Bulls brutality eventually subdues gutsy WP in entertaining north-south derby

David Kriel. (Photo by Gordon Arons/Gallo Images)

David Kriel. (Photo by Gordon Arons/Gallo Images)

Sometimes you need to take it easy on the expansive rugby highway.

That was the timely lesson the Bulls learnt in gaining an important 45-34 Currie Cup victory over Western Province at Loftus on Wednesday night.

Sumptuous backline play has dominated the discourse in Pretoria over the past few weeks as their team increasingly become a far more rounded and versatile combination in the United Rugby Championship.

It’s only right then that that style is adopted by Gert Smal in the domestic competition too, but it does have its pitfalls.

In this match, the danger of keeping the tempo high was that it kept a gutsy Province combination in contention longer than probably should’ve been the case.

Jerome Paarwater’s troops relish a game at break-neck pace, not only because they have instinctive attackers that are very good at exploiting such situations, but also due to the fact that they don’t quite possess the heavies to match the Bulls’ physicality.

For a decent chunk of the game, the Bulls did exactly that, either being too overeager on attack or switching off once they scored.

The hosts had started well in establishing a 17-5 lead, headlined by tighthead Robert Hunt’s try from close range and a nifty dummy from scrumhalf Keagan Johannes to streak through.

In the second half, wing David Kriel was also the beneficiary of some delightful handling from centre Marco Jansen van Vuren and a wonderful angled run from fullback James Verity-Amm respectively in scoring his brace.

But Province simply weren’t going to lie down, continuing to plug away and keep within touching distance, at one stage trailing by just 22-24.

However, the Bulls then tightened up and more pragmatically punished opponents that would eventually concede three yellow cards and a penalty try, fully underlining their superiority in the physical stakes.

A hat-trick of Currie Cup titles looks very much alive.

Point scorers:

Bulls – 45 (17)

Tries: David Kriel (2), Robert Hunt, Keagan Johannes, Lizo Gqoboka, Penalty try

Conversions: Morne Steyn (5)

Penalty: Steyn

Western Province – 34 (15)

Tries: JJ Kotze, Marcel Theunissen, Cornel Smit, Tristan Leyds, Angelo Davids

Conversions: Tim Swiel (2), Kade Wolhurter

Penalty: Swiel