South Africa

URC result: Bulls see off Glasgow Warriors despite second-half collapse

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The Bulls probably produced their most frustrating performance in this season’s United Rugby Championship as they saw off Glasgow Warriors 40-34 on Saturday afternoon at Loftus Versfeld. 

The bonus point win saw the Bulls move from fourth to second on the United Rugby Championship points table with 56 points while Glasgow Warriors remained at the top with 59 points. 

The fans who went to Loftus saw the best and worst of the Bulls. They were magnificent in attack for large parts of the game and then very frustrating when they could not manage the game.  

The Bulls were leading 37-10 with 20 minutes remaining on the clock, however, due to a defensive collapse and lack of game-management skills, they allowed Glasgow Warriors to close the gap to 37-31 by the 75th minute. They managed to secure the win with a Chris Smith penalty. 

The Bulls’ rugby director, Jake White, won’t be happy about the collapse, especially so close to the playoff stages. 

High tempo game

When the game started, the Bulls set the tone of the match by speeding it up and running at Glasgow. The visitors then revealed their hand by matching the Bulls’ tempo, showing they came to play at Loftus.

Glasgow Warriors played on the front foot with Scottish international Sione Tuipulotu seeing a lot of the ball. They would draw first blood through flanker Matt Ferguson, who from an improvised lineout move, pushed away Canan Moodie on his way to the try for a converted score. 

The Bulls ventured back into the opposition’s half with the ball moving through the backline. Whenever they made gains, they would lose the ball at the breakdown. However, they did not let that deter them. 

Their momentum reflected on the scoreboard when Akker van der Merwe dotted down after being teed up by lock Ruan Vermaak. Flyhalf Smith added the extras to make it 7-7. Before that the Glasgow Warriors had winger Kyle Steyn sent to the sin bin after lifting Van der Merwe in a tackle. 

The theme of both teams running at each other continued with the Bulls enjoying most of the ball. The home side took the lead in the 25th minute thanks to a Cameron Hanekom converted try. He managed to go through the Glasgow defence after a quick tap. 

Glasgow then went on an attacking charge; the Bulls had answers for their questions, making multiple tackles as they pushed them back. Sensing the score was out as the Bulls’ defence was resolute, Glasgow opted to take three points through the boot of George Horne to make the score 14-10 at the half-hour mark. 

Bulls lock pairing on top

Credit must go to the Bulls’ lineout, the duo of Vermaak and Ruan Nortje went toe to toe with their counterparts, making crucial steals in the red zone.

With the game a top-of-the-table clash, collecting points when chances were there became important. Smith extended the Bulls’ lead with three points by converting a penalty.  

What makes the Bulls’ attack dangerous is the number of X-factor players they have in their backline. This would be on show when Kurt-Lee Arendse got the ball in half and stepped his way through the Glasgow midfield into their 22m before offloading to Elrigh Louw who ran to the white line for a converted score. 

The seven points saw the Bulls go to the break with a 24-10 lead. 

The side from the capital was in firm control and with a healthy lead. The Bulls did not slow things down; instead, they came out more determined in the second stanza, chasing after the ball with veteran fullback Willie le Roux leading the mission. 

The Bulls soon earned their bonus point after Moodie finished in the corner for a converted try. Moodie was at the end of a move that saw the ball move from the base through the hands of Louw, Nizaam Carr, and le Roux with soft touches. 

With the score 31-10, the game looked over with the Bulls sealing the win as the replacements started coming on. Complacency didn’t creep in at that moment as the Bulls’ rush defence was accurate and suffocating the Glasgow Warriors. 

Nervy finish to the game

Smith added two penalty goals to extend the Bulls’ lead to 37-10 at the hour mark. The home side was on top of Glasgow in every aspect of the game and made sure to return with points when they ventured into their half.

However, a nervy finish would follow as the side from Scotland tried to mount a comeback in the game.

The Bulls kept on attacking and that left them open at the back and their visitor took advantage of their naivety.

The Glasgow Warriors got their second try of the game through Steyn, with flyhalf Tom Jordan slotting in the extra two points to take the score to 37-17. They added two more converted scores through Sebastian Cancelliere and Duncan Weir to make the score 37-31 with five minutes left in the game. 

To calm down the nerves of the fans and the coaching staff, Smith kicked in a penalty from the halfway line to take the score to 40-31. Weir kicked in another penalty for Glasgow as they lost 40-34. 

Scorers

Bulls: Tries – Akker van Merwe, Cameron Hanekom, Elrigh Louw, Canan Moodie; Conversions – Chris Smith (4); Penalties –Smith (4)  

Glasgow Warriors: Tries – Matt Fergurson, Kyle Steyn, Sebastian Cancelliere, Duncan Weir ; Conversions – George Horne, Tom Jordan, Duncan Weir (2); Penalties – Horne, Duncan Weir