LIVE

    Bulls alive despite brave loss

    2012-05-25 12:45
    Rob Houwing, Sport24 chief writer
    Cape Town – The Bulls may have a recent reputation as a strong second-half team, but tour fatigue may finally have got to their legs to some extent as a reverse phenomenon came to haunt them on Friday.

    Playing the last of their four Super Rugby matches abroad against the Chiefs in Hamilton, the men from Pretoria seemed menacingly on course for a third Australasian victory as they held sway 16-8 at halftime after 40 minutes of high-calibre physicality and mauling zest.

    But the Chiefs are certainly made of increasingly stern stuff these days, and instead were the ones to produce a second wind in an enthralling contest to power their way over the line 28-22 at Waikato Stadium.

    Gracious losing captain Pierre Spies was quick to commend the hosts for their three-tries-to-one triumph, marked by the Chiefs pack standing toe to toe with their traditionally brawny opponents all night and backline maestros like Sonny Bill Williams becoming ever more influential as the second half progressed.

    “They put us under pressure at the breakdown and deserved to win,” said Spies, summing up an unflappable showing by the New Zealanders, who produced crucial spells of fierce counter-rucking when it was particularly needed.

    The Bulls never surrendered their spirit, but perhaps tiring bodies were simply not able to match seemingly willing minds as thoughts involuntarily drifted toward getting a foot on the plane for the long haul back to face main SA conference rivals the Stormers at Loftus next weekend.

    All is not lost for the Bulls, that’s for sure, as they return to more familiar soil: they did bag a losing bonus point and also denied the Chiefs a four-try extra log point themselves, even if the outcome meant the Mooloo Men return to the top of the overall table with four-point superiority over the second-placed Stormers.

    Jean de Villiers and company will nevertheless seize back supremacy rapidly if they beat the Sharks at Mr Price Kings Park.

    Frans Ludeke’s charges could still sport a respectable tour harvest of 11 points from a possible 20, despite losing both fixtures on the New Zealand leg.

    Great foes the Stormers currently have a one-point edge over the Bulls with Saturday’s Durban game in hand – win that one and they can ensure some useful “daylight” between them ahead of the humungous Highveld battle on June 2.

    Whilst the Bulls may be curtailed to fourth (though only behind the Brumbies because of the table rules) they are still only five points behind the pace-setting Chiefs.

    So both they and the Stormers retain decent enough chances of ending ordinary season as the best-placed side, even if their own clash could be a make-or-breaker in that regard.

    A glance at the fixture list tells you that the Chiefs must play three of their four remaining games away, and all of them are NZ derbies.

    In addition, their only home match is against those cunning Crusaders, whom few would bet against still sneaking into the playoffs despite a strange inconsistency this season.

    The Bulls’ quartet of games still to play are also derbies, but three of them will be at Loftus – against the Stormers, Cheetahs and Lions. Their only trip will be the short flight to Durban to meet the Sharks on the Friday night of July 6.

    That is not to say that the Chiefs don’t have a tantalising chance now to set up a first-time home final.

    Their healthy situation on the overall table is helped by a hugely successful mini-tour of South Africa in mid-April, where they earned nine out of 10 points by beating the Cheetahs and Sharks.

    Perhaps the Bulls not quite managing, by contrast, to get past the post in either of their matches in the Land of the Long White Cloud will be a decisive factor in the race for that home showpiece?

    That said, all sorts of permutations and twists and turns in both overall and conference terms still lie ahead ...

    *Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing

    Read More On:  bulls super 15 pierre spies rugby

    Read News24’s Comments Policy

    24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

    Comment on this story
    65 comments
    Add your comment
    Comment 0 characters remaining
    Live Video Streaming
    Video Highlights
    Sport Talk
    Most Read
    Commented

    Fixtures

    13 February 2015
    • Crusaders v Melbourne Rebels, Christchurch 08:35
    • Brumbies v Reds, Canberra 10:40
    • Lions v Hurricanes, Johannesburg 19:10
    14 February 2015
    • Blues v Chiefs, Albany 08:35
    • Sharks v Cheetahs, Durban 17:05
    • Bulls v Stormers, Pretoria 19:10
    15 February 2015
    • Waratahs v Western Force, Sydney 07:05

    Results

    24 April 2015
    02 August 2014
    26 July 2014
    19 July 2014
    12 July 2014
    11 July 2014
    06 July 2014
    05 July 2014
    04 July 2014
    28 June 2014
    27 June 2014
    31 May 2014
    30 May 2014
    24 May 2014
    23 May 2014
    18 May 2014
    17 May 2014
    16 May 2014
    11 May 2014
    10 May 2014
    09 May 2014
    03 May 2014
    02 May 2014
    26 April 2014
    25 April 2014
    19 April 2014
    18 April 2014
    12 April 2014
    11 April 2014
    05 April 2014
    04 April 2014
    29 March 2014
    28 March 2014
    22 March 2014
    21 March 2014
    15 March 2014
    14 March 2014
    08 March 2014
    07 March 2014
    01 March 2014
    28 February 2014
    23 February 2014
    22 February 2014
    21 February 2014
    15 February 2014

    Logs

    Rank Team P W Pts

    Opinion Poll

    Does the Waratahs' Super Rugby victory give the Wallabies an edge heading into the Rugby Championship?

    Monday Quiz Madness!

    TAKE THE QUIZ
    There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.