The Bulls were grateful for an ill-disciplined performance from the Pumas that helped them claim a very tight 31-26 win in their Currie Cup match at Loftus Versfeld on Friday evening.
Pumas wing Sebastian de Klerk put in a sparkling man-of-the-match performance to score a hattrick of tries that almost helped them upset the hosts, but he was also one of two yellow cards along with a red that saw them play the majority of the match a man down, allowing the Bulls to take the win.
The match started with the Pumas getting off to the perfect start as some good play took them into the Bulls 22m, where the ball was spread wide quickly to de Klerk in space allowing him to dive over in the corner for an unconverted score.
De Klerk was then in for his second in the 14th minute as he rounded off a brilliant counter attack from the Pumas that started from behind their own tryline, with a superb grubber from fullback Devon Williams allowing the flying wing to go over in the corner, with inside centre Eddie Fouche adding the extras.
Two minutes later de Klerk turned villain as the Bulls were awarded a penalty try as their maul looked to be rumbling over when de Klerk came in from the side, with the ref sending him off for his troubles.
Despite being down a man the Pumas went straight back up field, set a lineout on the 5m and then rumbled over a maul with hooker Eduan Swart dotting down, with Fouche’s conversion putting them up 19-7 after 20 minutes.
The 33rd minute then saw a massive moment as Bulls left wing Richard Kriel broke the line and put away his brother David Kriel for a converted try, but after offloading the ball Pumas flyhalf Tinus de Beer clearly dumped Richard Kriel on his neck which saw him red carded.
This made it 19-12 with the visitors set to play the rest of the match with 14-men.
However the Pumas made sure it wouldn’t be easy going on the Bulls as with a minute left in the half they again scored with a man less as de Klerk charged down an attempted clearance from Richard Kriel, with the score 26-12 at the break in favour of the visitors.
The first 20 minutes of the second half then belonged to the Bulls as they managed to find gaps in the Pumas defence.
First lock Ruan Nortje powered his way under the poles from close range, while fullback James Verity-Am then kicked a loose ball from the Pumas ahead, fielded it and scored, with flyhalf Morne Steyn converting both to level the scores after 54 minutes.
The Bulls again made use of their numbers in the 60th minute, allowing David Kriel to go over in the right hand corner for an unconverted score that put them ahead 31-26 for the first time in the match.
Huge final quarter
A huge final 20 minutes then followed, with the Pumas going down to 13-men at a stage when wing Tapiwa Mafura was contentiously sent off when competing for the ball in the air.
However it was the visitors who enjoyed the better of the last quarter despite being two men down and a late yellow card to Bulls replacement flyhalf Juan Mostert gave them hope, but the home side managed to just cling on for a valuable win in the end.
Bulls: Tries – Penalty Try, David Kriel (2), Ruan Vermaak, James Verity-Am; Conversions – Morne Steyn (3)
Pumas: Tries – Sebastian de Klerk (3), Eduan Swart; Conversions – Eddie Fouche (3)