Bulls show their class

The Bulls were pure class, minus their inability to scrum, as they firmed their grip on the top position of the SA conference on Saturday against the Cheetahs.

The Bulls were sublime against the Cheetahs and are now basically assured of a place in the quarter finals. The scoreline suggests a close game, but at one stage the Bulls were up 30-10, and many would argue that it was a home town TMO call that got them the Trevor Nyakane try and a bonus point. That said, not many people would be unhappy to see the Bloem boys get a bonus point from the game. It was fantastic entertainment and proof that an SA derby need not be a boring kick fest based on defence …

In Cape Town, it was the complete opposite, as the Kings and Stormers put us through a more traditional slug-fest. One could probably put a fair amount of that down to the desperate weather conditions, but neither side is known for their enterprising attack. No surprise as both tries came from driving mauls, but it does keep the Cape side’s mathematical chances of playing in the quarters alive, while the Kings will now need to focus on taking on the Samoa slaying Lions in a promotion/relegation match …

So the SA Conference now looks like this:

Bulls Pld:13 W:10 Pts:54

Cheetahs Pld:14 W:9 Pts:46

Sharks Pld:13 W:6 Pts:38

Stormers Pld:13 W:6 Pts:38

Kings Pld:13 W:3 Pts:24


Match reviews:

Stormers 19 (6), Kings 11 (3)

The Stormers ended any talk or speculation about relegation from Super Rugby by systematically squeezing the life out of the Kings at a drenched Newlands.

The game was fairly close on the scoreboard for most of the way, but then it was always going to be on a sodden field after long periods of torrential downpours earlier in the day.

Required in the conditions was a strong first phase platform and a good kicking game, and that was what the Stormers provided, eventually.

They drove strongly in the early stages, establishing an edge on the Luke-less manne from PE, who also lost Demetri Katrakilis in the build up, with two penalties in the first 10 minutes taking the hosts into a 6-0 lead that was valuable in the conditions.

As the match progressed so the Kings began to find their feet and fight their way back into it. George Whitehead kicked a penalty after a quarter of an hour to close the deficit to three points, and that was how it stayed until halftime.

Considering the conditions, it seemed a little silly for the home side to try and prove to their fans that they can actually do the business with ball in hand. It was a day for territory … With the driving maul was always going to be the most likely source of profit when it came to try-scoring. And so it came to be, with the Stormers effectively wrapping up the match with a quarter of an hour remaining as Deon Fourie dotted down off a rare drive that the Kings couldn’t cope with.

The Kings again showed character and fighting spirit that has been the hallmark of their play this season, with Wimpie van der Walt dotting down off a drive after 73 minutes, and then camping on the Stormers’ line in the last minutes of the game.

Stormers – Try: Deon Fourie. Conversion: Joe Pietersen. Penalties: Pietersen (4).

Kings – Try: Wimpie van der Walt. Penalties: George Whitehead (2).


Bulls 30 (17), Cheetahs 25 (10)

11 out of 11 … The Bulls kept up their unbeaten record against the Cheetahs, winning a thrilling game in Bloemfontein. The victory set up the Bulls perfectly to win the SA conference, and with three games left, they will go into the June break knowing they are on track to grab a home semifinal.

But on a night where the Bulls dominated everything beyond the scrum, again – and that is a real concern for them, it was perhaps a game they should have put away a little earlier.

Instead, they had to endure a late comeback from the home side, as two tries were awarded by TMO decisions to give the Cheetahs a cheeky bonus point.

The Bulls signalled their intent early, and after stealing the Cheetahs lineout early on, a chip and chase by Bjorn Basson saw JJ Engelbrecht, now showing the country why Heyneke Meyer has so much faith in him, dotting down, only for TMO Gerrie Coetzee to rule a knock on.

It didn’t matter much, because with the possession the Bulls had it wasn’t long before they were on the board, with two waves of attack setting up the move before Chiliboy Ralepelle burst through , putting Werner Kruger away for the try.

The Cheetahs hit straight back as the omnipresent Willie le Roux chipped over the defence in trademark style and collected to score, giving the 32 322 crowd much to cheer about. But after that the Bulls took control.

They made a few finishing errors, but when they did get it right, as with the lineout drive that led to their second try, it almost looked too easy.

A great take at the setpiece set up Deon Stegmann, who surged over with Arno Botha’s help to put the Bulls 14-7 up. Morné Steyn managed to keep his side in front as penalties were swopped, but the Bulls would have felt disappointed as they went into the break.

Steyn’s slow poison took control of the game in the second half, and although he missed one kick, two more successful penalties gave the Bulls a controlling 23-10 lead. They sealed the game when Jan Serfontein broke through and popped a pass to Engelbrecht, who unloaded to Dewald Potgieter, who in turn sent Jano Vermaak away for the try.

At 30-10 up, the game was sealed, and all that was really in question was whether or not the Bulls would get a bonus point try. But as happens so often between these two sides, the Cheetahs staged a comeback.

Both sides will enjoy the break now and regroup at the end of June, knowing that they both have a realistic chance, but the Bulls are going to have to find a way to shore up that scrum if they are to contend for silverware.

Cheetahs – Tries: Willie le Roux, Riaan Smit, Trevor Nyakane. Conversions: Riaan Smit (2). Penalties: Smit (2).

Bulls – Tries: Werner Kruger, Deon Stegman, Jano Vermaak. Conversions: Morné Steyn (3). Penalties: Steyn (3).


Other results – Round 16:

Crusaders 23, Waratahs 22 (Christchurch)

Brumbies 30, Hurricanes 23 (Canberra)

Highlanders 38 Blues 28 (Dunedin)

Reds 33, Rebels 20 (Brisbane)


The full log:

Chiefs Pld:13 W:10 Pts:56

Bulls Pld:13 W:10 Pts:54

Brumbies Pld:14 W:9 Pts:54

Reds Pld:15 W:9 Pts:50

Cheetahs Pld:14 W:9 Pts:46

Crusaders Pld:13 W:8 Pts:46

Blues Pld:13 W:6 Pts:43

Waratahs Pld:14 W:7 Pts:40

Hurricanes Pld:13 W:6 Pts:39

Sharks Pld:13 W:6 Pts:38

Stormers Pld:13 W:6 Pts:38

Rebels Pld:14 W:4 Pts:32

Force Pld:14 W:3 Pts:27

Kings Pld:13 W:3 Pts:24

Highlanders Pld:13 W:2 Pts:22


Next weekend’s fixtures:

Friday, June 7

11h40 – Brumbies vs Rebels

Sunday, June 9

08h05 – Force vs Waratahs