Blues beat Bulls with drop goal



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New Zealand test flyhalf Nick Evans landed a dropped goal eight minutes from fulltime to give the Blues a 23-21 win over the Bulls in Super 14 on Saturday.

The Bulls took the lead 21-20 with a try, brilliantly conceived by South Africa test winger Bryan Habana, seven minutes earlier, but for the second week in a row the Blues managed to win with a late goal.

The Blues beat South Africa’s Stormers 17-14 with a last-minute penalty in round six.

Tries to All Blacks forwards Troy Flavell and Keven Mealamu helped Blues take 10-0 and 17-7 leads but the Bulls fought back with two tries to Wikus van Heerden, another to Derick Kuun to lead for the first time in sight on fulltime.

Evans nonchalantly dropkicked the winning goal from a scrum in the 72nd minute but Blues had to resist withering pressure from the Bulls to secure its win.

Fullback Zane Kirchner had a chance to score the winning try minutes from fulltime but was unable to judge the bounce from Habana’s superb kick behind the Blues defense and lost the ball over the goalline.

The Bulls then tried to set up dropped goal expert Derick Hougaard for the winning kick but held the ball through one too many rucks close to the Blues line and conceded a free kick less than two minutes from fulltime. Their winning chance died with that decision.

“That’s just our season,” captain Fourie du Preez said.

“I thought it was a much better performance tonight. We got plenty of opportunities but things just didn’t go our way.”

The Bulls sought to slow the game down to suit its powerful forward pack and to negate the threat of Blues’s dangerous backline.

They did so in the first half, holding Blues to a 10-7 lead at halftime, but the game opened up and gathered pace in the second half.

Blues should have been suited by the increased pace but their play was plagued by handling errors and, at the end, they counted themselves lucky to have won.

“We strive to get better every week but it hasn’t always happened,” Flavell said.

“As we get into the latter rounds and the pressure goes on those passes are going to have to stick and the combinations have got to come together. We’ve got a busy week ahead of us.”

Habana was the individual star of the match, creating problems for the Blues every time he touched the ball. He made the try to hooker Derick Kuun which gave the Bulls their late lead with a brilliant display of individual skill.

The Springboks winger, judged the world’s player of the year last season, first dived to field a Blues clearing kick then beat two players on a lone run down the left sideline, turning the ball into Kuun when the last defender had been drawn.

Former Springbok Wikus van Heerden scored a try in each half, grappling the ball over the line at the head of powerful forward surges.

Blues 23 (Troy Flavell, Keven Mealamu tries; Nick Evans 2 conversions, 2 penalties, dropped goal),
Bulls 21 (Wikus van Heerden 2, Derick Kuun tries; Derick Hougaard 3 conversions).


HT, 10-7.

Sapa-AP  Super14.com   

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