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Saturday, June 15, 2024

Bulls romp to exciting first-round URC victory over Scarlets

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Despite Loftus Versfeld being a sandy patch and the grass breaking up under the pressure of players’ boots, the Bulls pulled off a stunning power and pace performance on Sunday in a sunny Pretoria to beat the Scarlets quite easily in their opening United Rugby Championship (URC) match.

The home side sealed their bonus-point for four tries after 28 minutes and turned on the fireworks in the second half to score five more tries for a convincing 63-21 win.

Thanks to their pack of forwards dominating from the get-go – the scrum was absolutely overpowering in both halves – it provided some brilliant front-foot ball for the backs and forwards to play with speed and physicality, running the Welsh club side off their feet.

The robust runs of new eighth-man youngster Cameron Hanekom and fellow loose forwards Elrigh Louw and Marcell Coetzee, lock Ruan Nortje, and hooker Johan Grobbellaar were brilliant in the first half. Hanekom, on debut, scored two tries.

In the second half, the big replacement forwards, amongst others prop Simphiwe Matanzima, lock Reinhardt Ludwig, loosie Nizaam Carr and hooker Akker van der Merwe, combined excellently as well for some great runs and tries as flyhalf Johan Goosen was spotless off the tee converting all nine tries.

Late in the game, it was as if there was a mini battle between the backs and forwards of the Bulls to see who could score the best tries. Looking at how the forwards threw the kitchen sink at the Scarlets with their physicality and ball-handling skills, it’s fair to say the big boys won this time around.

There were also some inaccuracies in the backline for the Bulls and players going with the wrong option, much to the frustration of coach Jake White and his assistants.

But in an overwhelming win like this, you can excuse your players for a missed tackle here, taking the wrong option, or a penalty given away at the scrum when you’ve been dominating the entire match.

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It was a brilliant start to their URC campaign, and the Bulls find themselves on top of the log. White will hope his side can kick on and build from this victory looking at the rest of the season.

Point-scorers

Bulls 63 — Tries: Cameron Hanekom (2), Stedman Gans (2), Ruan Nortje, Johan Grobbelaar, David Kriel, Akker van der Merwe, Wandisile Simelane. Conversions: Johan Goosen (9).

Scarlets 21 — Tries: Taine Plumtree (2), Johnny McNicholl. Conversions: Ioan Lloyd (3).

@Leighton_K

IOL Sport

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