Bulls end Chiefs' winning run
April 25, 2009
The Bulls' Derick Kuun forces his way over for a try at Loftus Versfeld
© Getty Images
The Bulls brought the Chiefs' six-game winning streak to an end with a 33-27 victory at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria.
Looking to cement their place at the top of the table, the Chiefs were in the hunt throughout a roller coaster fixture but paid the price for a mis-firing lineout and an ability to finish off attacking raids. Both sides scored three tries and the scoreboard kept ticking over through the accurate goalkicking boots of first five-eighths Morne Steyn and Stephen Donald, with Steyn's 18 points for the Bulls ultimately proving the difference in front of a heaving home crowd.
The Chiefs lose their table-topping position, dropping to third, one point behind the second-placed Bulls. The South African side are, in-turn, one point behind new leaders the Hurricanes with three games on South African soil to follow. Having lost their three previous high-scoring visits to Pretoria by three points, the Chiefs again leave frustrated and eyeballing a crucial fixture against the Stormers in Cape Town next week before finishing with two games at home.
"We've got to finish our tour (well)," captain Mils Muliaina told Super Sport. "We were a little bit unstuck by a very passionate Bulls side. We've got to regroup and go to Cape Town and play a Stormers side who had a good win over the Highlanders (18-11 on Friday)."
Muliana admitted the game was within their grasp but they failed to make the most of their attacking chances and struggled to outwit a Bulls lineout marshall by Springboks great Victor Matfield.
"At crucial times in the game when we were down in their 22 we let them off the hook with our lineouts. That's very disappointing, we're our own worst enemies sometimes. (And) We didn't have that urgency to support the guys that broke. The game was there a couple of times but we just weren't clinical. We got a bonus point, so that's a consolation."
The Bulls scored all their three tries in the first half -- the first two to hooker Derek Kuun -- to lead 27-20 at the break. Kuun's first came after an early Donald penalty and was followed by a rampaging try to Chiefs No 8 Sione Lauaki.
Steyn slotted a trademark dropped goal and his team were back in front when former flanker Kuun ducked through a gap and sprinted 50m for his second try. Donald slotted a penalty before a key moment when Lauaki was sinbinned for the last 10min of the half for a high tackle on Bulls winger Bryan Habana.
Steyn landed a penalty as the Bulls dominated but the Chiefs somehow conjured a try to second five-eighth Callum Bruce with a sizzling counter-attack. The hosts had the last say of a thrilling half when Bruce's counterpart Wynand Oliver threw an outrageous dummy to score.
Two further Steyn penalties had his side out to their biggest lead, 33-20, but the Chiefs had their response ready in the 62nd minute with a brilliantly-crafted try to centre Richard Kahui straight from a lineout. The game was scoreless from that point as rain began to fall but there was still no lack of attacking intent from two sides who are firmly in the playoff mix.
The Bulls host the in-form Western Force next week.
Bulls: Kirchner; Ndungane, Nel, Olivier, Habana; Steyn, du Preez; Steenkamp, Kuün, Kruger, Rossouw, Matfield (captain), Stegmann, Potgieter, Spies
Replacements: Ralepelle, Engels, Gerber, Wannenburg, Adams, Francis, Pretorius
Chiefs: Muliaina (captain), Mikkelson, Kahui, Bruce, Sweeney, Donald; May, Elliot, McGougan, Clarke, O'Neill, Messam, Latimer, Lauaki
Reserves: de Malmanche, Taumalolo, Lynn, Lilo, Bason, Delany, Willison
Firdose Moonda looks at the moves towards greater integration within South African rugby ... and what the future holds
Martin Gillingham looks ahead to what he believes is the most remarkable ever climax to the league phase of the Top 14
With just two rounds left in the regular season, we look at the prospects of the teams taking part in the Championship play-offs
Joe Simpson talks to Charlie Morgan about loss, Wasps and being England's game-breaker