HAMILTON - The Bulls played some thrilling rugby but ultimately were beaten 41-28 by the Chiefs in an exhilarating Super Rugby match in Hamilton on Friday.
The Bulls scored four fine tries in the first half but could not score any points in the second and the Chiefs turned on the pressure in the final 10 minutes.
The Chiefs were stunned when they Bulls scored a magnificent try through a movement they had clearly trained many times. From a lineout, Travis Ismaiel took an inside ball and cut through his centres to set up a try-scoring pass to flying fullback Warwick Gelant. Handre Pollard nailed the conversion.
The Bulls undid that good work when they made a mess of gathering a grubber in their 22m area and Chiefs centre Johnny Fa'auli snatched the ball and dived over. Damian McKenzie’s conversion levelled the score.
It did not put the Bulls off their stride and they continued to relentlessly attack and were rewarded in the 15th minute when a series of lineout drives was followed by a backline move that saw leftwing Divan Rossouw score brilliantly at the corner flag. Pollard struck a superb conversion.
The Chiefs were buckling under the pressure and conceded seven penalties in the space of 15 minutes. It was a matter of time before the Bulls scored again, and it was a beauty, with Jesse Kriel making the break and then unleashing Rossouw for his second try. Pollard made it 21-7.
The Chiefs responded with a crucial try just before halftime when lock Brodie Retallick barged over from a lineout at the corner but the Bulls would have none of it and hit back with a spectacular try, with a movement from their 22, sweeping upfield until Kriel was in a position to set up Pollard for a dash to the posts. It was a sensational score to complete a great half for the Bulls.
The Chiefs would have had a roasting at halftime and went straight onto the attack in the second half, and lock Mitchell Brown burrowed over from a maul and the conversion made it 28-21.
The Bulls attacked for the next 10 minutes but a break-out from the Chiefs’ 22 culminated in Retallick storming home for a try with a bunch of defenders hanging on to him. McKenzie missed the conversion to leave his side two points adrift at 26-28.
The Bulls were then unlucky to have a try by Embrose Papier disallowed because the TMO judged that Lood de Jager had obstructed Retallick from tackling Gelant, who had made a super break.
That disallowed try hurt the Bulls, even more, when a few minutes later McKenzie kicked a penalty to put his side in front for the first time in the game (63mins).
And then there was a moment of madness from replacement prop Conraad van Vuuren who was yellow carded for a swinging arm tackle on McKenzie.
And the game began slipping away from the Bulls when a raking kick into Bulls territory was gathered by wing Solomon Alaimalo, who scored under a pile of defenders near the corner flag. The unsuccessful conversion attempt made it 34-28 to the home side.
With time up on the clock, the Bulls tried to run from behind their posts but coughed up the ball to gift Anton Lienert-Brown a try.
African News Agency (ANA)