In slippery and rainy conditions, the Bulls slumped to their fourth straight Super Rugby defeat when they went down 14-33 to the Crusaders in Christchurch on Friday morning.
With a lineout maul that failed to work and a relentless Crusaders defence stopping them at every turn, the Bulls saw numerous chances slip from their grasp.
The Bulls’ newfound running game was negated in no uncertain terms by the home side.
As a result, they reverted back to the approach of putting the head down and charging, which also had little effect as the frustration grew.
Bulls replacement flank Marco van Staden probably scored one of the sneakiest tries this year in 69th minute after he was stopped but not held and then simply got up again and ran through untouched.
A late Crusaders try though meant that narrowing of the deficit didn’t mean much.
Bulls replacement hooker Adriaan Strauss equalled Victor Matfield’s record for a SA player with 148 career appearances.
Who was the star in this match?
Crusaders outside centre Jack Goodhue created big problems for the Bulls’ defence the entire game. He scored two tries with the first coming vitally just seconds before halftime for a 21-7 lead.
Key moments and themes
- After the Bulls dominated early possession and territory, they forfeited numerous kickable penalties in order to go for the corner. It was to no avail as they were stopped and met by a stern Crusaders defence, who had to make 35 to 10 tackles in the first half.
- One of the few opportunities the Crusaders had in the Bulls red zone resulted in the opening try by Crusaders lock Scott Barrett in the 16th minute after it appeared that lock partner Sam Whitelock spilled the ball over the line. It once again emphasises the gulf in class as the New Zealanders made sure they come away with points for limited chances.
- Despite being a man short, the Crusaders scored again in the 28th minute through hooker Codie Taylor from close range. It was a hammer-blow to the psyche of the Bulls, who had the advantage after prop Tim Perry was shown yellow three minutes earlier for a high tackle on prop Pierre Schoeman.
- The Bulls finally got on the board after Bulls wing Travis Ismaiel broke next to a ruck with a great angled run to beat about four Crusaders defenders on his way for a great try, which reduced the deficit to 14-7 by the 32nd minute. The winger is certainly staking a claim for higher honours with his showings to date.
- Only the Bulls will know how Goodhue wrestled his way over just before the break. Tim Agaba and Schoeman appeared to go too high in the tackle, which allowed the midfielder to slide through close to the ground. It was a baffling moment
Crusaders – Tries: Scott Barrett, Codie Taylor, Jack Goodhue (2), George Bridge. Conversions: Mitchell Hunt (4).
Bulls –Tries: Travis Ismaiel, Marco van Staden. Conversions: Handre Pollard (2).