Bulls

Bulls hold on for third place

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The Bulls of South Africa were pushed all the way by Western Force of Australia on Saturday before winning 32-29 to occupy third place on the Super 14 table with two rounds to go.


Force picked up two bonus points and although ninth in the standings are far from out of the running for a semi-finals place in the southern hemisphere championship.


While the Bulls went ahead with a third-minute penalty by fly-half Morne Steyn, Force scored the first try a minute later and silenced the Loftus Versfeld crowd.


Fullback Drew Mitchell crossed the line after collecting a perfect chip kick by fly-half Matt Giteau, whose conversion made it 7-3 to the Perth franchise.


Just five minutes later Bulls edged ahead again when Springbok flyer Bryan Habana turned on the gas to power his way past a host of Force defenders and score his team’s first try.


Leading Super 14 points scorer Steyn missed the conversion and for a long period the score remained 8-7 in favour of the home side.


Giteau then knocked over a 35th-minute penalty to put his side 10-8 up, but three minutes from the interval, the Bulls went back into the lead thanks to a superb try by tighthead prop Werner Kruger.


After a quick tap penalty by scrum-half Fourie du Preez on the Force ’22’, the ball was sent wide and when centre Jaco Pretorius failed to take the ball over the line, Kruger was on hand to pick it up and score.


Steyn converted to give his side a 15-10 half-time lead.


Bulls scored their third try early in the second half when fullback Zane Kirchner crossed the tryline. Steyn again failed to convert but opened up a 16-point gap soon after when succeeding with two penalties.


Force hit back in the middle of the second half when backs Cameron Shepherd and Josh Tatupu scored tries with a Steyn penalty sandwiched in between to leave the match delicately poised at 29-22 to the Bulls with 10 minutes left.


Replacement No 10 Burton Francis, who came on when Steyn was sent to the ‘sin bin’ – put his side 10 points clear on 74 minutes from a penalty, but Force scored a late try through centre Ryan Cross and Giteau converted.


Sapa-AFP

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