Planet Rugby

Bulls upset the Waratahs

03rd May 2008 15:49

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Derrick Hougaard kick out of hand

Mr Boot: Derick Hougaard

The Bulls ruined Australian rugby fans' day on Saturday by upsetting the Waratahs 16-13 at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria.

It was a classic 'old school' Bulls performance. In torrential rain and on a slippery surface, the home side used the mammoth boot of Derick Hougaard and dominated the set-pieces to get the edge in a tightly fought battle.

The Waratahs dominated the first twenty minutes only to see the Bulls claw their way back into the game in the following twenty. The Waratahs lead 7-6 at half-time but a second-half try by hooker Derick Kuun swung the game in the Bulls' favour.

The Waratahs weren't about to lie down though and it took a drop-goal by Morne Steyn seven minutes from time to separate the teams.

Loftus Versfeld is usually a very intimidating venue, but with the stands largely empty, the 'Tahs were out to improve their record of two wins from four in South Africa's capital.

Waratahs centre Rob Horne opened the scoring just before the ten-minute mark when Wynand Olivier made a dreadful attempt to tackle Wycliff Palu. The 'Tahs big number eight simply shrugged off the Springbok centre before off-loading to Horne who sailed over to put the visitors ahead.

Soon thereafter Olivier's mid-field partner JP Nel left the field with a suspected broken finger. Nel's departure was a blessing in disguise for the Bulls as it brought Derick Hougaard onto the field with Steyn moving to inside centre.

With the rain bucketing down, very uncharacteristically for Pretoria, Hougaard's boot would prove to be a vital tactical asset for the home side.

Hougaard, playing outside his namesake Francois, soon made his presence felt, producing a drop-goal after a quarter of an hour to put the Bulls on the scoreboard. It was classic Bulls as Bakkies Botha secured clean possession for the defending Super 14 champions in a line-out. Francois fed Derrick and the Hougaard show contributed three valuable points.

With the Bulls literally head and shoulders above the 'Tahs in the line-outs, the home side were content to punt the ball up field every time the visitors dared approach their tryline. The 'Tahs weren't afraid to put ball to boot either but Bulls full-back Zane Kirchner was rock solid under every bomb that came his way.

Unfortunately for the Bulls, Kirchner's kicking was less than spectacular, hoofing it out off the side of his boot on no less than four occasions. But it wasn't a catastrophe since when Botha and Wilhelm Steenkamp didn't steal the Waratahs throw-ins, Tatafu Polota-Nau and later Adam Freier conspired to miss their jumpers.

When Luke Burgess impeded Bryan Habana in his chase to get under a high ball, Steyn slotted the ensuing penalty and there was just one point in the game at 7-6.

In the closing stages of the half Steyn and Lote Tuqiri had opportunities to land penalties, however both went wide and the Waratahs into to the break with a narrow lead.

The Bulls started the second-half with a bang. The small crowd went wild as front rowers Gurthro Steenkamp and Derick Kuun had a rare opportunity to sprint in open territory. With the help of Olivier they put Kuun over and the home team moved in front for the first time.

Steyn's conversion took the Bulls out to a 13-7 advantage in the 44th minute and the game had quickly taken on a different complexion.

The Bulls continued to dominate field position through their accurate and long kicking game. The Waratahs however remained composed and repeatedly forced errors or turnovers when the Bulls were on the attack.

Beale landed a penalty to close the gap to three and shortly thereafter levelled the game at 13-all with a drop goal of his own. The Waratahs had their chances in the Bulls half, however it was the home side which always looked like scoring next.

With advantage being played, Steyn missed a drop-goal in the 73rd minute, but when the ensuing free-kick was tapped and driven towards the posts, Steyn again dropped into the pocket and made no mistake with the drop-goal and the Bulls were back in front 16-13.

The final seven minutes saw both sides struggle to maintain possession or field position. When Pierre Spies rounded off a strong game by charging down Lachie Turner in the Waratahs in goal area the Bulls looked set to win.

The didn't manage to score from the five-metre scrum, leaving the Waratahs' to settle for a losing bonus point.

The Waratahs now head to Cape Town to complete the South African leg of their campaign next week in the penultimate round of the league.

Man of the match: You've probably caught our drift by now. Derick Hougaard, take a bow. Not only was the fly-half's kicking a death sentence for the Tahs forwards' moral, he made a few telling tackles in mid-field.

Moment of the match: We'd opt for Kuun's try - it put the Bulls ahead and gave them a licence to punt.

Villain of the match: Everyone was very well behaved, which is quite rare for a game involving the Bulls. Well done, gentlemen.

The scorers:

For the Bulls:

Tries: Kuun

Cons: Steyn

Pens: Steyn

Drops: D. Hougaard, Steyn

For the Waratahs:

Tries: Horne

Cons: Beale

Pens: Beale

Drops: Beale

The teams:

Bulls: 15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 JP Nel, 12 Wynand Olivier, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Morne Steyn, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Pierre Spies, 7 Wikus van Heerden (c), 6 Deon Stegmann, 5 Wilhelm Steenkamp, 4 Bakkies Botha, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Derick Kuun, 1 Gurthro Steenkamp.

Replacements: 16 Bandisa Maku, 17 Jaco Engels, 18 Rayno Gerber, 19 Danie Rossouw, 20 Fourie du Preez, 21 Derick Hougaard, 22 Pedrie Wannenburg.

Waratahs: 15 Sam Norton-Knight, 14 Lachie Turner, 13 Rob Horne, 12 Tom Carter, 11 Lote Tuqiri, 10 Kurtley Beale, 9 Luke Burgess, 8 WYcliff Palu, 7 Phil Waugh (c), 6 Rocky Elsom, 5 Dan Vickerman, 4 Dean Mumm, 3 Al Baxter, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 Benn Robinson.

Replacements: 16 Adam Freier, 17 Matt Dunning, 18 Will Caldwell, 19 David Lyons, 20 Sekope Kepu, 21 Matt Carraro, 22 Brett Sheehan.

Referee: Lyndon Bray (New Zealand)

Touch judges: Brent Murray (New Zealand), Pro Legoete (South Africa)

Television match official: Michael Cupido (South Africa)

Assessor: Banks Yantolo (South Africa)

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