Planet Rugby

Highlanders recover to beat Bulls

11th April 2014 10:22

Share:

Highlanders fly half Lima Sopoago going over for a try

Strong again: Lima Sopoaga

The Highlanders moved provisionally fifth in the Super Rugby table after they beat the Bulls 27-20 on Friday.

In a result that saw them come from ten points down, the men from Dunedin crucially go second in the New Zealand conference having played the same amount of games as rivals the Hurricanes and Blues. They will now hope the Rebels can cause a shock against the Chiefs on Saturday.

The Bulls, who had lost Deon Stegmann and Dewald Potgieter to injury last week, did have the experience of Victor Matfield coming into their side. And the veteran's work at the line-out proved critical throughout as he dominated the sky while the Highlanders focussed on stopping the maul.

Matfield's presence and the power of centre Jan Serfontein and loosehead prop Dean Greyling was noticeable early on and it led to the Bulls leading 3-13 with 22 minutes played in Dunedin.

Those points came from a lovely blindside scrum move that saw Piet van Zyl set up Bjorn Basson for the opening try of the game on the right wing.

At this point it seemed the Bulls were showing the signs of upsetting the Highlanders in what surprisingly was their first fixture against a South African side this season.

However, the Highlanders recovered with an impressive spell that saw Lima Sopoaga go over from a Shaun Treeby pass that was touched in flight by a Bulls player. That converted score on 32 minutes pulled the hosts back to within three before Sopoaga slotted a leveller.

The recovery continued after the restart as the Highlanders turned the screw against a Bulls squad that looked fatigued after a recent test against the Hurricanes, one where they had to put in a lot of work defensively. And they were subsequently punished as the home side.

First in the second stanza it was blindside flanker Gareth Evans with a try down the left wing that saw the Highlanders take the lead for the first time in the game, with outstanding centre Malakai Fekitoa setting him up before he turned from provider to scorer on 54 minutes.

Fekitoa has become the signing of the season so far and that aforementioned finish as he came back on a switch put the Highlanders 27-13 to the good, which was how it stayed until the final seconds when Marcel van der Merwe crossed to hand the Bulls the losing bonus.

The scorers:

For Highlanders:
Tries: Sopoaga, Evans, Fekitoa
Con: Sopoaga 3
Pen: Sopoaga 2

For Bulls:
Tries: Basson, M van der Merwe
Con: Potgieter 2
Pen: Potgieter 2

Highlanders: 15 Ben Smith, 14 Richard Buckman, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Shaun Treeby, 11 Patrick Osborne, 10 Lima Sopoaga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Elliot Dixon, 7 Shane Christie, 6 Gareth Evans, 5 Joe Wheeler, 4 Brad Thorn, 3 Chris King, 2 Liam Coltman, 1 Kane Hames.
Replacements: 16 Ged Robinson, 17 Craig Millar, 18 Ma'afu Fia, 19 Jarrad Hoeata, 20 John Hardie, 21 Fumiaki Tanaka, 22 Trent Renata, 23 Nasi Manu.

Bulls: 15 Jurgen Visser, 14 Bjorn Basson, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Francois Hougaard, 10 Jacques-Louis Potgieter, 9 Piet van Zyl, 8 Grant Hattingh, 7 Jacques du Plessis, 6 Jono Ross, 5 Victor Matfield, 4 Flip van der Merwe (c), 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Callie Visagie, 1 Dean Greyling.
Replacements: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Marcel van der Merwe, 18 Paul Willemse, 19 Jacques Engelbrecht, 20 William Small-Smith, 21 Handré Pollard, 22 Ulrich Beyers, 23 Morné Mellet.

Referee: Rohan Hoffman (Australia)
Assistant referees: Kane McBride (New Zealand), Shane McDermott (New Zealand)
Television match official: Vinny Munro (New Zealand)

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Rugby Championship
Saturday , August 23
New Zealand vs Australia08:35
Argentina vs South Africa20:40
More Rugby Championship fixtures
Top 14
Friday , August 22
Toulouse vs Castres20:45
Saturday , August 23
Brive vs Clermont Auvergne14:45
Toulon vs La Rochelle18:30
Bordeaux-Begles vs Racing Metro Paris18:30
Montpellier vs Grenoble18:30
Bayonne vs Oyonnax18:30
Stade Francais vs Lyon20:45
More Top 14 fixtures
Currie Cup
Friday , August 22
Pumas vs Griquas19:10
Saturday , August 23
Blue Bulls vs Eastern Province Kings15:00
Western Province vs Lions17:05
Sharks vs Cheetahs19:10
More Currie Cup fixtures
ITM Cup
Thursday , August 21
North Harbour vs Southland19:35
Friday , August 22
Waikato vs Canterbury18:05
Hawkes Bay vs Taranaki20:05
Saturday , August 23
Northland vs Wellington14:35
Counties Manukau vs Otago16:35
Sunday , August 24
Manawatu vs Auckland14:35
Bay Of Plenty vs Tasman16:35
More ITM Cup fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
ITM Cup
Sunday , August 17
Tasman 35 - 15 Hawkes BayTasman vs Hawkes Bay Report
Northland 23 - 28 Manawatu
More ITM Cup results
Rugby Championship
Saturday , August 16
Australia 12 - 12 New ZealandAustralia vs New Zealand Report
South Africa 13 - 6 ArgentinaSouth Africa vs Argentina Report
More Rugby Championship results
Top 14
Clermont Auvergne 30 - 26 GrenobleClermont Auvergne vs Grenoble Report
Brive 37 - 15 La Rochelle
Montpellier 16 - 19 Racing Metro ParisMontpellier vs Racing Metro Paris Report
Bordeaux-Begles 18 - 9 Lyon
Castres 22 - 25 Stade Francais
Toulouse 20 - 19 Oyonnax
More Top 14 results
Currie Cup
Lions 60 - 19 Eastern Province KingsLions vs Eastern Province Kings Report
Western Province 41 - 17 Blue BullsWestern Province vs Blue Bulls Report
Cheetahs 34 - 27 GriquasCheetahs vs Griquas Report
More Currie Cup results
ITM Cup
Otago 28 - 14 North Harbour
Wellington 25 - 37 WaikatoWellington vs Waikato Report
Canterbury 48 - 9 AucklandCanterbury vs Auckland Report
More ITM Cup results
Top 14
Friday , August 15
Bayonne 15 - 29 ToulonBayonne vs Toulon Report
More Top 14 results
Currie Cup
Sharks 34 - 17 PumasSharks vs Pumas Report
More Currie Cup results
ITM Cup
Southland 34 - 23 Bay Of Plenty
Thursday , August 14
Taranaki 9 - 9 Counties ManukauTaranaki vs Counties Manukau Report
More ITM Cup results
Currie Cup
Saturday , August 9
Griquas 24 - 31 SharksGriquas vs Sharks Report
Pumas 28 - 21 CheetahsPumas vs Cheetahs Report
Lions 41 - 13 Blue BullsLions vs Blue Bulls Report
Friday , August 8
Eastern Province Kings 16 - 35 Western ProvinceEastern Province Kings vs Western Province Report
More Currie Cup results
Super Rugby
Saturday , August 2
Waratahs 33 - 32 CrusadersWaratahs vs Crusaders Report
More Super Rugby results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Bath00
2Exeter00
3Gloucester00
4Harlequins00
5Leicester Tigers00