The Blue Bulls came from behind to edge Griquas 39-38 in a Currie Cup match at Loftus Versfeld, courtesy of a missed conversion from the visitors’ captain Naas Olivier.
Rugby 365 reports that the fightback by the Blue Bulls in the second half produced some brilliant moments, but as in the first half and in previous matches there were too many losses of concentration and neglecting basics.
The Blue Bulls took five points from the match and Griquas two.
The Blue Bulls came from 7-20 down to lead 39-33 and were strongly on attack when the Griquas’ fourth try came from their own line.
Former Blue Bulls wing Rocco Jansen broke away from his own line and fed Springbok Bjorn Basson, who ran in for his third try of the game – with a relatively easy conversion awaiting Olivier. He missed his first kick of the game, and the Blue Bulls were the victors – perhaps deservedly so after five good tries and a largely impressive second half.
It was fullback Jaco van der Westhuyzen who so nearly lost the game for the Blue Bulls when he ignored the overlap with a try beckoning right at the end and was tackled. The turnover then saw the Griquas’ breakaway.
The first half belonged to Griquas. A sloppy Blue Bulls side conceded turnovers, made poor decisions and were out rucked when it mattered.
After only seven minutes Griquas were 10-7 ahead. It became worse for the Blue Bulls as the score mounted to 20-7 after 20 minutes and then 27-7 a further eight minutes into the game.
The Griquas tries came through Richard Lawton, who rounded off a move of 50 metres from a ball the Bulls left unprotected next to a ruck, and Basson scored his second on the right side of the field after a first phase backline move. Naas Olivier was on target with all three conversions and also slotted two drops before half-time.
The Blue Bulls had been scrumming well – especially on the two occasions when they were threatening the Griquas line – and were rewarded when a good scrum was reset and then followed by a set-up ruck from where John Mametsa went over under the posts.
The score was then 27-14 with three minutes remaining in the first half and a missed penalty by Jacques-Louis Potgieter on the half-time whistle could not disguise the fact that the control of the game was slowly shifting.
The break was taken at 27-14.
Potgieter kicked a penalty shortly after the restart and seven minutes into the second half the Blue Bulls crept closer with a good build-up that was finished off by prop Dean Greyling with Potgieter adding the conversion (27-24 to Griquas).
Again, loss of focus cost the Blue Bulls as Griquas broke away from their own line and 16 minutes into the second half Olivier
kicked his third penalty (30-24).
The Griquas ascendancy was short-lived. The Blue Bulls forwards had regained their composure, and they were relentless as they hammered away at the Griquas tryline. Good defence kept them at bay, but Griquas had to wilt and it was Mametsa who was sent over after a full backline move following the build-up.
It was the bonus point try and despite the conversion being missed the Blue Bulls were ahead for the first time (32-30).
It had taken them 66 minutes to achieve – and the lead was short-lived as Olivier replied with a penalty from the restart (33-32 to Griquas).
Back went the Blue Bulls, and this time it was Bandise Maku who went over as the Griquas forwards again could not withstand the build-up pressure.
Potgieter added the two and the Bulls were 39-33 to the good with six minutes remaining.
Potgieter came close with a scintillating run, but the Blue Bulls kept up the pressure.
For the Blue Bulls:
Tries: Maku, Greyling, Kuün, Mametsa
Cons: Potgieter 4
Pens: Potgieter 2
Tries: Basson 3, Lawson
Cons: Olivier 3
Pens: Olivier 4