Embrose Papier had to top game for the Bulls in a losing cause. Picture: Samuel Shivambu/Backpagepix
Embrose Papier had to top game for the Bulls in a losing cause. Picture: Samuel Shivambu/Backpagepix

Bulls run out of steam against Reds after bright start

By Sibusiso Mjikeliso Time of article published Mar 14, 2020

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PRETORIA - The Reds scored 41 unanswered points and six straight tries to claim a bonus point 41-17 win against the Bulls in Brisbane, in a game where the South Africans started like a house on fire but ended with a whimper.

The Bulls didn’t score a single point in the second half and didn’t get a sniff at the try line after Liam Wright stopped Rosko Specman close to the try line late in the first half.

The Bulls confidence from last week’s win over the Highlanders was oozing from their pores early on, but it didn’t last longer than the opening 30 minutes as the Reds railroaded them later on.

When the going was good, scrumhalf Embrose Papier crossed over for their opening try and it seemed everything they tried seemed to be coming off. Papier had the first clean break of the afternoon last weekend against the Highlanders at Loftus and when he struck first in Brisbane it seemed the Bulls would get the same result they did at home.

The Bulls moved the ball swiftly in their backline, aided by inside centre Franco Naude’s appetite for an offload. Naude’s deft pass created the opening that sent Johnny Kotze through the Reds defence, from whence Papier scored.

Papier even had the audacity to try a drop goal from the Reds 10m area. It went wide but it was intriguing to see that the wee fella had that rocket launcher in his pocket. Maybe they were overconfident at this point.

Last weekend Specman, after scoring three second half tries against the Highlanders, said he would have liked to have the ball more in his hands. It took the Bulls just 12 minutes of this game to get their speedster into space and through to his favourite piece of real estate on the park. 

The Bulls went 17-0 up but they didn’t disappear from sight.

The home side absorbed the battering they received early in the half and hit back with tries by skipper Wright and substitute Isaac Lucas to go into the sheds only 14-17 down. 

The move that created Lucas’ score was a beautiful choreography of support play and offloading. The Reds refused to let the ball die, with big men Harry Wilson and Harry Hockings all getting involved.

The second half opened with another piece of Reds ingenuity and the big men were at the fore once again when tighthead – are we sure he’s really a tighthead? – Taniela Tupou put Lukhan Salakaia-Loto to score in the corner.

Tupou wasn’t done. Him, hooker Alex Mafi and Dane Zander put the squeeze on the Bulls front row, which was without Lizo Gqoboka, who went off injured early and his replacement Gerhard Steenekamp just couldn’t live with Tupou.

By the time Mafi  scored in the 69th minute, the Reds were comfortably in front 27-17, having amassed an insane 18 offloads to the Bulls’ four to that point.

There was still enough time for substitute Harry Hoopert and Tupou to put the seal on the Reds’ best performance of the season thus far.


Reds – Tries: Liam Wright, Isaac Lucas, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, Alex Mafi, Harry Hoopert, Taniela Tupou. Conversions: Bryce Hegarty (4). Penalty: Hegarty

Bulls – Tries: Embrose Papier, Rosko Specman, Warrick Gelant. Conversion: Manie Libbok


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