Late try foils Waratahs fightback
Substitute prop Simphiwe Matanzima scored a 70th minute try as the Bulls snatched a 28-21 win over the Waratahs in a Super Rugby match at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.
Matanzima’s try foiled a spirited second half performance by the Australian team, who fought back after trailing 21-7 early in the second half.
The Bulls led 18-7 at half-time through tries by Warrick Gelant and Duane Vermeulen against one by Nick Phipps.
With their forwards dominant, the Bulls seemed to have taken control but tries by Kurtley Beale and Curtis Rona enabled the Waratahs to draw level at 21-21 with 14 minutes left.
The win took the Bulls to the top of the tightly-contested South African conference log and into second place behind New Zealand’s Crusaders on the overall table – but Bulls captain Handre Pollard said his team needed to improve.
"It’s great to be back on the winning side but we need to be more consistent," said Pollard. "There are small things but if we want to compete seriously in this competition we’ve got to be more accurate."
The Bulls were powerful in the scrums, with loosehead prop Lizo Ggqoboka named man of the match. On three occasions the home side won scrum penalties after shoving their opponents off the ball on the Bulls’ five-metre line.
"We had our chances and we put a lot of pressure on the Bulls," said Michael Hooper, who captained the Waratahs on a record 57th occasion.
"Their scrum was strong enough to hold us out a couple of times. Their scrum was fantastic."
Both Waratahs tries in the second half came when the visitors were able to make use of scrappy ball from retreating scrums.
Beale burst through for a solo try while Rona benefitted from a line break by substitute centre Lalakai Foketi. Rona had been denied six minutes earlier when he lost the ball over the line when he was tackled by opposite number Cornal Hendricks.
With time running out, the Bulls attacked down the left side in a move which ended with Matanzima crashing over the line.
Try of the match was scored by Springbok eighthman Vermeulen who bullocked half the length of the field in the first half after intercepting the ball following a Waratahs lineout.
Pollard kicked three penalty goals and two conversions, while Bernard Foley converted all three Waratahs tries.
The Bulls host the Crusaders in Pretoria on Friday.
© 2019 AFP