CAPE TOWN – The Bulls confirmed their standing as the highest facet in South African rugby this season by grinding out a 22-15 victory over the Lions on Wednesday to safe high spot on the Currie Cup log.
It wasn’t the perfect match to look at, contemplating the slippery circumstances brought on by the rain that fell over Pretoria, however coach Jake White received’t be too bothered by the stop-start efficiency because the Bulls will host a semi-final and a attainable closing.
It was a misplaced alternative for the Lions, who should journey to Loftus Versfeld once more, whereas Western Province will host the Sharks at Newlands within the different semi-final – with each encounters scheduled for January 16.
The Bulls, who nonetheless have a league recreation towards the Pumas in Nelspruit on Sunday, are on 39 factors, adopted by WP on 37, Sharks on 35 and Lions on 34 after Province and the Sharks acquired two log factors when their league recreation was cancelled on Wednesday as a consequence of Covid-19 protocols.
Now White could have the luxurious of fielding a second-string facet towards the Pumas, after he expressed his concern this week about having restricted time to arrange the Bulls for the semi-finals.
— Official Blue Bulls (@BlueBullsRugby) January 6, 2021
Duane Vermeulen did lead the group out towards the Lions because the Bulls fielded most of their first-choice forwards, however they have been lacking a lot of backline stars equivalent to Stedman Gans, Cornal Hendricks and Kurt-Lee Arendse, who have been all unavailable as a consequence of Covid-19 protocols.
However because of the moist floor and maybe the excessive stakes of a house semi-final at stake, the match was suffering from errors from each side. The shortage of match apply was evident within the Bulls’ efficiency, as they final performed on December 12, after they misplaced to the Sharks in Durban.
The Lions have been faster out of the blocks, with fullback Tiaan Swanepoel booting them right into a 9-0 lead after 20 minutes because the Bulls battled within the scrums.
However referee Cwengile Jadezweni felt that the Lions have been starting to ‘stroll across the nook’ within the set-piece, particularly loosehead Dylan Smith, and shortly sufficient, Bulls flyhalf Chris Smith levelled the scoreboard at 9-9 with three penalties of his personal.
Springbok tighthead Trevor Nyakane ultimately received his battle with Smith, who needed to depart the sector with an harm simply earlier than halftime after being shoved again in a scrum.
Smith landed a fourth penalty to assert a 12-9 halftime lead for the Bulls, whose pack of forwards have been slowly however absolutely gaining the ascendancy within the collisions.
The turning level of the sport got here early within the second half, when Man of the Match Embrose Papier confirmed his trademark velocity and grit to energy by a Dan Kriel sort out to attain after an offload from Vermeulen off a scrum.
It was a great distance again at 19-9 for the Lions, who didn’t assist themselves by kicking possession away as an alternative of holding on to the ball.
Swanepoel slotted two extra penalties to make it an thrilling end at 19-15, however the Bulls absorbed the strain at a few lineout mauls, and substitute Morné Steyn sealed the take care of a late three-pointer.
Bulls 22 – Attempt: Embrose Papier. Conversion: Chris Smith (1). Penalties: Smith (4), Morné Steyn (1).
Lions 15 – Penalties: Tiaan Swanepoel (5).