at the Union Buildings in Pretoria
Bulls (23) 44
Tries: Jan Serfontein, Jono Ross, Bjorn Basson, Jono Ross. Conversions: Jacques-Louis Potgieter (2), Handre Pollard. Penalties: Jacques-Louis Potgieter (4)
Brumbies (6) 23
Tries: Henry Speight, Ben Mowen, Tevita Kurindrani. Conversion: Christian Lealiifano. Penalties: Christian Lealiifano (2). Yellow cards: Matt Toomua, Josh Mann-Rea
Loftus Versfeld - The Bulls signalled their intent in search of a fourth Super Rugby title with a comprehensive bonus point win against the Brumbies at Loftus Versfeld on Friday night.
The 44-23 win catapulted the Bulls to sixth place on the log with 33 points, one point ahead of the Crusaders, however the Bulls stay in the top six could still change by the end of the weekend depending on the results of today’s matches between the fifth placed Highlanders and Crusaders and the eighth placed Hurricanes and the Chiefs.
For the better part of this season things had looked to go pear-shaped for the Bulls and a play-off berth was very much in doubt as they struggled to get a good start to the competition.
The two defeats at the beginning to the Sharks and the Cheetahs would not have helped their cause but a return to their fortress Loftus which saw them win two games and draw one, brought them back into the reckoning.
The less said about their four match winless tour the better, but the two wins at home against the Cheetahs and Stormers kept the home fires burning and last night against a fourth placed Wallaby-laden Brumbies side, the Bulls played the kind of rugby, at times, that should enhance their chances of getting their hands on that trophy.
The Bulls played to their strengths using the lineout to good effect and with lineout king Victor Matfield a colossal figure at the set-piece, the Bulls were able to launch their attacks effectively.
It was from two quick and perfectly executed lineouts that the Bulls got ascendancy over the Brumbies as they scored two tries, the first going to Jan Serfontein in the eighth minute and the second by Jono Ross in the 25th minute.
So pivotal has Matfield been to the Bulls rebirth in the competition through his leadership and play that the former Bulls captain showed that his two years of retirement did more good than harm as he not only took the lineout but also provided the final pass for Serfontein’s try.
Even more impressive about Matfield was the fact that he was able to form the second wave of attack from the lineout, took the half gap, unshackled his lanky legs for the sprint, showed a deft dummy before releasing the ball to a racing Serfontein.
The Bulls were in control of proceedings from start to finish, the Brumbies struggled to get into the game and after having the wind knocked out of them earlier in the game, they never threatened to overtake the Bulls on the scoreboard.
The Brumbies lacked ambition when they had possession and the fact that they were always a step or two behind the Bulls, seemed to stifle their thinking as well.
To add to their woes, the Brumbies only played for an hour with a full team as Matt Toomua and replacement hooker Josh Mann-Rea were given yellow cards.
But the Australian side still managed to cross the whitewash three times.