VIDEO: SpecMagic seals win, as Bulls end drought
SUPER RUGBY REPORT: The Bulls ended a three-year drought in Australasia when they beat the Rebels 32-17 in Melbourne on Friday.
It was the second upset in a crucial Round 14 and saw the Bulls reclaim the lead in the South African conference – from the Jaguares, who caused the other upset, with a win over the Hurricanes in Wellington just hours earlier.
The last time the Bulls won in Australasian was in April 2016, when they beat the Western Force.
For the Rebels it was another low in their rollercoaster season, as they blew their chance to regain the Australian conference lead.
The Rebels went into Friday’s match just a point behind the Brumbies, who had the bye this round, but were unable to capitalise on the golden chance on home turf.
Melbourne dominated everywhere – possession and territory – except for where it counted, on the scoreboard.
Too often an attacking error proved their undoing in a frustrating affair while the Bulls made the most of their limited opportunities to continue the Rebels losing run against South African opponents this season.
Marika Koroibete scored a try in each half to double his tally for the season in his best performance of the year.
Pushing his case for World Cup selection, the Wallabies wing was fired up from the opening whistle in a niggly contest against the men from Pretoria.
Koroibete opened the scoring in the eighth minute when Quade Cooper found Dane Haylett-Petty, who managed to pop a pass for the burly wing.
In a bizarre opening half Melbourne had 72 percent of the possession, 76 percent of the territory and had 84 runs to 27 – yet trailed 12-17 and it proved an ongoing theme for the match.
Koroibete’s second try, which came from a pick and go into the corner, levelled the score three minutes into the second half but they were unable to add to their tally from there.
Bulls wing Rosko Specman set up a try for Burger Odendaal and then scored one of his own as the visitors opened up a commanding lead.
Rebels star recruit Matt Toomua got on to the field in the 71st minute for his first appearance since arriving from UK club Leicester, but with Melbourne on the back foot he didn’t have a chance to make an impact.
Man of the match: Marika Koroibete and Will Genia certainly stamped their authority on the game. Ross Haylett-Petty has the most productive forward fore the Rebels. The obvious choice would be hard-working Bulls No.8 Duane Vermeulen. Other forwards like Hanro Liebenberg, Rudolph Snyman and Schalk Brits also put up their hands. On the right wing Cornal Hendricks also looked impressive. However, our award goes to the man that created most of the magic, including setting up the crucial Burger Odendaal try, the Bulls’ Sevens flyer Rosko Specman. He also scored a try 10 minutes from the end.
For the Rebels:
Tries: Koroibete 2, Genia
For the Bulls:
Tries: Hendricks, Pollard, Odendaal, Specman
Cons: Pollard 3
Pens: Pollard 2
RECAP: Rebels v Bulls
Did you miss any of the action? Recap all the drama here!
Melbourne Rebels: 15 Dane Haylett-Petty (captain), 14 Jack Maddocks, 13 Reece Hodge, 12 Billy Meakes, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Will Genia, 8 Rob Leota, 7 Richard Hardwick, 6 Angus Cottrell, 5 Matt Philip, 4 Ross Haylett-Petty, 3 Jermaine Ainsley, 2 Anaru Rangi, 1 Tetera Faulkner.
Replacements: 16 Hugh Roach, 17 Matt Gibbon, 18 Sam Talakai, 19 Sam Jeffries, 20 Pone Fa’amausili, 21 Michael Ruru, 22 Campbell Magnay, 23 Matt Toomua.
Bulls: 15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 Johnny Kotze, 12 Burger Odendaal, 11 Rosko Specman, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Andre Warner, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Hanro Liebenberg, 6 Paul Schoeman, 5 Jason Jenkins, 4 Rudolph Snyman, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Schalk Brits, 1 Lizo Gqoboka.
Replacements: 16 Jaco Visagie, 17 Simphiwe Matanzima, 18 Wiehan Herbst, 19 Jannes Kirsten, 20 Marco van Staden, 21 Embrose Papier, 22 Manie Libbok, 23 Divan Rossouw.
Referee: Federico Anselmi
Assistant referees: Damon Murphy, Aaron Pook
TMO: Ian Smith