Planet Rugby

Bulls washed away in Perth

26th April 2014 12:27

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Collision: Cowan and Potgieter

The Force triumphed in a washout in Perth to get back to winning ways thanks to five Sias Ebersohn penalties in a 15-9 victory.

One to forget in Perth, except for fans of the Force, the upstart side from Western Australia returned to winning ways after their loss last week to the Rebels brought an impressive streak to an end.

Heavy rain did the fans and players at nib Stadium no favours as a kicking war for territory ensued, with tries always appearing unlikely.

As a result Ebersohn and Jacques-Louis Potgieter, later on Handré Pollard, battled it out off the kicking tee.

This has been a miserable tour for the Bulls and it ended appropriately, despite the lineout work of Victor Matfield and a punishing scrum.

Slipping down the log and 12 points behind the Sharks, the South African Conference leaders' loss on Friday to the Highlanders opened a window for the Bulls to close that gap.

Two early strikes from Potgieter opened up a 6-0 lead for the Bulls in the opening 13 minutes with the pummelling rain certainly more suited to their style than that of the Force.

Ebersohn had other ideas, knocking over two quick penalties against a team that until Saturday he had never defeated with the Cheetahs or Force.

His form this season has caught the eye back in his native South Africa, winning the tactical battle here against Potgieter in unforgiving conditions.

Ebersohn's third strike handed the Force the lead for the first time right on half-time at 9-6.

It was more of the same in the second period as Ebersohn maintained his perfect record with another penalty, the Bulls pinged not for the first time at the breakdown.

Sensing the fixture was slipping away from them the Bulls turned up the gas and managed to produce a series of attacks close to the Force line, but each time their final attempts at adding points were foiled.

A promising break from Akona Ndungane should have ended with a try with space out in front of him down the touchline, but he opted to look inside. By the time the Bulls had made it to just inches short of their hosts' line, Jacques du Plessis was called out illegally clearing out a man at the ruck. It summaries their frustration nicely.

Pollard added a spark with his introduction in the second half and a penalty to launch his team into losing bonus point territory at 15-9.

The Bulls had their chances for the win after Dane Haylett-Petty knocked on inside his 22, but again the Force found a way out of trouble.

They came back again attacking five metres out from the Force line with only three minutes left, but again the Force held firm to win a penalty at the breakdown. It was enough to secure victory and help them climb up to fourth in the table.

The scorers:

For Force:
Pens: Ebersohn 5

For Bulls:
Pens: Potgieter 2, Pollard

Western Force: 15 Jayden Hayward, 14 Dane Haylett-Petty, 13 Marcel Brache, 12 Kyle Godwin, 11 Nick Cummins, 10 Sias Ebersohn, 9 Ian Prior, 8 Ben McCalman, 7 Matt Hodgson (captain), 6 Angus Cottrell, 5 Sam Wykes, 4 Adam Coleman, 3 Kieran Longbottom, 2 Nathan Charles, 1 Pek Cowan.
Replacements:16 Heath Tessmann, 17 Tetera Faulkner, 18 Ollie Hoskins, 19 Wilhelm Steenkamp, 20 Brynard Stander, 21 Justin Turner, 22 Zack Holmes, 23 Chris Tuatara-Morrison.

Bulls: 15 Jurgen Visser, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Jacques-Louis Potgieter, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Grant Hattingh, 7 Jacques du Plessis, 6 Jono Ross, 5 Victor Matfield (captain), 4 Paul Willemse, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Dean Greyling.
Replacements:16 Bandise Maku, 17 Morné Mellett, 18 Marcel van der Merwe, 19 Wimpie van der Walt, 20 Jacques Engelbrecht, 21 Rudy Paige, 22 Handré Pollard, 23 Ulrich Beyers.

Referee: Angus Gardner
Assistant referees: James Leckie (Australia), Matt O'Brien (Australia)

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