Bulls keep Currie Cup hopes alive
MATCH REPORT: The Blue Bulls recorded a 52-32 bonus point win against the Pumas in Pretoria on Friday to boost their chances of finishing in the top four.
John Mitchell's side scored eight tries in the match and the victory has lifted them to third on the standings ahead of the round's final matches on Saturday.
The Pretoria side will now keep a close eye on the match between the Golden Lions and the Free State Cheetahs in Johannesburg where they will be hoping the result will not be bonus point-laden.
Both teams had their fair share of the ball in the opening minutes, but it was the visitors who were the first to score.
After setting up a driving maul deep inside the Bulls' 22, the Pumas decided to go the pick-and-go route and they we rewarded when Jannie Stander stretched over the tryline in the ninth minute. Flyhalf Kobus Marais added the extras with the conversion.
However, it did not take long for the Bulls to hit back after the Pumas failed to secure possession at the restart. The ball went wide and hooker Edgar Marutlulle was put into space down the touchline to score a try. Marnitz Boshoff stepped up to convert and level matters after 12 minutes.
The visitors continued to look good with ball in hand and they had their chances to score again if it were not for handling errors. Instead, they had to make do with a Marais penalty in the 20th minute, which put them back in front.
As was the case earlier in the game, the Bulls hit back a few minutes later when scrumhalf Ivan van Zyl was put into space in the Pumas' 22 after a barnstorming run by prop Pierre Schoeman to score his side's second try. Boshoff once again converted the try for a 14-10 scoreline to the Bulls.
With 10 minutes left in the first half, Marais reduced the deficit to just one point with a penalty after sustained pressure in the Bulls' 22.
It was then the Bulls turn once again to dazzle with the ball when fullback Warrick Gelant burst through the Pumas defence and evaded a few tackles before the ball went wide to Travis Ismaiel who ran in for his side's third try. Boshoff was on target again with the conversion to give his side a 21-13 lead in the 36th minute.
Minutes later the Bulls secured the bonus point when Gelant collected his own grubber kick after a scrum in the Pumas' half to go over for a fantastic try.
At half-time, the Bulls were leading 26-13.
The Bulls continued where they left off in the first half when flank Marco van Staden increased his side's lead in the 48th minute with a try with Boshoff on target with the conversion.
After that score, there was no coming back for the Pumas as the Bulls dominated play. Centre and captain Burger Odendaal put more pain on in the 57th minute when he went over for a score with Boshoff converting again.
However, the visitors were not going to lie down and they got their first points in the second half in the 61st minute when No.8 Willie Engelbrecht crossed the whitewash.
Just when there was a glimmer of hope for the Pumas, the Bulls hit back straight away again when wing Ismaiel went over for his second try.
The Bulls were in a rampant mood at this stage of the game and they were rewarded once again for their enterprise when centre John Jackson finished off some great play to go over for a converted try in the 66th minute.
Pumas wing Selom Gavor got a converted try back for the Pumas in the 70th minute and after Bulls' prop Pierre Schoeman was sent to the sin-bin for cynical play, replacement Frankie Herne reduced the deficit further from a driving maul.
That was the final bit of scoring in the game with the Bulls winning by 20 points in the end
Man of the match: Blue Bulls prop Pierre Schoeman had a strong game, while Tim Agaba also impressed with ball in hand. Travis Ismaiel scored two tries as well. However, the award goes to fullback Warrick Gelant, who was once again a joy to watch in open play.
For Blue Bulls
Tries: Marutlulle, I van Zyl, Ismaiel 2, Gelant, Van Staden, Odendaal, Jackson
Cons: Boshoff 6
Tries: Stander, Engelbrecht, Gavor, Herne
Cons: Marais 3
Pens: Maris 2
Yellow cards: Pierre Schoeman (Blue Bulls, 76 - cynical play, offside); Chris Cloete (Pumas, 80 - cynical play, offside)
Blue Bulls: 15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Travis Ismaiel, 13 Burger Odendaal (captain), 12 John Jackson, 11 Johnny Kotze, 10 Marnitz Boshoff, 9 Ivan van Zyl, 8 Nic de Jager, 7 Tim Agaba, 6 Marco van Staden, 5 Aston Fortuin, 4 Ruben van Heerden, 3 Conraad van Vuuren, 2 Edgar Marutlulle, 1 Pierre Schoeman.
Replacements: 16 Johan Grobbelaar, 17 Jason Jenkins, 18 Jano Venter, 19 Johannes Prinsloo, 20 Piet van Zyl, 21 Tony Jantjies, 22 Divan Rossouw.
Pumas: 15 Gerrit Smit; 14 Selom Gavor, 13 Jerome Pretorius, 12 Hennie Skorbinski, 11 Ruwellyn Isbel; 10 Kobus Marais, 9 Stefan Ungerer; 8 Willie Engelbrecht, 7 Nardus van der Walt, 6 Chris Cloete, 5 Hugo Kloppers, 4 Jannie Stander, 3 Pieter Scholtz, 2 Marko Janse van Rensburg, 1 Khwezi Mona.
Replacements: 16 Frankie Herne, 17 De-Jay Terblanche, 18 Cameron Lindsay, 19 Hilton Lobberts, 20 Francois Kleinhans, 21 Reynier van Rooyen, 22 Gerrie Labuschagne.
Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen
Assistant referees: Egon Seconds, Jaco Pretorius
TMO: Lesego Legoete