The Vodacom Bulls returned empty-handed after a hard evening’s toil at a cold, snowy and slippery Matmut Stadium de Gerland against French side, Lyon on Friday 20 January 2023. The outing was the Pretoria outfit’s final Pool A game in round 4 of the 2022/23 Heineken Champions Cup, with qualification for the round of 16 on the horison.
The French claimed a bonus point 31-7 victory which has left them with a chance of qualifying for the knockout stage of the competition, provided other games go their way throughout the weekend. Likewise, qualification is not a certainty for the herd, having to wait for the competition of the rest of the Pool A games to know their final fate.
In the match, Lyon was hot off the blocks as they dotted down their opening try inside 5 minutes, which paved the way forward in their four converted tries in the clash of the two North-South giants.
In an incredibly frustrating opening half which the Vodacom Bulls conceded three converted tries and a penalty, meant that the men in blue went into the sheds trailing 24-0. The first half also saw the Nizaam Carr led side play short a man as Simphiwe Matanzima was sent to the sin bin, having been shown yellow on the stroke of the break as the team played on a warning – from referee Wayne Barnes – for repeated team infringements.
Perhaps, the Pretoria outfit will walk away from the outing feeling confident and positive after an improved second half where they limited their hosts to just one try, defending valiantly whilst also looking more threatening with scoring opportunities.
The visiting Vodacom Bulls managed to break the deadlock early on in the second half – as Springbok star, Kurt-Lee Arendse made a 70m dash for the line after intercepting Lyon play – but this would be the only converted points opportunity for the visitors.
Weather conditions began to change, for the worst, as the second half got going. There was heavy snowfall which made play incredibly difficult for the side’s debut match in France, let alone the conditions and their lively spark was lost. In the end, the Vodacom Bulls walk away a tad frustrated because there are a number of opportunities that were left hanging or unconverted on the night.
The Vodacom Bulls will now switch their attention to the Vodacom United Rugby Championship, as they travel to Scarlets for round 13, with playoffs on the horizon in that competition too.
VODACOM BULLS SCORERS
Tries: Kurt-Lee Arendse x1
Conversions: Johan Goosen x1
VODACOM BULLS STARTING XV: 1. Simphiwe Matanzima, 2. Bismarck Du Plessis, 3. Francois Klopper, 4. Ruan Vermaak, 5. Janko Swanepoel, 6. Marco van Staden, 7. Cyle Brink, 8. Nizaam Carr (c), 9. Embrose Papier, 10. Johan Goosen, 11. David Kriel, 12. Cornal Hendricks, 13. Wandisile Simelane, 14. Canan Moodie, 15. Kurt-Lee Arendse
VODACOM BULLS IMPACT SQUAD: 16. Johann Grobbelaar, 17. Gerard Steenekamp, 18. Mornay Smith, 19. Ruan Nortje, 20. Elrigh Louw, 21. Zak Burger, 22. Chris Smith, 23. Lionel Mapoe
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
VODACOM BULLS HEINEKEN CHAMPIONS CUP FIXTURES:
Saturday, 10 December 2022: Vodacom Bulls 42-36 Lyon
Saturday, 17 December 2022: Exeter Chiefs 44-14 Vodacom Bulls
Saturday, 14 January 2023: Vodacom Bulls 39-28 Exeter Chiefs
Friday, 20 January 2023: Lyon 31-7 Vodacom Bulls