Cape Town — The Blue Bulls may have scored 10 tries and over 60 points, but captain Marcell Coetzee believes there are still many “work-ons” ahead of the final round of the Currie Cup.
Jake White’s team overcame a power outage in Pretoria and a generator failure, which switched the floodlights off and caused a three-hour delay, to claim a 64-33 victory over the Griffons on Friday night.
The match kicked off at 5.05pm, but was then halted at around 5.43pm as the generator overheated and had to be restarted by technicians, which saw the action restart at 8.45pm, with the Bulls leading 21-11 after 34 minutes.
The home side allowed the Griffons to score a try soon after the resumption to reduce the deficit to 21-18, but four tries within 12 minutes in the third quarter saw the Bulls put the result beyond doubt.
Lock Ruan Vermaak was the stand-out player for the Bulls with his powerful carries at close quarters, big hits in defence and a couple of lineout steals as well, while loose forwards Nizaam Carr and skipper Coetzee also had busy outings.
The backline was a bit loose in general, but centres Chris Barend Smit and Stedman Gans showed off some classy touches, and left wing David Kriel grabbed a hat-trick.
They led 57-21 with about 12 minutes left, but then proceeded to concede two tries in the closing stages, which reduced their points difference margin to 31, when it could have been so much more.
Points difference is a key factor in determining the semi-finalists, with the Bulls fourth on the log with 36 points ahead of Saturday’s fixtures between the Pumas and Cheetahs in Mbombela, and the Sharks and Lions in Durban.
“I’m proud of the boys… Still a lot of work-ons for next week. I know we are facing a tough Cheetahs (side) next week, but we are happy about the result tonight. Happy to have played — thank you for the lights coming on,” Coetzee said in a post-match video on the Bulls Twitter page.
“It’s a challenge, especially when you have a lot to play for. We had to go for that bonus-point win to stay in the running (for the semi-finals), and I think that kept us motivated.
“We focused on the job, that the main thing stays the main thing. I want to compliment the boys, as they (Griffons) scored right after all the (disruptions), and we managed to reset and get a bit of composure, and then we were in the zone.
“Happy that we managed to put some points on and create some points difference, but leaking tries was not ideal, so that’s a big work-on going into next week.
“We are playing a quality side in the Cheetahs next week, and if you give up soft tries like that, you are just going to make life difficult for yourself.”
No matter what happens with the other results on Saturday, the Bulls will at least know exactly what they need to do to reach the semi-finals when they play their last league fixture against the Cheetahs at Loftus Versfeld next Saturday, as Griquas (35 points) will host the Pumas in Kimberley next Friday.
“We are fighting and firing on all cylinders. We had a difficult task over these past three weeks, playing away and getting bonus points. We didn’t manage to get one last week (against the Pumas), but it’s always tough in Mbombela,” Coetzee said.
“Tonight, we at least got the bonus point, and we’re just taking it game for game – that is our mantra. We must just stick to our basics, and it’s going to all come down to next week, so we are looking forward to the week coming up now.”
Blue Bulls 64 – Tries: David Kriel (3), Stedman Gans, Nizaam Carr, Cornal Hendricks, Marcell Coetzee (2), Embrose Papier, Mornay Smith. Conversions: Johan Goosen (7).
Griffons 33 – Tries: Duan Pretorius (2), Penalty Try, Dandre Delport. Conversion: Jaywinn Juries (1). Penalties: Juries (3).