John Mametsa scored a hat-trick of tries in his 100th game to help the Vodacom Blue Bulls to a 21-7 (half-time 6-0) win over the Xerox Lions in an action-packed ABSA Curries Cup first round game at Ellis Park on Saturday.
Superrugby reports that it was a dream game for the popular Pretoria winger (who was the leading try-scorer in last year’s Absa Currie Cup, with 14 tries.) Mametsa became the first black player at the Bulls to play 100 games and he was deservedly awarded the man-of-the match prize to cap a brilliant performance.
Mametsa signalled his intentions as early as the third minute when he appeared to dot down in the left corner, only to be denied by the TMO after he was bundled into touch by Louis Ludik.
The match between the Gauteng neighbours may have been a low scoring event but it was by no means a dull affair as the teams exchanged enthralling tit-for-tat attacking forays till the final whistle.
The first half began with furious intensity with both threatening to score on numerous occasions, but neither crossed the line as a result of tight defence and it was not until the thirty fifth minute that points were put on the board through a penalty by Bulls flyhalf Morné Steyn.
Scrum-half JP Joubert added a long range drop goal a minute later to allow the visitors to go into the break with a slim 6-0 advantage.
Lions lock Gerhard Mostert was yellow carded on the stroke of half time for a dangerous clean on Bull’s centre Wynand Olivier at a ruck. The Bulls however failed to capitalise on the one man advantage, failing to put points on the board in the ten minutes the burly tight forward was off.
The frantic pace continued into the second half which saw more pulsating and enterprising play from both sides. The big hits turned into bigger hits and the exchanges at the point of breakdown became brutally physical.
The two fetchers – Lions captain Cobus Grobbelaar and his opposite Deon Stegmann – had a battle royale to see who could turn over more opposition ball, allowing for their teams to counter attack time and time again, and there were long passages of play where the game sea-sawed from one end to the other.
The Lions then went ahead with a converted try in the 55th minute after replacement wing Jannie Boshoff put scrum-half Jano Vermaak though the slightest of gaps with clever angled running.
Then five minutes later the John Mametsa show began. He finished off a long range team effort, running in from 22m out after receiving a beautiful off-load from fullback Tiger Mangweni to dive over in the left corner.
Mametsa then popped up in the right hand side of the field to finish off yet another multi-phased sequence of play, punctuated with impressive inter-play between forwards and backs. He cantered over in the left corner for his last and easiest when the visitors had an overlap.
In the final analysis, the Bulls may have had a less experienced outfit on the park as a result of Springbok call ups, but they wanted it more. They recycled the ball quicker and were more clinical with their finishing. Plus….they had John Mametsa on their side.
Tries : Jano Vermaak
Conversions: Earl Rose
Vodacom Blue Bulls
Tries : John Mametsa (3)
Penalties: Morné Steyn
Drop Goals : JP Joubert
Yellow Cards: Gerhard MostertTweet