Who's to blame for scrum mess?
The Blue Bulls earned four valuable points with a 15-9 win over Griquas in their Currie Cup encounter at Loftus Versfeld on Friday.
However, this error-riddled game was turned into a lottery for more than 70 minutes - through a combination of sloppy play, poor discipline and puzzling calls by the referee.
The Bulls, courtesy of the victory, move to the top of the standings - at least for 24 hours.
In a game of brutal physicality, it was the high number of errors on both side that robbed the game of its entertainment value.
Poor execution was certainly the Bulls' biggest problem, with Griquas able to win a number of turnovers through sloppy play by the Bulls forwards. In fact in the first half alone there were 11 of those errors by the home team.
Griquas' biggest headache was the performance of starting scrumhalf Jacques Coetzee, who was replaced by Marnus Hugo before the half-hour mark.
The scrums were also a major issue - with both teams struggling to come to grips with the referee's rulings. The first three scrums were called up and while a few of the first-half set-pieces were eventually completed, scrums mostly turned into penalties or free kicks.
Among the few that were completed, there was even a heel against the head by Griquas captain Ryno Barnes.
It didn't get much better after the break, with the penalty count reaching alarming heights. It eventually resulted in a yellow card to Bulls replacement scrumhalf Ruan Snyman for a skew feed at the scrum.
As was to be expected, the teams became hesitant to attempt anything inside their own half, for the fear of being penalised for some arbitrary reason, and a kicking duel ensued.
And the handling errors on both sides had also reached double figures.
The most positive aspect was that the Bulls eventually managed to gain some ascendancy at the scrums.
The Bulls cost themselves in the early stages with some amateurish errors - either going off their feet at the ruck or kicking the ball too deep.
Not that Griquas were any more efficient in taking their opportunities - Nico Scheepers butchering two kickable penalties inside the opening 10 minutes.
The Bulls eventually took the lead through a Tony Jantjies penalty in the 13th minute, but the Bulls then missed two shots at goal - Jantjies missing in the 17th minute and Jurgen Visser's long-range effort bouncing off the crossbar two minutes later.
Francois Brummer, who took over the goal-kicking from a misfiring Scheepers, slotted penalties in the 21st and 33rd minute - as the visitors looked to stamp their authority on the game.
Right on the stroke of half-time Howard Mnisi was penalised for kicking the ball away after it had gone into touch and from 40 metres out Jantjies levelled the scores - 6-all at the break.
Ten minutes into the second half JP Nel was penalised at the breakdown. However, Jantjies, from about 30 metres on the angle, pushed it wide.
Just short of the final quarter replacement scrumhalf Ruan Snyman was yellow carded for a skew feed at the scrum, the referee ruling that it was the third successive such offence. He even took time out to warn the Bulls that the next skew feed would become a red card.
With 15 minutes left Griquas were penalised for offside and Jurgen Visser, from 40 metres out, slotted the kick for a three-point lead.
When Lourens Adriaanse was penalised minutes later for playing the ball on the ground at a ruck, Visser made it a six-point (12-6) lead.
A powerful Bulls scrum five metres from the line earned the home team another penalty, but from bang in front Visser missed.
With three minutes left on the clock Griquas were again penalised at a scrum and this time, from 40 metres out, Visser made it 15-6.
All that was left for Griquas was to salvage a losing bonus point and it came in the form of a penalty by Brummer after the hooter had sounded for full-time - leaving the Bulls with a 15-9 win.
Man of the match: Griquas skipper Ryno Barnes again played a captain's innings. Bulls centre Francois Venter kept the Griquas defence honest, while Jurgen Visser's goal-kicking was invaluable after Tony Jantjies left the field. Grant Hattingh impressed with his high workrate. However, our award goes to the highly skilled Bulls loose forward Jean Cook made a huge impact as a second-half replacement, winning a line-out turnover and breakdown penalty soon after coming on. Apart from his impressive support play, he was also solid defence.
For the Blue Bulls:
Pens: Jantjies 2, Visser 3
Pens: Brummer 3
Yellow card: Ruan Snyman (Blue Bulls, 58 - repeated skew feeds at the scrum)
Blue Bulls: 15 Jürgen Visser, 14 Sampie Mastriet, 13 Ulrich Beyers, 12 Francois Venter, 11 Travis Ismaiel, 10 Tony Jantjies, 9 Rudi Paige, 8 Jono Ross (captain), 7 Jacques du Plessis, 6 Wiaan Liebenberg, 5 Grant Hattingh, 4 Paul Willemse, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Callie Visagie, 1 Morné Mellett.
Replacements: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Marcell van der Merwe, 18 Wilhelm Steenkamp, 19 Jean Cook, 20 Ruan Snyman, 21 Waylon Murray, 22 Clayton Blommetjies.
Griquas: 15 Gouws Prinsloo, 14 Nico Scheepers, 13 JP Nel, 12 Howard Mnisi, 11 PJ Vermeulen, 10 Francois Brummer, 9 Jacques Coetzee, 8 Burger Schoeman, 7 Jonathan Adendorf, 6 Carel Greeff, 5 Jaco Nepgen, 4 Hilton Lobberts, 3 Lourens Adriaanse, 2 Ryno Barnes (captain), 1 Steph Roberts.
Replacements: 16 Matthew Dobson, 17 Nick Schonert, 18 RJ Liebenberg, 19 Leon Karemaker, 20 Marnus Hugo, 21 Du Randt Gerber, 22 Rocco Jansen.
Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen
Assistant referees: Sindile Mayende, Attire Buitendag
TMO: Johan Greeff