Bulls hold on for historic win

For the first time ever, the Bulls have beaten the Brumbies in Canberra, displaying a magnificent defensive effort to gain a 19-7 victory.

The Brumbies had by far the majority of the possession, but the Bulls’ first half effort of 19 points unanswered proved too great a deficit for the home side to overcome.

It was a rare win for a South African team in Canberra, the first since the Sharks won there in 1998. The Bulls won it in the first half when they scored points and in the second half when they stopped the Brumbies from scoring points.

Against the big Bulls, the Brumbies dominated possession and territory but they made hardly any headway against the Bulls who defended in numbers and with resolution.

Both sides had insecure line-outs and the Brumbies had the better of the scrums, but when it came to handling errors the Brumbies won hands down – so surprising for a franchise whose handling has been a standard for the whole of the rugby world.

Apart from intense tackling, the Bulls used booting and mauling – and it worked.

Before the match was a minute old the Bulls scored when Derick Hougaard banged over a drop from some 44 metres out.

He then kicked four penalty goals though the Brumbies came closest to scoring a try, but Jeremy Paul lost the ball at the line.

Up 12-0 the Bulls had a kickable kick and surprised by opting for a five-metre scrum. Victor Matfield caught the ball, the Bulls mauled at speed and Pedrie Wannenburg scored the try, which Hougaard converted from far out.

The Brumbies had opportunities to score galore after this. Four penalties in quick succession were tapped and run, and still the Bulls held out – as did the referee’s patience.

Half-time came with the Bulls ahead 19-0 but it was not long in the second half before they were in terrible trouble as the Brumbies caught them unawares at the kick-off, till their handling wobbled again. Then the Brumbies won the ball back with an excellent wheel at the scrum and they settled down to besiege the Bulls’ line.

They went through umpteen phases till suddenly Gene Fairbanks darted and accelerated past Danie Rossouw and scored under the posts. Julien Huxley converted. 19-7.

That as the end of the scoring – after 46 minutes. For 34 minutes no rugby player scored a point.

Interestingly in the aftermath of the try the referee sent Jaco van der Westhuysen to the sin bin, his patience finally worn thin.

The Bulls did in fact come close to scoring soon afterwards when they made a five-metre line-out. But then they lost the ball. But the excitement was not yet over as they charged down the kick and Huxley tried to clean up, trying to run the ball out of his in-goal but he lost it. Hougaard was on it but from the field, lying there, he worked it back over the line, as the TMO confirmed. No try but a five-metre scrum from which the Bulls battered and battered till Wannenburg was penalised for obstruction.

Here the Bulls made an end of their attacking.

Here the Brumbies took up attacking.

They tried to increase the tempo of the game against the plodding of the Bulls. They opted for a scrum instead of a penalty but their possession ended in a sad surrender when with a minute to go Fairbanks kicked the ball into touch. The Bulls won the line-out and mauled till the relief of the siren sounded and Fourie du Preez hoofed the ball into the disappointed spectators.

Man of the Match: The Brumbies had George Smith and energetic Stephen Hoiles in their pack and Adam Ashley-Cooper who ran so well, but the Man of the Match should probably be a Bull – somebody like Wayne Julies who is playing so well and with great concentration, Derick Hougaard who kicked with metronomic precision, Bakkies Botha and our Man of the Match Fourie du Preez who does it all – passes, runs, tackles, grabs scraps and kicks with huge advantage.

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