A tough year in the Currie Cup just got worse for the Lions when the Bulls unexpectedly beat their URC strength team 43-37 at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday night in a fun match watched by over 7,000 spectators.
The Bulls led 35-10 in one stage but only took the win in 77th minute when Lions captain Burger Odendaal conceded a bizarre try and would have learned a hard lesson that is always worth remembering the color of your team jersey!
Here are four talking points:
The bulls took their chances
When you are the underdog, taking the risk is key. Territory and possession were fairly even in the first half, but the Bulls were so clinical in using their opportunities within the Lions 22 when they went to rest 35-17 ahead.
Their forwards were a compact unit, most effectively carrying and prop Lizo Gqoboka, hooker Bismarck du Plessis and Janko Swanepoel blocks all powered over the line.
There was also a nice ride and handling from the shoulders, which showed some really clever touches. Like line winger David Kriel ran to score from a fictitious maul and the beautiful field kick he made for outfield Stedman Gans to run and score on.
Bulls on the wrong side of the referee in the second half
On the anniversary of introducing a Captain’s Challenge to the track in the Rainbow Cup, the Bulls would be desperate for anything to stop the incredible flow of penalties awarded to them by referee Griffin Colby in the second half. At one point he gave the Lions 10 penalties in a row and overall the Bulls took twice as many penalties as their opponents.
Discipline is obviously an issue the Bulls will have to contend with, and they were regularly penalized at the time of the ruck.
It meant they could barely get out of their 22s and the Lions reacted to a point 37-38 with five minutes to go.
Odendaal’s terrible mistake
The Lions captain has been thriving this season, but he has also spent many happy years at Loftus Versfeld playing for the Bulls. However, he will be gutted by the mistake made at the very end, when he passed the ball directly to the Bulls replacement winger Richard Kriel in his own goal area. Brother David Kriel had made the initial searing break that put the Bulls in attack, but the Lions regained possession behind their goal line, only for Odendaal to think he was back playing for the Bulls and switching to the blue jersey !
Learning for the young while tough men thrive
Playing against and beating a URC team would have been an extraordinary learning experience for the young players of the Bulls’ Currie Cup. And the way they defended for the vast majority of the second half showed a superb character. However, they had some hardened activists to help them, and Du Plessis and Gqoboka were at the forefront of the effort.
Swanepoel, strong on the ball and on defense, and capable of crucial throw-ins, looks like a player with a great future, and has been a great outing for David Kriel, who has been out in the wilderness for the past few weeks.
bulls: near – Lizo Gqoboka, Bismarck du Plessis, David Kriel, Janko Swanepoel, Stedman Gans, Richard Kriel. conversions – Juan Mostert (5). penalty – Keagan John
lions: near – Ruben Schoeman, Burger Odendaal, Francke Horn, Jordan Hendrikse, Sibusiso Sangweni. conversions – Hendrickse (3). sanctions – Hendrickse (2).