Auckland - The Bulls illustrated the
importance of experience when they held off John Kirwan's Blues to claim a 28-21 victory in a Super Rugby match at
Eden Park on Sunday.
The men from Pretoria had never
previously beaten the Auckland-based Blues on their home ground but did so by
three tries to two to end the Blues' unbeaten start to the season.
Tries from flanker Arno Botha as well as
wingers Lionel Mapoe and Akona Ndungane combined with 13 points from
Morné Steyn's boot moved the three-times champions to the top of the
South African conference.
VIDEO: Blues v Bulls, highlights
"It was a great team effort, it's not
easy to come here and win," Bulls skipper Pierre Spies said in a
pitchside interview. "In the second half we felt we just had to be
clinical and that's what it was, a clinical performance."
who opened his reign as Blues coach with shock wins over the Hurricanes
and Crusaders, fielded six debutants in a gamble which proved too great
for his fledgling enterprise.
A try from Rene Ranger four minutes
from time added to Charles Piutau's 52nd minute effort to offer the home
side hope, but it was too little to make up for a lacklustre first half
"We just didn't turn up in the first half, I'm gutted
... we'd earned some respect and then we lost it," said a clearly fuming
Blues skipper Ali Williams.
The Bulls, who had also won their
first two matches of the season, led 15-6 at hal-ftime after Mapoe and
Ndungane had run in tries on overlaps caused by unrelenting pressure on
the home defence.
When Piutau crossed and Baden Kerr converted
seven minutes into the second half, however, the crowd were roused and
the Blues took a slender one-point lead.
It only lasted four
minutes, however, as the men from Pretoria swung their attack back and
forth across the park through multiple phases before Botha was able to
run around the defence and touch down with a man free outside him.
replacement Angus Ta'avao dropped the ball with the line at his mercy
seven minutes later and it was not until centre Ranger sprinted down the
right touchline and bulldozed over the last defender that they were
able to add a second try.
Any hopes they had of rescuing the match
died when lock Liaki Moli ran the ball into touch from the kickoff,
however, and Steyn added his third penalty with the last kick of the
Tries: Charles Piutau, Rene Ranger
Conversion: Baden Kerr
Penalties: Kerr (3)Bulls:
Tries: Lionel Mapoe, Akona Ndungane and Arno Botha
Conversions: Morné Steyn (2)
Penalties: Steyn (3)Teams:Blues:
15 Charles Piutau,14 Frank Halai, 13 Rene Ranger, 12 Francis Saili, 11 Waisake Naholo, 10 Baden Kerr, 9 Piri Weepu, 8 Steven Luatua, 7 Luke Braid, 6 Kane Barrett, 5 Ali Williams (captain), 4 Liaki Moli, 3 Charlie Faumuina, 2 Quentin MacDonald, 1 Tim Perry
Substitutes: 16 James Parsons, 17 Angus Ta'avao, 18 Ronald Raaymakers, 19 Brendon O'Connor, 20 Jamison Gibson-Park, 21 Marty McKenzie, 22 Albert NikoroBulls:
15 Zane Kirchner
, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 JJ Engelbrecht
, 12 Wynand Olivier
, 11 Lionel Mapoe, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Jano Vermaak
, 8 Pierre Spies
(captain), 7 Arno Botha, 6 Deon Stegmann, 5 Juandré Kruger, 4 Flip van der Merwe, 3 Frik Kirsten, 2 Willie Wepener, 1 Mornè Mellett.
Substitutes: 16 Chiliboy Ralepelle
, 17 Werner Kruger
, 18 Grant Hattingh, 19 Jacques Potgieter, 20 Francois Hougaard
, 21 Louis Fouché, 22 Jürgen Visser.