Bulls keep slim playoff hopes alive
Cape Town - The Bulls kept their slim hopes of a Super Rugby playoff place alive with a convincing 50-3 win over the Sunwolves at Loftus on Saturday.
The Bulls ran in 7 tries to secure the bonus point win and they now move two points ahead of the Sharks in the South African Group and into the playoff positions.
The Sunwolves could not compete with the Bulls' physicality as the men in blue's loose forwards had a field day charging through the Sunwolves defence. The Japan franchise's performance was riddled with handling errors and although there were glimpses of hope, they never really assembled anything to worry the Bulls.
With the win, the Bulls keep their play-off hopes alive.
The statistics showed the Bulls as the outright victors. They had double the amount of defenders beaten with 26 to the Sunwolves 13. They had nine line breaks to the Sunwolves measly three and in the most impressive stat the Bulls actually out tackled the Japanese franchise as well with 103 tackles to 73.
The Bulls had plenty of powerful performances on the day but Lappies Labuschagne produced a masterclass as he made a whopping 17 tackles. There seemed to be 15 Labuschagne's bossing the run of play as he defended, assisted his team-mates and scored a try.
Jamba Ulengo also deserves a special mention as he displayed a mature performance at wing. He ran into space, hit fantastic lines and used some beautifully placed kicks to keep the Sunwolves guessing.
The first try of the game came through Labuschagne. The Bulls couldn't seem to get through the visitors' defensive line before the Sunwolves stole the ball inside their own five metre and Riaan Viljoen tried to relieve the pressure on his side. The Bulls used the space well and they countered. Ulengo streaked down the left wing before passing to Labuschagne who scored the first points of the game.
Yu Tamura scored his side's only points of the match off the tee. Directly after Tamura's penalty, he cancelled out his own three points by infringing at the breakdown allowing Brummer to knock over a penalty.
Piet Van Zyl started a great run of play. The nippy scrum-half sold the dummy and ran 40 metres into the Sunwolves half, he needed someone on his inside and Jannes Kirsten provided the option, the flanker then gave it short to Dries Swanepoel who scored between the posts.
Brummer then added to his points tally in a fairly soft try. As the Sunwolves tried to clear, they knocked it on allowing the fly-half to get a boot to it, picks it up and scores the try.
The first try of the second half came from Adriaan Strauss who epitomised his monstrous return to his side as he received a long pass from Van Zyl on the Sunwolves five metre line and barged through the opposition defence, stretching his arm to score.
After a largely quiet game from Ismaiel he rounded off his team's blue-wash of Loftus with two great tries. The first came when the Bulls broke down the left wing, Labuschagne received it running at pace and sprinted like a centre with ball in hand before swinging it wide to Ismaiel to score the try.
The second came when SP Marais picked up a loose ball and grubbered it forward for Ismaiel to gather. Once he was in the clear no one was catching the flyer and he dotted down for his second try of the match.
Bulls 50 (31)
Tries: Lappies Labuschagne, Dries Swanepoel, Jannes Kirsten, Francois Brummer, Adriaan Strauss, Travis Ismaiel
Conversions: Brummer (4), Tian Schoeman (2)
Sunwolves 3 (3)
Penalty: Ya Tamura
15 Jesse Kriel, 14 Travis Ismaiel, 13 Burger Odendaal, 12 Dries Swanepoel, 11 Jamba Ulengo, 10 Francois Brummer, 9 Piet van Zyl, 8 Renaldo Bothma, 7 Jannes Kirsten, 6 Lappies Labuschagne, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Jason Jenkins, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Adriaan Strauss (captain), 1 Pierre Schoeman.
Substitutes: 16 Jaco Visagie, 17 Nqoba Mxoli, 18 Marcel van der Merwe, 19 Hanro Liebenberg, 20 Grant Hattingh, 21 Arno Botha, 22 Rudy Paige, 23 Tian Schoeman
15 Riaan Viljoen, 14 Hajime Yamashita, 13 Derek Carpenter, 12 Harumichi Tatekawa (captain),11 Yasutaka Sasakura,10 Yu Tamura, 9 Yuki Yatomi, 8 Edward Quirk, 7 Taiyo Ando, 6 Liaki Moli, 5 Naohiro Kotaki, 4 Hitoshi Ono, 3 Shinnosuke Kakinaga, 2 Takeshi Kizu, 1 Keita Inagaki
Substitutes: 16 Futoshi Mori, 17 Masataka Mikami, 18 Takuma Asahara, 19 Faatiga Lemalu, 20 Yoshiya Hosoda, 21 Kaito Shigeno, 22 Mifiposeti Paea, 23 Shokei Kin