PRETORIA – The Bulls will have to live with the unsightly egg under their name in the wins column for a week longer after they went down to a last-gasp Otere Black penalty that gave the Blues a 23-21 win at Loftus.
This was supposed to be a pleasant homecoming but nothing was pleasant about the game, the weather and, for Bulls fans, the result.
The rain poured down but it couldn’t wash away the painful start to the Bulls season. They are now winless after three games, with plenty to ponder for the Jaguares visit next Saturday.
The Bulls were on the front foot for most of the game but some ill-discipline cost them early on. Burger Odendaal’s hit on Emoni Narawa was so hard it woke up the crowd. But the referee Marius van der Westhuizen and television match official Joey-Klaaste Salmans were less than impressed and carded the captain.
With Andries Ferreira already in the bin for illegally sacking the Blues maul, the Bulls were down to 13 men, defending wave after wave of Blues attack. It took seven minutes after Odendaal’s send-off for the Bulls line to be breached, when Mark Telea finished in the corner.
— The Blues (@BluesRugbyTeam) February 22, 2020
Telea’s unconverted try were the only points the Bulls conceded in the period they were down two players, which should have bolstered their confidence for the rest of the game. But they couldn’t maintain the same rearguard intensity with the full compliment of players.
On attack, their problems persisted until well past the half-time buzzer. And then a well-worked move from a five-metre scrum allowed Steyn to swan dive over the try line.
Most expected Steyn to dominate with the boot in this game and send the Blues backs chasing balls all around the park.
But as soon as a Jeandre Rudolph’s midfield break sent them deep into Blues territory, Steyn and thirsted for the try line instead of scoreboard points. They passed on two penalties and opted for scrums. The second of the pair gave them their first taste of the try-line of the season.
The Blues had tasted blood as well, though, and when the rain abated momentarily in the second half, the Kiwi in them sprung to life. They remembered that they were genetically predisposed to running the ball.
Both teams desperate for the win, but the Blues walk away victorious after a tough battle at Loftus Versfeld. The Vodacom @BlueBullsRugby go back to the drawing board. #BULvBLU pic.twitter.com/qzuD3DlRVv
— vodacomrugby (@VodacomRugga) February 22, 2020
The Blues got into their stride and stuck twice before the 60th minute through flanker Tom Robinson and fullback Stephen Perofeta.
Going into the final quarter, Leon MacDonald’s men had the lead and the momentum. Meanwhile, Pote Human’s men went from being indomitable to desparados.
The Bulls were soaked but they lacked fluidity and after a sustained period pounding desperately at the Blues line, they needed another scrum to fashion their second try-scoring chance. Rudolph took the onus on himself and picked up from the back and burrowed over the line.
Manie Libbok added the conversion and it looked like Loftus would coronate the first Bulls win of the season but it wasn’t to be as Black brought a pall of darkness over Pretoria.
Bulls – 21 (11) Tries: Morne Steyn, Jeandre Rudolph Conversions: Manie Libbok Penalties: Morne Steyn (3)
Blues – 23 (8) Tries: Mark Telea, Tom Robinson, Stephen Perofeta Conversion: Otere Black Penalties: Otere Black (2)