Bulls' second-half effort not enough against Scarlets
URC MATCH REPORT: A late try by Johnny McNicholl made sure the Scarlets recorded a 37-28 win over the Bulls in an eight-try thriller in Llanelli on Friday.
The victory for the Scarlets marked only their fourth in 13 matches, while it was the Bulls’ fifth defeat this season.
Both teams scored four tries, respectively. However, the four successful penalty kicks by Sam Costelow helped his team dominate the scoreboard.
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The Bulls had a chance to snatch a win as they narrow the deficit to just two points at one stage. But the Scarlets’ defence stood solid to deny the Pretoria side a win.
Scarlets got the better of the visitors from South Africa in the first half, scoring three tries to two, which handed them a handy 27-14 lead going into the sheds.
The second half was tight as both teams threw everything at one another, and this saw both sides earn their bonus point tries, although the hosts emerged victorious.
Scarlets flyhalf Sam Costelow earned the first points of the match compliments of a penalty goal in the third minute, but the visitors took the lead shortly after as Bulls scrumhalf Zak Burger scored a smart try from a pick-go from a ruck to dash through.
The Scarlets applied intense pressure on attack and this paid off as they got over the try-line in the ninth with flank Dan Davis forcing his way through the defence to touch down.
The hosts’ prop Kemsley Mathias capitalised on some good forward play to score their second try in the 15th minute and they backed this up with their third try by scrumhalf Gareth Davies who gathered a great chip kick and dashed to the try-line five minutes. The successful conversions handed them an encouraging 24-7 lead.
The Pretoria side almost got over the try-line in the 23rd minute but the ball was held up and this was followed by an error-ridden spell by both teams.
The hosts extended their lead in the 31st minute with a penalty goal but they lost a man minutes later as Joe Roberts received a yellow card, and this paved the way for Bulls wing Stravino Jacobs to dash through to the try-line in the 35th minute to reduce their deficit to 24-14 going into the break.
Costelow stretched their lead to 30-14 in the 45th minute, and the Bulls hit back strongly with back-to-back tries by flank Cyle Brink and replacement prop Simphiwe Matanzima within seven minutes, which saw them earn their bonus point and trail by only two points.
The visitors were dealt a crucial blow in the 74th minute as the wing received a yellow card for a late tackle, and fullback Johnny McNicholl made the most of this to add their bonus point try with two minutes left on the clock, which pushed the match out of range for the Pretoria outfit, and sealed the win for home side.
Man of the match: For the Bulls, Marco Van Staden was a standout for his team, forcing a couple of turnovers and making some powerful carries. Bulls wing Stravino Jacobs caused major problems for Scarlets outwide. However, our nod goes to Scarlets loose forward Sione Kalamafoni. The No.8 was very brutal, making some solid carries and getting his team’s front-foot ball. He was also solid in defence, especially in the second half.
Tries: D Davis, Mathias, G Davies, McNicholl,
Cons: Costerlow 3, Jones
Pens: Costelow 4
Tries: Burger, Jacobs, Brink, Matanzima
Cons: Smith 4
Yellow cards: Joe Roberts (Scarlets, 34 – cynical foul, killing the ball at the ruck); David Kriel (Bulls, 74 – foul play, late tackle)
Scarlets: 15 Johnny McNicholl, 14 Steff Evans, 13 Joe Roberts, 12 Ioan Nicholas, 11 Ryan Conbeer, 10 Sam Costelow, 9 Gareth Davies, 8 Sione Kalamafoni, 7 Dan Davis, 6 Aaron Shingler (captain), 5 Sam Lousi, 4 Vaea Fifita, 3 Sam Wainwright, 2 Daf Hughes, 1 Kemsley Mathias.
Replacements: 16 Taylor Davies, 17 Steff Thomas, 18 Harri O’Connor, 19 Morgan Jones, 20 Carwyn Tuipulotu, 21 Dane Blacker, 22 Dan Jones, 23 Eddie James.
Bulls: 15 Johan Goosen, 14 David Kriel, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Harold Vorster, 11 Stravino Jacobs, 10 Chris Smith, 9 Zak Burger, 8 Elrigh Louw, 7 Cyle Brink, 6 Marco van Staden, 5 Ruan Nortje (captain), 4 Ruan Vermaak, 3 Mornay Smith, 2 Johann Grobbelaar, 1 Gerhard Steenekamp.
Replacements: 16 Jan-Hendrick Wessels, 17 Simphiwe Matanzima, 18 Francois Klopper, 19 Janko Swanepoel, 20 Nizaam Carr, 21 Embrose Papier, 22 Cornal Hendricks, 23 Wandisile Simelane.
Referee: Andrew Brace (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Adam Jones (Wales), Ben Breakspear (Wales)
TMO: Brian MacNeice (Ireland)
*Additional Source: @SARugby
*Photo credit: @BlueBullsRugby