Bulls remain unbeaten after 19-14 win over Hurricanes

Flyhalf Morne Steyn kicked four penalties in a match in which six yellow cards were issued to lift South Africa’s unbeaten Bulls to a 19-14 win over the Wellington Hurricanes in Super 14 rugby on Friday.

Australian referee Matt Goddard handed out three yellow cards in each half—a total of three to each team—to become the dominant figure in a match between the tournament’s first and fifth-placed teams.

He showed the yellow card twice to Bulls flanker Deon Stegmann, the second of which became an automatic red card which left the South Africans with 14 men for the last 30 minutes of the match. Goddard reduced the Hurricanes to 13 men during the same period, sin-binning All Blacks Scott Waldrom and Jason Eaton.

The majority of the yellow cards were issued for offences at the breakdown as Goddard demanded a fair and fast contest for possession.

At one point he told the captains: “Look fellows, I guess you don’t realise, I’m not going to let up here” as he awarded more than 30 penalties in the match.

Ma’a Nonu, Waldrom and Eaton were sin-binned for the Hurricanes while Stegmann received two cards for the Bulls, the second for a dangerous tackle which sent All Blacks centre Conrad Smith to hospital.

The Bulls adapted best to the conditions, defending strongly and playing a sound kicking game, which brought them only their fifth win in New Zealand and their first in Wellington since 2005.

Springboks lock Bakkies Botha was a key figure in a hardworking Bulls forward pack.

“It was a great win, we showed a lot of character,” Bulls captain Fourie du Preez said. “We played almost the whole game with 14 men. We could have given up at that point but the whole team showed a lot of spirit.

“It’s frustrating when you concede a lot of penalties but the yellow cards went both ways. Every game these days is refereed differently.”

The Hurricanes scored two tries to one but their second try came on fulltime, giving them a bonus point for a loss by fewer than seven points.

“We weren’t too disappointed. Though we lost the game we never gave it up and came away with a bonus point as well which is what we needed on way to Africa,” Hurricanes captain Rodney So’oialo said.

“It was very frustrating, particularly because a lot of the penalties came in try-scoring positions.”—Sapa-AP

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