AUCKLAND – Young flyhalf Manie Libbok scored a crucial 75th-minute try to help salvage a 22-22 draw for the Blue Bulls in Friday’s Super Rugby clash against the Blues in Auckland.
The Pretoria-based side had come into this clash without the services of Handre Pollard and Duane Vermeulen, which added to the pressure after last weekend’s disappointing defeat against the Brumbies.
As this clash crept into the final quarter, it looked as if the Bulls may suffer a second successive loss overseas, after Akira Ioane powered over the tryline to claim a crucial try with 15 minutes left to play.
Up to then, the momentum had swayed one way and the next in an error-filled encounter, but it was the Blues who took a two-point lead into the break, before a try to Scott Scrafton opened up a tenuous seven-point buffer.
Not long after, though, the Bulls responded with a superb try to Cornal Hendricks, who kicked and chased, re-gathered the ball and dived over to draw the scores level.
That ramped up the ante going into the final stages of the encounter, before Ioane and Libbok traded tries.
The drama was far from over, though, with Harry Plummer missing a last-minute penalty as both sides ultimately had to settle for a draw.
Blues v Bulls | Super Rugby 2019 Rd 16 Highlights— Super Rugby (@SuperRugby) May 31, 2019
The @BluesRugbyTeam played host to the @BlueBullsRugby in Auckland and it went right to the wire, Manie Libbok’s late try and conversion securing a 22-22 draw.#SuperRugby #BLUvBUL pic.twitter.com/pgrP05iHHu
Although it’s far from an ideal result for the Bulls, the two log points gained does ensure that they remain in the running for South African conference honours, with the Jaguares having recently emerged as the front-runners to claim the top spot in the local standings.
The Bulls will face one more tour match against the Highlanders, before one final pool game against the Lions.
Blues 22 – Tries: Ofa Tu’ungafasi, Scott Scrafton, Akira Ioane. Conversions: Harry Plummer (2). Penalty: Plummer (1).
Bulls 22 – Tries: Cornal Hendricks, Hanro Liebenberg, Manie Libbok. Conversions: Libbok (2). Penalty: Libbok (1).
African News Agency (ANA)