he Vodacom Bulls scored 12 tries to one as they comprehensively outplayed Eastern Province by 87-10 in their 2021 Kick-Off Pools match at Loftus Versfeld on Sunday afternoon.
The home side, who held a 38-3 lead at the break, dominated with the visitors from the Eastern Cape falling short in execution and fitness in their first competitive match in over a year.
The first points of the match belonged to the visitors as Inny Radebe (flyhalf) kicked a penalty goal two minutes in to give his team the best start possible.
The Vodacom Bulls responded immediately with a well-taken try from an attacking lineout, which saw Joe van Zyl (hooker) dotting down.
Unfortunately for the EP side, their own lineouts misfired badly, and they lost no less than six in a row on their own throw.
The Vodacom Bulls had no such problems and their captain on the day, Nizaam Carr, was the beneficiary of another strong attacking maul from a lineout.
Chris Smith (fylhalf) converted both tries and kicked a penalty goal before a golden 10-minute spell by the home side knocked the stuffing out of the Elephants.
The Vodacom Bulls’ third try, after 30 minutes, came courtesy of some brilliant attacking rugby with almost half their team handling the ball in a move that saw backs and forwards combine with off-loads, popped-up passes and angled running.
Marco Jansen van Vuren, who started at inside centre, finished the move that broke EP’s early resilience, and the home team scored two more tries before halftime to confirm their expected dominance.
First, David Kriel kicked ahead and found the EP cover defence tired and absent, so the fullback could take his time in dotting down, while Carr scored his second after another flowing move from deep within their own half.
Smith kicked another conversion for a 35-point lead at the break.
The second half saw a steady flow of tries from the home side. Stravino Jacobs (winger) opened the flood gates five minutes after the break with a solid effort in the corner, having been worked into space by some good inside runners.
He was followed over the tryline by Tim Agaba (flank), who was on hand when Embrose Papier (scrumhalf) took a quick tap penalty near the line.
What followed was some relentless attacking rugby by the best side in the country as Jacobs got his second following a good break by Kriel.
The gaps in defence were as big as the gulps of air sucked by the EP side at altitude and this was exploited by the home side who used the width of the field to attack.
A rash of replacements by the home side resulted in even more fresh legs and once they found each other, the flood gates opened again.
Marnus Potgieter finished off a move started inside their own 22m line and Smith converted his ninth try before being replaced on the hour mark.
Sithembiso Befile scored for the Elephants in a rare spell of sustained attack and keeping possession by the EP side, with the replacement-hooker crashing over from short range.
The respite was short-lived though and when Keagan Johannes pinched the ball from behind the EP scrum, the replacement scrumhalf scored his side’s tenth try.
He also scored the 11th of the afternoon after Carr had another inspired burst down the middle of the field, before replacement-flyhalf, Jandre Burger, scored and converted his own try for the final points of the match.
Vodacom Bulls – Tries: Joe van Zyl, Nizaam Carr (2), Marco Janse van Vuren, David Kriel, Stravino Jacobs (2), Tim Agaba, Marnus Potgieter, Keagan Johannes (2), Jandre Burger; Conversions: Chris Smith (9), Burger (3); Penalty goal: Smith.
Eastern Province – Try: Sithembiso Befile; Conversion: Inny Radebe; Penalty goal: Radebe.