The Blue Bulls, with nothing at stake except pride and playing with only two regulars in their last Currie Cup league match on Friday night, got the fright of their collective lives as they scraped through 22-20 against a motivated, abrasive Falcons side at Loftus.
News 24 reports that in the end, the Bulls probably deserved to win, despite being unable to score for the last 28 minutes of the match in which time the score never changed.
Missed tackles by the Bulls and a looseness creeping in, especially at the breakdown where the Valke started to come into their own albeit it with some unpunished negative play, were warning signals for the home side early on. They neglected the basics, kicked possession away too often and were also guilty of poor handling.
The Blue Bulls, nevertheless, remain second on the log to qualify for a semi-final, while the Valke, with their bonus point, move to second to last.
The first half was not good, but not a total shambles either and would have been boring but for the close scoreline.
From the Bulls, there were one or two nice stepping runs by flyhalf Burton Francis – one of which lead to Under-21 debutante Stephan Dippenaar’s try – some storming drives by the Bulls’ forwards and some sloppy play and wrong options. This was probably to be expected from the Blue Bulls who had only two of last week’s starting side run on for this match.
The Falcons simply were not in it in before halftime – except on the scoreboard.
Despite a minor problem in the lineouts where the Falcons’ Nico Luus again competed well and where Chiliboy Ralepelle didn’t always find his target, the Bulls’ possession and territory was overwhelming – and when they eventually stretched their narrow 7-6 lead after 35 minutes following a ball that was at last taken wide, it was justice for their dominance.
Rocco Jansen did well with a fine kick into the in-goal area for Zane Kirchner to eventually touch down, and at 12-6 the Bulls were in control but not out of danger as the hooter went.
A Francis penalty just after the restart saw the Bulls pull away to 15-6. Then Kirchner, with players lining up next to him, inexplicably chipped forward into the hands of Poerie van Rooyen, the Falcons’ only defender. He ran all the way to score under the posts (15-13).
Sensing an upset, the Falcons turned up the pace. The Bulls responded with a brilliant try following good interplay by forwards and backs before Jaco Engels dotted down. Four minutes later the Falcons pulled back through Franco Booysen (22-20) with Johan Jackson prominent in the build-up.
Tries: Stephan Dippenaar, Zane Kirchner, Jaco Engels
Conversions: Burton Francis (2)
Tries: Poerie van Rooyen, Franco Booysen
Conversions: Jeffrey Perkins (2)
Penalty: Jeffrey Perkins (2)