Brumbies shock Bulls to reach final
July 27, 2013
Stephen Moore and George Smith celebrate the victory
© Getty Images
Matt Toomua sent outside centre Kuridrani over for the score that needed a stamp of approval from the South African television match official as the referee queried a possible forward pass. Amid huge tension in the predominantly Bulls crowd at Loftus Versfeld, TMO Shaun Veldsman gave the green light and Christian Leali'ifano converted for a 16-point haul. There was still time for the kick-off and a chance for the Bulls to level the game or even regain the lead, but they lost possession and the Brumbies booted the ball into touch to end the game.
"I am extremely proud of the team as you cannot underestimate the challenge we faced taking on the Bulls in Pretoria," Brumbies No.8 and skipper Ben Mowen said. "We did well during the first half, but knew the Bulls would come back after the break. Fitness was a major factor as we were well prepared to go the distance."
Bulls No.8 and captain Dewald Potgieter was equally proud of his team, some of whom were playing at Loftus for the last time before taking up lucrative contracts in France. "I could not have asked for any more from the team - they gave their all - and after a poor start I believed we had done enough to qualify for the final," he said.
The Bulls' JJ Engelbrecht hands off Henry Speight © Getty Images
The Brumbies had the better of the opening half and led 16-11 at half-time, but the sluggish Bulls roused themselves to give a much better performance after the break and a string of penalties from Morne Steyn earned them a 23-19 lead 14 minutes from time. The margin could have been even wider margin as three times Potgieter opted to kick for touch in the hope of scoring tries instead of going for the posts; just when it seemed the decisions would not matter, up popped Kuridrani and the massive vocal support for the home side turned into an eerie silence.
The Brumbies travel to Hamilton for the Super Rugby final against the Chiefs, who edged fellow New Zealanders Crusaders 20-19 in a nail-biting match in Hamilton.
Steyn and Leali'ifano, the leading Super Rugby scorers with 248 and 211 points respectively, claimed 18 and 16 points in a semi-final that never matched the intensity of Hamilton hours before. Leali'ifano converted tries by full-back Jesse Mogg and Kuridrani and kicked four penalties, while JJ Engelbrecht scored the Bulls' lone try and Steyn slotted six penalties.
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