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Bulls go down in shock loss to Sunwolves

Super Rugby

TOKYO – The Bulls’ Super Rugby woes continued on Saturday in Tokyo when the tenacious Sunwolves snatched a dramatic 21-20 win.

The Bulls have now lost five of their six matches, their only win ironically being against the Sunwolves in Pretoria.

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Wing Travis Ismaiel scored a superb try for the Bulls against the Sunwolves. Photo: Ryan Wilkisky, BackpagePix

Boosted by an enthusiastic home crowd at the Prince Chichibu Memorial Ground, the early pressure came from the home side.

The Bulls conceded a penalty in front of their posts which was horribly missed by Hayden Cripps, but it did not matter because seconds later, centre Rahboni Vosayaco burst through the midfield defence for a super try in the eighth minute.

Cripps missed the conversion, but it was third time lucky for the New Zealander when he nailed a long-range penalty to push the Sunwolves into a handy 10-0 lead in as many minutes.

The Bulls had hardly had the ball, but when they put some phases together for the first time, burly centre Burger Odendaal smashed through the midfield to score under the crossbar.

Cripps was on target with another sweetly struck kick from 40m out to give his side an 11-7 lead, only for Schoeman to nullify those three points a minute later with a well-taken penalty.

A point behind at halftime, the Bulls started the second half with greater intensity, and a long period in the Sunwolves half produced a penalty for Schoeman to goal and nudge the visitors into a 13-11 lead in the 50th minute.

The first half had been scrappy, but the game came alive in the second half, with both teams kicking less and having their share of line-breaks.

Wing Travis Ismaiel seemed to have swung the battle the way of the Bulls when he burst through an attempted tackle and powered down the touchline for a try in the corner that was well converted by Schoeman, giving the Bulls a 20-11 lead with just 15 minutes to play.

But the home side would not give up and they launched a series of attacks, one of which resulted in Bulls centre Jan Serfontein being yellow-carded.

The Japanese opted for a scrum from the penalty, and after a number of phases, the ball was swept out to right wing Takaaki Nakazuru, who had a clear run to the line, and the conversion set up a thrilling climax with just two points in it at 20-18 to the visitors.

And with five minutes to go, the stadium erupted when replacement flyhalf Yu Tamura kicked his side into a 21-20 lead.

They cheered even louder when Bulls replacement flyhalf Francois Brummer missed a kick at goal.

Points-Scorers

Sunwolves 21 – Tries: Rahboni Vosayaco, Takaaki Nakazuru. Conversion: Yu Tamura (1). Penalties: Hayden Cripps (2), Yu Tamura (1).

Bulls 20 – Tries: Burger Odendaal, Travis Ismaiel. Conversions: Tian Schoeman (2). Penalties: Schoeman (2).

African News Agency (ANA)

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