Vodacom Super Rugby
O'Connor sinks Bulls
Perth - Australia utility back James O'Connor slotted six penalties to give the Western Force an upset 26-21 win over champions Bulls in their Super rugby clash on Saturday.
O'Connor, who was sin-binned in the first half for a dangerous tackle, missed only one shot at goal. Willie Ripia slotted a penalty while O'Connor was off the field and Cameron Shepherd scored a second-half try for the Force.
Bulls' flyhalf Morne Steyn kicked three penalties and a conversion while Chiliboy Ralepelle and Bjorn Basson scored tries for the South Africans, who have now lost three successive games.
"Not good enough, I thought we played well in the first half but in the second-half we could not keep the ball," Bulls captain Victor Matfield said in a television interview.
The champions, at the end of a four-week road trip, lacked their normal polish but did manage to score the first try, after O'Connor slotted an early penalty, when Ralepelle was on hand to pick up the ball from an attacking surge and flop over.
O'Connor got the lead back for the Force with his second penalty, but then almost immediately was sin-binned for a dangerous tackle on Bulls fullback Zane Kirchner.
The Bulls took advantage with Basson scoring a try, which Morne Steyn converted, though Ripia managed to slot a penalty for the home side, and took the full minute he was allowed to lessen the impact of O'Connor's temporary absence.
Steyn added a penalty before O'Connor returned but the Wallabies utility back reduced the gap to 15-12 at the break when Bulls prop Dean Greyling was penalised for a high tackle.
Steyn extended the lead in the second half with his second penalty, though two more penalties by O'Connor levelled the score at 18-all with 20 minutes remaining.
The Force managed to snatch the lead when Ripia got his hands free in a tackle to find an unmarked Shepherd who dived over in the corner.
O'Connor gave his side an eight-point advantage with his sixth penalty with just under four minutes remaining, before Steyn reduced the deficit again and gave the Bulls a chance of snatching a late victory.
"I thought our defence tonight, for 70 minutes of that game, was absolutely outstanding," Force captain Nathan Sharpe said. "The boys are enjoying it."Scorers:
Try: Cameron Shepherd
Penalties: James O'Connor (6), Willie RipiaBulls:
Tries: Chiliboy Ralepelle, Bjorn Basson
Conversions: Morne Steyn
Penalties: Steyn (3)Teams:Western Force:
15 Cameron Shepherd, 14 Nick Cummins, 13 Patrick Dellit, 12 James O'Connor, 11 Rory Sidey, 10 Willie Ripia, 9 Brett Sheehan, 8 Ben McCalman, 7 Jono Jenkins, 6 Richard Brown, 5 Nathan Sharpe (captain), 4 Sam Wykes, 3 Matt Dunning, 2 Ben Whittaker, 1 Pek Cowan.
Substitutes: 16 Nathan Charles, 17 Kieran Longbottom, 18 Tom Hockings, 19 Tevita Metuisela, 20 Mark Swanepoel, 21 Mark Bartholomeusz, 22 Alfie Mafi.Bulls:
15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Bjorn Basson, 13 Jaco Pretorius, 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 (captain), 4 Bakkies Botha, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 1 Dean Greyling
Substitutes: 16 Gary Botha, 17 Rossouw de Klerk, 18 Flip van der Merwe, 19 Danie Rossouw, 20 Derick Kuun, 21 Jaco van der Westhuyzen, 22 Stephan Dippenaar
Referee: Mark Lawrence (South Africa) Assistant referees: Andrew Lees (Australia), Julian Pritchard (Australia)TMO:
Matt Goddard (Australia)Assistant referees:
Andrew Lees (Australia), Julian Pritchard (Australia)TMO:
Matt Goddard (Australia)