The Vodacom Bulls were held back by a resolute Novavit Griffons side in a 32-28 defeat at the Down Touch Investments Stadium. The two teams both tallied four tries a side in the round 4 bout of the 2023 edition of the Currie Cup competition in Welkom.
The hosts opened their points tally with a converted try accompanied by a penalty for a 10-point lead in the opening 10 minutes of the match.
It was the 16th minute that seemed to be the turning point for the Vodacom Bulls, as the team turned an attacking move by the Griffons into a counter-attacking blitz that would put their hosts under immense pressure. The visitors would need 7 minutes of consistent attack before they would be rewarded with their opening points in the game, exercising a great deal of patience and execution of their skills. Wandisile Simelane went over to the right of the poles, simplifying Johan Goosen’s work for the converted kick.
The hosts would get a penalty but momentum was still with the men from Pretoria and on the stroke of the half-hour mark, they would go over the line for another converted try. The visitors deployed the use of hands, working the ball into the wider spaces, which eventually led Muller Uys over the line. Immediately after that passage of play, the visitors would go over the line for another converted try with Jan-Hendrik Wessels dotting down right under the posts.
Although the momentum was with the men in blue, it was their hosts who would have the final say in the opening stanza, pulling back some crucial points on the cusp of the whistle with a converted try that would leave matters on an appetising mark.
At the break, the two teams would be separated by a point with the Vodacom Bulls heading into the sheds leading 20-21.
The restart would see a scrappy 12-minute passage of play from both sides, but the home side would open the scoring tally for the half once more. Scoring a converted try that would see them take a six-point lead with the home crowd spurring their team on. That added injection of extra energy from the fans would charge the Griffons to another try, dotted down on the corner by head, to stretch their lead to 11 points with 23 minutes left on the clock.
On the other side of the hour mark, the Vodacom Bulls would find their feet again as they deployed the use of numbers for another converted try with Robert Hunt steaming his way over the line. The two sides would be separated by four points with 17 minutes left to play.
In the end, the Griffons would do enough to hold back the Vodacom Bulls and register a 32-28 victory with their visitors walking away with a bonus point.
Currie Cup head coach, Edgar Marutlulle said the result was not a true reflection of the work and preparation his side invested in the week.
“I am very disappointed with the result. I think there is a lot of things that we could have, should have and would have done better but we did not. For us to have been in this dog fight was really the making of our own elementary mistakes in some of the areas,”
“There were moments where I was pleased to see the transitional moments, our counter-attack at times was exceptional at times, especially against the wind in the opening half. Our opening try in the corner was outstanding. There were also a couple of good moments in defence too but because we were not consistent enough and consequentially that limits the number of good moments. We do one thing good and two things bad, So we need to build on doing consecutive good things.”
The Vodacom Bulls Captain, Lizo Gqoboka said: “Our error rate was too high, realising a lot of the pressure even in their 22. We were our own worst enemies, giving away a lot of penalties and this is on us as the players, we are letting ourselves down because you can’t win at this level playing like that,”
“These are all things that are fixable because we have been on this road before and now is the time for us to stand up and do all the things we said we are when things were going well. Now is the time for us to stick together as a family and be resilient like we pride ourselves to be and not allow the hole to become bigger” Gqoboka concluded.
VODACOM BULLS SCORERS
Tries: Wandisile Simelane x1, Muller Uys x1, Jan-Hendrik Wessels x1, Robert Hunt x1,
Conversions: Johan Goosen x3
VODACOM BULLS vs NOVAVIT GRIFFONS STARTING XV: 1. Lizo Gqoboka (c), 2. Jan Hendrik Wessels, 3. Robert Hunt, 4. Jacques Du Plessis, 5. Reinhardt Ludwig, 6. Phumzile Maqondwana, 7. Nizaam Carr, 8. Muller Uys, 9. Keagan Johannes, 10. Johan Goosen, 11. Kabelo Mokoena, 12. Lionel Mapoe (vc), 13. Wandisile Simelane, 14. Quewin Nortje, 15. Franco Knoetze
VODACOM BULLS IMPACT SQUAD: 16. Simphiwe Matanzima, 17. Joe Van Zyl, 18. Sebastian Lombard, 19. JP Alberts, 20. Mihlali Mosi, 21. Bernard van der Linde, 22. Chris Barend Smit, 23. Adriaan Joubert
MANAGEMENT: Edgar Marutlulle – Head Coach, Sean Everitt – Defence & Breakdown, Hugo van As – Backline, Gert Smal – Forwards, Justin – Technical Analyst, Dr. Herman Rossouw – Team Doctor, Mike Prevoo – Strength & Conditioning, Darryn Berry – Physiotherapist, Claudette Eckard – Physiotherapist, Andries Kabine – Logistics Manager, Yusuf Vahed – Team Manager