The Vodacom Blue Bulls scored seven tries while enduring two yellow cards on their way to a bonus-point 45-40 (halftime 28-21) Currie Cup victory over the Tafel Lager Griquas at Tafel Lager Park in Kimberley on Saturday afternoon.
It was a game of many tales with the home side looking for their first Currie Cup victory of 2018 and it was looking as if the men from Kimberley would be staring down the big barrel as the Blue Bulls raced into a 28-7 lead after just 27 minutes but indiscipline allowed the home side to come back to only trail by seven at the break.
The Blue Bulls snatched their bonus-point early in the first half with a brace of tries from centre Franco Naude as well as scrumhalf Andre Warner and hooker Jaco Visagie with flyhalf Manie Libbok converting all four efforts. Warner opened the scoring after a good build up from the visitors, picking up from the base of a ruck to sneak over after just six minutes.
Griquas hit back 10 minutes later after an excellent break from inside their own 22m area with the potential try snuffed out in the corner with some excellent cover-defence but the home side stole the resulting lineout and worked the ball to the line with prop Nicolaas Oosthuizen picking up and driving over to level matters.
But three tries in seven minutes meant the Blue Bulls secured their bonus-point with 27 minutes gone on the stadium clock. However, the visitors started conceding penalties aplenty which allowed the hosts to come back into the game. Andre Swarts scored the first of his two tries by forcing his way over the whitewash after some good pressure from the Griquas with just four minutes to go until halftime.
Worse was to follow for the men from Pretoria as Griquas piled on more pressure close to their tryline with the hooter having already sounded in the stadium. The home side mauled from a lineout but the Blue Bulls infringed, bringing the maul down on the tryline and referee Egon Seconds had no hesitation in awarding the home team a penalty try and then produced a yellow card to the Blue Bulls’ right wing, Duncan Matthews.
The second stanza started as the first had ended with Griquas besieging the visiting tryline. The hosts needed just six minutes to level the match up as flank Eital Bredenkamp picked up a loose ball and burst through some space to score the fourth Griquas try and secure a bonus-point for the home team.
The Blue Bulls were in disarray as Visagie was shown a yellow card by Seconds for an early tackle as Griquas were marching towards the Blue Bulls line again. With the visitors down to 13 men, Griquas claimed the lead with their fifth try, as Swarts scored in the corner thanks to scrumhalf Christiaan Meyer changing direction from a ruck to confuse the Blue Bulls defence.
However, the home side suffered a yellow card of their own when lock Pieter Jansen van Vuren was sin-binned for cynical play with the Blue Bulls on the attack. The visitors found their groove again and scored through replacement hooker, Edgar Marutlulle after a strong maul.
The Blue Bulls scored another two tries in as many minutes with man of the match Jano Venter running a good line to score next to the posts and the straight from the kick-off, the Blue Bulls burst through the middle of the park with replacement scrumhalf Ivan van Zyl diving over to give the men from the nation’s capital a vital 10-point advantage going into the final 10 minutes of the game.
The home side fought back though, scoring a try through fullback AJ Coertzen but Swarts missed the conversion leaving the hosts needing to score a converted try to win but in the end, the Blue Bulls held out for their second win of a shortened season, ending a two-game losing streak.
Tafel Lager Griquas – Tries: Andre Swarts (2), Nicolaas Oosthuizen, Eital Bredenkamp, AJ Coertzen, Penalty Try; Conversions: George Whitehead (4).
Vodacom Blue Bulls – Tries: Franco Naude, JT Jackson, Andre Warner, Jaco Visagie, Edgar Marutlulle, Jano Venter, Ivan van Zyl; Conversions: Manie Libbok (5).