the ball on his own line when the Pumas were pushing for a late match-winning try.
In the end, the Pumas were their own worst enemies – a litany of errors, including a string of penalties, cost them dearly.
They take two bonus points away from the match – one for four tries and one for losing by seven points or less – to stay alive in the play-off race.
They moved into fourth place, ahead of Griquas, who face the unbeaten Cheetahs in Kimberley on Saturday.
* To recap all the drama, CLICK HERE!
The Pumas, despite conceding an early scrum penalty, dominated the opening exchanges – resulting in Sebastian de Klerk opening the scoring with a try in the sixth minute
That was followed by a counter-attack that started inside the Pumas’ in-goal area – after the Bulls spilt the ball – saw De Klerk getting his second try.
The Bulls were awarded a penalty try for the Pumas’ try-scorers, De Klerk, cynically going in at the side of a maul on his own tryline.
However, the Pumas hit straight back with a maul try of their own – hooker Eduan Swart getting the armchair ride.
The Pumas were reduced to 14 men, again, in the 34th minute – when flyhalf Tinus de Beer was red-carded for a spear tackle. The incident happened in the process of Richard Kriel off-loading to his brother David Kriel, who scored the Bulls’ second try.
De Klerk scored his hat-trick try in the 38th minute, charging down an attempted clearance by Richard Kriel and collecting for an easy score.
That bonus-point score saw the Pumas go into the half-time break with a 26-12 lead.
The Bulls had the perfect start to the second half – a number of phases exposing the out-numbered Pumas defence, with lock Ruan Vermaak getting his team’s third try.
It got worse for the Pumas when a sloppy grubber was kicked ahead and collected by James Verity-Am, who got the Bulls’ fourth (and bonus-point) try – tying up the scores at 26-all after 55 minutes.
The Bulls, playing with a number of penalty advantages awarded to them, exposed the Pumas’ numerical inferior defence out wide – David Kriel getting the try that put the Bulls in the lead.
Not deterred, the Pumas hit back with what they thought was a try, only for the TMO to get in on the action.
The Pumas were reduced to 13 men when wing Tapiwa Mafura was adjudged to have illegally and dangerously collided with an opponent – referee Marius van der Westhuizen overruling his TMO, Quinton Immelman – the latter suggesting it may have been accidental.
Despite their numerical inferiority and high error count, the Pumas launched a late raid in the hope of scoring a winner.
However, the Bulls held on for a hard-earned (31-26) win.
For the Bulls
Tries: Penalty try, D Kriel 2, Vermaak, Verity-Am
Cons: Penalty try does not require a conversion, Steyn 2
For the Pumas
Tries: De Klerk 3, Swart
Cons: Fouche 3
Red card: Tinus de Beer (Pumas, 34 – foul play, spear tackle)
Yellow cards: Sebastián de Klerk (Pumas, 18 – repeated infringements, illegally collapsing the maul), Tapiwa Mafura (Pumas, 68 – foul play, colliding with an opponent in the air), Juan Mostert (Bulls, 78 – cynical foul, killing the ball on his own line)
Bulls: 15 James Verity-Am, 14 David Kriel, 13 Stedman Gans, 12 Marco Janse van Vuren, 11 Richard Kriel, 10 Morne Steyn, 9 Embrose Papier, 8 Muller Uys, 7 Reinhardt Ludwig, 6 WJ Steenkamp, 5 Janko Swanepoel, 4 Ruan Vermaak, 3 Robert Hunt, 2 Sidney Tobias, 1 Lizo Gqoboka (captain).
Replacements: 16 Schalk Erasmus, 17 Simphiwe Matanzima, 18 Francois Kloppers, 19 Raynard Roetz, 20 Stephan Smith, 21 Keagan Johannes, 22 Juan Mostert, 23 Tharquinn Manuel.
Pumas: 15 Devon Williams, 14 Sebastian de Klerk, 13 Alwayno Visagie, 12 Eddie Fouche, 11 Tapiwa Mafura, 10 Tinus de Beer, 9 Chriswill September, 8 Willie Engelbrecht (captain), 7 Phumzile Maqondwana, 6 Daniel Maartens, 5 Shane Kirkwood, 4 Deon Slabbert, 3 Ignatius Prinsloo, 2 Eduan Swart, 1 Corne Fourie.
Replacements: 16 Llewellyn Classen, 17 Dewald Maritz, 18 Simon Raw, 19 Darrien Landsberg, 20 Francois Kleinhans, 21 Giovan Snyman, 22 Aliqhayiya Mgijima, 23 Jade Stighling.
Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen
Assistant referees: Paul Mente, Local appointment
TMO: Quinton Immelman