Bulls hold off Lions late charge in Currie Cup

The Blue Bulls kept their Currie Cup hopes alive when they beat the Lions 24-21 in the Currie Cup on Saturday.

 

Both teams scored two tries each and one try was converted each but the difference came in the penalties where the Bulls kicked one more than the Lions.

The Blue Bulls moved back into third position on the Currie Cup log with their close but deserved win over the Lions.


The result however could have been very different but for an incorrect call from the assistant referee that saw Lions’ Wikus van Heerden yellow-carded.


The first half saw an uninspiring duel between two unrelenting packs that had little respect for possession as manifested in a number of turnovers.


Both sides will have to improve immeasurably should they want to go all the way in the competition.


The Blue Bulls were slightly the better off in the first half with more possession and a greater resolve to keep the game in the Lions quarter, but on the whole it was a matter of missed opportunities and playing for territory.


Lions flyhalf Elton Jantjies hit the upright twice and Jacques-Louis Potgieter was unsuccessful with three of his five kicks in the first half.


While the Lions ran the ball wide at every conceivable opportunity of which there were few, the Blue Bulls again failed to get the ball to their speedy right wing Gerhard van Heerden – and unless this classy player who is exemplary in his work rate gets the opportunities out wide his talent warrants, he could one day go down as an unlucky player not to make the Springbok side.


The way he is being starved of the ball as an indictment on the Blue Bulls present (and rather unsuccessful) game plan and their inability to take the ball wide.


The teams went into the break at 6-all, but Jantjies shortly after the resumption and Potgieter kept the scoreboard turning over to 9-all eight minutes after the restart.


Potgieter put the Blue Bulls ahead for the first time on 57 minutes (12-9) with another penalty after the Lions had taken a measure of control but then botched it when trying to run.


Then came one of those decisions by match officials who aren’t on standard when Wikus van Heerden, a factor after returning from injury and on as a substitute, was yellow-carded for a high tackle that wasn’t close to an offence.


The shocking decision by assistant referee Attie Buitendach, who should himself be yellow-carded for that call, cost the Lions dearly.


The repercussions again underlined that the Currie Cup competition is not the level to train refereeing officials, with possible semifinal and final spots being worth millions to a union.


From the ensuing penalty Blue Bulls No 8 Gerrit-Jan van Velze scored and despite another miss by Potgieter the 17-9 scoreline put the Blue Bulls in command.


Stefan Watermeyer then scored three minutes later against the Lions’ 14 men, and at 24-9 it proved to be the clincher for the Blue Bulls who moved back into third position on the log while the Lions will have to ponder what could have been.


They are now back in fifth position, one behind the Free State Cheetahs and two adrift of the Blue Bulls.


Centre Doppies la Grange then wormed over after some good play by the 14-man Lions side. Once again Jantjies missed after a golden spell where he had kicked 19 consecutive kicks in the last three matches.


The score was then 24-14, and the Lions were up against it. But the guts that had carried the team in the last five matches was again evident as they came back with probably the best score of the day after some sustained pressure on the Blue Bulls tryline.


When their forwards couldn’t make it, it went to the back and Waylon Murray had an easy near-walk for his converted try (24-21).


But it was too little and too late, and the best team had probably won -with the quest

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