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Ken Borland


Bulls beat Griquas to saunter into semi-finals

Posted on November 13, 2014 by Ken

The Vodacom Blue Bulls didn’t exactly bash the door down into the Absa Currie Cup semi-finals, but they did saunter through with growing confidence as they beat GWK Griquas 46-12 at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday night.

It was a convincing victory on the scoreboard, the Bulls dotting down six times and they ran away with the game in the second half thanks to the complete dominance of their forwards, especially in the set-pieces. It was an error-strewn performance, however, by the home side against a team lacking depth and depleted by injury and they will clearly have to raise their game several notches to compete with Western Province in their semi-final at Newlands next weekend.

It also won’t take much for Western Province to suss out that the Bulls are vulnerable out wide, with Griquas wing Ederies Arendse scoring two scintillating tries that saw his team trailing by just one point after half-an-hour.

The man of the match, however, was Bulls left wing Bjorn Basson, a supreme taker of chances. He scored a hat-trick of tries to show coach Frans Ludeke that he is back to his best after an injury-discrupted year, proving sharp in all aspects of his game, especially in the air. The experienced Springbok will be an important player in the semi-final.

The Bulls are also fortunate that they can call on Handre Pollard at flyhalf, and they looked a slicker, more threatening team on attack when he came on midway through the second half and immediately had the defence guessing with clever chips over the top and his own powerful runs.

Griquas made a nightmare start as scrumhalf Tian Meyer threw a pass straight to Basson who raced away for a 45m intercept try in the second minute, but they struck back with a wonderful try of their own. They showed how dangerous they can be from turnover ball as Marcel van der Merwe lost possession in contact and Griquas quickly went wide with a slick backline move. Arendse then showed that he can certainly put on the after-burners as he raced away for the try.

The visitors were under severe pressure for much of the first half and they can consider themselves fortunate that they did not get a yellow card.

The Bulls did get a Potgieter penalty, however (10-7) but Basson then showed how effective his prowess can be in the air as he won an up-and-under, the Bulls quickly spread the ball wide and a strong run by fullback Ulrich Beyers drew the infringement.

Arendse struck back with a magnificent try, using a classic in-and-out to beat three defenders from the halfway line, that could well have some SuperRugby franchises on the phone enquiring about his availability.

An alleged tip-tackle by loosehead prop Simon Westraadt eventually brought the first yellow card for Griquas and the Bulls reverted to a typical strength for their second try, flank and captain Deon Stegmann scoring from a rolling maul to give them a 20-12 half-time lead.

The njoyment increased in the second half as Griquas faded and their brave defence began to crack, the dominance of the Bulls forwards and their fierce ball-carrying starting to take its toll.

Stegmann broke free twice in the matter of a couple of minutes to put the Bulls strongly on attack in the fifth minute and when Griquas couldn’t secure their own lineout ball, it led to a five-metre scrum. A terrific shove totally opened up the blindside, replacement scrumhalf Rudy Paige went on a dart and Basson was in acres of space to stroll over for his second try.

Basson completed his hat-trick in the 61st minute, showing great pace down the left, but it all begins with the forwards and apart from the wonderful front-foot ball the backs were getting, eighthman Jono Ross and replacement hooker Callie Visagie also made valuable contributions in the backline for the wing to score.

The last 10 minutes were dominated by Pollard, showing why he is the answer today at flyhalf for the Springboks.

After replacement hooker Ryno Barnes, playing his 100th Currie Cup game, was red-carded for swearing at the assistant referee to leave Griquas one short, Pollard stepped inside and powered over for a try in the shadow of the poles.

Six minutes later, on the stroke of full-time, Pollard’s lovely little chip over the top was raced on to by right wing Akona Ndungane, who crossed for the sixth and final try.

Scorers

Blue Bulls – Tries: Bjorn Basson (3), Deon Stegmann, Handre Pollard, Akona Ndungane. Conversions: Jacques-Louis Potgieter (3), Handre Pollard (2). Penalties: Potgieter (2).

Griquas – Tries: Ederies Arendse (2). Conversion: Francois Brummer.

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