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Ken Borland

Bulls have fans purring in delight in 1st half, but splutter for most of 2nd

Posted on February 28, 2023 by Ken

The Bulls had their fans purring in delight in the first half but spluttered for most of the second as they registered a 43-26 victory over the Ospreys in their United Rugby Championship match at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.

Kickoff was delayed by half-an-hour due to lightning, but the Bulls came out firing as they raced into a 31-14 halftime lead, getting the four-try bonus point in just 32 minutes. Given their usual solid platform up front, their cohesion and skills were outstanding, forwards linking brilliantly with backs, especially flank Nizaam Carr.

But the Bulls rather fell asleep in the second half, not being as sharp and, allied to Ospreys finding some fire and fight, the second half was a struggle for the home side, with the visitors dominating and earning themselves a bonus point for four tries as well.

The Bulls lost the momentum they enjoyed in the first half due to basic errors, and their score was only boosted in the last 10 minutes by two tries.

The home side set the ball rolling in the seventh minute with a brilliant move off a lineout, lovely hands creating space on the outside for wing David Kriel to score. Six minutes later, hooker Bismarck du Plessis, always tenacious at the breakdown, made a turnover, Carr was prominent in getting the ball wide, fellow loose forward WJ Steenkamp made a half-break and Carr then beat two defenders to round off another fine try.

Steenkamp then finished off the third try in the 20th minute as fullback Wandisile Simelane took advantage of a poor chase line by the Ospreys, and outside centre Lionel Mapoe and Kriel then combined brilliantly to send the wing over for his second try, the phenomenal Mapoe producing an offload in the tackle that was a thing of beauty.

Ospreys scored two tries when they did get into Bulls territory, but eighthman Elrigh Louw, in a powerhouse display that should remind the Springboks of his abilities, barged over for a try on the halftime hooter.

Ospreys dominated the third quarter, the Bulls’ discipline also seeing the tide turn against them, before the home side remembered late in the game what had worked in the first half.

Mapoe’s initial break in the 70th minute then saw replacement scrumhalf Zak Burger break clear and lock Ruan Nortje, in his first game as captain, was up in support to score.

Burger then had the last say when he sniped over for a try with two minutes remaining, after strong work at the breakdown by hooker Jan-Hendrik Wessels and a good carry by flyhalf Morne Steyn, both replacements.


BullsTries: David Kriel (2), Nizaam Carr, WJ Steenkamp, Elrigh Louw, Ruan Nortje, Zak Burger. Conversions: Chris Smith (3), Morne Steyn.

OspreysTries: Jack Walsh, Thomas Wheeler, Keiran Williams, Rhys Henry. Conversions: Walsh (3).

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