First-half dominance wins it for Bulls
MATCH REPORT: The Bulls have been crowned Super Rugby Unlocked champions with a 21-5 win over Pumas on Saturday.
It has been a decade since the heady days of their last Super Rugby success.
*As it happened: Bulls v Pumas
And while the win is not so gleeful as their last Super Rugby (Super 14) title in the Orlando Stadium back in 2010, the trophy-win is a major warning to their fellow South African sides.
Bulls have been in impressive form under the guidance of Jake White and are heading into the Currie Cup with a head start as the log points from this competition are carried over.
The Bulls outscored the Pumas three tries to one.
It was a game of two halves. The Bulls dominated the first half and raced to 21-0 lead.
However, the Pumas produced an impressive second-half and kept the Bulls scoreless.
BlitzBok star Kurltley Arendse continued with his impressive form as he opened the Bulls’ account. From an efficient line-out followed by great interplay by the forwards and backs, Arendse dived over the line for the first try of the match.
Former Pumas flyhalf Chris Smith, getting his first start in the absence of Morne Steyn, added the conversion for the 7-0 lead after 13 minutes of play.
The Bulls extended the lead, as an Ivan van Zyl pass found Cornal Hendricks before Smith spotted a gap and powered over the line. Smith converted his own try for 14-0 lead.
That lead grew again as Van Zyl got his name on the scoreboard, the scrumhalf stretched over the line after the Bulls’ scrum put the Pumas again under pressure. Smith added the extras.
With a 21-0 lead, Bulls fans expected the next 40 minutes an easy formality.
The Pumas, however, had other plans.
Jimmy Stonehouse’s team were by far the better team in the second stanza. They made their way out of the tunnel with more intensity and were rewarded with a first try of the second half.
Hooker HP van Schoor powered over the line from the back of a driving maul.
The Pumas continued to enjoy possession – winning multiple penalties inside the Bulls’ half.
However, despite the brave effort from a weakened Pumas side, the Bulls’ first-half display was enough to hand the Pretoria side the victory.
Man of the match: Finding standout performers were a very troubling task. Both teams failed to impress however Bulls scrumhalf Ivan van Zyl put in a noteworthy performance. While our nod goes Marco Van Staaden, who was solid in defence making 13 tackles and missing just one
Tries: Arendse, Smith, Van Zyl
Cons: Smith 3
Try: Van Schoor
Bulls: 15. David Kriel, 14. Travis Ismaiel, 13 Stedman Gans, 12 Cornal Hendricks, 11 Kurt-Lee Arendse, 10 Chris Smith, 9 Ivan van Zyl, 8 Duane Vermeulen (captain), 7 Arno Botha, 6 Marco van Staden, 5 Ruan Nortje, 4 Walt Steenkamp, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Corniel Els, 1 Jacques van Rooyen.
Replacements: 16 Joe van Zyl, 17 Gerhard Steenekamp, 18 Marcel van der Merwe, 19 Sintu Manjezi, 20 Nizaam Carr, 21 Embrose Papier, 22 Clinton Swart, 23 Marco Jansen van Vuren.
Pumas: 15 Devon Williams, 14 Luther Obi, 13 Erich Cronje, 12 Wayne van der Bank, 11 Etienne Taljaard, 10 Theo Boshoff, 9 Chriswill September, 8 Willem Engelbrecht, 7 Phumzile Maqondwana, 6 Francois Kleinhans, 5 Pieter Jansen van Vuren (captain), 4 Darrien Landsburg, 3 Ruan Kramer, 2 HP van Schoor, 1 Morgan Naude.
Replacements: 16 Marko Janse van Rensburg, 17 Ig Prinsloo, 18 Brandon Valentyn, 19 Daniel Maartens, 20 Ginter Smuts, 21 Ali Mgijima, 22 Tapiwa Mafura, 22 Liam Hendricks.
Referee: Aimee Barrett-Theron
Assistant referees: Rasta Rasivhenge, Cwengile Jadezweni
TMO: Marius van der Westhuizen