South African Rugby

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Blue Bulls take out the coastal boys

The Blue Bulls left no doubt as to their pedigree and superiority as they trampled a poor Western Province team 39-3 in their Currie Cup Premier Division match at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria on Saturday.

The Bulls outscored WP by five tries to nil in a match that was part Currie Cup and part tribute to Ettienne Botha, the Blue Bull centre recently killed in a motor accident.

This was the first home match for the Blue Bulls since his death, and there was a sombre start - black armbands on the players, both centres wearing No.13, which meant that there was no Ettienne Botha No.12, and then the minute's silence.

After that for the packed stands of Loftus Versfeld, the match became a wake as sombre became gaudy - the waving of the flags and the cheering of the fans as the Blue Bulls took over a match whose final score flattered the men from the Cape. It was actually a one-sided match.

The Blue Bulls not only scored five tries to nil, they also took a full five points from the match. Western Province, so upbeat after thrashing Natal the week before, limped home with nothing but damaged reputations and egos.

When the Blue Bulls scored, Gé Korsten sang an operatic love song. The way things were going at one stage, the famous tenor could have ended the match hoarse. But for some reason there was no flood of tries, which there could well have been, such was the Blue Bulls domination.

The first twenty minutes of the first half did not give a clue to what was going to happen, the methodical suffocation of Western Province.

Western Province started going well though Derick Hougaard tried to score first with a drop goal, but the kick was low and way off target.

Instead when Pedrie Wannenburg was indiscreet at a tackle, Peter Grant goaled from five metres in from touch, an excellent kick. This was just after Zahier Ryland had done his electric eel impersonation. That meant that Western Province led after nine minutes.

They did not score again for 71 minutes, and looked like doing so only once, the only time a try looked on for them. They actually held their lead for another ten minutes.

When Western Province were penalised at a tackle, Hougaard licked his lips and made no mistake with the kick. It was 3-3, and the match looked worthy of such a score.

In this period of the game, Western Province were better at line-outs and much, much better at scrums. The Blue Bulls were better at the tackle. The Blue Bulls did a lot of kicking, Western Province a lot of passing. Passing produced tackles and the Blue Bulls were secure and punishing on defence.

Then came the second 20 minutes of the half. The Blue Bulls tapped penalties and, cutting out Hougaard, charged at Western Province in powerful surges. Anton Leonard tapped a kickable penalty and charged. Stopped he laid the ball back and there was big Danie Rossouw barging at and over De Wet Barry to stretch and score. Hougaard converted. 10-3 to the Blue Bulls.

Western Province were attacking and kicked. Johan Roets, who played magnificently at fullback, caught and hoofed the ball down the touch-line on his right. Akona Ndungane sped in pursuit. The flying wing forced Werner Greeff to step into touch. When Roets wanted to take a quick throw-in, Greeff threw the ball away. Greeff was penalised, and the Blue Bulls tapped and Wannenburg, who had a great game, powered over for the home side's second try. Hougaard converted. 17-3.

A penalty by Hougaard made it 20-3 at half-time. If it had not been for Schalk Burger, the score would have been much bigger - much, much bigger.

When the Blue Bulls were awarded a free kick at a line-out, they did some clever interpassing. Hougaard went left and gave to JP Nel who cut back right and then Roets ran off him in a straight line to carve straight through, past Gaffie du Toit, who did not touch him, for a try at the posts. 27-3.

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