The Vodacom Bulls managed to pull of an astonishing 31-17 win at Loftus on Friday after they had to play with 14 men with more than 50 minutes.
The Bulls’ fullback Zane Kirchner received a red card from referee JC Fortuin in the 29th minute for the reason that he spear tackled Dusty Noble who did not have the ball. Bakkies Botha received a yellow card simultaneously and subsequently the Bulls had to play with 13 men for ten minutes.
The BBRU reports that before these two cards the Bulls were leading 17-0 and were in complete control of the match but luckily for them the Lions could not capitalize with their extra two men.
Dusty Noble scored in the 32th while Botha was serving his ten minute sentence but Derick Hougaard added his forth penalty with a massive kick from within his own half in the 36th minute to keep the Bulls’ scoreboard ticking.
A minute before the half time whistle Akona Ndungane scored his second try to take the Bulls into a solid 25-5 half time lead and this try proved that there was no way that the Bulls are going to give up just because they are playing with 14 men.
The Lions came out firing after the break and it wasn’t long before their nippy scrumhalf Jano Vermaak dived over to double the Lions’ score.
Ryno Benjamin scored the Lions’ third try in the 53rd minute after Vermaak made another sharp break but they could not gather any more points after this.
Hougaard, who was named Man of the Match, added two more penalties to keep the game out of reach of the visitors but in the end it was a game that was won by the Bulls’ indomitable defence and their never say die attitude.
With seven forwards against eight (Pedrie Wannenburg had to leave the field after Kirchner received his card because the Bulls didn’t want to outnumbered by the Lions’ backs) every single Bull had to dig deep and from the pavilion one could sense how they decided to play for one another.
Gurthro Steenkamp, Derick Kuün, Rayno Gerber, Wilhelm Steenkamp and Bakkies Botha were not shy to go the extra yard and in the loose Wikus van Heerden and Danie Rossouw had to do the work of three men.
Fourie du Preez passed his exam as captain under extremely difficult conditions with flying colours since had controlled the tempo of the match and he managed to keep his side together especially in the second half when the Lions threw everything they had at the defending champions.
The Bulls will be very pleased with the result and the fact that Botha, Ndungane and Bryan Habana had solid performances after their injury lay-offs will further lift the spirit of the team.
Youngsters such as Dean Greyling, Stephan Dippenaar, Dewald Potgieter and Deon Stegmann were quite prominent in the last quarter but the team now have to wait and see how many of them is going to be cited.
Tries: Akona Ndunagne (2).
Penalties: Derick Hougaard (6).
Drop goal: Derick Hougaard.
Tries: Dusty Noble, Ryno Benjamin, Jano Vermaak.
Conversion: Jano Vermaak.