Potgieter boots Bulls to first win
March 1, 2014
Jacques-Louis Potgieter's accuracy with the boot proved decisive for the Bulls
© Getty Images
Jacques-Louis Potgieter kicked 20 points as the Bulls shrugged off a dismal start to the Super Rugby season by defeating fellow South Africans the Lions 25-17 on Saturday.
It was the first victory for the three-time champions after away losses against the Sharks and Cheetahs. And it was the first defeat for unexpectedly good starters the Lions following victories away to the Cheetahs and at home to the Stormers.
Brilliant goal-kicking by fly-half Marnitz Boshoff had been the catalyst for the successes of perennial strugglers the Lions. But it was the boot of Potgieter, back in Pretoria after spells with French outfits Bayonne and Dax, that proved decisive in the clash of Highveld neighbours.
Recalled after two poor shows by Louis Fouche, former Bulls, Sharks, and Cheetahs playmaker Potgieter was voted man of the match. He succeeded with six of eight place-kicks - five penalties and a conversion - and also dropped a goal at the rain-soaked Loftus Versfeld stadium. Centre Jan Serfontein completed the Bulls' tally with a try that helped the home team build a 19-10 half-time advantage they never looked like relinquishing.
After 21 points against the Cheetahs and 29 against the Stormers, Boshoff had far fewer opportunities - potting two conversions and a penalty from four shots at goal. His lone miss of the match - and first of the season - came in first-half stoppage time when a penalty attempt rebounded off the post.
A couple of former Bulls, centre Stefan Watermeyer and replacement hooker Willie Wepener, scored the Lions' tries.
The Bulls, fielding 36-year-old, out-of-retirement lock Victor Matfield from the start for the first time this season, were deserved winners. Neither side monopolised a single facet of play but the blue-shirted home side showed more hunger, knowing a third consecutive reverse would have triggered 'crisis' headlines.
"The key to our victory was converting chances into points," said Bulls lock Flip van der Merwe, who has replaced long-term injury absentee Pierre Spies as skipper.
Lions captain and No.8 Warren Whiteley said: "Bulls were better than us tactically. They applied more pressure than we did."
The Bulls won their first Super Rugby match of the season with a 25-17 triumph against the Lions
Ireland have the world sitting up and taking notice - and rugby's structure in Europe will aid their Rugby World Cup bid, writes John Mitchell
Where does Italy's win over Scotland rank among their successes in the Six Nations? Scrum Sevens investigates
The tone was set early on in Dublin as a more clinical Ireland made England pay. All is not lost, however, argues Phil Vickery
Monday Maul takes in retirement talk, England reshuffles, France's unfair advantage and Scotland's communication breakdown