Canan Moodie hat-trick as Bulls dispatch Benetton with nine tries, but defence leaky again

Canon Moodie scores one of his three tries for the Bulls against Benetton at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday. Photo: BackpagePix

Canon Moodie scores one of his three tries for the Bulls against Benetton at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday. Photo: BackpagePix

Published May 18, 2024


It took the Bulls just 25 minutes to grab a four-try bonus point as they romped to a 56-35 triumph over Benetton to move temporarily to second place on the United Rugby Championship log.

Wing Canan Moodie completed a hat-trick of tries and David Kriel got a brace as the Pretoria outfit ran in nine touchdowns to stay in the hunt for a top-two spot on the standings.

Jake White’s team are currently second on the standings on 61 points, two behind Munster – who beat Edinburgh 29-26 in Scotland on Friday night.

The Bulls could still be leapfrogged by Glasgow (60 points) – who take on the Lions at Ellis Park later on Saturday afternoon – and Leinster (59), who face Ulster in Belfast on Saturday night.

But it was a job well done by the Bulls on a warm Saturday afternoon in Pretoria as they swept past the never-say-die Italian club, who worked hard to secure a four-try bonus point themselves to remain in the fight for a playoff spot in eighth on 49.

Captain Ruan Nortjé and the rest of the Bulls forwards were deliberate in engaging the Benetton pack in a physical confrontation in order to soften them up early, with a few massive early scrums and hard carries at close quarters.

But it was No 14 Moodie who opened the scoring by bursting through near a Bulls maul in the third minute, and the slow poison upfront appeared to sap the energy of the visitors.

After wasting a couple of attacking opportunities, the Bulls got their second five-pointer in the 18th minute through outside centre Kriel, who benefited from Kurt-Lee Arendse’s brilliant skill in drawing a few defenders and getting his pass away.

Soon after that it was Arendse who crossed the line, and the bonus-point try arrived via Nortjé from a Willie le Roux line-break.

The danger for the Bulls was a repeat of last week’s encounter against Glasgow, where they established a 37-10 lead, only to hold on desperately for a 40-34 victory.

And Benetton found their rhythm eventually, with first hooker Gianmarco Lucchesi going close with a remarkable run down the right, and then wing Onisi Ratave raced away on the left-hand side – although there appeared to be a knock-on at a ruck that was ignored by the TMO, Mike Adamson.

But before halftime, Goosen found a gap in the defence and offloaded to Harold Vorster, who sent Moodie over to make it 31-7.

Lucchesi, though, kept Benetton in the contest by barging his away over before halftime, and five minutes into the second half, scrumhalf Andy Uren darted over from a ruck to make it 31-21 and all to play for.

But the Bulls snuffed out any chance of a repeat of last week as first hooker Akker van der Merwe, then Kriel and then Moodie scored three tries in seven minutes to put the result beyond doubt at 48-21.

White won’t be too pleased that his defence gave away two more tries in the final quarter, though, which is something that needs to be addressed before the playoffs if the Bulls hope to go all the way to the title – while it also ate into the Bulls’ points difference, which could be a factor in determining the final log positions.


Bulls 56 – Tries: Canan Moodie (3), David Kriel (2), Kurt-Lee Arendse, Ruan Nortjé, Akker van der Merwe, Johan Grobbelaar. Conversions: Johan Goosen (4). Penalty: Chris Smith (1).

Benetton 35 – Tries: Onisi Ratave, Gianmarco Lucchesi, Andy Uren, Toa Halafihi, Marco Zanon. Conversions: Rhyno Smith (5).