The Blue Bulls managed to register a 28-20 victory over the Leopards in Rustenburg on Friday night, but fell short in their efforts to secure a bonus point in a scrappy affair.
The first half was a dour affair which was marked by plenty of errors from both teams. The home team failed to win a single line-out in the opening forty minutes and were penalised often at scrum-time.
The Blue Bulls did not fare much better despite enjoying the bulk of the possession, but their goal-kicker Louis Fouche was slightly more successful than Leopards flyhalf Wesley Dunlop off the kicking tee and the visitors took a slender 9-3 lead into the break.
The Leopards won an scrum near the left touchline early in the second half and spun it wide to fullback George Tossel who joined the line at pace and brushed off a weak attempt at a tackle from Gerhard van den Heever before diving over in the corner to bring his team to within one point of the visitors.
The Blue Bulls hit back with a forceful driving maul that ended with young flank Warwick Tecklenburg getting over for the try which made the score 14-8 to the visiting team.
The kicking woes from both sides continued with both Dunlop and Tossel hitting the post with penalty attempts and they were punished when the Blue Bulls launched their next raid into their 22.
The Leopards did their best to keep the blue tide out but lock Brendan Snyman was eventually shown a yellow card for a high tackle which was the last in a line of negative infringements from his team. The visitors took a quick tap from the resulting penalty and big No.8 CJ Stander crashed over for his team's second try.
Fouche's conversion made the score 21-8 in favour of the Blue Bulls and they were firmly in the drivers seat with 20 minutes to play.
The one-man advantage proved telling as the Blue Bulls seemed to revel in the extra space and they surged upfield with some good interplay between forwards and backs resulting in a well-worked try which was finished off when tighthead prop Werner Kruger crashed over the line near the poles.
From that point it seemed only a question of whether the Blue Bulls would be able to secure the four-try bonus point. However the Leopards refused to give up and they were rewarded for their endeavour with a long range try to outside centre Jovan Bowles, which made it 28-13 to the Blue Bulls with just over ten minutes left as Dunlop's goal-kicking woes continued.
The Leopards fought hard right until the final whistle and eventually got over for a consolation try when inside centre Joubert Englebrecht wriggled over from close quarters to bring a scrappy game to an end.
For the Leopards:
Tries: Tossel, Bowles, Engelbrecht
For the Blue Bulls:
Tries: Tecklenburg, Stander, Kruger
Cons: Fouche 2
Pens: Fouche 3
Leopards: 15 George Tossel, 14 Hoffman Maritz, 13 Jovan Bowles, 12 Joubert Engelbrecht, 11 Vainon Willis, 10 Wesley Dunlop, 9 Whestley Moolman, 8 Morné Hanekom (captain), 7 Luvuyiso Lusaseni, 6 Siya Mdaka, 5 Brad Mockford, 4 Brendan Snyman, 3 Stefan Bezuidenhout, 2 Jacques Moller, 1 Bennie Uys.
Replacements: 16 Marius Fourie, 17 Dewald Coetzee, 18 Roan van Heerden, 19 Robert Kruger, 20 Johan Laker, 21 Hennie Skorbinski, 22 Clayton Durand.
Blue Bulls: 15 Jurgen Visser, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 Zane Kirchner, 12 Wynand Olivier, 11 Gerhard van den Heever, 10 Louis Fouché, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 CJ Stander, 7 Arno Botha, 6 Warwick Tecklenburg, 5 Fudge Mabeta, 4 Flip van der Merwe, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Gary Botha (captain), 1 Dean Greyling.
Replacements: 16 Willie Wepener, 17 Rossouw de Klerk, 18 Gerrit-Jan van Velze, 19 Jono Ross, 20 Dustin Jinka, 21 Marnitz Boshoff, 22 Francois Venter.
Referee: Joey Salman
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