Vodacom Super Rugby
Bulls thump Chiefs at Loftus
Johannesburg - A spirited second half of Vodacom Super Rugby ensured that the Bulls’ chances of reaching the play-offs were kept alive as they recorded a 43-27 victory against the Chiefs in Pretoria on Saturday.
It was not the first time that the Bulls overturned a first half deficit to go on and win a match, although considering their recent form, this win may be seen as their turning point in the competition.
Trailing 20-13 at the break, the Bulls bounced back with a blitzkrieg of attacking rugby in which they scored three tries in a matter of 10 minutes.
This was also the first time this season they picked up a bonus point for scoring four tries in match.
Two of the four were credited to centre Wynand Olivier who had to deliver an inspiring performance after a shocking showing in the first half.
Flyhalf Morne Steyn added 23 points with the boot through four penalties, four conversions and a drop-goal.
Wing Gerhard van den Heever scored the fourth which, in combination with Steyn’s lethal boot, put the match beyond reach of the visitors.
The Bulls started positively and found themselves deep inside Chiefs territory during the opening exchanges.
They really tested the Chiefs defence to the extent that prop Ben Afeaki was sin-binned for a tip-tackle on flank Deon Stegmann.
Afeaki only returned in the 16th minute but in his absence the Bulls only had three points – courtesy of a Morne Steyn drop-goal – to show for their efforts.
As the tight-head prop made his way back to the field, Chiefs captain Mills Muliaina dived over for the first try of the match after the Bulls had lost the ball cheaply in midfield.
Flyhalf Stephen Donald nailed two more penalties as his side’s structured approach paid-off against the desperation that was evident in the way their hosts handled the ball.
Losing possession cheaply was one of the main concerns the defending champions had coming into this match, and they were again guilty of committing this deadly sin far too frequently.
The best illustration of what happens when the ball is handed over without a fight had to be the freakish knock-on by Springbok centre Wynand Olivier.
Olivier took his eyes of the ball for a split second, and when he opened them, Chiefs scrumhalf Brendon Leonard was already over the try line.
After Stephen Donald’s conversion in the 32nd minute, the Chiefs enjoyed a 20-3 lead.
Even though they were out-classed in all other areas during the first half, the Bulls’ rolling maul restored some respect.
Their long distance drives turned out to be the key element in their victory over the New Zealanders.
It was from that facet of play that the home side put Olivier into a position from where he could start making up for his earlier blunder.
The centre then went on to break the Chiefs line at will and was instrumental in getting his side over the advantage line.
Danie Rossouw’s start at the side of the scrum also seemed to make the Bulls look a far more physical side.
It may have taken them nearly 10 weeks, but the Bulls finally delivered a performance in line with what is expected of a team of their calibre.
15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Bjorn Basson, 13 Stephan
Dippenaar, 12 Wynand Olivier, 11 Francois Hougaard, 10 Morne Steyn, 9
Fourie du Preez, 8 Pierre Spies, 7 Dewald Potgieter, 6 Deon Stegmann, 5
Victor Matfield, 4 Bakkies Botha, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Gary Botha, 1 Dean
Substitutes: 16 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 17 Rossouw de Klerk,
18 Flip van der Merwe, 19 Danie Rossouw, 20 Francois Brummer, 21
Gerhard van den Heever, 22 Derick KuunChiefs:
Muliaina (captain), 14 Lelia Masaga, 13 Richard Kahui, 12 Dwayne
Sweeney, 11 Save Tokula, 10 Stephen Donald, 9 Brendon Leonard, 8 Fritz
Lee, 7 Scott Waldrom, 6 Liam Messam, 5 Romana Graham, 4 Craig Clarke, 3
Ben Afeaki, 2 Aled de Malmanche, 1 Toby Smith
Hika Elliot, 17 Sona Taumalolo, 18 Isaac Ross, 19 Sam Cane, 20 Tawera
Kerr-Barlow, 21 Tim Nanai-Williams, 22 Jackson Willison