The Vodacom Bulls fell short of Scarlets in Wales as the two sides enthralled rugby fans to an eight-try thriller at the Parc y Scarlets in round 13 of the 2022/23 Vodacom United Rugby Championship.
The match served all the thrills of a Friday night action bout, as both sides went over the line for four tries but it was the hosts who held on, at one stage denying their visitors the opportunity to close down a 2 point gap to turning fortunes and registering an emphatic victory of the Pretoria outfit.
After conceding an early penalty, the visitors broke the defence for their opening try as early as the 4th minute with Zak Burger dotting down under the poles with the forwards having done some good work on attack. Chris Smith converted the opening try to signal the intent of the herd on the night. The hosts would have different ideas, however, going on to score three converted tries and another penalty in what was a frustrating opening half for the Vodacom Bulls.
The Pretoria outfit had a number of opportunities go begging, often enough within 5m of the try line. The South Africans did score a crucial try in the 35th minute as Stravino Jacobs brilliantly chased down and nested a cross-field kick from Johan Goosen, with Smith converting the try to close down the gap to 13 in favour of the hosts.
The two teams went into the break with the scores locked on 27-14.
The start to the second half would be important and the hosts took whatever little opportunity they got to stretch the lead, converting a penalty inside the opening 5 minutes. The herd – determined to change their fortunes – ushered Cyle Brinck over the line with Smith backing him with a conversion and 10 minutes later, in the 61st minute, Simphiwe Matanzima went over the line for the visitor’s bonus-point try to bring the gap down to 2 points as Smith converted Matanzima’s try too.
With 10 minutes to go, Scarlets were holding on to their 2-point lead, defending valiantly whilst the visiting Vodacom Bulls unleashed a physical onslaught looking for what would be a try for the lead and possible win. That moment wouldn’t come though, as the visiting Pretoria outfit was reduced to fourteen men with David Kriel shown yellow for a late tackle. Seconds later, the hosts made good of their numbers advantage and found their bonus-point try to condemn the Vodacom Bulls to a 9-point defeat.
In the end, Scarlets won 37-28 in a pulsating Vodacom United Rugby Championship exhibition in Llanelli.
VODACOM BULLS SCORERS:
Tries: Zak Burger x1, Stravino Jacobs x1, Cyle Brinck x1, Simphiwe Matanzima x1
Conversions: Chris Smith x4
VODACOM BULLS STARTING XV: 1. Gerhard Steenekamp, 2. Johann Grobbelaar, 3. Mornay Smith, 4. Ruan Vermaak, 5. Ruan Nortje (c), 6. Marco van Staden, 7. Cyle Brink, 8. Elrigh Louw, 9. Zak Burger, 10. Chris Smith, 11.Stravino Jacobs, 12. Harold Vorster, 13. Lionel Mapoe, 14. David Kriel, 15. Johan Goosen
VODACOM BULLS IMPACT SQUAD: 16. Jan-Hendrick Wessels, 17. Simphiwe Matanzima, 18. Francois Klopper, 19. Janko Swanepoel, 20. Nizaam Carr, 21. Embrose Papier, 22. Cornal Hendricks, 23. Wandisile Simelane
MANAGEMENT: Jake White – Director of Rugby, Nollis Marais – Breakdown, Russell Winter – Forwards, Chris Rossouw – Backs, Werner Kruger – Scrum Coach, Pine Pienaar – Defense Coach, Andre Volsteedt – Strength & Conditioning, John-William Meyer – Technical Analyst, Dr Herman Rossouw – Team Doctor, Lance Lemmetjies – Senior Physiotherapist, Kyle Mayer – Physiotherapist, Elias Bennett – Team Manager, Simon Dyidi – Logistics Manager