The Bulls overturned a 19-point deficit to claim a 43-34 win over the Jaguares in Pretoria on Saturday. CRAIG LEWIS reports.
It’s a result that sees the Bulls end a three-match losing streak, while also doing the Lions a massive favour as it prevents the Jaguares from leapfrogging their way to the top of the South African conference.
It is also quite a remarkable outcome when one considers the struggles the Bulls endured in an opening quarter where they fell 19 points behind, and yet the manner in which they recovered speaks volumes about the character of the side.
The Bulls came into this clash with serious question marks over their defence after conceding a whopping 167 points in their last four games, and they were horribly exposed in this facet of play during the opening five minutes.
Several soft moments on defence gifted two quick-fire tries to Nicolás Sánchez and Pablo Matera, while the rattled Bulls also continued to make elementary errors with ball in hand and at the lineout to compound their woes further early on.
In complete contrast to the Bulls’ wayward play, the in-form Jaguares coolly demonstrated the high-paced precision that had carried them to seven successive victories prior to this encounter, with a try to Gonzalo Bertranou sending them into a 19-0 lead on the quarter-hour mark.
Although the Bulls’ malfunctioning lineout certainly didn’t help their cause, they did well to manufacture tries to Johnny Kotze and Embrose Papier to cut the deficit to just five points.
It appeared as if that’s the way it would remain at half-time, but just before the break, Jesse Kriel latched on to a loose pass to dart away for an intercept try that remarkably edged the Bulls ahead against the run of play.
After a half in which the Bulls enjoyed just 32% of possession, lost four lineouts and missed a whopping 26 tackles, it almost beggared belief that they actually led at half-time, but it was testimony to an enduring self-belief.
And although Bertranou would score his second try soon after the restart, the Bulls continued to play with renewed purpose as Jamba Ulengo and Marco van Staden dotted down to send the hosts into a sudden 10-point lead.
The decisive strike then came in the 64th minute when Kotze set up another try for Ulengo, and from there, the tiring Jaguares were never going to find a way back.
Bulls – Tries: Johnny Kotze, Embrose Papier, Jesse Kriel, Jamba Ulengo (2), Marco van Staden. Conversions: Handré Pollard (5). Penalty: Pollard.
Jaguares – Tries: Nicolás Sánchez, Pablo Matera (2), Gonzalo Bertranou (2). Conversions: Sanchez (3). Penalty: Emiliano Boffelli.
Bulls – 15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Jamba Ulengo, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Johnny Kotze, 11 Divan Rossouw, 10 Handré Pollard (c), 9 Embrose Papier, 8 Hanro Liebenberg, 7 Jannes Kirsten, 6 Marco van Staden, 5 RG Snyman, 4 Ruben van Heerden, 3 Conraad van Vuuren, 2 Jaco Visagie, 1 Pierre Schoeman.
Subs: 16 Edgar Marutlulle, 17 Matthys Basson, 18 Mornay Smit, 19 Thembelani Bholi, 20 Nic de Jager, 21 Ivan van Zyl, 22 Manie Libbok, 23 Dries Swanepoel.
Jaguares – 15 Emiliano Boffelli, 14 Bautista Delguy, 13 Matias Moroni, 12 Jeronimo de la Fuente, 11 Ramiro Moyano, 10 Nicolas Sanchez, 9 Gonzalo Bertranou, 8 Javier Ortega Desio, 7 Tomas Lezana, 6 Pablo Matera (c), 5 Matias Alemanno, 4 Guido Petti, 3 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro, 2 Agustin Creevy, 1 Santiago Garcia Botta.
Subs: 16 Julian Montoya, 17 Javier Diaz, 18 Santiago Medrano, 19 Tomas Lavanini, 20 Marcos Kremer, 21 Martin Landajo, 22 Matias Orlando, 23 Sebastian Cancelliere.
Photo: Gordon Arons/Gallo Images