Planet Rugby

Hurricanes give Bulls a fright

19th March 2010 19:03

Share:

Zane Kirchner

Bulls breakthrough: Zane Kirchner slides in for the home side

It was a case of close but no cigar for the Hurricanes as the Bulls once again emerged victorious at Loftus Verseld, winning 19-18 on Friday in an incredibly tight Super 14 encounter.

The result means the defending champions remain the only unbeaten side in the tournament with five from five, while the Hurricanes leave South African shores without a win and in seventh place - albeit temporarily - thanks to a losing bonus point.

In a tale of the two halves, the Hurricanes were on top in the first but failed to carry their momentum through to the second as the home side showed just why they are number one on the championship table.

But it so nearly could have ended in tears for Bulls supporters, and the Hurricanes will take plenty of heart from this game after leading the home side up until the 67th minute until the lethal boot of Morne Steyn edged his team in front.

The Bulls stuttered along in the opening forty minutes against a determined Hurricanes outfit who - besides a few dropped high balls - put in the bigger hits, made the passes count and kept to the basics.

Back to their counter-attacking best, the New Zealanders latched onto any piece of possession spilled over to them by their hosts and took their chances brilliantly by scoring two well-earned tries in the first half.

The Bulls were a shadow of the team that the Loftus faithful have become accustomed to seeing over the past month, with some poor decision-making as well as unforced errors allowing the Hurricanes a deserved 15-10 half-time lead - this, despite controlling the majority of territory and possession.

The hosts were caught by surprise after fourteen minutes when a strong Hurricanes' attack led to the opening try. After some excellent all-round work, the ball was spread from left to right and the Hurricanes attack completely outnumbered the Bulls defence, with the ball going through quick hands out wide for Karl Lowe to touch down.

Willie Ripia missed the conversion, but redeemed himself when the lead was extended a quarter of the way in.

The Bulls were again stunned after having to retreat on the back of another needlessly conceded penalty - Ma'a Nonu's quick tap and go enabled him to send Jeremy Thrush away under the posts.

The Hurricanes must have fancied their chances when they raced to a 12-0 lead, but as they have done in eight of their last nine Super Rugby matches, the Bulls rebounded to grab the points.

The hosts finally hit their straps on the half-hour mark when Zane Kirchner profited from a thrilling passage of rucking from the pack, taking a pass from Gerhard van den Heever to slide in on the right.

Steyn was on the money with his conversion and, following a tenth handling error of the game, the Springbok pivot reduced the gap to two before a Ripia penalty extended his side's lead at the break.

But the Bulls were a different bunch in the second half, and resorted back to their forward-orientated best by playing conservative rugby and forcing the Hurricanes into making mistakes.

The fly-half pair again exchanged penalties after the restart - Steyn's effort highlighting his outstanding form in 2010 as he crossed the 100-point mark. Errors continued to come from the Hurricanes and another crucial one, when Nonu failed to role away from a ruck, gave Steyn another chance which he duly took.

With nineteen minutes remaining, Hurricanes flank Victor Vito was sent to the bin for repeatedly infringing and it proved a crucial yellow card with the home side taking the lead for the first time on the night shortly afterward thanks to another straightforward kick from Steyn.

There was not much fight left from the visitors thereafter as the Bulls held out for the gripping victory. But the close win alone shouldn't plaster over the cracks in the tournament leader's game, and it seems just a matter of time before an opponent can sustain their effort and burst the Bulls' bubble.

Man of the match: For the Hurricanes, Conrad Smith was the stand-out player in the back-line while Michael Paterson shone in in the forwards. For the Bulls, Fourie du Preez kept a cool head throughout and lock Victor Matfield deserves special praise for an accomplished performance in his 100th Super Rugby match. But we going for Bulls hooker Gary Botha. The Bulls workhorse reminded us just why he was the back-up hooker to John Smit all those years ago and may just find a place in the South Africa set-up once again if he keeps this up.

The scorers:

For Bulls:
Tries: Kirchner
Cons: Steyn
Pens: Steyn 4

For Hurricanes:
Tries: Lowe, Thrush
Cons: Ripia
Pens: Ripia 2

Bulls: 15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Gerhard van den Heever, 13 Stephan Dippenaar, 12 Wynand Olivier, 11 Francois Hougaard, 10 MornÚ Steyn, 9 Fourie du Preez, 8 Pierre Spies, 7 Dewald Potgieter, 6 Deon Stegmann, 5 Victor Matfield (c), 4 Danie Rossouw, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Gary Botha, 1 Gurthr÷ Steenkamp.
Replacements: 16 Bandise Maku, 17 Bees Roux/Rossouw de Klerk, 18 Flip van der Merwe, 19 Derick KuŘn, 20 Jacques-Louis Potgieter, 21 Jaco van der Westhuyzen, 22 Pedrie Wannenburg.

Hurricanes: 15 Andre Taylor, 14 Tamati Ellison, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Ma'a Nonu, 11 Alapati Leiua, 10 Willie Ripia, 9 Tyson Keats, 8 Rodney So'oialo, 7 Karl Lowe, 6 Victor Vito, 5 Michael Paterson, 4 Jeremy Thrush, 3 Neemia Tialata, 2 Andrew Hore (c), 1 John Schwalger.
Replacements: 16 Dane Coles, 17 Jacob Ellison, 18 Bryn Evans, 19 Nick Crosswell, 20 Piri Weepu, 21 Aaron Cruden, 22 David Smith.

Referee: Nathan Pearce (Australia)
Assistant referees: Steve Walsh (Australia), Stefan Breytenbach (South Africa)
Television match official: Shaun Veldsman (South Africa)

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
International Match
Saturday , November 1
Barbarians vs Australia14:30
USA vs New Zealand20:50
More International Match fixtures
European Rugby Champions Cup
Sunday , October 26
Clermont Auvergne vs Sale SharksClermont Auvergne vs Sale Sharks Preview
Castres vs LeinsterCastres vs Leinster Preview
Wasps vs HarlequinsWasps vs Harlequins Preview
Benetton Treviso vs Racing Metro 92Benetton Treviso vs Racing Metro 92 Preview
More European Rugby Champions Cup fixtures
LV= Cup
Saturday , November 1
Sale Sharks vs Wasps14:00
Exeter vs Gloucester15:00
Bath vs London Welsh15:00
London Irish vs Leicester15:00
Northampton vs Newcastle16:00
More LV= Cup fixtures
Guinness PRO12
Friday , October 31
Leinster vs Edinburgh19:35
Ospreys vs Connacht19:35
Glasgow vs Benetton Treviso19:35
Saturday , November 1
Cardiff Blues vs Munster17:15
Scarlets vs Zebre18:00
Ulster vs Newport Gwent D'gons19:35
More Guinness PRO12 fixtures
Top 14
Saturday , November 1
Lyon vs Toulouse14:45
Racing Metro Paris vs Oyonnax18:30
La Rochelle vs Montpellier18:30
Brive vs Castres18:30
Stade Francais vs Bordeaux-Begles18:30
Bayonne vs Clermont Auvergne20:45
More Top 14 fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
European Rugby Champions Cup
Saturday , October 25
Ulster 13 - 23 ToulonUlster vs Toulon Report
Bath 19 - 21 ToulouseBath vs Toulouse Report
Montpellier 13 - 15 GlasgowMontpellier vs Glasgow Report
Northampton 34 - 6 OspreysNorthampton vs Ospreys Report
Scarlets 15 - 3 LeicesterScarlets vs Leicester Report
More European Rugby Champions Cup results
European Rugby Challenge Cup
Rovigo 18 - 33 Cardiff Blues
Oyonnax 15 - 25 Gloucester
Exeter 33 - 13 Connacht
Bucuresti 9 - 13 Stade Francais
More European Rugby Challenge Cup results
Currie Cup
Western Province 19 - 16 LionsWestern Province vs Lions Report
More Currie Cup results
ITM Cup
Taranaki 36 - 32 TasmanTaranaki vs Tasman Report
More ITM Cup results
European Rugby Champions Cup
Friday , October 24
Munster 14 - 3 SaracensMunster vs Saracens Report
More European Rugby Champions Cup results
European Rugby Challenge Cup
Grenoble 15 - 25 London Irish
La Rochelle 25 - 13 Bayonne
Newport Gwent D'gons 26 - 30 Newcastle
Brive 21 - 26 Zebre
Edinburgh 25 - 17 LOU Rugby
Thursday , October 23
London Welsh 20 - 52 Bordeaux-BeglesLondon Welsh vs Bordeaux-Begles Report
More European Rugby Challenge Cup results
European Rugby Champions Cup
Sunday , October 19
Ospreys 42 - 7 Benetton TrevisoOspreys vs Benetton Treviso Report
Toulouse 30 - 23 MontpellierToulouse vs Montpellier Report
Toulon 28 - 18 ScarletsToulon vs Scarlets Report
Leinster 25 - 20 WaspsLeinster vs Wasps Report
More European Rugby Champions Cup results
European Rugby Challenge Cup
London Irish 70 - 14 RovigoLondon Irish vs Rovigo Report
More European Rugby Challenge Cup results
International Match
Saturday , October 18
Australia 28 - 29 New ZealandAustralia vs New Zealand Report
More International Match results
European Rugby Champions Cup
Sale Sharks 26 - 27 MunsterSale Sharks vs Munster Report
More European Rugby Champions Cup results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Northampton625
2Saracens622
3Exeter620
4Bath620
5Wasps615