The Bulls came into this Super Rugby clash under plenty of pressure after suffering three successive defeats overseas, with last weekend’s loss to the Sunwolves particularly piling on the punishment for a team that were once revered in Super Rugby circles.
Understandably there was a very poor turnout at Loftus, with the patience of the Bulls fans having been clearly tested to the limit during a horror start to their season that had reaped just a solitary win.
The hosts got off to a good start when flyhalf Handré Pollard slotted an early penalty, and although Santiago Gonzalez Iglesias cancelled that out soon after, the Bulls certainly looked to have a point to prove back at home.
Having said that, it was clear that there was still a clear lack of rhythm to their play, but the Jaguares were hardly any better during a scrappy opening stanza that offered very little in terms of appealing attack.
Rather aptly, the only try of the first half came from loose possession, with Bulls wing Travis Ismaiel ultimately showing good strength to finish off a try-scoring movement that sent the Bulls into a handy 10-3 lead.
On the balance of play, the Bulls were certainly deserving of that advantage, with Pollard successfully converting a penalty on either side of halftime to open up a 13-point buffer while Iglesias was in the sin-bin.
However, from one of the Jaguares’ few attacking opportunities, scrumhalf Gonzalo Bertranou went over to score and suddenly reduce the deficit to six points with half an hour to play.
Iglesias then slotted another penalty just before the hour mark to make it a three-point ball game, but the Bulls finally re-established some breathing room when a well-weighted grubber from Pollard set up an all-important try for Lood de Jager.
At 23-13 up with 15 minutes to play, Pollard edged the Bulls further ahead with another well-taken penalty, and from there, the Pretoria-based side held out for a much-needed victory.
Bulls 26 – Tries: Travis Ismaiel, Lood de Jager. Conversions: Handré Pollard (2). Penalties: Pollard (4).
Jaguares 13 – Try: Gonzalo Bertranou. Conversion: