A rough year in the Currie Cup just got worse for the Lions as the Bulls unexpectedly beat their URC-strength side 43-37 at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday evening, in an entertaining game watched by over 7000 spectators.
The Bulls led 35-10 at one stage, but they only sealed victory in the 77th minute when Lions captain Burger Odendaal conceded a bizarre try and would have learnt a harsh lesson that it always pays to remember the colour of your team’s jersey!
Here are four talking points:
Bulls took their chances
When you are the underdogs, taking your chances is crucial. Territory and possession were fairly even in the first half, but the Bulls were just so clinical in using their opportunities inside the Lions’ 22 as they went to the break 35-17 ahead.
Their forwards were a tight unit, carrying most effectively and prop Lizo Gqoboka, hooker Bismarck du Plessis and lock Janko Swanepoel all powered over the line.
There was also some beautiful running and handling by the backs, who showed some really smart touches. Like the line wing David Kriel ran to score from a dummy maul and the lovely kick infield he made for outside centre Stedman Gans to run on to and score.
Bulls on the wrong side of the referee in second half
On the anniversary of a Captain’s Challenge being introduced on a trail basis in the Rainbow Cup, the Bulls would have been desperate for anything to stop the incredible flow of penalties awarded against them by referee Griffin Colby in the second half. At one stage he gave the Lions 10 penalties in a row and overall the Bulls conceded twice as many penalties as their opponents.
Discipline is obviously an issue the Bulls will have to deal with, and they were regularly penalised at ruck time.
It meant they could barely get out of their 22 and the Lions fought back to within a point at 37-38 with five minutes remaining.
Odendaal’s awful mistake
The Lions captain has been flourishing this season, but he also spent many happy years at Loftus Versfeld playing for the Bulls. He will be gutted by the mistake he made right at the end though, when he passed the ball straight to Bulls replacement wing Richard Kriel inside his own in-goal area. Brother David Kriel had made the initial searing break that put the Bulls on attack, but the Lions regained possession behind their tryline, only for Odendaal to think he was back playing for the Bulls and passing to a blue jersey!
Learnings for youngsters as hard men flourish
Playing against, and beating, a URC side would have been a tremendous learning experience for the Bulls’ young Currie Cup players. And the way they defended for the vast majority of the scond half showed superb character. They had some hardened campaigners to help them along though and Du Plessis and Gqoboka were in the frontline of the effort.
Swanepoel, strong with the ball and in defence, and able to make crucial lineout steals, looks a player with a great future, and it was an excellent outing for David Kriel, who has been out in the wilderness for the last few weeks.
Bulls: Tries – Lizo Gqoboka, Bismarck du Plessis, David Kriel, Janko Swanepoel, Stedman Gans, Richard Kriel. Conversions – Juan Mostert (5). Penalty – Keagan Johannes
Lions: Tries – Ruben Schoeman, Burger Odendaal, Francke Horn, Jordan Hendrikse, Sibusiso Sangweni. Conversions – Hendrikse (3). Penalties – Hendrikse (2).