Bulls nearly let it slip, but hold on to beat Glasgow at Loftus Versfeld

Canan Moodie (left, No 14) is congratulated by Bulls teammate David Kriel after the bonus-point try against Glasgow on Saturday. Photo: BackpagePix

Canan Moodie (left, No 14) is congratulated by Bulls teammate David Kriel after the bonus-point try against Glasgow on Saturday. Photo: BackpagePix

Published May 11, 2024


The Bulls survived a late rally by the Glasgow Warriors to climb up to second spot on the United Rugby Championship log with a 40-34 victory at a sunny Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.

But it nearly became a nightmare for the home side as they capitulated late in the second half, having been dominant in building up a 37-10 lead in 62 minutes.

The comeback, which saw the Scottish visitors score three tries in eight minutes, was crowned by a post-hooter Duncan Weir penalty that secured a second bonus point – which meant that Glasgow moved up to 60 points in top spot, while the Bulls are now second on 56.

But Leinster on 54 and Munster on 53 are both in action later on Saturday, and could go above the Bulls once more if they beat Connacht and the Ospreys respectively.

Despite the Bulls allowing Glasgow to grab two bonus points in the eight-try thriller, coach Jake White will be pleased with the accuracy and discipline showed by his team in the first 62 minutes as they dealt smartly with all the threats posed by their opponents.

They wasted a few early opportunities with a couple of knock-ons on attack, and they were caught napping in a clever Glasgow lineout move that saw flank Matt Fagerson score the opening try.

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But the Bulls forwards slowly but surely imposed themselves physically the longer the game wore on, with hooker Akker van der Merwe, loose forwards Elrigh Louw and Cameron Hanekom getting them over the advantage line and captain Ruan Nortjé strong in the lineouts and tight-loose.

Glasgow captain Kyle Steyn’s yellow card for a tip tackle on Van der Merwe was the opening the Bulls needed to get some points on the board, and it came almost immediately as Van der Merwe finished a classy lineout move from a Ruan Vermaak offload.

Player of the Match Vermaak was held up over the line after that, but Hanekom added the second touchdown in the 24th minute to stretch the lead to 14-7.

What gave the Bulls further confidence was a much more solid defence, and they held their lines well and also shut down the usually fluent Glasgow attack.

Flyhalf Chris Smith – who produced an assured display in giving direction to the Bulls with his kicking and decision-making – slotted a 34th-minute penalty, and then it was that man Kurt-Lee Arendse who sliced through the Glasgow defence to set up Elrigh Louw’s five-pointer just before halftime.

The Bulls were enjoying better rhythm on attack after the break as well, and the bonus-point try was a fine effort as Elrigh Louw found Nizaam Carr, who hit a half-gap and produced a trademark offload in the tackle to Willie le Roux, who put Canan Moodie over.

Two Smith penalties made it 37-10, and White introduced further substitutes as the match appeared to be over as a contest – but no one told Franco Smith’s Glasgow team as they found a second wind in the final quarter to silence the 10 000-strong crowd.

Steyn finished off on the right after a lineout drive was stopped, and then left wing Sebastian Cancelliere intercepted a Devon Williams pass to dot down under the posts.

The drama didn’t end there, as a thrilling passage of play ended with replacement Duncan Weir grabbing a five-pointer, which he converted to make it a thrilling finale at 37-31 with eight minutes left.

But senior pro Carr made the vital intervention with a breakdown penalty in the 76th minute, which saw Smith drilling over a penalty from the halfway line to secure the victory at 40-31.

Glasgow had one last attack, though, and earned a penalty that Weir slotted for a crucial second bonus point.


Bulls 40 – Tries: Akker van der Merwe, Cameron Hanekom, Elrigh Louw, Canan Moodie. Conversions: Chris Smith (4). Penalties: Smith (4).

Glasgow 34 – Tries: Matt Fagerson, Kyle Steyn, Sebastian Cancelliere, Duncan Weir. Conversions: George Horne (1), Tom Jordan (1), Weir (2). Penalties: Horne (1), Weir (1).