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Late penalty helps Highlanders upset Bulls

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The Highlanders extended their Super rugby winning streak against the Bulls to three straight wins with a 28-29 at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria on Saturday.

Lima Sopoaga kicked a late penalty to earn the 2015 Super Rugby champion side from Dunedin the victory.

The Highlanders had won the previous two matches against the Bulls who have not beaten the Dunedin Super rugby side in Pretoria since 2013.

The result brings an end to the Bulls winning run which had stretched to three matches after their tour of New Zealand.

The Highlanders victory moves them up above the Chiefs to third place in the New Zealand conference and fifth place overall.

The Bulls losing bonus point puts them level with the Jaguares on 20 points but although the Pretoria side have a better points differential the Argentina side remain ahead of the Bulls as they have one more win.

The Bulls outscored the Highlanders by four tries to three but Sopoaga had a perfect match with his boot by kicking seven from seven including five penalties.

The Highlanders only enjoyed around 30% of the ball as the Bulls forwards dominated – especially in the scrums – but the Highlanders used their opportunities to the fullest.

The Highlanders were the first to score and in the second minute All Black half back Aaron Smith pounced on a loose ball and scored. Sopoaga converted the try.

In the 22nd minute the Bulls were awarded a penalty try when Fletcher Smith tackled Warrick Gelant without the ball.

Smith was shown a yellow card for his offence and soon after Handre Pollard picked off a Highlanders pass and ran in the Bulls second try. The Springbok converted his own try which put the Bulls into the lead.

Sopoaga pulled three points back with a penalty kick and the sides went in for half time with the Bulls still leading 14-10.

The Highlanders almost got the perfect start to the second half as Sopoaga kicked a penalty in the second minute of the half and then Fletcher Smith made up for his earlier error by combining with Aaron Smith for a 90m try.

Sopoaga converted Fletcher Smith’s try which gave the Highlanders a six point lead four minutes into the half.

The Bulls surged as the final quarter approached and after a powerful run from Lizo Gqoboka, Jason Jenkins crashed over for the hosts. Pollard converted but the Bulls still trailed by two.

Sopoaga extended the lead with a penalty against Gqoboka but then the Bulls went into the lead with a try six minutes from time when Jesse Kriel sliced through the tiring Highlanders defensive system and Pollard added the conversion.

The Highlanders worked the ball back into the Bulls half and in the final minute they were awarded a penalty as the Bulls were caught offside.

Sopoaga lined up his longest kick of the match and snuck it over the crossbar to win the match by a single point.

The loss is a blow for the Bulls as they are in a battle for second place in the South African Conference with the Jaguares who have gone three weeks on tour in Australia and New Zealand without a loss.

Next week in Round 12 the Bulls travel to Cape Town for their return match against the Stormers. The Highlanders remain in South Africa but play the last placed South African team the Sharks in Durban.

Final Score Bulls 28 (14) Highlanders 29 (10) 

Scorers

Bulls
Tries – Penalty try. H.Pollard, J.Jenkins, J.Kriel
Pen –
Con – Penalty, H.Pollard 3
Drop –
Cards –

Highlanders
Tries – A.Smith, F.Smith
Pen – L.Sopoaga 5
Con – L.Sopoaga 2
Drop –
Cards – 22nd minute (F.Smith)

Match Officials
Referee: Glen Jackson
Assistant Ref 1: Egon Seconds
Assistant Ref 2:AJ Jacobs
TMO :Willie Vos

Teams

Bulls

15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Divan Rossouw, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Burger Odendaal (captain), 11 Johnny Kotze, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Ivan van Zyl, 8 Thembelani Bholi, 7 Jason Jenkins, 6 Marco van Staden, 5 Lood de Jager, 4 RG Snyman, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Adriaan Strauss (captain), 1 Lizo Gqoboka

Replacements: 16 Jaco Visagie, 17 Frans van Wyk, 18 Conraad van Vuuren, 19 Hendre Stassen, 20 Nic de Jager, 21 Andre Warner, 22 Manie Libbok, 23 Travis Ismaiel

Highlanders

1 .Daniel Lienert-Brown,2.Liam Coltman,3.Tyrel Lomax,4.Jackson Hemopo,5.Tom Franklin,6.Elliot Dixon,7.Dillon Hunt,8.Luke Whitelock,9.Aaron Smith,10.Lima Sopoaga,11.Tevita Li,12.Teihorangi Walden,13.Rob Thompson,14.Ben smith (cc),15.Fletcher Smith

Replacements : 16.Ash Dixon (cc),17.Aki Seiuli ,18.Kalolo Tuiloma,19.Alex Ainley,20.Shannon Frizell,21.James Lentjes22.Kayne Hammington,23.Patelesio Tomkinson

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