Super Rugby

Bulls beat spirited Pumas to claim Super Rugby Unlocked title

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The Bulls beat the Pumas 21-5 in a dull affair to claim the Super Rugby Unlocked championship at Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria.

Kurt-Lee Arendse, Chris Smith, and Ivan van Zyl all scored first-half tries as the Bulls claimed their fourth Super Rugby title.

Smith kicked all three conversions for a match haul of 11 points, while the Pumas managed one try from HP van Schoor after the break.

However, the home team’s standards dropped after their 25th-minute 21-0 lead, and they were shut out for the rest of the game as they lost their heads and the game plan went out the window.

The visitors’ dogged resistance, by a side that could – and should – have imploded under the pressure of their more illustrious and talented opponents, kept their heads while the Bulls lost theirs.

The Mpumalanga side, but for some poor decisions, had more to show for their dominant second-half display, but it’s the Pretoria side that will be drinking from the cup of success.

This game was nothing more than a practice session and over from the moment referee Aimee Barrett-Theron blew her whistle to start the ‘game’

The Pumas conceded 12 penalties to the Bulls’ three and turned the ball over four times in the first stanza.

Jimmy Stonehouse’s side spent the half inside their 22 as Jake White’s charges enjoyed 72% possession and 77% territory in the most lopsided half of Super Rugby Unlocked this season.

The Bulls dominated every facet of the game as the Pumas struggled to get any forward momentum while struggling at the breakdown and the set-pieces; their lineout was a mess, and their scrum timid.

The Pumas had to make 63 tackles to 23 in the first half, which set the tone for the rest of the game as they spent the afternoon defending.

Arendse opened the scoring in the 11th-minute following three attacking lineout drives by the Bulls. The Pumas defended the driving mauls, sacking them legally but they could not stay onside, and eventually the dam wall burst.

Six minutes later, and after another attacking lineout, Smith powered through three defenders to grab his team’s second.

Walt Steenkamp knocked-on with the try line at his mercy soon afterward, but the hosts found their way over from the next attacking lineout.

Van Zyl looked up, saw no pillar defender at the ruck, and dived for the try line, stretching out his arm to score. Smith converted his third kick to make it 21-0.

This was as good as it would get for the Bulls as their game fell apart

It was all too easy for White’s men, who camped inside the opposition’s 22. The visitors could not keep out their hosts and continued to stray offsides.

Stonehouse’s charges conceded nine penalties before the half-hour mark. Their set-piece wilted as their opponents turned the screw.

By now, the Bulls players were lining up for a chance at getting their names on the scoreboard. Corniel Els, from close range, attempted a pick-and-drive, and just like Steenkamp, he knocked-on when it was easier to score.

As the penalties mounted, the home team turned the game into a set-piece practice session.

Somehow, with less than two minutes before the break, the referee awarded the visitors a penalty on their goal line. It allowed the Pumas to get out of the half without any more damage.

Lackluster Bulls allow complacency to creep into the game as Pumas show resistance after half time

The Pumas had their chances after the restart to get some points, squandering several attacking opportunities following some pressure on the Bulls pack, before getting on the board.

However, Phumzile Maqondwana conceded a penalty for not rolling away after his team-mates conceded a turnover on the Bulls line.

But another attacking opportunity from a lineout drive saw the visitors finally get some rewards for their efforts. A powerful driving maul resulted in Van Schoor flopping over the whitewash for his team’s first points.

Theo Boshoff missed the conversion.

The game began to disintegrate as the unforced errors from the Bulls mounted. But the visitors showed good mental fortitude by not imploding in the first half.

Their rewards came in the form of a try, and their obdurance caused the opposition to stray from their game plan and lose momentum as the mistakes mounted.

The rest of the game dissolved into a mess. Stonehouse’s men can be proud of their second-half effort, winning the second half and keeping the opposition scoreless after the interval.

Although the Bulls did not score, they did enough to win the game and the Super Rugby tournament.

Final Score: Bulls 21 (21) Pumas 5 (0)

Scorers

Bulls
Tries – Arendse, Smith, Van Zyl
Pen –
Con – Smith (3)
Drop –
Cards –

Pumas
Tries – Van Schoor
Pen –
Con –
Drop –
Cards –

Match Officials
Referee: Aimee Barrett-Theron
Assistant Ref 1: Rasta Rasivhenge
Assistant Ref 2: Cwengile Jadezweni
TMO: Marius van der Westhuizen

Teams

Bulls

15 David Kriel, 14 Travis Ismaiel, 13 Stedman Gans, 12 Cornal Hendricks, 11 Kurt-Lee Arendse, 10 Chris Smith, 9 Ivan van Zyl, 8 Duane Vermeulen (captain), 7 Arno Botha, 6 Marco van Staden, 5 Ruan Nortje, 4 Walt Steenkamp, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Corniel Els, 1 Jacques van Rooyen

Replacements: 16 Joe van Zyl, 17 Gerhard Steenekamp, 18 Marcel van der Merwe, 19 Sintu Manjezi, 20 Nizaam Carr, 21 Embrose Papier, 22 Clinton Swart, 23 Marco Jansen van Vuren

Pumas
15 Devon Williams, 14 Luther Obi, 13 Erich Cronje, 12 Wayne van der Bank, 11 Etienne Taljaard, 10 Theo Boshoff, 9 Chriswill September, 8 Willem Engelbrecht, 7 Phumzile Maqondwana, 6 Francois Kleinhans, 5 Pieter Jansen van Vuren (captain), 4 Darrien Landsburg, 3 Ruan Kramer, 2 HP van Schoor, 1 Morgan Naude

Replacements: 16 Marko Janse van Rensburg, 17 Ig Prinsloo, 18 Brandon Valentyn, 19 Daniel Maartens, 20 Ginter Smuts, 21 Ali Mgijima, 22 Tapiwa Mafura, 23 Liam Hendricks

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