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Highlanders shock Bulls & end Loftus record

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Article Published: Saturday 5 March 2011|

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The Highlanders ended the Bulls 20 home match unbeaten run with an outstanding 28-35 bonus point victory at Loftus Versfeld.

The last time the Bulls lost a match at Loftus was on the 12th of April 2008 against the Hurricanes.

After three Rounds of Super Rugby in 2011 just three teams remain unbeaten, the Sharks, the Highlanders and Stormers although the latter have only played two matches.

The Highlanders took the game immediately from the kick off to the Bulls and fully deserved their the victory.

Adam Thomson scored the first try of the match in the fifth minute and the try was awarded by referee Stuart Dickinson. Bulls captain Victor Matfield immediately protested and argued with Dickinson.

From that moment on the Bulls were on the backfoot with Dickinson. While Dickinson was irritated with the Bulls the Highlanders played with an intensity not seen by the Highlanders in recent times and were clearly the better team.

It took 21 attempts for any team to beat the Bulls on home turf (incl two in Soweto), but that is exactly what the Highlanders did on Saturday.

The visitors from Dunedin ran in four tries while the Bulls only managed three of their own with the rest of their points coming from the boot of flyhalf Morne Steyn.

Control at the breakdowns allowed the visiting side to control the match and they did that for nearly 80% of it.

While the Bulls will be hugely disappointed in their performance, credit must go to the men from Dunedin for the manner in which they starved the home side of possession throughout the contest.

Highlanders' flank Adam Thomson scored the opening try of the match although at that stage there was still a feeling that the local favourites would come back once they got their hands on the ball.

Instead of playing their natural game the Bulls were pinned to the wall by the New Zealanders who rarely kicked for field position.

Defensively the Bulls had no choice but to be solid in order to withstand the multiple waves of attack from the opposition.

Flyhalf Morne Steyn initially kept his side in reach with the boot and at half time the Bulls had a realistic chance to reverse the order of proceedings.

A crucial turning point in the match occurred just minutes before the teams headed into the tunnel when flank Deon Stegmann was sin-binned for repeated infringements at the breakdown after three warnings from referee Dickinson.

With a 11-6 lead after 40 minutes, the Highlanders raised the tempo and were soon rewarded when lock Josh Bekhuis scored his team's second try of the match.

The Bulls replied with a penalty by Steyn which brought the deficit down to nine points with 30 minutes left on the clock.

However, the three points did not break the momentum the visitors had on their side.

Although their own side produced very little of it, locals were treated to an outstanding display of brute pace by wing Kade Poki who was a handful all night.

Poki scored twice before the anticipated final quarter fight back the Bulls traditionally stage when playing at home.

As the score reflects the tries lock Flip van der Merwe and scrumhalf Fourie du Preez scored towards the end were not enough to save the defending champions this week.

And what will be of real concern to the coaching team is what they did with the ball when they had it.

The Bulls have a bye next week before taking on the Lions at home in a fortnight.

Final Score Bulls 28 (6) Highlanders 35 (11)

Scorers

Bulls
Tries - F van der Merwe, F du Preez, B Basson
Pen - M Steyn 3
Con - M Steyn 2
Drop -
Cards - 39th min. Yellow D. Stegmann

Highlanders
Tries - A Thomson, J Bekhuis, K Poki 2
Pen - R. Robinson 2, Brown
Con - T Brown 3
Drop -
Cards - 72nd minute Yellow A Soakai

Match Officials
Referee: Stuart Dickinson
Assistant Ref 1:Ian Smith
Assistant Ref 2:Stefan Breytenbach
TMO :Gerrie Coetzee

Teams

Bulls :Zane Kirchner , Gerhard van den Heever , Jaco Pretorius , Wynand Olivier , Bjorn Basson , Morne Steyn, Fourie du Preez , Pierre Spies , Dewald Potgieter , Deon Stegmann, Victor Matfield , Danie Rossouw , Werner Kruger, Chiliboy Ralepelle , Gurthro Steenkamp .

Replacements: Derick Kuun , Rossouw de Klerk, Flip van der Merwe , Juandre Kruger, Ruan Snyman, Francois Brummer , Stephan Dippenaar.

Highlanders :1.Jamie Mackintosh (C) , 2.Jason Rutledge , 3.Chris King , 4.Jarrad Hoeata , 5.Josh Bekhuis , 6.Adam Thomson , 7.Alando Soakai , 8.Nasi Manu , 9.Jimmy Cowan (VC) , 10.Robbie Robinson , 11.Kade Poki , 12.Shaun Treeby , 13.Kendrick Lynn , 14.Siale Piutau , 15.Ben Smith

Reserves: , 16.Brayden Mitchell , 17.Bronson Murray , 18.Tom Donnelly , 19.John Hardie , 20.Aaron Smith , 21.Tony Brown , 22.Telusa Veainu

 
 
 
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