WP left Loftus with nothing to show for their efforts
The Blue Bulls kept their Currie Cup play-off hopes alive with a deserved 26-13 win over Western Province in Pretoria on Friday.
Though each side scored a try, the Blue Bulls scored more points. Once you have said that there is little else to say about a desultory and at times scruffy match of precious little continuity or fluidity.
The Blue Bulls want off the bottom of the table and they took a step towards doing that. They want to be in the play-offs and they took a step closer to that.
One is not sure what Western Province want - not after two such lack-lustre performances. A while back they were playing with verve and scoring tries and then came last Saturday against the Golden Lions and this Friday against the Blue Bulls. They seemed so uninterested.
Look at 50-50 balls and see who gets it. The Blue Bulls did. Look at catching the ball out of the sky and see who does it. The Blue Bulls did it. They were interested all right.
The Blue Bulls had more possession and territory in the first half and led only 11-3 at the break. Western Province had the better of possession in the second half and lost the half 15-10.
The difference between the two sides was the boot of Louis Fouché, but his boot was made possible by his team's territorial dominance. In the match the penalty count was 15-13 in favour of Western Province. But Western Province aimed only three penalty kicks at goal while the Blue Bulls aimed eight. Each side missed one. True Western Province had a succession of penalties five metres from the Blue Bulls line but they went for tries and eventually got one.
It was not as good as most Currie Cup matches have been this season but most of the crowd of 15 677 went away happy. Scoring more points than the opposition makes people happy.
The biggest Western Province problem was the line-out. In the first half they threw into 11 line-outs and lost six of them. It's not a new problem. Last week they lost four of their throws. There must be something that makes the problem insuperable and only Don Armand able to catch the ball thrown into a line-out.
The Blue Bulls kicked off and Western Province lost their first line-out which led to a penalty at a tackle and Fouché's first penalty. 3-0 after 3 minutes.
After Western Province lost another line-out the Blue Bulls kicked an up-'n-under, won a turnover and sent the ball wide to Bjorn Basson who headed for the left corner as Marcel Brache tackled him. The referee referred the matter to the TMO who detected a forward pass two passes before Basson got the ball.
Jurgen Visser had a break and gave to Jano Vermaak who looked likely to score till Nic Groom grassed him.
Those were exciting bits in a dull 18 minutes till Deon Fourie was penalised at a tackle and Fouché made it 6-0.
Then came the best bit of rugby in the whole game. The Blue Bulls went hither and thither through some 16 aggressive phases till Akona Ndungane had an overlap and easily outpaced Steven Kitshoff to score in the left corner - the right wing scoring in the left corner.
The siren had sounded when CJ Stander was penalised at a tackle and Dimitri Catrakilis goaled. 11-3.
Starting the second half well was important to both sides and the Blue Bulls did it better.
When Jebb Sinclair was offside, Fouché made it 14-3 after 43 minutes. Then Stander was penalised for pulling down a maul and Catrakilis made it 14-6. Then came the dampest squib of all.
Fouché kicked off straight to De Kock Steenkamp who did not have to jump or do anything fancy but knocked the ball on some way where a team-mate played it and was penalised. 17-6 after 49 minutes and two minutes later 20-6 when Brache was penalised at a tackle. The Blue Bulls had scored nine points in the first 11 minutes of the half.
At this stage the Blue Bulls changed the whole of their front row and then a lock as well. but the Western Province had their best passage of play. They had three five-metre penalties in quick succession. They tapped the first and made line-outs of the other two., They mauled both line-outs. Dean Greyling pulled down the first maul and was penalised and then pulled down the second one as Western Province were getting closer and closer to the line. The referee awarded a penalty try. 20-13 with 12 minutes to play.
At no time during those 12 minutes did the Western Province look like scoring a try but the Blue Bulls scored two penalty goals. Western Province then tried to attack but lost the ball in a turnover and Fouché kicked it out.
Man of the Match: Jürgen Visser had moments of brilliance, Louis Fouché scored 21 points and Bjorn Basson was always lively but the award for Man of the Match went to captain Dewald Potgieter, a determined flank.
For the Blue Bulls:
Pens: Fouché 7
For Western Province:
Try: Penalty try
Pens: Catrakilis 2
Blue Bulls: 15 Jürgen Visser, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Francois Venter, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Louis Fouché, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 CJ Stander, 7 Jean Cook, 6 Dewald Potgieter (captain), 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Wilhelm Steenkamp, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Willie Wepener, 1 Morné Mellett..
Replacements: 16 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 17 Frik Kirsten, 18 Grant Hattingh, 19 Warwick Tecklenburg, 20 Ruan Snyman, 21 Lionel Cronjé, 22 Dean Greyling.
Western Province: 15 Joe Pietersen, 14 Gerhard van den Heever, 13 JP du Plessis, 12 Marcel Brache, 11 Damian de Allende, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Jebb Sinclair, 7 Tyrone Holmes, 6 Deon Fourie (captain), 5 De Kock Steenkamp, 4 Don Armand, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Siyabonga Ntubeni, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Replacements: 16 Deon Carstens, 17 Brok Harris, 18 Wilhelm van der Sluys, 19 Helmut Lehmann, 20 JJ Gagiano, 21 Louis Schreuder, 22 Pat Howard.
Referee: Jonathan Kaplan
Assistants: Tiaan Jonker, Pieter de Villiers
TMO: JC Fortuin