The Vodacom Bulls overpowered the Phakisa Pumas on a sopping wet Loftus Versfeld turf on Saturday afternoon to claim a 21-5 victory and clinch the Vodacom Super Rugby Unlocked title.
The win marked their fourth in a row in the competition and their fifth victory in six matches since Vodacom Super Rugby Unlocked kicked off in October, not long after the interrupted season was restarted.
With the clash between the trailing DHL Stormers and Cell C Sharks cancelled, the Vodacom Bulls entered their final match of the competition at the top of the standings with the title essentially sealed.
The Vodacom Bulls were in control from the first half, dominating possession and territory, and they backed this up with good finishing to score three tries to none for an encouraging 21-0 halftime lead.
The Phakisa Pumas tried hard to make their presence felt in the second half, and they earned a try for their efforts, but this proved to be only the points of the half as both sides battled to build momentum on the wet field.
Vodacom Bulls winger Kurt-Lee Arendse scored the opening points of the match in the 11th minute after gathering a well-timed pass from a ruck to dive over, and Chris Smith (flyhalf) added the second try five minutes later after forcing his way through two defenders following another spell of intense pressure close to the tryline.
The hosts continued to dominate proceedings in the second quarter and it paid off as Ivan van Zyl (scrumhalf) stretched over in the 24th min after a few phases close to the tryline to extend their lead to 21-0.
With neither team able to score points as the rest of the half played out, the Vodacom Bulls entered the break well ahead on the scoreboard.
The Phakisa Pumas finally made their way onto the score sheet six minutes into the second half as HP van Schoor (hooker) touched down from a rolling maul and they continued to threaten on attack as the half progressed, but a combination of the Vodacom Bulls’ effective defence and errors denied them from converting it into points.
The Vodacom Bulls, in turn, were unable to add to their score, but their impressive first-half showing was enough to secure the 21-5 victory.
Vodacom Bulls – Tries: Kurt-Lee Arendse, Chris Smith, Ivan van Zyl; Conversions: Chris Smith (3).
Phakisa Pumas – Try: HP van Schoor.