The Bulls dug deep and pulled off an upset 26-13 win over the much fancied Jaguares at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria.
Nollis Marais’ men found a way to put the defeat to the Sunwolves behind them. The returning Handré Pollard kicked his team to their second victory of the campaign, scoring 20 points from the boot.
The Bulls took a 10 point halftime lead thanks to Travis Ismaiel’s 27th minute try and the returning Springbok flyhalf.
The South Americans came back from a 16-3 down after Gonzalo Bertranou crossed the whitewash soon after the break.
But, Pollard added 12 second half points to Lood de Jager’s 64th minute try and the three-time champions had a moral boosting 13-point win.
This was a must-win game for Marais’ young side and himself. After last week’s embarrassing loss in Tokyo, the Pretoria men knew that nothing less than a victory would do, especially, at Loftus.
The Jaguares has been in fine form during the opening rounds of this season and despite their discipline issues still hampering them, they were winning, rather than losing because of it.
The Argentinians had already dispatched the Kings, Lions and the Cheetahs from South Africa and lost two close fought matches to the high-flying Stormers and the Sharks, away from Buenos Aires.
Pollard and Santiago Gonzales Iglesias traded penalties inside the opening quarter which was littered with mistakes and handling errors due to a soggy pitch.
The Bulls struck the first blow when Travis Ismaiel scored. The Jaguares lost the ball and Adriaan Strauss collected and offloaded to the winger in support.
He was tackled short but rolled over, in the tackle and dotted down.
Pollard added the extras and the Bulls led 10-3 after 28 minutes. Iglesias was soon yellow carded – standard for the visitors. and the Bok flyhalf kicked another penalty to
The Bok flyhalf kicked two penalties, either side of halftime, to extend his team’s lead to 16-3.
The Jaguares were not out and found their rhythm with some long phases as they attacked short and around the breakdown.
The hosts were having to make tackles and the momentum shifted when Bertranou scored
The scrumhalf wrapped around Nicolás Sánchez received the pass and beat the Bulls’ defenders. Sánchez added the conversion to reduce the deficit to 16-10.
By now, Iglesias had long since returned and he added a long-range penalty to make it a three-point ball game going into the final half hour.
Both teams were making wholesale changes and the Jaguares’ momentum was lost when De Jager crashed over for his first Super Rugby try since leaving the Cheetahs.
It came from a bit of magic by Pollard. The 23-year-old took the ball to the gain-line and put in a little grubber.
Warrick Gelant collected the bouncing ball and offloaded to De Jager, who went over untouched. The conversion gave the Bulls a 10 point 23-13 lead going into the final 15 minutes.
Pollard’s fourth penalty sealed the deal and the Bulls hung on for only their second win in seven games, but they won’t care – a win’s a win.
Final score: Bulls 26 (13) Jaguares 13 (3)
Tries – Ismaiel, De Jager
Pen – Pollard (4)
Con – Pollard (2)
Tries – Bertranou
Pen – Iglesias (2)
Con – Sánchez
Cards – Gonzales Iglesias (Yellow, 39th minute)
Referee: Ben O’Keeffe
Assistant Ref 1: Angus Gardner
Assistant Ref 2: Egon Seconds
TMO: Willie Vos
15 Jesse Kriel, 14 Travis Ismaiel, 13 Jan Serfontein, 12 Burger Odendaal, 11 Jamba Ulengo, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Piet van Zyl, 8 Hanro Liebenberg, 7 Jannes Kirsten, 6 Nick de Jager, 5 Lodewyk de Jager, 4 Rudolph Snyman, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1 Pierre Schoeman.
Replacements: 16 Jaco Visagie, 17 Lizo Gqoboka, 18 Martin Dreyer, 19 Jason Jenkins, 20 Marnus Schoeman, 21 Rudy Paige, 22 Tian Schoeman, 23 Warrick Gelant.
15 Joaquin Tuculet, 14 Santiago Cordero, 13 Matias Orlando, 12 Jeronimo De La Fuente, 11 Emiliano Boffelli, 10 Santiago Gonzales Iglesias, 9 Gonzalo Bertranou, 8 Leonardo Senatore, 7 Rodrigo Baez, 6 Pablo Matera, 5 Marcos Kremer, 4 Guido Petti, 3 Ramiro Herrera, 2 Agustin Creevy (captain), 1 Lucas Noguera.
Replacements: 16 Roberto Tejerizo, 17 Santiago Garcia Botta, 18 Enrique Pieretto, 19 Benjamin Macome, 20 Tomas Lezana, 21 Felipe Ezcurra, 22 Nicolas Sanchez, 23 Ramiro Moyano.