Super Rugby

Sublime Specman treble sees Belligerent Bulls gore Highlanders




The Bulls battered the Highlanders 38-13 to claim their first win of the 2020 Super Rugby season in a scrappy affair at Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria.

Rosco Specman scored a 16-minute hat-trick as the Bulls overcame a slow start before battering the lowly Highlanders.

The former three-time champions Bulls bulldozed their Kiwi counter-parts six tries to two in the bonus-point rout.

The Highlanders led by eight after 48 minutes but they imploded in 32 abysmal minutes as the Bulls gored them: They were like a matador without a muleta.

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Pote Human’s side scored five tries and 33 unanswered second-half points as they fought back from an eight-point deficit and claim a commanding victory.

Josh Ioane scored a try and collected eight points from the tee, but it was not enough as the lowly Highlanders faded after halftime.

Jaco Visagie and Warrick Gelant’s tries kept the Bulls within touching distance. Visagie’s try opened the scoring for the Bulls and put them 5-7 down in the first quarter.

Gelant’s second-half score and Manie Libbok’s conversion made it a one-point ball-game with less than half-an-hour to play.

Ioane kept his side’s noses ahead with his second penalty after the break.

Super Rugby Highlights: Bulls versus Highlanders, Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria

But the home team, in their new white kits, bulldozed the opposition thanks to Specman’s expert finishing as the Bulls sealed a much-needed win.

Cornal Hendricks capped off a wonderful second-half demolition of the Dunedin outfit, who were outscored 33-3 in the second stanza.

The New Zealanders have now lost their last four games away to South African opposition.

The Bulls, who had lost five of their previous seven matches against the ‘Landers, winning only once, with a draw to add to that damning indictment of results, will savour this result.

The victory propels the Pretoria-based franchise from the bottom of the Super Rugby table to second last.

A scrappy affair saw the lowly Highlanders take a slim five-point halftime lead into the shed

The hosts started slowly, but both teams made multiple mistakes as the errors mounted.

Maybe the suspect decision for both teams to play in matching blue kits had a negative effect because the game was abject, to be honest.

Both sides had only a single Super Rugby win between themselves in eight matches, so maybe this was to be expected.

Ioane scored all his team’s first-half points as they took a 5-10 lead into the shed. The 24-year-old converted his 10th-minute try before adding a 35th-minute penalty to his tally.

The Highlanders struck from a lineout outside the Bulls’ 22.

Lots of dummy runners, some quick-ball and slick passing saw Ioane cross for the game’s opening score.

Visagie flopped over the whitewash from the powerful maul after Ioane’s earlier try.

Libbok missed the conversion.

Aaron Mauger’s men should have been out of sight by halftime, but they butchered two glorious chances.

Dillon Hunt knocked on in contact with the try-line at his mercy after a deep counter-attack from the Highlanders 22.

The New Zealanders had a four on two over-lap yet contrived to make a mess of an almost certain try.

Libbok almost gifted the ‘Landers a score after he tried to run the ball out for his in-goal.

The 22-year-old utility back, in for Morne Steyn at flyhalf, was tackled, but he lost possession, which led to a penalty.

Aaron Smith tried to go quickly, but the All Blacks scrumhalf’s tap was poor, and he was tackled into touch a couple of metres short of the line.

The Bulls managed to keep the clear-cut chances of the opposition down, but could not create any of their own.

Ioane kicked a penalty before the interval to extend his side’s lead, but going for poles so close to halftime, was a moral victory – if nothing else – for Human’s men.

Bulls change strip at the interval and everything else changes

The Bulls changed their kit and just like Manchester United, all those years ago, their fortunes change, too.

Ioane added a penalty soon after the restart, but Specman’s quickfire brace around the hour mark changed the game.

Gelant’s 48th-minute try kick-started the comeback. He rounded a defender and waltzed over for his side’s second try.

The Bulls pack had dominated the game; they grew stronger as the second-half went on.

A sustained attack ended with Specman, who had earlier cleaned out a ruck, dancing his way over for the Bulls’ third try on 56 minutes.

Specman finished off a slick backline move to claim his second try.

Gelant made the break, drew the defender before combining with Johnny Kotze, who put the former Blitzboks flyer in the corner five minutes later.

It was all the Bulls as the Otago side crumbled in the final quarter. It was as if Mauger’s men just gave up.

The forwards pounded away at the Kiwis’ line before going wide to Steyn. The Springboks and club legend threw a skip-pass to Specman, cutting out two defenders, for his third.

Their opponents had no answer, fading as the game wore on.

Specman sealed the deal with his third try with less than eight minutes remaining before Hendricks added a late try of his own.

Final Score: Bulls 38 (5) Highlanders 13 (10)


Tries – Visagie, Gelant, Specman (3), Hendricks
Pen –
Con – Libbok (3), Steyn
Drop –
Cards –

Tries – J. Ioane
Pen – J. Ioane (2)
Con – J. Ioane
Drop –
Cards –

Match Officials
Referee: AJ Jacobs
Assistant Ref 1: Cwengile Jadezweni
Assistant Ref 2: Egon Seconds
TMO: Willie Vos



Head Coach: Pote Human

15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 Nafi Tuitavake, 12 Johnny Kotze, 11 Rosko Specman, 10 Manie Libbok, 9 Embrose Papier, 8 Muller Uys (debut), 7 Josh Strauss, 6 Marco van Staden, 5 Ruan Nortje, 4 Ian Groenewald (debut), 3 Trevor Nyakane (captain), 2 Jaco Visagie, 1 Lizo Gqoboka.

Replacements: 16 Corniel Els, 17 Gerhard Steenkamp, 18 Wiehahn Herbst, 19 Ryno Pieterse, 20 Ruan Steenkamp, 21 Ivan van Zyl, 22 Morné Steyn, 23 Divan Rossouw.


Head Coach: Aaron Mauger

15 Michael Collins, 14 Josh McKay, 13 Ngane Punivai, 12 Josh Ioane, 11 Jona Nareki, 10 Mitch Hunt, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Marino Mikaele Tu’u, 7 Dillon Hunt, 6 Shannon Frizell, 5 Manaaki Selby-Rickit, 4 Jesse Parete, 3 Siate Tokolahi, 2 Liam Coltman, 1 Ayden Johnstone.

Replacements: 16 Ash Dixon, 17 Daniel Lienert-Brown, 18 Jeff Thwaites, 19 Jack Whetton, 20 Teariki Ben-Nicholas, 21 Kayne Hammington, 22 Teihorangi Walden, 23 Tima Fainga’anuku.

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