The Blue Bulls finally recorded their first Currie Cup win of the season with a 25-17 victory over the Pumas on Friday.
Former Pumas and Blitzboks star Rosco Specman returned to his old stomping ground and scored three tries to help the Blue Bulls end their two-match losing streak.
Blue Bulls and Pumas were both in search of their maiden victories to keep their Currie Cup play-off hopes alive.
However, it was the Pretoria-based side who made the most of their opportunities for the win.
For the Pumas, it was yet another agonising close defeat as their impressive attack was undone by handling errors.
Jimmy Stonehouse’s team made a dream start. From a turnover by No.8 Jeandre Rudolph, the hosts counterattacked from their own 5-metre line before wing Etienne Taljaard rounded off a beautiful team try. Chris Smith added the extras for the 7-0 lead after just five minutes.
Less than a minute later Blue Bulls hit back when Specman intercepted Pumas flyhalf Chris Smith’s pass before dotting down in between the posts for the try. Marnus Boshoff made sure to level matters with an easy conversion, 7- all.
The Pumas attack was lethal as Taljaard kept Bulls wing Cornal Hendricks busy, while the loose trio – Rudolph, Willie Engelbrecht and Francois Kleynhans dominated the breakdown and won vital turnovers.
However, all their effort were nullified with handling errors and missed passes and instead of Pumas scoring, it was the Bulls who capitalized and attacked from their own half. Boshoff – who has been struggling with his tactical kicks – gave a quick short-ball to Specman, who cruised over for his second try of the match.
Unfortunately for Boshoff, he missed the conversion and the score remained, 12-7. The flyhalf’s kicking stats got worse as he also missed a penalty a few minutes later.
Just before the break, Pumas set up yet another attack and were rewarded with a penalty, Smith narrowed the deficit to just two points.
In the second half, the Bulls started strong and struck first, the side won a penalty thanks to their effective rolling maul, and this time Boshoff successfully found the uprights and extended the lead, 15-10 after 42 minutes.
The match was highly contested as the Pumas took the lead when Engelbrecht charged down Boshoff’s kick and dived over the line for the try. Smith added the extras two, 17-15.
As the last quarter approached the teams brought in fresh legs, Bulls opted to introduced Andre Warner and Mannie Libbok, while Pumas also brought in their reserves Jacobus Marais and Reynier van Rooyen.
Pote Human’s changes payed of well as Libbok’s long range penalty kick shited the lead back to the Bulls, 18-17 with 10 minutes left on the clock.
As the lead switch hands so did the momentum. The Bull set up an attack inside the Pumas half before Dylan Sage’s grubber was chased down by Specman for his third try. Libbok added the conversion for the 25-17 lead.
With just five minutes left on the clock, the Pumas had a lineout and threw everything at the Bulls. The hosts’ first attempts failed but yet they set up another rolling maul, however, the Bulls defence were solid as they won a turnover.
The Pumas continued to keep the Bulls inside their own five thanks to powerful scrum and were rewarded with a penalty. However, Marais failed to find the posts, leaving the hosts with nothing, not evens a losing bonus-point.
The Pumas will take on the defending champions the Sharks next week, while the Blue Bulls host the Griquas.
Man of the match: For the Pumas Jeandre Rudolph, Willie Engelbrecht and Francois Kleynhans were phenomenal. The trio made big hits and their work rate at the breakdown were an advantage for the team. While the other standout performer for the Pumas was the wing Etienne Taljaard. For the Bulls Divan Rossouw and Johnny Kotze looked impressive. However, our award goes to the man that created most of the magic, the Bulls’ Sevens flyer Rosko Specman.
RECAP: Pumas v Blue Bulls
Tries: Taljaard, Engelbrecht
Cons: Smith 2
FOr Blue Bulls:
Tries: Specman 3
Cons: Boshoff, Libbok
Pens: Boshoff, Libbok
Pumas: 15 Devon Williams, 14 Morné Joubert, 13 Ryan Nel (captain), 12 Henko Marais, 11 Etienne Taljaard, 10 Chris Smith, 9 Ashlon Davids, 8 Jeandre Rudolph, 7 Willie Engelbrecht, 6 Francois Kleynhans, 5 Stefan Willemse, 4 Le Roux Roets, 3 Marne Coetzee, 2 Marko Janse van Rensburg, 1 Andrew Beerwinkel.
Replacements: 16 Simon Westraadt, 17 De-Jay Terblanche, 18 Hilton Lobberts, 19 Phumzile Maqondwana, 20 Reynier van Rooyen, 21 Jacobus Marais, 22 Alwayno Visagie, 23 Morgan Naude.
Blue Bulls: 15 Divan Rossouw, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 Johnny Kotze, 12 Dylan Sage, 11 Rosko Specman, 10 Marnitz Boshoff, 9 Embrose Papier, 8 Tim Agaba, 7 Marco van Staden, 6 Ruan Steenkamp (captain), 5 Ruan Nortje, 4 Andries Ferreira, 3 Wiehahn Herbst, 2 Jaco Visagie, 1 Simphiwe Matanzima.
Replacements: 16 Johan Grobbelaar, 17 Dayan van der Westhuizen, 18 Conraad van Vuuren, 19 Adri Smit, 20 Wihan Vosloo, 21 Andre Warner, 22 Manie Libbok, 23 Jade Stighling.
Referee: Egon Seconds
Assistant referees: Eduan Nel, Johre Botha
TMO: Johan Greeff
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