No Mitchell magic as Pumas maul Bulls
CURRIE CUP MATCH REPORT: John Mitchell's tenure as the head on-field coach of the Blue Bulls got off to a disastrous start.
The Pumas handed the Bulls their biggest defeat of the season - a 51-15 hammering in Nelspruit on Friday.
The eight tries to two victory by the Pumas is a clear indication of just how much work awaits the New Zealander, Mitchell, if he wants to drag the Bulls out of the mire of mediocrity they are stuck in.
The Bulls' lack of discipline - there were three more yellow cards to go with the bagful they have already collected this season - has been their biggest downfall.
Two tries - scored by Thembelani Bholi and Stefan Ungerer - came in the final 10 minutes of the first half at a time when Kefentse Mahlo was in the sin bin after repeated team infringements.
The Bulls also looked like a team caught between two styles of rugby, often confused about what they should do.
In stark contrast, the Pumas were a well-drilled and cohesive unit - often making east metres with the ball in hand.
There was a late consolation try when the Pumas were leading 44-10 and the game long over as a contest.
But for more than 70 minutes there was just one team on the field.
The Pumas' powerful maul was the home team's most destructive weapon.
It was with one of those mauls that the home team opened the scoring, when hooker Mark Pretorius powered over for the first of his three tries.
The only meaningful response from the Bulls came in the 33rd minute, when scrumhalf Andre Warner finished off a well-worked try.
Matters went from bad to worse for the Bulls when Pumas prop Kwezi Mona scored soon after the restart, while replacement Jano Venter was then yellow-carded for a tip tackle.
From that penalty, the Pumas kicked the ball to the 22-metre area of the Bulls and launched another powerful maul that saw Pretorius barge over for his second try.
It sent the hosts into an unassailable 34-10 lead with just over half-an-hour to play.
From there, this horror contest for the Bulls quickly degenerated into a nightmare as lock Ruben van Heerden was next to be sent to the sin bin for another dangerous tackle, with Pretorius powering over for his third try almost immediately after.
Ruwellyn Isbell and Frank Herne piled on the punishment with two further tries for the Pumas before full-time, with Warrick Gelant scoring a mere consolation five-pointer for the Bulls 10 minutes from time.
Man of the match: The contenders are all from the home team - in fact all the Pumas. There was fullback Gerrit Smith on attack, flank Lambert Groenewald for his workrate and hooker Mark Pretorius with a hat-trick of tries. However, our award goes jointly the flank Thembelani Bholi and prop Kwezi Mona for the allround display of power and energy.
For the Pumas:
Tries: Pretorius 3, Bholi, Ungerer, Mona, Isbell, Herne
Cons: Marais 4
Pen: Van Staden
For the Blue Bulls:
Tries: Warner, Gelant
Yellow cards: Kefentse Mahlo (Blue Bulls, 34 - cynical foul, kicking ball away), Jano Venter (Blue Bulls, 44 - foul play, spear tackle), Stefan Willemse (Blue Bulls, 49 - foul play, dangerous tackle)
Pumas: 15 Gerrit Smith, 14 Jean-Paul Lewis, 13 Jerome Pretorius, 12 Hennie Skorbinski (captain), 11 Ruwellyn Isbell, 10 Justin van Staden, 9 Stefan Ungerer, 8 Francois Kleinhans, 7 Lambert Groenewald, 6 Thembelani Bholi, 5 Hugo Kloppers, 4 Stefan Willemse, 3 Pieter Scholtz, 2 Mark Pretorius 1 Kwezi Mona.
Replacements: 16 Frank Herne, 17 De-Jay Terblanche, 18 Cameron Lindsay, 19 Brian Shabangu, 20 Willie Engelbrecht, 21 Reynier van Rooyen, 22 Kobus Marais.
Blue Bulls: 15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Jamba Ulengo, 13 Dries Swanepoel, 12 John Jackson, 11 Kefentse Mahlo, 10 Joshua Stander, 9 Andre Warner, 8 Nick de Jager (captain), 7 Jannes Kirsten, 6 Johannes Prinsloo, 5 Ruben van Heerden, 4 Abongile Nonkontwana, 3 Conraad van Vuuren, 2 Jan-Henning Campher, 1 Lizo Gqoboka.
Replacements: 16 Edgar Marutlulle, 17 Dayan van der Westhuizen, 18 Clyde Davids, 19 Jano Venter, 20 Piet van Zyl, 21 Marnitz Boshoff, 22 Johnny Kotze.
Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen
Assistant referees: Paul Mente, Des van Wyk
TMO: Willie Vos