The Vodacom Bulls proved too strong and disciplined for the New Nation Pumas in the Mbombela Stadium, romping home 48-31 in an entertaining 2021 Kick-Off Pools match in Nelspruit on Tuesday evening.
The visitors used their forward pack to great effect and their driving maul proved vital as they returned from the Lowveld with a second consecutive win in the new season.
The home side conceded numerous penalties in the match that yielded no less than 11 tries, but would have expected more in the second half, after trailing 27-17 at the break.
The Vodacom Bulls scored a number of tries through their driving maul and although that game plan buckled slightly after a couple of forward replacements, the coaching staff will be happy with the performances delivered by their young squad.
The men from Pretoria were on the scoreboard first. Joe van Zyl (hooker) was in the money after the New Nation Pumas conceded a silly penalty for tripping an opponent shortly after kick-off.
The Vodacom Bulls kicked to the line and drove Van Zyl over the line. Chris Smith (flyhalf) converted for an early 7-0 lead.
The New Nation Pumas struck back immediately and attacked out wide. They were halted illegally, allowing them to force an attacking lineout, from which Francois Kleinhans (flanker) scored.
Neil Marais (flyhalf) converted to level the scores after five minutes.
Stravino Jacobs (wing) scored after a good lineout drive which manipulated the New Nation Pumas’ defence and a clever pass by Embrose Papier (scrumhalf) exposed the home side’s defence.
Smith converted to restore the seven point lead after ten minutes.
The New Nation Pumas struck back again when Brandon Valentyn (lock) dotted down, following some good attacking play with Ali Mgijima (centre) prominent in the midfield.
Marais converted to level scores again after 15 minutes.
The visitors went back to their pack for the lead again, again driving Van Zyl over the line after a strong lineout maul. The try gave them a 19-14 lead after 25 minutes.
That was cut back to two points shortly after when Marais kicked the first penalty goal of the match and the 19-17 score-line after 30 minutes seemed fair.
The Vodacom Bulls reverted to their power game yet again, with Gerhard Steenekamp (prop) barging over from close range.
Again, the New Nation Pumas conceded a silly penalty, the visitors forced a lineout and were rewarded.
More reward to their dominance came via a penalty goal from Smith, to hand them a 27-17 lead at the break.
Marais had the first scoring opportunity in the second half, when he attempted a 45 meter penalty goal, but pulled it and the ten point margin remained.
That was extended to 17 points minutes later when Vodacom Bulls prop Mornay Smith was driven over from yet another attacking lineout. Smith slotted the conversion from a tight angle.
The men from Pretoria started to put pressure on the accelerator and scored their first try through a backline move when Marnus Potgieter (centre) found space, courtesy of some strong driving by his pack.
At 41-17 after 55 minutes, the New Nation Pumas were looking down the barrel of a loaded gun and with their discipline non-existent, more misery was on the cards.
The Vodacom Bulls swamped the field with their bench players and although it brough initial energy, they were soon found wanting in execution in the tight phases.
The home side were rewarded a penalty try after a power scrum with ten minutes left, but for some physical dominance, they were always chasing the game.
Replacement prop Dewald Maritz crashed over late in the match, but a mistake from the restart gave the visitors one more play.
Unsurprisingly, they opted for a rolling maul and Janco Uys (replacement hooker) dotted down to justify their territorial advantage onto the score board.
New Nation Pumas – Tries: Francois Kleinhans, Brandon Valentyn, Penalty Try, Dewald Maritz; Conversions: Niel Marais (2), Eddie Fouche; Penalty goal: Marais.
Vodacom Bulls – Tries: Stravino Jacobs, Joe van Zyl (2), Gerhard Steenekamp, Mornay Smith, Marnus Potgieter, Janco Uys; Conversions: Chris Smith (5); Penalty goal: Smith.