BLOEMFONTEIN – The Vodacom Blue Bulls produced a scintillating display of controlled rugby as they powered to a 50-29 victory over the MTN Golden Lions at Coca-Cola Park to book their place in the Absa Currie Cup semi-finals.
The win means the Blue Bulls leapfrog Griquas and Cheetahs to take the fourth spot, and condemn the Cheetahs to play a promotion-relegation game against the EP Kings on Friday night in Bloemfontein.
The Blue Bulls will now head to Durban on Saturday to face the Sharks, while the Lions – who finished second despite the loss – will host Western Province in Johannesburg in the other semi-final.
But on a night where winning was the only option, the Blue Bulls had to overcome an early setback and went down 13-0 before clawing their way back into the game and eventually settled it with more composed play and by taking the chances they created in the second half.
It was a remarkable difference that the Boks made to the Bulls, with Jacques Potgieter, Flip van der Merwe, Morne Steyn and Zane Kirchner all looking top class in the game.
Yet it didn’t start off that well as the Bulls struggled in the opening exchanges and had to watch as they were under pressure from the word go with little ball to speak of in the opening 20 minutes.
In that time, Butch James slotted two penalties, and a brilliant bit of counter-attacking led to Michael Rhodes’s try, giving the Lions an early 13-3 lead.
But then Steyn started to take control of the game and on the back of a pack that was slowly gaining the ascendancy, he clawed the Bulls back into the game.
First a stunning drop goal reminded the crowd that Steyn had refound his confidence and even though the Lions answered with a penalty, Steyn drilled two more of his own back to bring the Bulls within four points.
Then, as halftime started approaching, Jacques Potgieter burst through a lovely gap and sprinted 50 metres, being stopped just short of the tryline, but not before unloading to Bjorn Basson to crash over for the try and take the lead.
Another Steyn penalty made it 22-16 at the break, but that lead was cut almost immediately as Butch James slotted two penalties early in the second half to bring the scores level. -supersport.com