Johannesburg - The Blue Bulls overcame early
jitters to secure a playoff spot when they beat the Golden Lions 50-29
in a riveting Currie Cup match at Ellis Park on Saturday evening.
Pretoria-based side seemed rattled in the opening moments of the match
but ran in five-tries-to-two to march on to next weekend's semi-finals.
with a perceived weakened side, the Lions did not stand back to their
provincial neighbours packed with Springbok players.
In the opening moments of the match, it even seemed like the Lions were in for an upset as they took an early 13-3 lead.
The score-line put the Bulls’ hopes of reaching the playoffs at risk with even the last place on the log looming.
The Bulls, however, made a spirited comeback to guarantee a semi-final match against the Sharks in Durban next weekend.
The Pretoria outfit drew first blood as flyhalf Morne Steyn succeeded with his first attempt at goal after four minutes of play.
Three minutes later, Lions flyhalf and captain Butch James slotted a penalty goal for his side, to level the scores.
Lions then stepped up the intensity as they smothered the Bulls of any
possession while they also attacked the line with enterprising play.
added three more points with his boot before the Lions finally pierced
the visitors’ defences when lock Michael Rhodes crossed the whitewash in
the 13th minute.
The try resulted from solid interplay by the
Lions players with hooker Callie Visagie playing a leading role in the
try as he handled the ball twice before offloading to a speeding Rhodes
on the sideline, with James converting.
Meanwhile, the Bulls
patiently ground their way back in the match, keeping the Lions within
sight through Steyn’s accurate kicking.
Steyn slightly closed the
gap as he punched over a drop goal in the 26th minute but James
returned their lead to 13 points as he succeeded with a penalty kick a
The Bulls flyhalf brought his side within four points as two of his attempts at goal were on target.
nine minutes left in the first half, the Bulls scored their first try,
when flanker Jacques Potgieter found a gap and sprinted towards the line
where he was stopped short.
Potgieter popped the ball to wing
Bjorn Basson, who just needed to fall over the line to gather the
points, with Steyn converting to give his side a 19-16 lead, before
adding another three points shortly before the half-time break.
The Lions levelled the scores shortly after the restart with James succeeding with two penalty kicks.
visitors, however, stepped up a gear in the 48th minute when scrumhalf
Jano Vermaak made a dart for goal after a solid pass from eighthman Arno
Botha, with Steyn converting.
The hosts then equalled the scores
once again when wing Anthony Volmink went through the middle of a ruck
inside the Bulls’ 22 to score, while James converted (29-29).
Bulls then ran away with the match as they added three more converted
tries courtesy of Botha, Dewald Potgieter and Akona Ndungane to secure a
Next week's semi-finals will see the Lions take on Western Province while the Bulls take on the Sharks in Durban.
the Cheetahs will play two rounds of promotion-relegation matches
against the EP Kings after they finished last, after the end of the
league stage of the Currie Cup.
The teams will play home-and-away matches over the next two weeks.
Tries: Rhodes, Volmink
Cons: James 2
Pens: James 5
Tries: Basson, Vermaak, Botha, D Potgieter, Ndungane
Cons: Steyn 4, Fouchè
Pens: Steyn 4
Drop goal: Steyn
15 Ruan Combrinck, 14
Deon Helberg, 13 Deon Van Rensburg, 12 Alwyn Hollenbach, 11 Anthony
Volmink, 10 Butch James (captain), 9 Ross Cronje, 8 Willie Britz, 7
Derick Minnie , 6 Jaco Kriel, 5 Paul Willemse, 4 Michael Rhodes, 3 Pat
Cilliers, 2 Callie Visagie, 1 CJ van der Linde
Bandise Maku, 17 Jacobie Adriaanse, 18 Franco van der Merwe, 19 Warren
Whiteley, 20 Whestley Moolman, 21 Elton Jantjies, 22 Lionel Mapoe
Zane Kirchner, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Francois
Venter, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Arno Botha, 7
Jacques Potgieter, 6 Dewald Potgieter (captain), 5 Flip van der Merwe, 4
Juandre Kruger, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Willie Wepener, 1 Morne Mellett
16 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 17 Frik Kirsten, 18 Wilhelm Steenkamp, 19 CJ
Stander, 20 Francois Hougaard, 21 Louis Fouche, 22 Dean Greyling