Bulls get back to winning ways
April 11, 2009
The Bulls' Bryan Habana was amongst the tries in his side's latest Super 14 victory in Sydney
© Getty Images
The Bulls climbed back into the Super 14 play-off picture with a 20-6 victory over the Waratahs at the Sydney Football Stadium.
Tries from winger Bryan Habana and prop Werner Kruger and 10 points from the boot of fly-half Morne Steyn gave the visitors a deserved victory over a disappointing Waratahs side and as a result the Bulls leap-frogged their hosts into third place in the table. A first-half penalty from No.10 Daniel Halangahu kept the Waratahs in touch but a second from Kurtley Beale was the only other score they could conjure.
South African referee Jonathan Kaplan did not help the match as a spectacle calling countless plays back for so-called forward passes - which replays suggested were not - and was heard to make one of the quotes of the year when asked by Waratahs prop Dan Palmer why he had awarded two straight scrum penalties in the second half. "I can't remember," said Kaplan, who was roundly jeered by the exasperated crowd at fulltime.
The Bulls dominated a bruising opening period as the Waratahs failed to find any rhythm with handling errors and turnovers littering their game and Habana crossed for the opening score on the quarter-hour.
A loose lineout from the Waratahs close to their own line was snaffled by the Bulls' Dewald Potgieter and they shifted the ball quickly as the Waratahs scrambled in defence. Fullback Zane Kirchner joined the line at pace before feeding Habana who cut inside and showed good strength to force his way over for the score.
Steyn's conversion cemented their lead but they were frustrated for the rest of the half by some good defence from the Waratahs and some questionable decisions from the officials. That frustration boiled over when the Bulls' Bakkies Botha and the Waratahs' Phil Waugh came to blows with the South African lock lucky to escape after an alleged elbow.
A poor forward pass decision from Kaplan handed the Waratahs good field position with the half coming to a close and although they were unable to breach the Bulls' line, the visitors' indiscipline allowed Halangahu to reduce the arrears with the last kick of the half.
Steyn stretched his side's lead with a drop goal shortly after the re-start but he missed an easier chance moments later. Waratahs prop Benn Robinson was unlucky to be penalised as Kirchner jumped into his tackle deep inside the host's 22 and Steyn made no mistake with subsequent penalty.
Replacement Beale offered the home fans some cheer with a penalty but it was going to take more than that to overhaul a determined Bulls side. Steyn was wayward once again with another drop goal attempt on the hour but his side were happy to play the territory game and hold the Waratahs at bay.
The Waratahs continued to struggle at the lineout and their hopes suffered a further blow when Kruger forced his way over for his side's second try. Centre Wynand Olivier exploited a gap before going close to scoring, but the ball was recycled and the Bulls peppered the Waratahs' defence before Kruger forced his way over from close range. Steyn seemingly put the result beyond doubt with an excellent conversion.
The scoreline could have been worse for the Waratahs when replacement JP Nel carved an opening with a great break before kicking ahead for Akona Ndungane to chase. The Bulls' speedster won the race with the Waratahs' Sam Norton-Knight but he knocked the ball forward in his attempt to ground it.
As a result the Waratahs were left to rue a glut of turnovers as they reflected on their third defeat of the season but they remain in the hunt for the semi-finals ahead of a must-win clash with Western Force next weekend. The Bulls bounced back from their defeat to the Crusaders last weekend with an impressive, if limited performance, to shore up their play-off chances and will travel to the Brumbies next week full of confidence.
Waratahs: Sam Norton Knight, Lachie Turner, Rob Horne, Tom Carter, Lote Tuqiri, Daniel Halangahu, Luke Burgess, Wycliff Palu, Phil Waugh (captain), Ben Mowen, Will Caldwell, Dean Mumm, Dan Palmer, Tatafu Polota-Nau, Benn Robinson.
Replacements:- Damien Fitzpatrick, Sekope Kepu, Chris Thomson, Luke Doherty, Brett Sheehan, Kurtley Beale, Timana Tahu.
Bulls: Zane Kirchner; Akona Ndungane, Jaco Pretorius, Wynand Olivier, Bryan Habana; Morné Steyn, Fourie du Preez; Pierre Spies, Danie Rossouw, Dewald Potgieter, Victor Matfield (captain), Bakkies Botha, Werner Kruger, Chiliboy Ralepelle, Gurthrö Steenkamp.
Replacements: Jaco Engels, Rayno Gerber, Pedrie Wannenburg, Derick Kuün, Heini Adams, Burton Francis, JP Nel.
Huw Richards profiles French forward Walter Spanghero, a man who even rugby's hard men thought was a tough nut
"To be part of the Commonwealth Games, I'd wear anything. I'd wear a clown suit." Tom Hamilton talks to Scotland's Sean Lamont
Scrum Sevens looks back at how rugby has fared in both the early Olympics and the past four Commonwealth Games
"Cheika's been phenomenal. He gives you an incredible level of mental strength." Tom Hamilton talks to Waratahs star Jacques Potgieter