Bulls go top of SA conference after beating Rebels
The Bulls snapped a three-year Australasian tour losing streak and also catapulted themselves to the top of the South African conference when they beat the Rebels 32-17 in Melbourne.
The Bulls may have conceded an early try but they showed the composure and fortitude that was missing in their 45-13 home loss to the Crusaders last week to record their seventh win of the 2019 campaign.
It was also a good Friday for touring teams as the Jaguares also recorded an away win against the Hurricanes but with the Sharks having a bye, the Bulls (32) and Jaguares (32) positioned themselves well with their wins.
The Bulls, who are top on points difference, travel to Canberra next week to face the Brumbies while the Jaguares are off. The Sharks host the Lions in a game that'll big log implications for both sides, especially if the Bulls get another four points.
The Rebels have lost to all of the South African teams this season, with this defeat preventing them from trading places with the Brumbies at the top of the Australian conference.
The 17-12 half-time lead the Bulls earned was indicative of the helter-skelter and unstructured nature of the game.
The Bulls were under pressure to get their tour off on a high after their unceremonious handling they received at home by the Crusaders while the Rebels have been off-colour recently after a good start.
With the hosts dominating territory and possession, it came as no surprise when Marika Koroibete crossed the whitewash in the eighth minute for the first of his two tries.
The Bulls were shocked into a very good response two minutes later when a Handre Pollard cross-kick found Cornal Hendricks, who dotted down in the far right-hand corner.
Six minutes later, Pollard turned from provider to scorer when he finished off a rare broken play move from the Bulls that saw them sweep from deep in their own half and to the Rebels' tryline.
The ball went through many hands but Pollard's one were the most telling, taking advantage of the sluggish Rebels' lock Matt Phillips to score under the poles.
The Rebels weren't about to let the Bulls off the hook and responded with their second five pointer through scrum-half Will Genia in the 27th minute.
Genia contested a kick that somehow reached Jack Maddocks's hands, from where the right wing sprinted down the left-hand try-line and offloaded to Genia.
The try scoring madness subsided somewhat for the last 10 minutes of the first half but Pollard landed a penalty on the stroke of half-time to give the Bulls a five-point lead.
The Rebels needed only two minutes of the second half to level the scores when Koroibete crashed over for his second try.
Again, the game took on a subdued nature before a bit of Rosko Speckman magic led to Burger Odendaal's try in the 58th minute.
Pollard's skip pass to Speckman looked suspiciously forward but the fleet-footed left winger chipped, chased and collected the ball before offloading to the inside-centre.
Odendaal somewhat atone himself for dropping a pass in the 51st minute that could have seen the Bulls take the lead a bit earlier.
The Bulls made the game safe 11 minutes later when Speckman touched down in the left-hand corner to give the Bulls a 12-point.
That margin increased to 15 when Pollard added his second penalty in the 75th minute to end whatever resistance the Rebels may have entertained thoughts of.