The Bulls moved back into second place on the Super 14 standings with an impressive 33-27 win over the Chiefs in Pretoria on Saturday.
Rugby 365 reports that the win ended a six-match victory run by the Chiefs, who were topping the table before the game and slipped down to third after the loss – despite earning a bonus point.
It was a game that had plenty of passion and lots of kicking.
However, on the day the Bulls were more secure, while the Chiefs’ kick-chase were a little lethargic.
The set pieces were somewhat messy on both sides, although the Bulls started to gather momentum in the second half – especially with Victor Matfield dominant in the line-outs.
However, the most crucial aspect of the Bulls’ game was just how brilliant they were off the restarts and the way they came back after every Chiefs score.
There was plenty of early kicking, but as has been the case for most of the season, the Bulls were more accurate in their kick-chase play.
However, the first real scoring opportunity went to the Chiefs – with a scrum infringement giving Stephen Donald a shot from 30 metres out. He made no mistake and it was 3-0 after nine minutes.
The Bulls’ riposte was swift and brutal – from the restart they collected the ball and with a series of powerful forward raids moved swiftly into Chiefs territory. It was hooker Derick Kuün who finished off the move with the Bulls’ first try and Steyn’s conversion made it 7-3 after 11 minutes.
It was a power play by the Chiefs, as they took advantage of some indifferent ruling by referee Craig Joubert at scrum time, to work the ball upfield and with No.8 Sione Lauaki barging his way over from a ruck close in. Donald added the conversion to put the Chiefs back in the lead at 10-7.
Again the Bulls were swift with their reply – a sweetly-timed Steyn drop-goal that levelled up the scores at 10-all after 17 minutes.
And a Kuün intercept, from deep inside Bulls territory with the Chiefs looking dangerous, handed the lead back to the home team. Steyn’s conversion made it 17-10 after 23 minutes.
The Chiefs narrowed the gap to 13-17 with a penalty a few minutes later, after another transgression by the Bulls at the breakdown.
However, the next penalty – and a yellow card against Chiefs No.8 Sione Lauaki for a vicious stiff-arm, high tackle – saw Steyn put his team seven points clear against at 20-13.
The Chiefs showed just how dangerous they can be from unstructured play when, from another free kick at the breakdown, they tapped and in no time Callum Bruce was over for the second try. Donald’s conversion levelled the scores up at 20-all with three minutes in the half left.
But the final say of the first half belonged to the Bulls, as – on the stroke of half-time – Wynand Olivier went over for the Bulls’ third try. It started with a free kick, a couple of phases and Olivier just barging through the Chiefs’ defensive line.
Steyn’s conversion gave the Bulls a 27-20 lead at the break.
The Bulls applied early pressure after the break and won the ball back. They then won a penalty and Steyn made it 30-20 inside two minutes.
And it became 33-20 when Steyn slotted a third penalty in the 49th minute – for another offence at the line-out by the Chiefs.
The Bulls’ brilliant kick-chase game continued to trouble the Chiefs and soon enough the Bulls had won a line-out inside the Chiefs 22. However, a Steyn drop-goal attempt drifted wide.
But the game was far from over. Some sloppy midfield defence saw Richard Kahui cut the usually solid blue line and he went over for his team’s third try. Donald’s conversion made it 27-33.
The Chiefs launched numerous raids into the Bulls territory, with the home team seemingly sitting on the lead. But that blue defensive line held firm and managed a couple of crucial turnovers.
However, with the rain starting to come down, the Chiefs seemed to lose their composure and a shocking pass gave the Bulls a great attacking opportunity with a five-metre scrum and just a minute to go.
They won a penalty from the scrum and continued to pound for the bonus-point try.
But it all came to nothing and the home team got four valuable points for the win.
For the Bulls:
Tries: Kuün 2, Olivier
Cons: Steyn 3
Pens: Steyn 3
For the Chiefs:
Tries: Lauaki, Bruce, Kahui
Cons: Donald 3
Pens: Donald 2
Yellow card: Sione Lauaki (Chiefs, 31 – foul play, swinging arm/high tackle)Tweet