Habana the hero at Loftus



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Springbok flyer Bryan Habana’s iconic status at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria received a further boost on Saturday when he scored an 80th minute try to steal a 30-27 win for the Bulls over the Chiefs in their Super 14 match.

The team’s scored three tries each, but Habana’s four-metre dash-and-dive at the death was the decider.

The Bulls needed more than a rabbit to pull out from their hats when they were staring a consecutive defeat in the face at their Loftus Versfeld fortress.

With time up on the clock, the ball had to be kept in hand – tackles and all – to avoid the referee from blowing that dreaded whistle and send the Bulls fans home with a stiff upper lip.

The Bulls players had not been able to finish off any moves in the entire 80 minutes of the game with their backline play – how on earth were they going to do it now with time up on clock?

Well, this is how they did it…

Habana started the build up by keeping the ball in play inside his 22 which was then sent to fullback Johan Roets who was spurred on by the Bulls crowd to ‘hardloop’, which means run in Afrikaans.

Fourie du Preez, instrumental once again in the number 9 jersey (but perhaps guilty of kicking one ball too many already) went on a sniping run before offloading to fellow Bok Danie Rossouw who broke away from two tackles on his charge upfield.

The Chiefs were put on the backfoot as wave after wave of blue jerseys swarmed the player that was tackled with ball in hand was made sure the ball would not be killed.

Du Preez flung the ball to the left, discarded Bok fly-half Jaco van der Westhuizen ran straight and drew in the opposition before offloading to Wayne Julies (another Springbok) who then sent the final pass to a speeding Habana who’s sheer pace was enough to take him flying through the air and into the corner.

The TMO was called in to double check Habana’s grounding of the ball, but the screaming Bulls fans could tell a Chiefs supporter as far as Hamilton that the try was legit.

Disorientated Chiefs players watched on as Derick Hougaard lined up for the conversion, the kick was missed – but the celebrations had already started before the ball was even kicked.

The Chiefs will be wondering how they let the game slip out of their grasp as they still yet to record a win in their Super 14 campaign.

Not even a brace of tries from the deadly pace of wing Lelia Masaga could save his team from celebrating in South Africa’s capital. Instead, they will be downing their sorrows.

Roy Kinikinilau was also a menace on attack for the Chiefs, while Stephen Donald did everything right with the boot.

A roar from the crowd erupted as Springbok lock Bakkies Botha was welcomed back to the playing fields after spending months on the sidelines through injury.

The Chiefs were quick to put the applause to a holt with a dominating opening display the ball that starved the Bulls of possession for ten quality minutes.

In this time, Donald was able to convert the possession into points with a penalty kick with five minutes gone on the clock. This was followed up with a conversion five minutes later after Masaga crossed over for his first try of the night

The try under the posts was made possible after the Chiefs held off a decent scrum in the middle of the pitch, number eight Sione Lauaki picked up at the foot of the scrum and went blind. Full-back Dwayne Sweeney then drew in enough defenders to send Masaga flying down the right-hand touchline. Though the wing still had a lot of work to do to earn his try, his pace was phenomenal.

At 10-0, the Chiefs were scoring a point a minute.

Morn’ Steyn finally put the Bulls on the scoreboard with an easy enough penalty kick a few minutes later after the Chiefs were blown up for offsides.

The flags were up again shortly afterwards when Simms Davison picked up a Sweeney knock-on from an offside position.

The Bulls bagged their first try of the match after the Chiefs were blown up for a high tackle. Bulls skipper Victor Matfield opted to go for the line-out instead of goal – a decision that worked in his team’s favour this time round (Force loss anyone?).

Rossouw won the line-out ball with ease and a ruck formed five meters out from the Chiefs line. Du Preez swung the ball left and who else but Bakkies Botha to crash over with a comeback try, much to the delight of the Bulls fans.

Steyn however failed to pick up the same applause as the conversion attempt was pushed wide from the touchline.

The next score could have come from Donald had he not fluffed a penalty kick just moments later. Oh how he must be wishing he got that kick over now…

Instead the Bulls came back after been denied by the TMO on an earlier decision (the right one at that) to score through the hands of monster prop Gurthro Steenkamp.

Again the conversion was missed by Steyn, but the pivot was quick to make amends with a penalty kick on the stroke of half-time to give his team a deserved 19-10 lead at the break.

The second half started with the same pace the Bulls had ended the first, but it was the Chiefs who would again touch down first in the opening exchanges.

This time Sweeney made sure he grabbed hold of a grubber kick stabbed through by Donald on the left hand touchline that caught the Bulls napping.

Donald’s conversion too the scores to 19-17 and the crowd now had a close game on their hands.

Replacements came left, right and centre for the Bulls as coach Heineke Meyer gave his try scorers a rest.

The Chiefs thanked Meyer of his unusual decision by scoring a cracker of a try through some individual brilliance by Masaga once again.

After breaking the Bulls midfield, the wing only had Du Preez to beat with a man on his outside. Instead, Masaga opted to finish what he started and put in a mind boggling sidestep that even fooled the commentators to touch down for a quality try.

Donald made sure of the conversion and the Chiefs regained the lead.

Meyer was again involved in his replacing key players by yanking Steyn off in favour of Hougaard who was immediately involved after Sweeney was seeing yellow after a spear tackle on Jaco van der Westhuyzen.

Hougaard punished Sweeney for his sins.

Sweeney was made to pay again after Hougaard was awarded a penalty to put his side in the lead with only seven minutes remaining.

The phrase it’s never over until the fat lady sings must have being going through the Bulls players minds as Donald did his singing with his boot. He made the Bulls pay for going off-side on a Chiefs attack.

It nearly wasn’t to be as the ball clipped the right upright and fell over, much to the groans of the crowd.

That put the score at 27-25 in favour of the Chiefs with one minute remaining on the clock.

The rest as they say, is history!

The scorers:

For the Bulls:
Tries: B Botha, Steenkamp, Habana
Pens: Steyn 3, Hougaard 2

For the Chiefs:
Tries: Masaga 2, Sweeney
Cons: Donald 3
Pens: Donald 2

Yellow card: Dwayne Sweeney (Chiefs, 64 – foul play, spear tackle)


Bulls: 15 Johan Roets, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 JP Nel, 12 Wayne Julies, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Morn’ Steyn, 9 Fourie du Preez, 8 Anton Leonard, 7 Wikus van Heerden, 6 Danie Rossouw, 5 Victor Matfield (c), 4 Bakkies Botha, 3 Danie Thiart, 2 Gary Botha, 1 Gurthro Steenkamp
Replacements: 16 Jaco Engels, 17 Ruan Vermeulen, 18 Pedrie Wannenburg, 19 Derick Ku’n, 20 Heinie Adams, 21 Derick Hougaard, 22 Jaco van der Westhuyzen

Chiefs: 15 Dwayne Sweeney, 14 Lelia Masaga, 13 Richard Kahui, 12 Tane Tu’ipulotu, 11 Roy Kinikinilau, 10 Stephen Donald, 9 Brendon Leonard, 8 Sione Lauaki, 7 Marty Holah, 6 Steven Bates (c), 5 Toby Lynn, 4 Keith Robinson, 3 Nathan White, 2 Tom Willis, 1 Simms Davison
Replacements: 16 Aled de Malmanche, 17 Ben Castle, 18 Kristian Ormsby, 19 Liam Messam 20 Jamie Nutbrown, 21 Murray Williams, 22 Niva Ta’auso

Referee: James Leckie (Australia)
Touch judges: Geoff Acton (Australia), Phillip Bosch (South Africa)
Television match official: Johann Meuwesen (South Africa)
365 Digital

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