South Africa

URC final result: Warriors shock Bulls to win URC title

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The Warriors were crowned the 2024 United Rugby Championship champions after they defeated the Bulls 21-16 in the Grand Final on Saturday at Loftus Versfeld.

This is the second time the Warriors have won the title; they last lifted the trophy in 2015.

As much as it was agony for the Bulls and Jake White, it was a blissful moment for the Warriors and coach Franco Smith.

The Warriors coach is a legend in his own right at Loftus, fondly remembered for his kicking performance in the 1998 Currie Cup final.

For Warriors captain Kyle Steyn, who grew up in Gauteng, it was also a great moment to lift the trophy in front of his family at Loftus.

It was a well-deserved win for the Warriors; they defeated two former champions, the Stormers and Munster, in the quarter-final and semi-final respectively before dispatching the Bulls in the final.

For the Bulls, an incredible season ended in a heartbreaking loss in the final. As much as the result was not the one desired, hosting the final and being part of such a huge occasion is something the players and the franchise must be proud of.

Great Loftus Versfeld crowd

A special mention must go out to the people who filled up Loftus Versfeld to full capacity. The vibrant atmosphere created by the fans gave the home side motivation as they started like a house on fire, playing the game at a high intensity.

The visiting team tried to silence the spectators by creating an anxious feeling by going on the attack. The Warriors played on the counterattack, putting the Bulls under pressure with their running abilities. This showed that both teams were determined to make the game a contest.

After 15 minutes the Bulls managed to negotiate their way to a 6-0 lead thanks to two penalty goals from the boot of flyhalf Johan Goosen.

Bulls in control

The Bulls were steadily in control of the match, dominating the contact battles and making big carries through their loose trio of Marco van Staden, Elrigh Louw and Cameron Hanekom. They played rugby in the Warriors’ half and knocked on their try line.

They eventually dotted down through Van Staden who powered his way past the Warriors’ defence, carrying a few players on his way to scoring. Goosen added the extra two points.

The Warriors showed they are a quality side whenever they had the ball with the likes of captain Kyle Steyn, Sebastian Cancelliere, Huw Jones, and Sione Tuipulotu testing the Bulls’ defence.

Credit to the Bulls’ defence because they found a way to make decisive tackle and turnover the ball.

The Scottish side kept on probing and finally scored a converted try via Scott Cummings after the 40-minute mark. The try was important as they went to the break with momentum and trailing 13-7.

Warriors on top

Outside of the defensive mishap that led to the Warriors’ try, the Bulls were in control of the game and needed to stick to their processes. However, at the start of the second stanza, it was the Warriors who went on the attack.

The Bulls were struggling to get out of their half, they were kicking out for touch and the Warriors would be right back in their red zone attacking. A kick into space by Goosen saw the Bulls enter the Warriors’ 22m and that led to a lineout.

That allowed the Bulls’ defence to take a break after absorbing pressure for ten minutes. They returned from that entry with three points through a penalty by Goosen.

During the week the Bulls noted how the Warriors are the best mauling team in the URC. However, there was nothing they could do when the Scottish side’s maul got going and steamrolled them over with replacement hooker George Turner scoring a converted try.

The Warriors knew they were on top of the Bulls; they had upped the tempo in the game. The side from Scotland was showing that their victory over Munster was not a fluke.

Poor Bulls

The game management and composure the Bulls showed in the first half was nowhere to be seen in the second half. By the hour the Warriors had all the momentum.

Their backline ran circles around the Bulls’ defence and created a chance for Huw Jones to score a try with George Horn slotting in his third conversion.

With 15 minutes left on the clock, the Bulls were losing 21-16; they immediately went on the attack in search of a seven-point score. The crowd waved their flags as the team camped in the Warriors 22m.

 The 50,388 at the stadium were worried when the game went into the final ten minutes of the game, they could sense that their side was staring at the face of defeat. Despite being in a sombre mood, they tried to generate a buzz.

The Bulls kept on pushing for a try but the Warriors defended well. The visitors were reduced to 14 man after flyhalf Tom Jordan was sent to the sin bin for a high tackle on Van Staden. It was a nervy finish to the game as the Bulls kicked for the corner in the last minute.

The first attempt to form a maul failed but they went again and the next time the maul collapsed. The Warriors bench stormed to the field as they won 21-16.

Scorers

Bulls: Tries – Marco van Staden; Conversions – Johan Goosen; Penalties –  Goosen (3)

Glasgow: Tries – Scott Cummings, George Turner, Huw Jones; Conversions – George Horne (3)