The Bulls ended a 10-match winning streak by the Waratahs at the Sydney Football Stadium when they won their crucial Round Nine Super 14 match 20-6 on Saturday.
Outscoring the Waratahs by two tries to none and preventing them from gaining a bonus point, helped the Bulls overtake the men from Sydney on the standings – plus they still have a game in hand on them.
Rugby 365 reports that the loss, their third of the season, leaves the Waratahs precariously placed in fourth on the standings – with teams like the Hurricanes and Blues within striking distance.
It was a significant win in many ways – with the Waratahs last having lost at the SFS in 2007 and it has also been two years since the men from Sydney failed to score a try in a match.
It was indeed solid defence and strong performance from the forward pack that sealed the deal for the Bulls. Behind that dominant pack, flyhalf Morné Steyn dictated terms with his boot.
While the Bulls gave away a few early free kicks and penalties that put them under pressure – which will also raise some questions about their discipline – on the day they were simply too strong.
Both teams made use of the boot as their main means of attack, but the Bulls won that duel.
The Waratahs were very physical at the breakdown and early on managed to disrupt the Bulls, but once the visitors had settled into their rhythm, they were the once securing the turnovers – 17 in all in the first half.
The Waratahs’ line-outs were also not very secure, another area the Bulls dominated.
And with the Bulls winning the kicking duel, the Waratahs offered nothing on attack.
The Bulls had an early charge when, from a kick ahead, Sam Norton-Knight played the ball from an offside position and Morné Steyn had a shot at goal. However, he hooked it to the left.
The Waratahs enjoyed a period of territorial advantaged and some good possession, but they found the Bulls’ defence tough to breach.
And the Bulls soon got reward for their defensive efforts, when from a line-out inside the ‘Tahs 22 the ball went too long and the Bulls snaffled a quick turnover. With good hands the ball went left to Bryan Habana, who slipped inside one tackler and still managed to dot the ball down – despite being upended. Steyn added the conversion for a 7-0 lead after 17 minutes.
Both teams continued to make industrious use of the boot, but the Bulls were more effective with their chasing and enjoyed a slight advantage.
The game ambled along till just before half-time, when the Waratahs won a penalty close in after a series of pick-’n-drives. Daniel Halangahu made no mistake and the half-time score was 7-3 to the Bulls.
The Bulls got the second-half scoring underway with a Steyn drop-goal from 40 metres out in the 46th minute.
He had another shot at goal soon afterwards, but this time his drop-goal from much closer in just drifted wide.
However, in the 53rd minute Steyn did stretch the Bulls’ lead when Benn Robinson tackled Zane Kirchner in the air and the Bulls flyhalf slotted an easy penalty.
But the Waratahs had a chance almost straight away as Bryan Habana was ruled to have slapped the ball down – with Kurtley Beale slotting the penalty for a 13-6 scoreline.
Steyn, with 20 minutes to go, had another attempt at slotting a drop-goal and again it drifted wide and he may well have been overdoing the kicking thing, wasting good attacking chances.
The Bulls still preferred to attack with the boot, playing a territorial game and piling on the pressure – a tactic that has been working for them all game.
And they eventually got their reward as a series of pick-’n-drives saw prop Werner Kruger over for a crucial try in the 70th minute. Steyn’s conversion made it 20-6.
The Waratahs needed to score next and they had an opportunity two minutes later – when the Bulls were deemed to be offside. However, Beale’s kick was nowhere near the target.
And the Bulls came close to sealing the match moments later, but the TMO ruled that Akona Ndungane had knocked the ball on in the ingoal area as he chased down a JP Nel kick.
The Waratahs were now chasing a converted try just to pick up a bonus point, as they had run out of time for a win. So desperate were the ‘Tahs for that bonus point that they opted for scrums, despite getting penalties, just to try and suck in a few extra defenders.
But the Bulls’ defence held firm and they had not just put their campaign back on track, but also overtook the Waratahs on the standings.Tweet