Super Rugby

Ragged Bulls overcome determined Griquas




The Bulls beat Griquas 30-23 to open their Super Rugby Unlocked account at Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria.

The Bulls overturned a 10-point and eight-point deficit before pulling away late in the game to register a fortunate but unconvincing Super Rugby victory.

The teams shared three tries apiece with Griquas flyer James Verity-Amm grabbing a brace, while Anthony Volmink scored soon after halftime.

Ruan Nortje and skipper Arno Botha scored tries either side of their team’s penalty try as the Bulls held on to win.

This was a lucky escape. The undercooked Griquas were the better team despite having trouble with the vaunted Bulls pack.

Jake White’s team looked like a rag-tag bunch of misfits who had never met each other, while the visitors looked assured.

Scott Mathie comprehensively out-coached the veteran World Cup-winning coach. He will be happy with his team’s performance but not the losing bonus-point from a game that was there for the taking.

Mathie’s players hadn’t played a match in 14 months but it was they who looked well-drilled and seasoned – feisty even. They did not take a backward step all night.

Super Rugby Unlocked Round 1: Bulls versus Griquas at Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria

Problems in the scrum did lead to a penalty try – and George Whitehead yellow card – that changed the course of this game, but the men from Kimberly can hold their heads up high.

Inexperience did for them in the end, that and the boot of the returning Morné Steyn, who kicked 13 points from the tee.

All square at the break after Griquas’ error leads to Bulls leveling on the stroke of halftime.

The home team had the better of the early exchanges but poor handling cost them points.

When they won penalties, they could not convert pressure into points as the opposition frustrated them and pressured them into errors.

Three penalties were kicked to the corner, but Mathie’s charges defended the driving maul, expertly.

Both teams’ missed few tackles, no line outs were lost against the throw. Only one scrum was lost by Griquas, but their handling was slicker, and they had more composure than their illustrious opponents.

George Whitehead kicked a 10th-minute penalty before Verity-Amm scored a well-worked try before the half-hour as the visitors opened up a deserved 10-point lead.

Turning point.

Minutes before halftime the Bulls finally took the points.

The fact that they decided to take a shot at goal, is a testament to how well the opposition played. Steyn, however, missed.

Steyn did, however, get the hosts on the board with two minutes remaining before the interval after a botched Griquas scrum led to the home team’s fightback.

However, a mix-up at the base of the scrum in the dying embers of the first stanza by the visitors saw the Bulls strike. The loose ball was gathered by the hosts, who sprung a counter-attack to wipe away the deficit

Nortje combined with Jason Jenkins, on the stroke of halftime. Steyn kicked the conversion to level proceedings at the break.

Griquas start hot but tail off at the end after a defiant display at Loftus.

Tim Agaba was harshly yellow-carded soon after the restart, and the Kimberly men took advantage, retaking the lead when Volmink intercepted a stray pass from David Kriel.

Kriel, under pressure from a defender, collected Steyn’s cross-field kick but threw a floated pass into the grateful hands of Volmink, who raced away to score.

Whitehead missed the easy conversion before knocking over a 51st-minute penalty to open up a two-score lead.

The flyhalf, however, was sent to the naughty step for not rolling away in the tackle with the Bulls on the attack. It was another harsh call by referee Jaco Peyper.

Marco van Staden thought he had scored in the same attack, but Daniel Kasende managed to turn the flanker before he could dot down.

Joy was short-lived because the Bulls’ pack bulldozed their opponents and won a penalty try to make it a one-point game in the 55th-minute.

Bulls forwards take control as the visitors tired and their inexperience, tolls.

Mistakes and ill-discipline began to creep into the visitors, who leaked kickable penalties.

Steyn opted for a shot at goal to put the hosts ahead for the first time in the match. Four minutes later, the Bulls extended the lead when Botha scored under the sticks.

The World Cup-winning flyhalf converted; however, the visitors hit back when Verity-Amm scored his second in the corner after some smart football skills down the touchline.

Whitehead missed from out wide as the scores stayed 27-23 with eight to play.

Steyn, again, opted for a penalty after an accidental offside from the restart gave White’s team a chance to run down the clock and open up a seven-point lead.

By now, the three-time Super Rugby champions slowed the play, milked the scrums, and held on for an ugly win.

Final Score: Bulls 30 (10) Griquas 23 (10)


Tries – Nortje, Penalty try, Botha
Pen – M. Steyn (3)
Con – M. Steyn (2)
Drop –
Cards – Agaba (Yellow, 42′)

Tries – Verity-Amm (2), Volmink
Pen – Whitehead (2)
Con – Whitehead
Drop –
Cards – Whitehead (Yellow 53′)

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



15 Gio Aplon, 14 Travis Ismaiel, 13 Stedman Gans, 12 Cornal Hendricks, 11 David Kriel, 10 Morne Steyn, 9 Ivan van Zyl, 8 Tim Agaba, 7 Arno Botha (captain), 6 Marco van Staden, 5 Ruan Nortje, 4 Jason Jenkins, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Corniel Els, 1 Jacques van Rooyen

Replacements: 16 Johan Grobbelaar, 17 Lizo Gqoboka, 18 Mornay Smith, 19 Sintu Manjezi, 20 Elrigh Louw, 21 Embrose Papier, 22 Chris Smith, 23 Marco Jansen van Vuren


15 Anthony Volmink, 14 Daniel Kasende, 13 Harlon Klaasen, 12 Andre Swarts, 11 James Verity-Amm, 10 George Whitehead (captain), 9 Zak Burger, 8 Niell Jordaan, 7 Stefan Willemse, 6 Carl Els, 5 Victor Sekekete, 4 Ian Groenewald, 3 John-Roy Jenkinson, 2 HJ Luus, 1 Mox Mxoli

Replacements: 16 Alandre van Rooyen, 17 Bandisa Ndlovu, 18 Madot Mabokela, 19 Adre Smith, 20 Zandre Jordaan, 21 Gideon van der Merwe, 22 Ashlon Davids, 23 Berton Klaasen, 24 Mzwanele Zito, 25 Johan Momsen, 26 Bjorn Basson

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