Super Rugby

Belligerent Bulls gore Rebels down under




The Bulls ambushed the Melbourne Rebels 17-32 in an upset win at AAMI Park, Melbourne.

The Bulls resisted a rampant Rebels onslaught in the first half to record a long-awaited win outside South Africa.

The South Africans had not won in Australia since 2013, losing nine of their previous 10 Super Rugby matches down under.

It was also the former three-time champion’s first win outside the Republic since 2015.

The Rebels, heavily favoured for this fixture, had won four of their previous five home games and a win would put them top of the Australian conference.

The only defeat also came at the hands of South African opposition when the Stormers routed them 41-17 in April.

Conversely, the Bulls would go top with an unlikely win, regaining top spot in the South African Conference after the Jaguares upset the Hurricanes in Wellington.

Handré Pollard scored a try, set up Cornal Hendricks’ for the first, and had a hand in Rosco Specman’s try 11 minutes from time.

Burger Odendaal, who was outstanding, grabbed the fourth after Specman brought out his sevens tricks.

The 25-year-old kicked 12 points on his way to leading the Pretoria men to a famous victory.

He did, however, leave seven points out on the field after an off-day with the boot.

Marika Koroibete’s brace, one in each half, and Will Genia’s 27th-minute score were not enough.

The first half was a blur

The Rebels had 100% possession in the opening eight minutes as they laid siege to the Bulls’ try-line.

There were only three scrums in the first stanza, the first coming in the 35th-minute of an end-to-end game.

A big scrum, on the stroke of halftime, allowed Pollard to extend his side’s lead as the South Africans took a fortunate five-point lead into the shed.

The tourists made tackles to 94 of 104 tackles to their host’s 18 of 26.

Dave Wessels’ side dominated all the stats except the scoreboard.

They enjoyed 76% possession and 80% territory as they camped inside the opposition’s 22.

The visitors, however, held them off for a while before Melbourne breached the white wall.

Pote Human’s charges were happy to play without the ball, but their kicking was iffy, one clearance leading to a Rebels’ try.

Crazy opening quarter

Melbourne had 100% possession as they went through two separate series of sustained attacks before Koroibete found a way through the white wall.

The Bulls repelled wave after wave of attacks before Koroibete crosses.

Super Rugby Video Highlights: Melbourne Rebels versus Bulls, Round 14, AAMI Park, Melbourne

Quade Cooper and Dane Haylett-Petty combined, after another strong run by Matt Philip, to put the winger away for the opening score.

The Bulls hit back twice in quick succession through Cornal Hendricks and Pollard, who set up the winger’s opening try with a pin-point cross-kick to level the scores.

Another goal-line stand saw the visitors keep the Rebels out, go up the field and take an unlikely lead.

It was madness at AAMI Park

Some great transitional play by the South Africans surprised the Rebels.

Rosco Specman broke into the opposition’s half.

He took a tackle before the ball was sent wide to Hendricks.

The ball was recycled at speed by the forwards to Pollard, who dances through Melbourne’s forwards to score under the poles.

The chaos ensued after the restart when the Bulls tried to run from behind their try-line.

The visitors gathered a sliced kick, but they conceded two penalties.

However, their lineout defending was immense, keeping out the opposition pack for the fifth time before clearing.

Some sloppy play from the tourists led to Will Genia scoring in the 27th-minute.

Melbourne lost possession inside the visitor’s half. André Warner kicked a shallow box-kick, which was not gathered by RG Snyman.

Hugh Roach picked up the bouncing ball and played Jack Maddocks, in support.

The winger took his time before linking with Koroibete, who put Genia away.

Cooper missed the chance to level from near the touchline.

Mistakes started to creep into the game because it was played at break-neck speed.

The first scrum took an age (and it was glorious), and like London buses, three came in quick succession.

The Pretoria franchise is famed for its set-pieces.

They practised scrumming for 15 minutes before kick-off, yet bizarrely, despite all the handling errors, it took 35 minutes for the first.

Two more came, and the Bulls got the upper-hand in added time when they won a penalty.

Pollard drilled the kick through the poles to end an entertaining half of free-flowing rugby.

The second half started similarly to the first with a Koroibete try

It was all Rebels. Their counter-attack from deep, was deadly this time as they levelled in the 42nd-minute.

Jermaine Ainsley found himself inside the tram tracks after some quick ball.

Koroibete played Maddocks, who sent the pass to the tighthead prop.  Ainsley took contact, and Koroibete was the first man to the ruck.

The flyer picked up and drove himself over the line from close range to level. Cooper missed from wide.

Reset scrums crept into the game as the Bulls neutralised the Rebels fast start.

Human’s side did have their chances but botched them before driving home the advantage.

Burger Odendaaal and Warrick Gelant combined with a neat one-two from inside their half, but Odendaal knocked on Liebenberg’s pass with the try-line beckoning.

One of the few sustained periods of possession in attack ended with a knock on by Duane Vermeulen after a sloppy pick-and-go by Trevor Nyakane, who dropped the ball.

Specman brings his Blitzboks magic

The Bulls did, however, finish off an attack after some Sensational play from Specman to set-up Burger Odendaal.

The sevens specialist beat Cooper to a bouncing ball, ducked under his tackle and played a basketball lob to the centre.

Odendaal swerved two tacklers and ran away under the sticks.

Pollard converted, but he missed a penalty soon after the restart that would have taken the lead to two scores.

The Rebels kept trying to play up-tempo when they should have slowed play down, and try to build through the phases as they did in the first half.

The forwards sacked two mauls in quick succession to keep the South Africans out as they looked to regain the initiative.

Then, out of nothing, the Bulls counter-attacked from their 22 after ripping away possession in the tackle.

RG Snyman, who was immense, broke free after Warner gathered the loose ball.

The lock played Odendaal, who in turn, passed to Pollard.

The flyhalf sent Hendricks away; the winger kicked, chased, and tackled Koroibete over the Aussies’ try-line.

Specman finished off a well-worked move from the five-metre scrum.

Warner passed to Pollard from between Genia’s legs. The ball was shifted from Odendaal to Gelant, joining the line.

The fullback sucked in three defenders and launched a floated pass to Specman, alone on the wing to dot down.

Pollard missed from the sideline, but he put the game to bed with a 75th-minute penalty to secure the long-awaited win down under.

Final Score: Rebels 17 (12) Bulls 32 (17)


Tries – Koroibete (2), Genia
Pen –
Con – Cooper
Drop –
Cards –

Tries – Hendricks, Pollard, Odendaal, Specman
Pen – Pollard (2)
Con – Pollard (3)
Drop –
Cards –

Match Officials
Referee: Federico Anselmi
Assistant Ref 1: Damon Murphy
Assistant Ref 2: Aaron Pook
TMO: Ian Smith



15 Dane Haylett-Petty (c), 14 Jack Maddocks, 13 Reece Hodge, 12 Billy Meakes, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Will Genia, 8 Rob Leota, 7 Richard Hardwick, 6 Luke Jones, 5 Matt Philip, 4 Ross Haylett-Petty, 3 Jermaine Ainsley, 2 Anaru Rangi, 1 Tetera Faulkner

Replacements: 16 Hugh Roach, 17 Matt Gibbon, 18 Sam Talakai, 19 Sam Jeffries, 20 Pone Fa’amausili, 21 Michael Ruru, 22 Campbell Magnay, 23 Matt To’omua


15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 Johnny Kotze, 12 Burger Odendaal, 11 Rosko Specman, 10 Handré Pollard (c), 9 André Warner, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Hanro Liebenberg, 6 Paul Schoeman, 5 RG Snyman, 4 Jason Jenkins, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Schalk Brits, 1 Lizo Gqoboka

Replacements: 16 Jaco Visagie, 17 Simphiwe Matanzima, 18 Wiehahn Herbst, 19 Jannes Kirsten, 20 Marco van Staden, 21 Embrose Papier, 22 Manie Libbok, 23 Divan Rossouw

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