The Blue Bulls kept their Currie Cup play-off hopes alive with a deserved 26-13 win over Western Province in Pretoria on Friday.
While the game fell well short of expected standards as a spectacle, the Bulls would be celebrating a great measure of revenge they gained for the 42-6 drubbing WP handed them at Newlands just over a month ago.
However, since that impressive win it appears to have gone pear shaped for the Capetonians
The Bulls, who would have taken victory in any form, relied heavily on their muscular forwards and it paid rich dividends for them.
Louis Fouché opened the scoring, after WP were penalised at the breakdown in the third minute.
The Bulls came close to scoring the opening try minutes later, but returning Springbok Bjorn Basson's try was overruled by the TMO - who ruled that a pass to fullback Jurgen Visser just outside the 22 was forward.
With the Bulls' scrum under pressure, and penalised on a couple of occasions in the first quarter, Province managed to work themselves back into a game dominated by the early fury of the Bulls runners.
Demetri Catrakilis had a chance to level matters, when the Bulls were pinged for offside, but his attempt drifted well wide of the upright.
The next scoring opportunity came just short of the half-hour mark, when the Bulls took the ball through multiple phases just outside the WP 22 - who were eventually found to have transgressed at the breakdown. Fouché made it 6-0.
In that period the Bulls had almost 80 percent of the possession, which also allowed them to dominate territory. It also didn't help the Province cause that they had lost five line-outs on their own throw.
With that much possession it was just a matter of time that the first try would come. Wing Akona Ndungane scored the touchdown, but the ball went through 20-odd phases and WP - which at that stage had already made almost 60 tackles - just ran out of defenders. Fouché couldn't add the extras - but the Bulls' 11-0 lead was deserved.
Catrakilis eventually opened the account for WP right on the half-time hooter, a penalty for a line-out transgression - to make it 11-3 at the break.
The return of the players from the break brought with it the news that WP loose forward Tyrone Homes had suffered a nose fracture and would not return to the playing field.
Fouché got the three points back, almost against the run of play, when Province were penalised for offside near their own 10-metre line.
Then the Bulls were pinged for sacking a maul too late, allowing Catrakilis to make it an eight-point (14-6) game again, but immediately .from the restart WP were penalised and Fouché returned the favour (17-6).
That became 20-6 when Marcel Brache was penalised for not getting out of the way of the scrumhalf quickly enough.
Just short of the final quarter the Bulls brought on an entire front row - Frik Kirsten, along with Springboks Chiliboy Ralepelle and Dean Greyling. The effect of this rash of replacements was immediate on the scrums.
Province, now getting much more possession, tried desperately to get back into the game, but still turned over possession all too easily and allowed the Bulls to punish them with counters.
The possession and territory started to count for Province and with just over 10 minutes left on the clock the referee awarded a penalty try after repeated maul collapses near the Bulls' line. Catrakilis added the conversion to make it a seven-point game (20-13).
However, with eight minutes remaining the WP scrum came under pressure again and conceded a penalty that Fouché kicked to make it a 10-point (23-13) game. And that became 26-13 in the 79th minute, when WP failed to release in the tackle.
Province now threw everything into gaining a losing bonus point, taking the ball through multiple phases, but they again turned it over inside the Bulls' 22 and left Loftus with nothing to show for their efforts.
For the Blue Bulls:
Pens: Fouché 7
For Western Province:
Try: Penalty try
Pens: Catrakilis 2
Blue Bulls: 15 Jürgen Visser, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Francois Venter, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Louis Fouché, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 CJ Stander, 7 Jean Cook, 6 Dewald Potgieter (captain), 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Wilhelm Steenkamp, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Willie Wepener, 1 Morné Mellett..
Replacements: 16 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 17 Frik Kirsten, 18 Grant Hattingh, 19 Warwick Tecklenburg, 20 Ruan Snyman, 21 Lionel Cronjé, 22 Dean Greyling.
Western Province: 15 Joe Pietersen, 14 Gerhard van den Heever, 13 JP du Plessis, 12 Marcel Brache, 11 Damian de Allende, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Jebb Sinclair, 7 Tyrone Holmes, 6 Deon Fourie (captain), 5 De Kock Steenkamp, 4 Don Armand, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Siyabonga Ntubeni, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Replacements: 16 Deon Carstens, 17 Brok Harris, 18 Wilhelm van der Sluys, 19 Helmut Lehmann, 20 JJ Gagiano, 21 Louis Schreuder, 22 Pat Howard.
Referee: Jonathan Kaplan
Assistants: Tiaan Jonker, Pieter de Villiers
TMO: JC Fortuin
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