Pretoria - The Bulls continued their march in the Super Rugby competition with a 35-18
victory over the Highlanders at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.
The local team cemented their place at the top of the South African
conference and found themselves in second place overall at the end of the
The Bulls made a promising start as they opened the scoring with a try two
minutes into the match.
VIDEO: Bulls v Highlanders, highlights
They set up a few phases and advanced into the Highlanders' 22 where scrumhalf
Francois Hougaard skip-passed the ball to his left.
The ball bounced twice before landing into centre JJ Engelbrecht's hands to
score in the corner, with flyhalf Morne Steyn converting.
The Highlanders, however, managed to keep the Bulls' attack at bay with
flyhalf Colin Slade slotting two consecutive penalty conversions.
The game went into a lull in the middle of the first half with neither side
finding a try opportunity.
Steyn kept the scoreboard ticking over, succeeding with three penalty
conversions within 15 minutes to extend the Bulls' lead to 16-6.
The Highlanders were anything but passive spectators as they threatened the
Bulls' line on a number of occasions.
The tourists' most promising attack came shortly before the half-time break
when they probed the Bulls' defence metres from the tryline.
Bulls hooker Chiliboy Ralepelle, however, set in motion the turning point of
the match with a thumping tackle on a Highlanders player which saw the ball
spill loose into Bulls flanker Dewald Potgieter's hand.
Potgieter offloaded to Engelbrecht, who in turn passed to flyer Akona
Ndungane, who stepped inside and showed a clean pair of heels to score his
side's second try.
The TMO was called into action as it appeared that Engelbrecht’s pass was
forward, but the official awarded the try.
Steyn brought the half to a close with the conversion, sending his side to
the change-room with a 23-6 advantage.
The break gave little relief to the visitors as the Bulls scored their third
try six minutes after the restart.
Captain Pierre Spies got the rub of the green playing in his 100th Super
Rugby match for the Bulls.
The hosts set up a driving maul from a lineout and were stopped shortly
before the line.
Hougaard sent the ball wide from the ruck to Spies, who got over the line
for the try, with Steyn converting (30-6).
The Highlanders' problems were compounded when wing Maritino Nemani was
yellow-carded for a high tackle on Bjorn Basson.
Shortly after Nemani's departure, the Bulls appeared to convert this
advantage into points when centre Jan Serfontein thought he had scored.
Serfontein was stopped short of the line and stretched to place the ball,
however, the TMO disallowed the try.
As Nemani was about to make his return on to the field, team-mate Chris King
received his marching orders for collapsing a maul, with 20 minutes left in the
The Bulls though struggled to take full advantage of his absence and it
seemed they would miss out on a four-try bonus point.
With eight minutes left in the clash, the Highlanders scored their first try
when reserve scrumhalf Fumiaki Tanaka broke from a ruck for the five-pointer,
with Hayden Parker converting (35-13).
The Bulls found the breakthrough with Jano Vermaak breaking on the blindside
from a maul to score with three minutes on the clock.
The Highlanders scored a consolation try at the death when Tamati Ellison
also went over the whitewash.
Tries: JJ Engelbrecht, Akona Ndungane, Pierre Spies, Jano Vermaak
Conversions: Morne Steyn (3)
Penalties: Steyn (3)
Try: Fumiaki Tanaka, Tamati Ellison
Conversion: Hayden Parker
Penalties: Colin Slade (2)
15 Jurgen Visser, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Lionel Mapoe, 10 Morne Steyn, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Pierre Spies (captain), 7 Dewald Potgieter, 6 Deon Stegmann, 5 Juandre Kruger, 4 Flip van der Merwe, 3 Frik Kirsten, 2 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 1 Morne Mellett
Substitutes: 16 Callie Visagie, 17 Werner Kruger, 18 Grant Hattingh, 19 Arno Botha, 20 Jano Vermaak, 21 Louis Fouche, 22 Bjorn Basson
15. Ben Smith, 14. Tino Nemani, 13. Tamati Ellison, 12. Shaun Treeby, 11. Hosea Gear, 10. Colin Slade, 9. Aaron Smith, 8. Mose Tuiali’i, 7. John Hardie, 6. Joe Wheeler, 5. Jarrad Hoeata, 4. Brad Thorn, 3. Chris King, 2. Andrew Hore (captain), 1. Jamie Mackintosh
Substitutes: 16. Liam Coltman , 17. Tony Woodcock , 18. Elliot Dixon , 19. TJ Ioane , 20. Fumiaki Tanaka , 21. Hayden Parker , 22. Jason Emery