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The Vodacom Bulls registered a dominant nine-try 63-21 victory over Welsh outfit Scarlets to launch their 2023/24 Vodacom United Rugby Championship campaign at Loftus Versfeld Stadium on Sunday 22 October.

Tournament debutant, Cameron Hanekom marvelled at eight as the 21-year-old scored a brace to help his side to a comprehensive victory, earning the praises of his mentor, Jake White.

“It is phenomenal, his first game in the competition and he wins man of the match looking like a seasoned pro. One has to acknowledge that it is not easy coming into a game like that but I rate him (Cameron Hanekom) very highly. He has got everything. He has got great feel, great speed, put on some nice size in the off-season and he has got a great pedigree with a great background at Paarl Boys,”

“It is still early days but it’s nice to have a nice young forward coming through – we have seen what bonuses we sort of got with Canan (Moodie) in his first rookie years – so having a guy like Cameron in the forwards is going to make it so much better for us going forward.”

Hanekom wasn’t alone in the two-try column with utility back, Stedman Gans also scoring a brace as soon as the second minute after he was brought onto the field in the second half. The herd also found tries through Ruan Nortje, Johan Grobbelaar, David Kriel, Akker van der Merwe and Wandisile Simelane – all tries that were converted by Johan Goosen to help his side register a bonus-point victory that saw the Tshwane-based outfit sit aloft of the log standings.

Scarlets head coach, Dwayne Peel said the result isn’t the end of the world but a valuable lesson to take as his side looks ahead.

“We gave them a couple of soft tries and in that opening thirty minutes we wasted a couple of good opportunities. In the end, I am also disappointed that we did not take a point with the fourth try but if you lose by that score, I suppose you don’t deserve it,”

“I can’t hide my disappointment but to be honest, there aren’t many teams that will come here and win, that’s the reality we are dealing with.”

Peel’s counterpart, Jake White said the result was good to see, considering his outfit had limited pre-season rehearsal time.

“One has to be happy with this kind of performance. There will always be one or two things to fix but those are system errors but I must say, I am really happy with our first turnout. It was a very pleasing performance to see, we put in a lot of work during the pre-season and some of it was shown today,”

“They (Scarlets) beat us last year, so they are not a poor team. So, we always knew we were going to have to start well, holding onto the ball and putting them under pressure, which takes a bit of the pressure away from us. To be fair on them, they are missing about five international players due to Welsh national duty but they still remain a good side and I am sure they will get stronger,”

“It was very pleasing to show that we put in a lot of work during the pre-season and it showed during the game.”

White added: “The goal for this season is to play as best as we can at the beginning of the season instead of playing catch up, so I am glad we had the start we had,”

“When you have a long pre-season you tend to have too much detail but the most important thing for me was how the forwards and backs combined. Our scrums, lineouts and basics were good.”

Asked about his side’s four-week-long trip to the North, White remarked: “We have had experience, this being our third season now in this competition. Also, our recruitments have experience of playing in Europe and that will help us,”

“We also will have to adapt to the quick 4G pitches because three of our games will be played on those types of surfaces, so weather is not the only change we will have to contend with. Hopefully, todays performance will put us in good stand in Europe.”

The Vodacom Bulls’ next assignment will be away in Northern Ireland, against Ulster on Sunday 29 October 2023.


Vodacom Bulls

Tries: Ruan Nortje x1, Cameron Hanekom x2, Johan Grobbelaar x1, David Kriel x1, Stedman Gans x2, Akker van der Merwe x1, Wandisile Simelane x1

Conversions: Johan Goosen x9


Tries: Taine Plumtree x2, Johnny McNicholl x1

Conversions: Ioan Lloyd x3

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