/ 9 April 2010

Bulls trump Chiefs in Hamilton

Bulls Trump Chiefs In Hamilton

The defending champion Bulls recaptured their winning form in the Super 14 on Friday, scoring four tries to defeat the Chiefs 33-19 in a repeat of last year’s final.

The Bulls’ six-match winning streak was snapped last weekend by the Blues. But the Pretoria side quickly regained momentum on Friday with their first-ever win in Hamilton to return to the top of the standings at the start of the ninth round.

The lead changed hands six times in the first 55 minutes of a hard-fought match before the Bulls took charge with late tries by hooker Gary Botha and replacement Dewald Potgieter.

No. 8 Pierre Spies and winger Gerhard van der Heever scored first-half tries for the Bulls, while Springboks flyhalf Steyn kicked two conversions and three penalties for 13 points.

Steyn came into the match with an 82% kicking success rate but landed only five goals from nine attempts.

The win took the Bulls five points clear at the top of the tournament standings over the Waratahs, who held the top place on point difference after last weekend’s eighth round. The Waratahs face the third-place Crusaders in Christchurch on Saturday.

Out for revenge
The Chiefs started strongly on Friday, determined to avenge their 61-17 defeat in last year’s final in Pretoria and to protect their unbeaten home record against the Bulls.

The Bulls took much longer than expected to gain forward dominance over the seventh-place Chiefs.

“It’s always good to win in New Zealand,” Bulls captain Victor Matfield said. “It’s the toughest place in the world to tour and we’re always happy when we win here.

“We were very disappointed with ourselves after last week. We wanted to come back quickly and we did that tonight.”

Chiefs stand-in captain Liam Messam said it was a tough night.

“Mentally and physically we just came up short in the end,” Messam said. “It was physical. These are big South African men and we did our best to match them.”

The lead changed hands four times before the Bulls took a tenuous 15-13 lead at halftime, and was swapped twice more before the Bulls edged away in the last quarter.

Van der Heever gave the Bulls a lead with an early try but that was immediately answered by a try from Chiefs halfback Brendon Leonard. Spies’s try in the 28th minute ensured the visitors held a narrow lead at the interval.

The Chiefs regained the lead with Stephen Donald’s penalty at the start of the second half but Steyn kicked the Bulls back into the lead after 55 minutes and they retained the lead for the rest of the game.

The Bulls seemed to suffer a serious setback when they were denied an intercept try by halfback Fourie du Preez in the 71st minute, when the assistant referee spotted a late tackle by Deon Stegmann on Sione Lauaki.

Potgieter’s late try offset that decision and ensured the Bulls took a four-try bonus point from the match. — Sapa-AP