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Bulls edge Bordeaux in Loftus scrap

MATCH REPORT: The Bulls booked their place in the Champions Cup Round of 16, but not before enduring an almighty scrap with French powerhouse Bordeaux-Begles.

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In a 12-try thriller, two penalties by replacement flyhalf Jaco van der Walt saw the Bulls win 46-40.

Bordeaux’ two bonus points – one for six tries (four or more) and one for losing by seven points or less – saw them secure top spot in Pool One.

The Bulls are second for at least a few hours – until Saracens host Lyon later on Saturday.

After having an early try denied by the TMO, the Bulls opened the scoring when captain Marcell Coetzee finished off a series of powerful raids on the Bordeaux line.

The try followed the yellow card issued to Bordeaux’s South African import Carlü Sadie – sent to the sin bin for repeated infringements – not rolling away in the tackle.

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While a man down, Bordeaux hit back through fullback Romain Buros, as the Bulls’ defence was exposed ion a high-tempo affair.

The Bulls were in no mood to hang around – Devon Williams and Coetzee (his second of the match) scoring either side of a water break in the sweltering heat of Pretoria.

Flyhalf Johan Goosen converted all three five-points – the Bulls leading 21-7 on the half-hour mark.

Soon afterwards Bulls prop Gerhard Steenekamp was sin-binned for cynically slapping the ball down, allowing Bordeaux to exploit their numerical advantage – Tongan-cum-Wallaby lock Adam Coleman scoring the try.

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There was enough time for the Bulls to score their bonus-point try – David Kriel finishing it off in the right-hand corner. Goosen missed the conversion attempt, but the Bulls had a comfortable 26-14 lead at the half-time break and the French team was beginning to feel the heat.

Minutes after the restart fullback Willie le Roux finished a move that started with Sebastian de Klerk winning an aerial contest and leaving the Bordeaux defence exposed. Goosen’s conversion made it 33-14.

The visitors were not giving up – fullback Romain Buros cutting the Bulls’ defence and sending wing Madosh Tambwe over. Holmes added the conversion – 21-33 with a half-an-hour remaining.

Embrose Papier restored the Bulls’ lead to 19 points, sniping from a ruck/tackle situation and outsprinting the cover. Goosen added the conversion – 40-21.

However, from the restart Tevita Tatafu exposed the Bulls’ lethargic defence once more – his weaving run gifting the French team a four-try bonus point that secured them the top spot in Pool One.

On the hour mark scrumhalf Paul Abadie got a try that brought the visitors to within one score from the Bulls, 35-40 – with the home team’s defence again badly exposed.

It forced the Bulls into the uncharacteristic decision to kick at goal, instead of setting up a line-out – replacement Jaco van der Walt stretching the home team’s lead to eight points, 43-35.

Bordeaux replied with a powerful rolling maul, Tatafu getting his second and the visitors’ sixth – making it a three-point game, 40-43, with 10 minutes remaining.

Again the Bulls opted to kick at goal, rather than set up a line-out, after winning a breakdown penalty deep inside the Bordeaux 22. Van der Walt made it a six-point game – 46-40, with five minutes remaining.

The Bulls held on in the face of a late Bordeaux raid to book their place in the Round of 16.

Man of the match: Fullback Romain Buros, wing Madosh Tambwe, scrumhalf Paul Abadie, No.8 Pete Samu and replacement Tevita Tatafu were Bordeaux’s most productive players. Captain Marcell Coetzee, Jan-Hendrik Wessels and wing Devon Williams had their moments in the light blue jersey. Our award goes to Bulls utility back David Kriel, playing at inside centre – for his match-high 12 carries, which yielded a match-high 72 metres. He also produced three offloads and beat three defenders.

The scorers

For the Bulls
Tries: Coetzee 2, Williams, Kriel, De Klerk, Papier
Cons: Goosen 5
Pens: Van der Walt 2

For Bordeaux-Begles
Tries: Buros, Coleman, Tambwe, Tatafu 2, Abadie
Cons: Holmes 5

Yellow cards: Carlü Sadie (Bordeaux-Begles, 6 – repeated infringements, not rolling away), Gerhard Steenekamp (Bulls, 32 – cynical foul, slapping the ball down)

Teams

Bulls: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Sebastian de Klerk, 13 Stedman Gans, 12 David Kriel, 11 Devon Williams, 10 Johan Goosen, 9 Embrose Papier, 8 Cameron Hanekom, 7 Mpilo Gumede, 6 Marcell Coetzee (captain), 5 Ruan Nortje, 4 Reinhardt Ludwig, 3 Mornay Smith, 2 Jan-Hendrik Wessels, 1 Gerhard Steenekamp.
Replacements: 16 Akker van der Merwe, 17 Simphiwe Matanzima, 18 Khutha Mchunu, 19 JF van Heerden, 20 Elrigh Louw, 21 Keagan Johannes, 22 Jaco van der Walt, 23 Cornal Hendricks.

Bordeaux-Begles: 15 Romain Buros, 14 Madosh Tambwe, 13 Nicolas Depoortere, 12 Pablo Uberti, 11 Louis Bielle-Biarrey, 10 Zack Holmes, 9 Paul Abadie, 8 Pete Samu, 7 Marko Gazzotti, 6 Pierre Bochaton, 5 Adam Coleman, 4 Kane Douglas, 3 Carlü Sadie, 2 Clément Maynadier, 1 Jefferson Poirot (captain).
Replacements: 16 Maxime Lamothe, 17 Ugo Boniface, 18 Ben Tameifuna, 19 Alexandre Ricard, 20 Antoine Miquel, 21 Tevita Tatafu, 22 Théo Nanette, 23 Matéo Garcia.

Referee: Karl Dickson (England)
Assistant referees: Adam Leal (England), John Meredith (England)
TMO: Hamish Smales (England

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