Bumbling Bulls bow out

The Bulls missed out on a 4th Super Rugby final in 7 years when they were beaten in the second tense semi-final by a spirited Brumbies team in Pretoria on Saturday evening.

Tank Lanning

As a result, the Brumbies will now travel to Hamilton to face the defending champion Chiefs in the 2013 Final. Both teams have won the title before – the Chiefs last year and the Brumbies in 2001 and 2004.

The Chiefs won the right to host the final by beating the heavily-favoured Crusaders 20-19 in a nail-biter at the Waikato Stadium, fighting back brilliantly in the second half after being 3-9 down at the break.

Winning their third title next week will take a mammoth effort from Jake White’s Brumbies – their victory at Loftus was only the 7th time in 59 play-offs that a team could win any knock-out encounter on foreign soil.

It has happened once in 17 Finals – when the Crusaders beat the Brumbies in 2000, and 6 times in 36 semi-finals (Sharks beat Reds in 1996, Crusaders beat Reds in 1999, Highlanders beat Stormers in 1999, Crusaders beat Stormers in 2011 and Brumbies beat Bulls in 2013) and once in 6 qualifiers (Sharks beat Reds in 2012).


So the 2013 Super Rugby Final:

Saturday, 3 August, 2013

09h35: Chiefs v Brumbies, Waikato Stadium

Referee: Craig Joubert

AR1: Chris Pollock, AR2: Garratt Williamson

TMO: Vinny Munro


Bulls 23 (11) Brumbies 26 (16)

The Brumbies progressed to their 6th Super Rugby Final when they beat the Bulls 26-23 thanks to some poor decision making by the Bulls, and a late try by Tevita Kuridrani to leave the embarrassingly small Loftus crowd stunned.

It was a heart breaking moment for the Bulls and their fans as they lost their first home game of the season … when it mattered most. It was also their first loss in 6 home play-off matches.

Kuridrani’s try came after Bulls captain Dewald Potgieter turned down three kickable penalties during a period of sustained pressure by the hosts.

And while one could perhaps understand Potgieter wanting to stay in the opposition half, the home team could not score from any of the resulting line-outs. And when Morné Steyn eventually kicked his sixth penalty goal of the match, ironically at a time when it probably did make sense to get into the Brumbies half, the Bulls found themselves back in their own half.

And when the Brumbies launched one final assault on the try-line, a defensive lapse allowed Kuridrani in for the most important try of his career to date.

Apart from Kuridrani’s effort, there were only two other tries in the match. Brumbies fullback Jesse Mogg went over in the 11th minute after Henry Speight crashed through three attempted tackles before putting Mogg away.

Five minutes later JJ Engelbrecht finished a good attacking move when he went over in the corner for the Bulls’ only try despite Speight’s defensive efforts.

What transpired in the final 15 minutes was probably not the main reason the Bulls loss though. Their problems started prior to the game where they probably had the wrong set of props and scrumhalf in their starting XV, and then when the Chiefs beat the Crusaders, meaning that the Bulls no longer had the opportunity to play for a home final.

And then in the first half, where they were incredibly flat, and had a set-piece under pressure. The Brumbies had the better start to the match and the home team were made to play catch-up.

It is also probably fair to say that, in perhaps aiming not to be biased toward the home side, referee Craig Joubert’s calls seemed instead to favour the visitors, with George Smith seemingly allowed to get away with a few side entries, some illegal binding in the scrum going unpunished, and a forward pass or two going unnoticed.

The Bulls played better in the second half, though, finally taking the lead in the 60th minute when Steyn slotted his fifth penalty goal, but they could not keep the never say die, and to be honest, more likely side to score a try, Brumbies at bay.

Credit though to former Springbok coach Jake White’s Brumbies team – they played the tactical game better, defended like Trojans, turned over possession at crucial times and took the points when they were on offer. The team from Canberra will now contest the final for the first time since 2004.

Bulls – Try: JJ Engelbrecht. Penalty goals: Morné Steyn (6).

Brumbies – Tries: Jesse Mogg, Tevita Kuridrani. Conversions: Christian Lealiifano (2). Penalty goals: Lealiifano (4).


Chiefs 20 (3) Crusaders 19 (9)

Chiefs – Tries: Lelia Masaga, Aaron Cruden. Conversions: Cruden (2). Penalty goals: Cruden (2).

Crusaders – Try: Israel Dagg. Conversion: Dan Carter. Penalty goals: Carter (4).


Promotion/Relegation series:

Kings 19 (14) Lions 26 (19)

The Lions beat the Kings in the first of two play-off matches in Port Elizabeth on Friday evening. The 26-19 win meant the team from Johannesburg bagged four log points to the one by the Kings as they head to Ellis Park for the second and final play-off on Saturday.

Kings – Tries: Marcello Sampson, Steven Sykes. Penalty goals: Demetri Catrakilis (3).

Lions – Tries: Stokkies Hanekom (2). Conversions: Elton Jantjies (2). Penalty goals: Jantjies (4).


Second and final game in series:

Saturday 03 August

17:00 – Lions vs Kings, Ellis Park, Johannesburg


  1. One has to take one’s hat off to Jake White. He inherited a very poor Brumbies squad and in a very short space of time, has turned things around. He has always placed a big emphasis on set pieces and defence, and that is very evident in the Brumbies play.

  2. Watched most of the match.

    Perfect Brumbies script with them going up early. Thought Bulls should have used the altitude to tire out the Brumbies from 65 minutes by holding onto the ball and making the Brumbies tackle.

    Joubert does this. It’s a systemic flaw in his refereeing to over-compensate for being South African.

    Rathbone lucky to stay on with late tackle and swinging arm on Steyn. Hougaard radically improved as game went on.

    Potgieter very unlucky with consequences of correct decisions. Not his fault that they could not convert the territory and pressure into a try.

    Don’t take it away from Brumbies – they were really good.

    1. Brumbies def good, but also a game the Bulls could have won. Not sure either side will trouble the Chiefs in Hamilton though …

  3. Bulls did not deserve to win this one. Jake White planned the defeat, his players executed the plan perfectly. I reckon Jake White will be a force in Aus rugby for a long time. I am sure that he will be offered the national coaching job in Aus AFTER the upcoming world cup. As a Bulls supporter, congrats to Jake and the Brumbies.

  4. I am afraid the Brumbies did not win the game. The Bulls threw it away. Just cannot belie it .

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