Clayton Blommetjies. (Photo by Gordon Arons/Gallo Images)
- The Bulls were improved from their blow-out against the Pumas but still couldn’t find a way to beat Western Province at Loftus.
- Instead, it was the Capetonians who flourished on the counterattack to clinch an excellent 41-33 victory.
- While the visitors were clinical, the Bulls struggled with their game management despite scoring five tries.
Despite being unrecognisable from the outfit that Jake White felt “gave up” against the Pumas last weekend, the Bulls still weren’t able to get one over their archrivals Western Province and, more importantly, clamber out of a losing groove at Loftus on Friday night.
In fact, the 33-41 reverse was a classic case of a desperate team improving in one or two aspects that have been troubling them without ensuring certain other basics are adhered to.
The Bulls crossed the whitewash five times in this match, suggesting that their struggling attack has something to build on going into next weekend’s daunting URC trip to Belfast to face Munster, but their game management was severely lacking as Province, gleefully feasting off turnover ball, brilliantly capitalised on virtually every opportunity given to them.
Following an early showstopper from a revitalised Sbu Nkosi, who rounded off a sumptuous move started by Chris Smith’s switch pass to a prone Harold Vorster, a pattern set in of the Bulls losing the initiative every time they seemed to be gaining some form of ascendancy.
It started with spilled ball from an Elrigh Louw offload, which was snapped up by Keke Morabe and then fed to Paul de Wet.
More frustration for the Bulls was to follow when a fairly innocuous kick to Ruhan Nel saw the former Blitzboks star neatly pick up, effortlessly evade a really poor tackle from Nkosi, sprint away and then pass to Kade Wolhuter,
That proved to be just the start for the rookie pivot, who enjoyed an outstanding night in contributing 26 points, as his kicking boot never faltered and his general play excelled.
His steady influence, along with the energy and skill of Clayton Blommetjies, kept the Bulls at bay, whose power play had directly led to close range tries for Cornal Hendricks and Zak Burger.
The Bulls’ pack continued to win the collisions and the scrum battle as Johan Grobbelaar and substitute Francois Klopper crossed over for tries though a 33-25 buffer just never quite felt comfortable.
And it duly proved the case with what was, in hindsight, a killer blow.
From another Bulls turnover, Jean-Luc du Plessis – starting at inside centre – crashed into a defensive wall yet managed an outrageous off-load over the shoulder of his defender to suddenly open up acres of space for Province and a try for Blommetjies.
It was a piece of magic befitting of a team simply so at ease with itself and fully trusting its abilities.
Conversely, it led to panic in the Bulls’ ranks, who struggled for field position and started to become undisciplined on defence.
With Wolhuter in a less than forgiving mood off the tee, that knocked the stuffing out of the hosts’ challenge.
Bulls – 33 (19)
Tries: Sbu Nkosi, Cornal Hendricks, Zak Burger, Johan Grobbelaar, Francois Klopper
Conversions: Chris Smith (4)
Western Province – 41 (18)
Tries: Paul de Wet, Kade Wolhuter, Ruhan Nel, Clayton Blommetjies
Conversions: Wolhuter (3)
Penalties: Wolhuter (5)